Don’t get me wrong. Writing and publishing are not as easy as pie. Nothing could be further from the truth.
But writing a book can be like baking apple pie for a tea party. The crowd at the event are the publishers and agents. High flyers.
You buy ingredients and you slave over a hot stove. You produce a great homemade pie. You bring you pie to the tea party and offer it around. To you it looks like a great pie. But it doesn’t look as good as Nigella’s pie. Or Jamie’s. It’s a bit Masterchef First Round, but it is the best you have ever produced. It’s a tough crowd. They look doubtful, but accept your offer of a little slice.
Oops. Maybe you forgot to add sugar. Or, eek, you left it in the oven a little too long. Maybe, after it’s sliced open, the tea party crowd see that the pastry at the bottom is soggy. And you forgot to round it off with a dollop cream. So soon, despite each one accepting a slice, no one wants to eat your pie. And you’re sad. Because you worked all day on that pie. But you can’t force anyone to eat bad pie.
You go home and bake another pie for the next tea party. You practice. You read up to see what Nigella suggests. You bake a few mini-pies to test. You produce the pie of your life.
You bring it back to the tea party. But wait, one guy is Banting, another is a diabetic. They don’t eat sugary pies. No thanks, they say, without even a slice. Great looking pie, they say, but they don’t ever eat any kind of dessert pie.
Another tea party goer checks her watch. It’s the cocktail hour. She likes pies, but not at five thirty pm. There’s nothing wrong with your pie, but he timing is wrong.
Great excitement. The lady in the corner accepts a slice. But then, after one bite, someone offers her a G&T. She is more in the mood for a G&T so she sets your slice of apple pie aside and chooses the G&T instead. Your pie is delicious, she says. You are a great pie-maker with heaps of promise. Please, she says, don’t give up. If you ever are making another pie, bring it. She’d love to taste it. But not today. Today she is in the mood for a G&T.
And so it goes with writing. Sometimes your first attempt will lack the finishing touches, sometimes it will have obvious (to others) mistakes. You send out queries, but no one bites those slices.
Or, you may produce a great book, but the agents and publishers you’ve queried don’t want your genre right now. Maybe they never want that genre. Maybe they want your genre but prefer it served as apple crumble and not apple pie. They might ask for the partial or the full and then see something else they connect with better. Don’t be glum. It doesn’t mean you haven’t written a great book. You just haven’t been to the right tea party.