Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Against the Odds

"If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere." Frank A. Clark

Publishing is a subjective business; always push forward and send out more query letters. What doesn't work for one publisher or agent, might work for another. So, if you keep confronting rejection, don't give up--KEEP SUBMITTING!

Here are a couple of inspiring anecdotes. Although the first isn't directly related to publishing, it's still an uplifting story about another subjective arena, the film industry.

In 1937, David O. Selznick was in the process of searching for just the right girl to play Scarlett O'Hara in his motion picture production of Gone with the Wind. He screened a picture called A Yank at Oxford and briefly considered a young, relatively unknown British starlet for the role. After the viewing, he, and director George Cukor, agreed that she wasn't right for Scarlett. Cukor later told reporters he thought she was beautiful, but lacked sufficient temperament for the part.

That young starlet happened to be Vivien Leigh--the future on-screen Scarlett O'Hara! After she'd read the book, she wanted the part! Just think what audiences would have missed out on, if Miss Leigh hadn't persevered and later auditioned!

Langton Hughes's introduction to the 1952 edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin explains some interesting facts about Harriet Beecher Stowe's struggle to find a home for her book. The first publisher was so afraid of not making any money from it, that he wanted Mrs. Stowe to share half of the publishing expenses, offering to give her half the income, if any! The author's husband proposed a more businesslike arrangement: a ten percent royalty to his wife.

Mrs. Stowe was thrilled to have someone interested in publishing her book at all, because another publisher had turned it down, claiming it unlikely to sell. With the publishing deal in place, Mrs. Stowe sighed, and simply said, "I hope it will make enough so I may have a silk dress."

Two days after publication in Boston on March 20, 1852, the entire first edition of 5000 copies had sold out. Four months later, Mrs. Stowe's royalties amounted to $10,000! Within a year 300,000 copies had been sold in the United States, and 150,000 in England.

So just remember, even Vivien Leigh (now immortalized on screen as Scarlett O'Hara) struck out the first time. And Harriet Beecher Stowe was so discouraged after managing to find only a half hearted publisher, that her mere wish was to make enough to buy a silk dress!

Time for me to get busy! What about you?

Tweet me @: maria_mckenzie. Thanks for stopping by!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for the inspiration, Maria. I think I've been purposely keeping myself in the "learning and researching" phase of being a writer. I'm trying to absorb as much information as possible before I start to query. I will not give up once I start though. I will give the traditional route of publishing a few years, and if nothing happens, I will go the self-publishing route. If you check out J.A. Konrath's blog called "A Newbie's Guide to Publishing" you will see why I would consider self-publishing. Take care and talk to you soon...Kelly