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.

Publishing, light bulbs and CPAP.

I can’t believe I’m going to put this out here today, but there is a point to share with you that I believe applies to everything we do—whether it’s changing over the light bulbs in your house according to the new legislation changes that are coming about in the next couple of years, or to all the new ways of the writing and publishing world, so here goes . . .

This morning I received instructions on how to use my new CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine and mask to help me achieve more efficient sleep. Two recent sleep studies revealed I suffer multiple hypopneas (shallow breathing) during the night as I attempt to sleep. The test results indicated that my body wasn’t getting enough air. The docs want us at least at 90%, and preferably 95% or higher. Mine was showing a scary figure of 82%. 

I tried on several different masks. What you need to understand is that I am a wee tad bit claustrophobic so when something is fitted over the nose and mouth, it feels terrifying. And when hooked up to the machine set to the airflow pressure calculated for our need to help keep the airway open, we claustrophobes tend to clutch and rip at the mask to get it off because we’re afraid we’re going to suffocate. 

It was overwhelming to look at all those different mask sizes and choices, and that big breathing box and realize that this is now a part of my life–if I want to have productive, revitalizing sleep and not end up with hypertension or diabetes or heart disease because I’m not getting all the oxygen that I need while sleeping. 

The technician told me she has patients in their young teens who have to use these machines. This stuff just happens. 

She also helped me understand that all I have to do is keep breathing like I normally do when the mask is on; the machine isn’t working against me. I’m going to have to focus to work on accepting this, but I will be okay even though I will feel scared for the first little while.

While I’m grateful there is help, I felt sad as I drove my new sleeping companion home today. You’re going to look like a member of a nuclear waste clean-up team when you lay down to sleep from now on. 

It’s all these dang transitions, ya’ know? They just keep on coming, and some days I think many of us wish they’d—just—slow up a bit. 

But they don’t—and they won’t, of course. 

A while back I had the privilege of interviewing an independent publisher. He told me he loved books—the real kind that you can hold, smell and have to turn the pages yourself. He said he was opposed to the Kindles and the Nooks and all the new reading toys when they first came out, but he also realized that it wasn’t up to him to decide how someone else should read their books, so decided to convert his products so they could be available as eBooks as well. He said he wasn’t sure if they’d sell that way for him or not—but he was going to give it a go. 

Soon we won’t be able to buy the same light bulbs we’ve been buying most of our lives. We need to move on to newer, more efficient ones. 

Some people like all the new electronic readers and gadgets. Others will never buy even one. 

Life grew a bit more complicated for me this morning when my appointment was finished. Getting ready for bed is going to require more than just jumping into my jammies and crawling under the covers.  

From now on I’m going to have to put on a mask, adjust the straps and dials, lay back and remind myself to simply breathe. 

When you look at all the changes going on about us, whether it’s dealing with the publishing world or finding new paths for ourselves, maybe some deep, concentrated breathing can be our best friend, along with a willing sidekick named adapt

If you have any doubts in the human ability to adapt, please click here to enjoy an exceptional bit of inspiration.