More Mythbusting: The More You Know

myth-v-truthWith one book on shelves and another headed toward copyedits, I’d like to say this whole publishing thing is all starting to make sense now.

I mean, there are definitely myths I’ve seen debunked in my time in the trenches. Like the idea that any agent is better than no agent. (So not true!) Or the idea that the big agent is always the one to go with. (Again, not for me!) Or the the idea that once you have that agent, book deal, debut, etc., etc., etc., you’re good to go in this world. (Learning this isn’t true the hard way.)

While there are many publishing myths I’ve seen debunked, I know now that this much is true: nothing ever really makes sense. And after a long while I finally figured out why. Yes, publishing is about creativity and art. But it’s also a business with mission statements and agendas and bottom lines. When you combine the two elements, it gets down to this: publishing is not a meritocracy. You can’t get from Point A to Point B is a straight line, a measurable distance with defined goals and markers (and accounting) that tells you exactly how to get to the next step.

The business side of things can be infuriatingly opaque to writers. If you’re a control freak like me, that’s very frustrating. But thinking about it now, maybe sometimes this is a good thing. Because knowing what little bit I’ve learned so far and how confusing it all can be, maybe it’s better not to try to try to make sense of the senseless, to unravel the deeply mysterious ways it all works (or doesn’t). What I’ve learned in my debut year is that it’s best to pull together a few smart, reliable team you trust — agent, editor, fellow writer friends — whom you can call on to guide you through the chaos. Then close your eyes, take their hands, and stumble forward together.

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An entertainment and lifestyle journalist published by The New York Times, People, ABC News, MSN, Cosmopolitan and other major national media, SONA CHARAIPOTRA currently curates a kickass column on YA books and teen culture for Parade.com. A collector of presumably useless degrees, she double-majored in journalism and American Studies at Rutgers before getting her masters in screenwriting from New York University (where her thesis project was developed for the screen by MTV Films) and her MFA from the New School. When she's not hanging out with her writer husband and two chatter-boxy kids, she can be found poking plot holes in teen shows like Twisted and Vampire Diaries. But call it research: Sona is the co-founder of CAKE Literary, a boutique book development company with a decidedly diverse bent. Her debut, the YA dance drama Tiny Pretty Things (co-written with Dhonielle Clayton), is due May 26 from HarperTeen. Find her on the web at SonaCharaipotra.com or CAKELiterary.com.

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This article has 3 Comments

  1. Not being able to find out every little detail drives me nuts! I want to understand the entire process so I can make the most of it!

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