The Pandora’s Box called Publishing

It’s all about perspective.





Last week Chila Woychik, author, editor and owner of indie press, Port Yonder Press (website down temporarily this week) shared some of her eye-opening research on the facts of trying to get a book published these days, in a post, PUBLISHING FACTS & FANCY – Small Press Facts 

I shared it broadly, with her permission. Many of my friends and families (who are not writers) nearly fainted at the size of the battle, even for the small presses, which have held hope for budding authors, in light of the near impossibility of gaining the attention of the BIG Six publishing house machine (her post will educate you on who they are). 

Some of my favorites from Ms Woychik’s research, included: 

  • On an average, it takes 475 hour to write a fiction title and 725 hours to write a nonfiction title. 
  • On average, 61 hours are spent in the editing process. (Oh, gee, I’ll bet my personal editing average is trying for the Gold!) 
  • An average of 10-15 hours are spent designing a book cover . . . which leads in to my favorite among her research… 
  • According to a survey taken of 300 booksellers from both independent bookstores and chain stores . . . seventy-five percent of them identified the look and design of the book cover as the most important component . . . they agreed the jacket is prime real estate for promoting a book.

And my favorite #2: Most readers do not get past page 18 in a book they have purchased.

It’s a pretty grim collection of facts—as you read them the first time, but I encourage you to read through her information several times—and then make your peace with it. 

Unless you keep an open mind, the facts presented could seem like the contents of Pandora’s Box—full of demons and wicked things just waiting to be unleashed onto the prospective author. 

I would like to propose that you and I look at this in a different manner: Pandora let out the bad, but she also realized what she needed to do to keep that one important last thing from escaping. She shut the lid.  

Do you know what that last thing was at the bottom of her box? 

It was hope. 

We absolutely must read and educate ourselves often and widely on the publishing world demons—and the realities of the struggle they present, but we must also make a pact with ourselves to tuck it all away in the business file side of our brain—for now—to keep our hope from escaping. 

Pandora wasn’t malicious; just curious, so things escaped, but she knew the value of the hope at the bottom of her beautiful box. 

Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul sits on my reference shelf here in the office, and every now and then I have to turn to the story on pg. 332 titled “Consider This,” written by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Bud Gardner. They site twenty different examples of people who didn’t give up. A few examples: 

  • Richard Hooker worked for seven years on his humorous war novel, M*A*S*H. Twenty-one publishers rejected it. You know the rest of this story, don’t you. 
  • Pearl Buck’s Pulitzer-winning The Good Earth was rejected fourteen times. 
  • Jack London received over 600 rejection slips before he sold his first story. 
  • Roots author Alex Haley received a rejection letter once a week for four years when he first started out.  

“Hope and milk sour by standing” – Austin O’Malley

We know what we have to do.