One Of These Days, I’ll Be A Publisher: My Mission Statement

One of these days, I’ll be a publisher.

To publish my book(s), sure (if need be), so that when I write them they’ll be assured a place to go, a shelf to sit on, that hands, bags, buses, trains, and planes will carry them far beyond my four walls.

But also so that I may find and bring to the world other people whose words sing to me. In this endeavor, I shall endeavor to work by a mission statement, which reads as follows:

Mission Statement:

  1.  I will work with friendly people, and only friendly people, because the world doesn’t provide enough antacids not to. If I lose out on a book because someone is unfriendly, I’ve gained a year of life by never having to hassle with them.
  2.  A good writer knows pain and does not wish to inflict it, though they may wish to illuminate it.
  3. A writer is appreciative of good reviews but never loses sight of their humanity, which allows them to tell stories. Writers are imperfect people who know how to communicate to others this imperfection so that readers may see it in themselves or someone they know and be made stronger, smarter, or any number of adjectives by the experience of reading and discovering.
  4.  Writers need to write, genre be damned. If a book is good, who cares where it fits? All that matters is that it fits somewhere on a shelf so that it may later be taken down from there and enjoyed.
  5.  Make sure each book speaks to your soul. Your soul is a reader’s soul and will know more about what feels right than any focus group.
  6. But hone in on those readers you know to be your audience. They are your most important focus group, whether they know it or not, and they will steer you right; readers want to read good books and rid themselves of the opposite.
  7. Remind every author you work with to trust themselves while editing. They’ve got the blueprint for a great book. Editing will make it greater… if they trust the process.
  8. Fight for the books you believe in.
  9. If a book doesn’t reach the audience you intended, trust that it reached those it was meant to and move on proudly.
  10. Last but not least, never forget that reading–however or whyever one may read; for escape, for love, for thrills, for chills, to learn, to turn the page in your life–reading is there to befriend, soothe, and bolster. It increases confidence, critical thinking, and encourages emotional honesty. If you can find books that will do this, you will have found the right books.

The Blank Page…

“I love to read thrillers,” many readers say.

“Or maybe I’ll dip into a horror story on this dreary, rain-soaked day.”

For writers, horror does not need to be written to be experienced. A writer experiences a heart-stopping horror story every time they sit down to compose a new piece.

The blank page. The menacing blank page.

It strikes fear into the hearts of even the most experienced authors.

“What if I can’t come up with anything new?”

“What if what I’ve written so far is all I’ll ever write?”

Writing is fear. If you haven’t experienced fear as a writer, you’ve clearly never edited anything.

Writing is bearing your soul with the hope that someone will gaze upon it with compassion, understanding, care. And then putting all your hope in a business that wants to sell your soul in amongst the sci-fi or the mysteries.

Every day, I wake up hopeful of two things.

Maybe I’ll write something good today.

Maybe I’ll read something good today.

I love what I do. Sure, I love to write, though it is quite a lonely pursuit. And it requires other people to do for me what I love doing for anyone I can. When I read a truly good new story in my position as an intern for the wonderful agent I work with, I immediately think, This needs to be on shelves everywhere. In the hands of readers. Being read and enjoyed. And, to whatever extent I can make that happen, I then champion the book. I’ll work with the author to smooth the rough edges. I’ll suggest fixes here, deletions there. I am personally on the lookout to remove every that or just or had which does not serve a story. “Tighten the prose, people!” When I say this, I imagine I’m the captain of a ship in a storm, securing its hatches as we get pummeled in the waves.

In that sense, if not any others, I end each day closer to publication. Be it for me or someone I know. So while I wake up each day–as do any authors who are being honest–afraid of the blank page, at the conclusion of a day I’m always thinking, Publication is possible. It’s one day closer. And, though I can’t write without this trusty computer, I imagine writing myself a note and keeping it permanently on my nightstand to glance at when I need the idea reinforced.

“Dear Derek,

You are a writer. This means you must write. You must be involved with the written word. somehow It also means you wake each day with an old fear burgeoning anew. A fear of the blank page. A fear that you can’t do what you were put on earth to do. Try to think of the blank page as that friend you envy; even though you’re trapped in a palsied body, Blank Page can be anyone he wants to be, can go anywhere he wants to go. You just have to tell him who and where.”