What to Tell Wannabes

June 2004
by Margaret B. Ellis

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Just when you were enjoying the party, someone says, “I’ve written a book and I was wondering if you . . . ”

Sound familiar? What publisher, large or small, hasn’t heard that line? All too often, the wannabe author corners the publishing person at a social gathering and starts by saying, “It will be a bestseller. It’s the Great American Novel.” All wannabes seem to think that their books are unique, and that the book-buying world will beat a path to their doorways as soon as bound copies are on hand.

Before the publisher can sigh and walk away, as many would like to, or smile faintly in the interest of good manners, the wannabe has grabbed hold and started a monologue. “You see, it’s about an abused child, who finally runs away from home, gets into drugs and robs a bank, then shoots his father, but is redeemed when he finds true love with the daughter of a preacher who comes through town with a traveling revival.”

What’s a Publisher to Do?

Option #1.Abandon good manners and flee, murmuring, “We don’t discuss business at parties.”


Option #2. Announce, “We only accept manuscripts from agents” (whether or not that’s true) while thinking, “We’re not taking that dreadful idea from you, that’s for sure.”

Option #3. Say, “We aren’t buying any manuscripts at the present time” (which probably has t…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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