No Holds Barred Publishing Advice

[Originally posted on June 10, 2005]

Pat Walsh is a founding editor at one of our favorite publishers, MacAdam/Cage. This fine independent publisher has gained notoriety for its varied booklist. The publisher brings you everything from Southern gothics to edgy underground fiction to quiet, critically acclaimed stories. They published The Time Traveler’s Wife as well as some Slushpile favorites such as Dayne Sherman, Craig Clevenger, and Will Christopher Baer.

But today, Walsh puts down his red pen, steps out from his editor’s desk and places his name on the spine of a book as 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published and 14 Reasons Why It Just Might is released. We’ll have an in-depth review of this book in the next few days, but initial indications are that this is no bullshit, no holds-barred advice that you’re either tough enough to take or not. Publishers Weekly said “Walsh mercilessly presents the cold, hard facts about why authors don’t get published: ‘You think too highly of yourself,’ ‘You missed your first-chance glance,’ and ‘You scare away agents,’ along with 75 other dispiriting reasons. This tough-love approach aims to enlighten writers committed to their craft and discourage those who are all talk and no work.”

Lest you think, from those statements, that Walsh is some Simon Cowell-like mean-spirited jerk who gets off on destroying dreams, let me tell you that I’ve found Mr. Walsh to be one of the most approachable, most accessible, most congenial editors in the business. He’s not going to sugar-coat his opinions of your work, but at least he will respond to you instead of hiding behind some massive conglomerate and the “no unsolicited submissions accepted” VIP-access-only defenses many editors use.

And I can tell you, sitting here looking at my shelf of how-to publish books, that the last thing I need is more empty platitudes about sticking with it and “it’ll happen some day” and all that. If I need positive reinforcement, I can call home and talk to Mom. I need the literary equivalent of the old pug trainer Mickey, when he snarled to Rocky that he was going to teach the Italian Stallion to “eat lighting and crap thunder.” Walsh’s book gives us actionable intelligence, things we can use. Walsh “avoids the optimistic, sometimes misleading directions often found in publishing how-to books and presents the industry as it is, warts and all. Here is the first guide that tells writers just what the odds against them are and gives them practical tips for evening them.”

Keep an eye out for our review of Walsh’s book, or you can go ahead and buy the book yourself here.

By the way, I’ll admit to being a little confused here. Some sources show the official release date as June 7, but Amazon says you can order this book today. So I’m not sure what the truth is, but it looks like Amazon is filling orders today so get your copy now!

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