That's no April Fools' Day prank—it’s the brand-spanking-new cover of Ivy and the Meanstalk, which I got to see for the first time a little over a week-and-a-half ago. I love it and just had to share! I especially love that Ivy looks a little older on this cover. Perhaps, in spite of all her efforts, she's starting to grow up, just a little :)
Now on to my blog post…
I've being hearing a lot of stories like these recently:
For many years, a friend of mine worked at a local high school. One day, an English teacher came up to her and wanted her to look at a student’s essay. “It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen,” she said. My friend thought so, too. A ninth-grade student had typed the essay entirely in lower case letters and hadn’t used any punctuation—none whatsoever. Not a single period, comma, or quotation mark in the whole paper. When the teacher asked the student about this, he gave a very self-assured answer. “I’m going to be a writer,” he said, “so I don’t have to bother with punctuation. Someday I’m going to have an editor to handle all that for me.”
Another friend of mine was recently talking to a woman in her writing group. My friend was excited because she had just launched a snazzy new website to promote herself as a writer, complete with gorgeous artwork by a graphic designer pal. When she asked if the other woman had ever considered creating a website for herself, the woman replied, “Oh, that won’t be necessary. When I have an agent, they’ll take care of that for me.”
As writers, we often encounter individuals like these. Aspiring authors who, while I'm sure they're perfectly nice people, have some pretty big misconceptions about how the publishing industry works. Often these misconceptions center around the belief that writers have loads of people just waiting around to do things for them. Your sentences need punctuation? No problem—an editor will take care of that. Need a website? Bam! An agent will make one magically appear for you.
Don't get me wrong, I think my agent, editor, and publisher are pretty magical, too, but no one has yet to volunteer to pick through my manuscripts and insert periods at the end of my sentences for me :)
I'm always a little amused by aspiring authors who think that because agents and editors work hard, writers don't have to. I remember back when I worked for a small publisher specializing in non-fiction titles. One of our editors suggested to an author that a chapter would make more sense if he added a little background information at the beginning. "That's a great idea!" the (first-time) author was quick to reply via e-mail. "Let's do that." Of course, what he didn't do was actually send a revised chapter or supply any of the requested background information—he had just assumed the editor would "handle" this, even though he was the author and this was his book!
I know no followers of Project Mayhem would fall prey to this line of thinking. They understand that writing is hard work, and while there will be many wonderful, invaluable people who help on their journey to publication, much of the work falls squarely on the shoulders of the author. There are no shortcuts. So polish that manuscript carefully. Put in the time necessary to hone your skills. Want a website? Get one up there! No one is going to do it for you. Agents, editors, and publishers appreciate authors who are willing to put forth an effort.