John Briggs Books

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Getting Your Book Published: Labor, Luck or Kismet?

Every time somebody says, “Things happen for a reason,” I say, “Yeah, but it doesn’t have to be a good reason.” I’m not exactly a believer in what you’d call luck, fate, destiny, or kismet. The complexities of quantum physics aside, where everything happens by chance, and all possibilities that could happen, well, happen, I believe events happen as a result of decisions, happenstance, and prior events. It’s sort of like evolution, but with a tad more control.

And then things happen where you think, “Well, that could be wrong.”

Many things lead to a book being published. Some people say luck; some say hard work; some say kismet. Well, I’ve always taken a seat at the hard work table, though sometimes luck (for lack of a better word) deals the cards. For instance, I could say I was lucky to meet the right editor at the right publisher at the right time, but the truth is it was a lot of work and a little research.

I first saw my editor listed in the dedication of a picture book (Tex and Sugar, to be exact). I liked the book and thought the editor, Meredith Mundy, would be a good fit for my work. After she rejected five or six of my manuscripts (but who’s counting!), she finally purchased Leaping Lemmings!, a picture book I had been shopping around for a while. While looking for a publisher, I tweaked it repeatedly, however, usually according to suggestions from my writers groups (yes, groups – I told you this was hard work) and several editors who requested revisions before, you know, turning it down. When it at last landed in Meredith’s hands, she bought it, after a two-year wait.

So was it luck or hard work?

Right. I’m going with hard work, except…

Consider these odd twists…

  1. The publisher is Sterling Children’s Books. I grew up in the town of Sterling, Pennsylvania, from the ages of 8-15 – you know, when I was voraciously reading kids books.
  2. I wrote the early drafts of Leaping Lemmings while living in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, one town over from Wilkes-Barre, PA. Nothing weird about that, until you realize Sterling is a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble. The Barnes & Noble in Wilkes-Barre (which I visited all the time in the Hub Arena) is on Mundy Street (as in Meredith Mundy…).
  3. The strangest coincidence? When I lost my job in 2012, freeing me up to write full-time, my position went to an outside consulting firm located at 1166 Avenue of the Americas in New York City. Sterling acquired the rights to Leaping Lemmings when they discovered it stored in a box after moving into their new offices at (you guessed it)… 1166 Avenue of the Americas.

Did that send a chill up your spine? How many buildings could they have picked in Manhattan, and they picked that one? I know, right? And Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy, and Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln…

Cue The Twilight Zone music.

Okay, it’s all a little weird how it worked out, but I’m still not a believer in luck or kismet. What was it Nietzsche said? We try to shape the world into our already existing views? Well, I still believe it was hard work on my part, an editor with similar tastes in kidlit, and a smidge (okay, a big smidge. A huge smidge) of weird coincidences thrown in. You know… that thing we call kismet.

Good luck finding a publisher for your book, and may you have a whole lot of kismet, too!

Leaping Lemmings! is available for pre-order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many of your favorite retailers. Order it now and beat the September rush. Thanks!Leaping Lemmings Cover


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This entry was posted on June 10, 2016 by in Books, Children's Books, Picture Books, Publishing, Writing and tagged , , , .


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