Monday, June 22, 2009

Which Side Are You?

One door and only one
and yet its sides are two.
I'm on the inside
On which side are you?

This is an old Sunday school song whose theology is pretty vague for 8-year-olds, but I bring it up because I am realizing (again) how much of writing and publishing has to do with getting inside the magic door.

On the Outside, you're a Struggling Author with a growing collection of rejection slips. You attend writers' conferences with a hungry look on your face and take lots of notes. You make sure you chat with Real Authors at the book tables. They are polite but they don't Notice you. The same with the Editors and Agents and Publisher People, who are on a first-name basis with the lucky people who are In--"Oh, Fran, make sure you send me the first chapter of The Hidden Heart; I think I might have a place for it."

And then, without quite knowing how, you're Inside, where a vast spiderweb of connections links you to editors, publishers, other authors, newspaper people, radio hosts, and on and on. Someone recommends you to someone else, a door opens, which leads to another and yet another. You have a new idea, and you know who to call to make it happen. Someone else has an idea and calls you with a new opportunity.

So the other day I got the bright idea that it would be really fun to do a mother-daughter book event with Emily when she's home in August. I called the local Barnes and Noble and asked for Andrew, the amazing coordinator who arranged my three B&N appearances. I was referred to Andrea, the new coordinator, who was delighted with my idea. "Oh! More than a signing--we'll have you both talk!" I mentioned a possibility for media exposure. "Wonderful!"

That was when it struck me that I was finally In.

Ten years ago, struggling to break into any market beyond CLP's Companions, I could never have called up a Barnes and Noble person and been taken seriously. Never. Or known local newspaper or radio people to recommend.

It's nice to be Inside; it's frustrating to be Outside. I hope I can open the magic door for lots of other writers who need to be discovered.

Quote of the Day:
Emily: But what am I supposed to talk about??!! I never talk in front of people or go to your talks or anything!!
Me: Emily, just get up and talk.


  1. Hi Dorcas, I have never done any serious writing, really, other than my journal and personal pontificating for my family. I have always thought it must be a big responsibility to fulfill the expectations belonging to your side of the door. Thanks for the glimpse anyway. I'm just loitering out here and not sure I'll ever be ready for more. I'm enjoying your writing.

  2. Congratulations! Sometimes things do work out the way they should. :) No profession is immune to rejection, but the insider/outsider status of being a writer is especially intense. An attempt at being an academic writer is an exercise in masochism, I'm now convinced.

  3. Do you have any suggestions for those who are on that first side of the door that you mentioned? That would be very interesting, not to mention helpful. I do have a weekly column in our local paper, for which I'm incredibly grateful, but have been wondering how to take it further. It's all pretty overwhelming when you're new to the biz and all you really are is a mom who works at home and raises children and has no experience, contacts, or know-how in the publishing world.

    Maybe you've got older blog posts on this subject.

    Congratulations on your achievements, and blessings.

  4. See! This is why I was so thrilled to sit with you on the plane from Denver to Portland! You're on the INSIDE! :)
    While I have no desire to do any writing, I do enjoy reading what others have to say.

    I was so excited to see Rhonda's comment! She writes in my local newspaper! I'll admit though that I'm too cheap, er... Frugal, to actually buy the paper, so I don't get to read her column very often. Now I can read her blog AND column!

  5. Regarding the door in question, I'm on the Outside.

    (But that's not the side I am.)

    wv: lumbent (which, as you will note, is very close to lambent)

  6. You helped me open the (successful) door of self-publishing. Thanks!

  7. When is your new book available to purchase?

  8. Then I'm still on the Outside. If I contacted Barnes & Noble they would not have a clue who I am. However, I am happy to be where I am and not longing to make it to the Inside. I get SO tired of being recognized by my name and being asked "What are you writing now?" I get to feeling writers are on the same level as cows, expectd to produce annually to justify their existance. I write simply for the love of doing it and hope my scribblings will somehow help someone to walk with the Lord. I wish I could let it. Maybe I'm weird, but I do not enjoy being recognized and asked about my writing everywhere I go---even in the jungle of Belize where I thought I could get away from it.

  9. Thank you, Mrs. Stauffer.

  10. to anonymous--my new book should be out in about a week. You can get a copy from me then--not sure when it'll be in stores.