I was wandering around on Tumblr yesterday (which is an excellent site for procrastination or time-wasting, by the way) and I came upon this infographic, “How a Book is Born”, originally created by Weldon Owen Publishing.
Of course, the graphic is all in jest, but it is one of those hilarious things you find on the Internet… and the reason for its hilarity is that it is true. There were a few pieces of the infographic that hit home with me.
“Somebody has an idea. > Person is Stephen King, Lady Gaga, or reality show star. > Book approved for press.”
Unfortunately, this is true. The bigger your fanbase, and the bigger your name, the more likely you are to be published, because the publisher wants to make money. And the bigger your name, the more money you can reel in. So basically, you have to have money to be published. Stephen King, Lady Gaga, and reality stars all have money. Lesser mortals like ourselves don’t necessarily have that much money.
“Idea is reviewed by Editorial Board. > Idea deemed bad. > Idea totally revamped until unrecognizable.”
That’s one of the reasons I would consider self-publishing; complete control over my own ideas and I wouldn’t have to make the myriad of recommended changes. I could stay true to my own vision of what the story ought to be. I bet most books that made it through traditional publishers were completely different in their early drafts. Perhaps the author’s wishes were shortchanged along the way.
“Manuscript goes to copyedit. > Copyeditor quits in horror saying, ‘Worst book ever.'”
I do copyediting work on a freelance basis and I’ve seen some things that have been pretty bad, but nothing that would make me throw my hands up in the air and quit. But there is truth to this: copyediting matters. It matters so much that publishers and agents will reject your book on the spot if it’s not copyedited. If you can’t be bothered to get your commas in the right place, then what does that say about you as a writer? You could have the greatest story in the world, but if it’s buried among grammatical errors, then you can forget about it being published.
Basically, the infographic tells the truth in a blunt, yet amusing way. You’ve heard it said before, and I’ll say it again: Publishing is a difficult venture. Actually, “difficult” may be an understatement.