I have an agent who says that Macmillan (one of the “Big 5” Publishers in English) wants to publish my first book. In a way I feel duplicitous because I have already published with Urlink.pub. However, I guess I am going to fight for the bigger publishing house on the Darwinian premise that the survival of the fittest is what all of us strive for. I don’t mean that I value ruthlessness, only that though I may give Urlink.pub a stipend, I am going on to greener pastures… Someday I hope to write a novel of the problems of publishing The Small Press. However, until I do, I must content to try to climb into the hoped-for higher realms of publication. It is what I have dreamed of my entire life.
All of this has cost money, but I believe I am not being cheated. I have no “connections” and the publishing business runs on the grease of “it’s-not-what-you-wrote-but-who-you-know.” If Dickens or Twain had lived today, he would have the same struggles that I do. Publishers routinely tell you in rejection letters that they may have nothing against either your writing style or what you said, except that “we don’t believe it can sell.” And they hate to take risks on first time authors. If they have a choice, they would rather sell Stephen King or Danielle Steele, because mere name recognition will sell those books. I don’t mean to give into standard writer’s gripes, but these are mine.
I have known poets (who will remain nameless) who are such pessimists about their work being picked up by a big publisher that they make me look like optimism itself. They say that they write “as a labor of love.” Despite their occasional despair, I look at them as my heroes: they work on even when their hopes are down of ever getting recognition outside of the small circles in which they work. However–and despite some of them having helped me with things like editing my books–I am relieved that I am now approaching having a larger audience.
The book Macmillan is going to take on–God willing–is The Bible According to Eve: Women of the Torah. I simply hope and pray that it will end on the best seller lists. I know it is crass to pay for money, but I hope God will understand: not only did I write Poor Folk, I almost am one right now. I live largely at my mom’s expense as I type.