Sep 5, 2013

How You May Be Like the Metal Band the Scorpions

I had a whole other blog post planned for this week, but when I saw this article about the best hair metal bands of all time, snubbing both the Scorpions and Def Leppard I had to interrupt my regularly scheduled post. 

Now, I’ve previously mentioned my borderline obsession with the Scorpions in my "10 Things About Me" section. (no worries guys, I’m Still Lovin You!) So, to me, the article was tragic on that level. What the heck was the LA Weekly thinking – Hanoi Rocks in the #1 spot, seriously! <Face palm>

But their misguided list was also a good reminder that taste in any art is so subjective. I’m currently working with several authors on their agent queries and manuscripts, many of whom are frustrated at the constant subjective nature of their rejections. When I queried I got over 30 “not right for me” responses. I also got requests to read my full manuscript and eventually offers for representation. That makes me lucky. I cleared the first hurdle of traditional publishing. I’m now back in the game, on submission, waiting for those similar “not right for me” responses to roll in from the big publishers, crossing my fingers and hoping the stars line up right for my book.

If they don’t, though, I won’t be giving up.

While cleaning out my mom’s house after she passed away,we found tons of old poems and essays. They were good. At the very least they had something to say. But instead of them being seen and appreciated, they were locked away in a box.

Thankfully, this is not my mother’s era anymore. As most of you are aware, the publishing industry is in the midst of either a revolution or a civil war (depending on your perspective). Even though I’m an avid reader, I’m new to understanding the writing market place, so I hadn’t yet really formed an opinion.

Finding my mother’s stories shifted that. With the plethora of publishing options these days, there is no reason for stories with something to say to be locked away in a box for children to find when the author dies. And if you are really committed to writing for a living, then, as Kristine Rusch tells us, self publishing is a must in your toolbox.

That’s not to say I think everyone should rush out and self-publish or that the self-published world doesn't have some things to figure out to ensure that published stories find the audience that might be out there for them. Marketing is hard. Writers have to do the right things to ensure their stories are audience ready (like copy editing for peats sake) and honing their craft.

But if you've done all of that only to find yourself without an in into traditional publishing (or singing or art) and you believe that what you have to offer has an audience, you should find an alternative outlet.
There’s this scene from Sister Act 2 between Whoopi Goldberg an a reluctant choir singer that sometimes goes through my head as I’m reading my rejections:
Whoopi: I know you want to sing. See. I love to sing. Nothing makes me happier. I either wanted to be a singer or the head of the Ice Capades. Hey. Do you know who the Ice Capades are? Don't roll your eyes. They were very cool. I went to my mother who gave me this book...called Letters To A Young Poet. Rainer Maria Rilke. He's a fabulous writer. A fellow used to write to him and say: "I want to be a writer. Please read my stuff." And Rilke says to this guy: "Don't ask me about being a writer. lf when you wake up in the morning you can think of nothing but writing...then you're a writer. "I'm gonna say the same thing to you. If you wake up in the mornin' and you can't think of anything but singin' first...then you're supposed to be a singer.
So screw the LA Times Weekly who thinks LA Guns is better than Whitesnake. Go Poor Some Sugar on It and Rock It Like a Hurricane - keep writing, painting, singing and most of all – Go find your audience, the people who love you as much as I love the Scorpions even if the LA Times (or anyone else) don't think they (or you) rate.

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