by Kirk Melson
I try to be a supportive husband when it comes to my wife’s publishing career, but I made a mistake early on in the process that has come back to haunt me…often
She’d been meeting with her critique group and was going on and on about how someone didn’t get what she’d written. Understand me, it wasn’t because she thought she was right and they were wrong. It was because they didn’t understand the GENRE she wrote in.
I truly wanted to sympathize with what she was going through, so I asked for a definition. It was the word genre that threw me. All this time I’d been under the impression she wrote in English.
Fortunately I didn’t share that thought out loud. Turns out genre for writers means the general category they write. At the time (and now) Edie wrote science fiction. Turns out the person who didn’t get what she’d written had never even watched Star Trek.
Personally, I’m in total sympathy with that poor person. I was about to get introduced to world every bit as unimaginable!
My wife is sharp, and from then on, whenever she caught that same slight puzzled expression on my face she’d stop to find out which word I found confusing. I know that sounds like something a kind person would do. Except for the fact that I don’t do foreign languages. Heck, I don’t even speak Klingon.
Beyond that, I’m getting older and that means brain cells are dying off at an alarming rate. I’d like to use the ones I have on things I can actually use. But no, now I find myself in possession of a new language.
I know the difference between a Query Letter, a Cover Letter, and a Proposal. I’ve actually even had the privilege of editing a few. I’ve learned there are different types of publishers, Traditional, Indie, and Self. And that the latter used to be referred to as a Vanity Press. I know that Going to Press, has nothing to do with publishing a newspaper, and journalists do a different type of writing from what my wife does.
I know what POD means (Print on Demand) and why it’s a good thing. I know a House is short for Publishing House and is where manuscripts (they’re not books until they’re printed) find a home instead of people.
I learned about Pub Boards the hard way—holding my wife in my arms as she sobbed about a refusal after the editor took her manuscript to committee—two days before Christmas. If you’re curious, you CANNOT fix this. Take her to dinner, buy her flowers, invest in a tissue company. Just get ready, it happens more than I ever imagined and it NEVER gets any easier.
I know that writers who want to be published by someone else need to have a Platform. And that’s not a tall wooden stand that someone speaks from. It is a way to talk to people but it involves a lot of social networking—and you already know how I feelabout that.
I’ve helped her come up with a tagline, practice her pitch, and weighed in on back cover copy. I’m ashamed to admit I know that YA stands for Young Adult and Spec Fiction (know as speculative to newbies) is category where you find books by those who write anything weird (like my wife).
Truthfully I had no idea how complicated publishing was. I'd always just gone to a book store, picked out a book, read what was on the back and made a decision. I'd never had any idea about the complicated process between writing and selling. Fortunately I have a patient and loving wife who’s willing to share what she’s learned.
Special Thanks to our good friend and photographer, Mary Denman, for the impromptu photo session!