Get a Free Ebook

Five Inspirational Truths for Authors

Try our Video Classes

Downloadable in-depth learning, with pdf slides

Find out more about My Book Therapy

We want to help you up your writing game. If you are stuck, or just want a boost, please check us out!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Publishing is Like a Junior High Dance

I’ve been in the publishing business for over seven years now. I’ve experienced the joy and heartache of the journey. The more I think about it, publishing is pretty much like a junior high dance. 7 reasons why:
  1. Writers wait on the wall, hugging it really, hoping-hoping-hoping for an agent to recognize them enough to extend a hand and dance. Problem is, sometimes the dance is awkward. Just because an agent spots us doesn’t mean he or she is a good fit. Just like in junior high dances, some folks end up dating the first person who asks them to dance instead of waiting for the right partner. And two weeks later, they break up in a note.
  2. No one spells out the dress code for dances at that age. Which means kids try on one thing, fling it to the ground, try another, fret about it, then go for outfit number three. Only to arrive at the dance and realize they dressed all wrong. Similarly, writers try on many different genres and styles, not asking themselves what really fits them.
  3. If our dance partner (agent) introduces us to a publisher and the publisher agrees to look at our manuscript, we fly on the wings of anticipation, much like how I felt when I “heard” of a boy who would ask me to dance with him. He didn’t. And I plunged into seventh grade angst. Get used to this. The publishing journey is much like Anne of Green Gables: wings of anticipation descending into the depths of despair. It’s a wily roller coaster.
  4. Once we’re on the dance floor, we tend to feel pretty self conscious, a little naked. In like manner, when we finally fling our words out to the public, we feel that same kind of exposure. Will they like the way we dance? Call us foolish? Laugh at us?
  5. The punch doesn’t satisfy. We often think if we could just be published, we’d finally be happy. We feel publishing would validate our existence. It doesn’t. It never could. I wrote a free article about this entitled Publishing Doesn't Validate Your Life.
  6. The music is too loud. In the cacophony of our ambitions, our desire to be heard, we tend to listen to every single voice out there, even if those voices tell us to do things that violate our conscience. We can believe our own press that this gig is all about us and our climbing of the publishing ladder, then lose our soul in the process.
  7. Heartache lurks, but so does joy. Folks might not ask us to dance and we’re left feeling excluded, conspicuous. Or a good friend might offer his hand. We take it and realize love was in front of us all along. In this business you’ll experience heartache as your career dances high and low. But you will meet amazing, amazing people. My very best friends are in this industry, and they are the best part of publishing.

Q4u:

What's your take? How is it like a junior high dance? How isn't it?

26 comments:

Diane Dean White said...

Love your article and relate so well to the comparison of the junior high dances. The guys on one side and the girls on the other, in my day~ I thik the publishing world has become so complicated, Mary. I understand two self-publihsed books aren't considered "really being published" but what about all the aritcles and stories that I was paid for from other sources; magazines, books, a four year weekly column in a magazine; even a Japanese publisher!

There seems to be a long line of people to get through before getting in with a publishing company now days. Things have changed so much over the last 15 years.

I do feel that what you write, although might not make a huge wave presently, will make ripples as time goes by. And people will continue to reach out and thank you for making a difference in their lives.

Your article was very good~

Blessings,
Diane

Elaine Stock said...

This is one of the best analogies I've ever read of the industry. Thanks for sharing.

Laura McClellan said...

Standing self-consciously at the wall, fairly certain I've dressed wrong, and at the moment feeling like covering my ears because the music is so loud. Maybe I'll go stand outside for awhile and look at the stars. . . .

Thanks for this.

Lelia Chealey said...

Very good, Mary. Thank you for always investing so much of yourself in us wanna-be's. You're such a blessing.

Lori Ann Freeland said...

ooh, can't we move on to college and less awkward????

Sherri Wilson Johnson said...

This was amazing! The best example of what it is like. I've had friends ask me if I was "done" now that I've achieved the goal of having a book published. And I've said, "Absolutely not!" It's one of the things God created me for and I must press on. There's still a message inside! I'm still standing against the wall and often dressed wrong but I wouldn't miss the dance for anything in the world!

Cherry Odelberg said...

How does publishing relate to a junior high dance? I was never allowed to dance.

Mary DeMuth said...

Thanks Diane. I appreciate your kind words.

I think the paradigm for self published books is changing. They're becoming legitimized as long as they are professionally edited.

Mary DeMuth said...

Thanks Elaine. Maybe because I lived through both? :)

Mary DeMuth said...

Good idea. Stars are better than fretting.

Mary DeMuth said...

Thanks Lelia. And may you dance!

Mary DeMuth said...

Yes, but sometimes it takes longer than we expect...

Mary DeMuth said...

Great words, Sherri. You're right, it's far from over. It's only just begun...

Mary DeMuth said...

I give you permission to turn on the music right now and dance around the house, Cherry.

Sarah Allen said...

Haha, what a great way to look at it. Some good thoughts and mental preparation advice here, too. Thanks!

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Jim Rubart said...

This should be a must read for all aspiring authors.

lelia said...

Oh, please.....!, don't let it be as bad as that!

Nicole said...

Well done, Mare. Exactly.

Anonymous said...

I laughed out loud when I got to "the punch doesn't satisfy." Currently, I'm dancing with an agent (she has my MS). I don't know if she will introduce me to the boy I want to meet (publisher). I really want to dance with him; but she hasn't decided if she'll take me yet. Others might also invite me to dance. I languished along the wall for quite a while. If I'd only known that I was still in junior high, this entire dance might have been less awkward.

Melinda Viergever Inman http://writingforthegloryofgod.wordpress.com

Mary DeMuth said...

Yes, we have to psyche ourselves up sometimes!

Mary DeMuth said...

Thanks Jim.

Mary DeMuth said...

Just you wait. :)

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Great post. My agent is working hard to get those cool "publisher" types to notice me. Even if they don't want to dance I know my outfit (manuscript) looks as great as it can, and I feel pretty at this stage in the game!!

Mary DeMuth said...

Thanks Nicole.

Mary DeMuth said...

Hang in there Melinda. Patience is the most needed trait in publishing. :)

Mary DeMuth said...

Hooray for a good outfit!