Publishers Are From Mercury, Authors are From Pluto

Next time someone tells you that Christianity is not as valid as science, just remind them that not many years ago, Pluto was assumed to be a planet, but in 2006 was determined not to be one, but instead was a “dwarf planet”, of which there a several dozen in our solar system alone.

If you took a test in grade school and answered, “How many planets are there in our solar system” with the number “eight” and were marked incorrect and the grade from that test prevented you from attending college, you have grounds for a lawsuit against the scientific community.  (so says my attorney Rich Suethemall)

Ten years ago, Pluto was a planet and Jesus Christ was the Son of God who came to save us from our sin.  Today, Pluto is not a planet and Jesus is still the same. So tell me, which is more reliable, science or our Christian faith?

For the record, I answered “nine” on the grade school test about how many planets orbited our sun.  So, I was admitted to college under false pretenses. Thankfully the statute of limitations on recalling diplomas has passed.

Of course, I titled this blog post to get your attention, with credit to John Gray and his Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars book from many years ago.  My point is that publishers and authors are usually not on the same planet either. (DISCLAIMER: Placing authors on a now-defunct planet was for effect only. My attorney did a legal reading of this post and recommended I make sure that was clear.)

More often than not, authors (especially never-before published authors) are writing books on subjects that publishers are not interested in publishing.  Of course, book publishing is not a science, but a mix of science and art, which makes publishers a moving target, or orbiting planet, as far as authors are concerned.

Publishers have publishing strategies (science), but if they see a proposal their intuition says will sell (art), they will deviate from their strategy. Their heart might trump their head.

Authors, especially new authors, will write from their heart (art), crafting a manuscript based on something that is important to them, or inspired by something in their lives. Because most new authors are writing from the perspective of what they want to communicate and not from a study of market trends, authors become planets in their own trajectory.

So, how do these two planets eventually get into a closer orbit?  More often than not they do not find each other.  To prove this point, note that a couple years ago, the number of self-published titles began to outnumber the titles published by traditional publishers.

Literary agents want to sell books to publishers. So, we listen to publishers and evaluate potential new authors through the perspective of what we know of publishers’ preferences.  If publishers are not looking to buy a certain type of book and you present that same type of book that has been a passion of yours, don’t be offended when they don’t see things the way you do.  Agents are the literary equivalent to a dating service, trying to match up authors and publishers, but even eHarmonycom isn’t 100% successful.

Most authors, whether they are published or not-yet-published, rarely consider the issue of what publishers are looking for when they sit down to write.

Imagine this…you are asked to give a speech to a student assembly at your local high school. Excited about the opportunity, you set off to craft a speech that you want to deliver.  Teens these days have no respect for authority, drugs and alcohol are bad for them, sex is intended for marriage, work hard so you can get into a good college, stop putting toilet paper on the trees in my neighborhood, etc.  You plan a one-hour speech.

Upon arriving at the school, prepared to set everyone straight once and for all, you discover that the assembly is 25 minutes long and the purpose was to encourage the students following the tragic death of a popular teacher.

If only you had asked on what planet the students were living, you probably would have been more effective.

Knowing your audience is the first rule of effective communication. If you never consider what publishers are looking for, don’t be surprised or offended if you are rejected.

Agents strive to see the world through the eyes of publishers, because we want to match up authors and publishers. When we decline to represent an author, it is because we can’t envision a publisher who is looking for what you wrote.

Authors should pay attention to what readers, agents and publishers want rather than focusing only on what you want to say. All three groups want to publish books and since publishers haven’t mastered space travel yet, it is the responsibility of authors to travel to a planet a little closer to Mercury.

Agents? We live on a starship and travel to every planet on a regular route. Each of us has a phaser (set to stun) and a pet Tribble to keep us company.



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