Monday, July 12, 2010

Soccer = Publishing (Because it's the Only Way I'll Care)

The World Cup ended yesterday. Once again, Gryffindor beat Slytherin by 150 points after the snitch was caught in the final thirty seconds. Very exciting!

While this past month has had my very European neighborhood of Astoria, NY quite literally buzzing with excitement, I felt mostly bored. That is, until, I came up with this analogy. Soccer = Publishing!

Both have...

- Winners. You know, those teams that will obviously make it far. (I'm told Brazil is one of these teams. And now apparently Spain.) In publishing, these teams are called the Big 6 (the top six publishing houses). Or they are stores like Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com, or agents like Andrew Wylie. (If you don't know who he is, read this or this. Then feel free to be terrified.)

- Underdogs. The United States, for example, which is probably the only time we will ever be the underdog in anything, other than a "Can You Speak Two Languages?" contest. Publishing's underdogs are the indies. The locals. The ones you root for and support even when it's hard to do so. 

- Competition. Publishing is insanely competitive (agents vying for clients, editors vying for projects, price wars, etc.). But, at its core, it's really just all for the love of the game. I don't think there is another sport as unifying as soccer. 

- Divas. We call them "writers." (But we still love you.)

- A Tiny Fan Base (if you are in America). While publishing appears to be our whole lives - with blogs and tweets and personalities who become like celebrities to us - it is still a very small, very specific world that most other people don't know anything about, and care about even less. I'm pretty sure other countries still refer to us as the publishing industry though, rather than, say, football.

So, writers, when you get that request or sign that contract, sound your vuvuzelas because even though most people don't understand the things that we do or the words that we say (query? recoverable? galley?), there ARE people who care! And we want you to win.

15 comments:

  1. I was rooting for England. (I named my bulldog after Wayne Rooney--there IS a resemblance.) My team did horrible. I hope this isn't a representation of my odds in the publishing world.

    Maybe I should volunteer to be the non-diva watergirl for Gryffindor. Bet that would help my literary mojo. ;)

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  2. HaHaHaHa, I love this: "The World Cup ended yesterday. Once again, Gryffindor beat Slytherin by 150 points after the snitch was caught in the final thirty seconds. Very exciting!" Enjoyed your Blog post today. I don’t follow soccer, or any other sports for that matter, except for the Olympics which I usually watch for a few days whenever they’re held. I do enjoy following publishing industry news, though, and loved seeing that compared to following soccer. :)

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  3. Whatever, I don't roll on the field while the ball is in play when I get rejected. Or throw myself forward as if I've been tripped when I get constructive feedback. Diva? I don't know what you're talking about. :P

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  4. Scene: In a bar in Brooklyn this weekend.
    Me: Mom! Guess what? I'll be working with so and so for my MFA! Isn't that awesome? I'm so excited!
    Mom: Do I know that person? What's an MFA?
    Me: Friend, guess what? I queried so and so and they requested a partial! That's so huge!
    Friend: What's a partial? Is that a good thing?

    Yeah...I kinda get what you mean.

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  5. Love the analogy . . . especially the bit about a contest of whether or not you speak 2 languages. Hilarious! And I love soccer, so why not?

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  6. Being a Canuck, we have a strong affinity with Holland and my cousin's family is Dutch. We were hoping for an orange victory, but congrats to Spain anyway.

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  7. @Amye - "What's a partial? Is that a good thing?" Ha! Love it. On a similar note, I had to define "slush pile" to someone tonight.

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  8. If I had a dollar for every time someone said, "When you're rich and famous..." after hearing I'm working on a book—well, it would be a start on the rich part. Like soccer, most people only know the big stars, the household-name type authors.

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  9. @Sarah,
    the sad reality is that in my area of PA, most people thing a partial refers to unemployment. Makes for very unusual conversation.

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  10. Love this article! Very funny and really very dead on!

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  11. Firstly, I liked the article. The comparisons are definitely apt, including (I think) writers being divas. Hopefully not too many of us quite reach "diva" status, but I know some of us can be very picky people. Sad, but true.

    Secondly, I don't have a Twitter yet, so I didn't know where else to post this. I found a very cool website that allows anyone to paste a sample of their writing into a text box, and it tells them what famous author their writing most closely resembles. I don't know what criteria it uses to make its determination, but it fascinates me. It also told me I write like David Foster Wallace. So, it helps the ego too.

    It's called "I Write Like". Link is here: http://iwl.me/

    Thought you and my fellow writers might find it interesting. :)

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  12. That link is fun, but I think I should give a pre-emptive "please do not put "An expert told me I write like...." in your queries!!!

    Also, I just pasted the intro to this post into the site and it said I write like Edgar Allan Poe. So, good for the ego, yes. But probably not very accurate.

    PS: @josheverettryan - if you really do write like DFW, please submit to Glass Cases :)

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  13. My apologies! I didn't even consider that some people might try to use it for a query letter. It's not something I would even think to do. I apologize in advance if you start getting a lot of queries with phrases like that. Just to note, though, the site was covered in The New Yorker Magazine's blog. Hopefully that won't contribute too. :/

    I think it uses sentence structure as at least one of its main criteria. I'm not really sure, but you're definitely right that it's not very accurate. It reminds me more of one of those internet "personality surveys" than a real analysis. *Definitely* not meant as an expert opinion :P

    Sarah: This is a little embarrassing to admit, but I *think* I'll have to, ahem, read Infinite Jest before I get back to you on that :) The invitation, though, is greatly appreciated. I love story time.

    So sorry again! I hope this doesn't cause problems in your slush pile in the future.

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  14. Haha, it's OK. Writers who follow blogs and tweets and such are usually too smart for that sort of thing anyway :)

    Also, feel free to submit even if you don't write like DFW. When you're ready, of course!

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  15. @josheverettryan - I just pasted my YA-in-progress and it gave me David Foster Wallace!

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