Me: Has Oprah called yet?
Publisher: No, but I hear she’s been busy this week.
While this version of Has Hollywood called? or Did we get anything back from the New York Times? is an on-going joke, it represents the secret hope of many writers.
We hope somebody influential will see our manuscript or finished book and show it to somebody else who will take it to the right people and, voila! it’s suddenly being turned into a movie with Oscar Buzz surrounding it.
Years ago, I sent Writer’s Digest Magazine a terse letter about their featured profiles of “writers who have made it.” I haven’t read the magazine for years, but at that time, it was filled with how-to articles and tips covering everything from writing well, to creating a query letter to finding an agent or a publisher. These articles represented, I think, the best thinking at the time about turning one’s wont to write into a published novel.
Most issues also featured a writer who was finally published. These profiles pointed out that the writer spent years perfecting his or her craft, revising and editing and rewriting and then went onto their saga of query letters and rejection slips and never giving up hope. That is, they dutifully followed all the magazine’s directions for success.
Then, near the end of the article, something magical happened. An agent happened to move in next door, a famous writer stopped by the house at a garage sale, somebody in the publishing biz was looking in dumpsters and found a coffee-stained draft of the novel and, voila, the writer was discovered.
After reading these profiles for years, I finally got fed up because every one of them ended with a magical event of some kind. Following the magazine’s how-to articles might have helped the writers become prepared for the magic. But none of them showed a writer succeeding without being rescued, found, discovered or stumbled over by an publishing angel who could make things happen.
Writer’s Digest never responded to my letter.
We’ve all been brainwashed into thinking that without being discovered, our books will never reach the New York Times Bestseller list. (Actually, that might be true.)
We’ve been taught to follow the best and the brightest of the gurus of the day when it comes to writing well, building a platform, paying for a good editor, promoting our books, getting interviewed and going on blog tours and heading to one convention of another.
Yeah, I’ll do all that. But secretly I know that nothing will happen until Oprah calls and the world turns on its axis causing my publisher to say, “MGM says they’re ready to rock and roll.