I came across a terrific article in this month’s Vanity Fair , “The Book on Publishing” by Keith Gessen. It’s not online, so if you get a chance, pick up a copy at the newsstand. It’s the one with Angelina Jolie on the cover. Or, if you want to purchase an expanded version of the article, it’s available as an e-book called How A Book is Born.
It details the extraordinary journey that author Chad Harbach took to getting published. His novel THE ART OF FIELDING, rejected multiple times by agents, went on to become a hot new literary property, selling at auction for $665,000. Gessen gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the publishing world, from agents to editors to cover designers. I discovered that quite a few agents and editors read short stories in literary magazines, searching for new writers to cultivate. I learned that some top agents don’t read manuscripts at all. And I learned that literary writers are getting some whopping big advances.
A choice quote from the article:
From an agent: “I judge writers on how they write queries. If you’re a good writer, you’re a good writer.”