A Frustrated Fairy Tale

Fairy Tale Author
Fairy Tale Author

Once upon a time, there was a lovely author. She was smart, and sexy, sassy and…okay, okay, I said it was a fairy tale, remember? Anyway, she’d been writing her whole life, and finally finished her first novel. Now, this gorgeous author was alive back in the days before there was internet. Yes, I know, that was a very long time ago. You probably weren’t even born yet! But such a time did exist. Ha, ha, very funny. Yes, there was electricity. And typewriters. You’ve probably never seen one of those, have you, smarty pants?

This voluptuous writer, her dream was to have her book represented by the William Morris Agency in New York City. She sat in their waiting room when she was 15 years old, just watching the goings on. It was a magical afternoon in the city that never sleeps. She believed it was her destiny. How could she be denied?

Fast forward to the 1990s. The author’s first manuscript was complete. It was an action-adventure novel which would rival Ian Fleming and definitely kick Clive Cussler’s far-fetched ass. She was ready. She contacted William Morris. They wanted it. Months went by. The vice president had taken an interest. Three readers read it. Things were happening, indeed.

Then, the letter came. The book was “lively and entertaining” but they couldn’t take a chance on an unknown. Despite this, the stunning author was determined. The vice president had even written in the letter that “this was just one opinion,” so someone else had to want it, right? Remember, this was back in the day of no internet, no self-publishing – no eBooks and no print-on-demand. Yes, dark ages. Sure, thanks. Okay, I’m not continuing until you stop laughing.

How would this ravishing author find new agents? She went to the library and looked in reference books. A library? That’s a building that has lots of books. Yes, I know, also before your time. The author copied down, with paper and pen, all the agents which handled action-adventure. She queried them via U.S. Mail, one by one. Seriously? You have to buy stamps and envelopes. It’s complicated.

And one by one, she received back form letters stating they didn’t have a use for her book. A few agents did request her book, and after reading the 391 pages that she paid to mail (yes, that post office thing again), those agents responded with “it’s better than most of what’s out there today, but you’re an unknown and we can’t take the financial risk.”

The incredibly beautiful author was growing frustrated. She was following all the rules, and going exactly by the book. Perhaps that meant it was time to do something drastic. But she knew, back in these days of yore, that one wrong move could get her blacklisted. These agents, they didn’t want you to query multiple places at once. They wanted to know that someone else wouldn’t possibly get her book if they were spending the time reading it. (That’s called simultaneous submission, even still today.) And there was no way to query a publisher directly. You had to go through an agent. No, I’m not making this up. This is what is known as “traditional publishing.”

Many years passed. Letters went out. Rejections came back. The brilliant author had run out of options. What she didn’t know, however, was that the industry was evolving. There would be a huge shift in power, when the authors would gain control of their own destinies and would no longer be forced to deal with the roadblocks imposed by traditional publishing. The phenomenally beautiful author would be able to find a small indie publisher who appreciated her, and produce book after book without having the evil agents of the east in her way.

And she lived happily ever after, well, mostly, except for the starving part. What? Well, yes, traditional publishing does still exist. Why do you ask? Seriously? I can’t imagine any author wanting to be given the run-around like that when they could just self-publish or find an indie publisher. You still want to give it a shot? You’re really stuck on that, aren’t you? Well, don’t just take it from me. Here are some traditionally published authors who hopped onto the Indie bus: Jordan Dane and John Barlow, to name two. Click on their names for articles they’ve written. I mean, it’s a free country and all, so do what you want, but I can pretty much guarantee you that you’ll end up in your own Frustrated Fairy Tale.

Author: K.S. Brooks

K.S. Brooks is an award-winning novelist and photographer, author of over 30 titles, and administrator (AKA Fearless Leader) of Indies Unlimited. Brooks’ feature articles, poetry, and photography have appeared in magazines, newspapers, books and other publications both in the U.S. and abroad. She currently teaches self-publishing for the Community Colleges of Spokane, and served on the Indie Author Day advisory board. For more about K.S. Brooks, visit her website and her Amazon author page

43 thoughts on “A Frustrated Fairy Tale”

  1. And ever since, that gorgeous author has lived in her opulent mountain sanctuary, where the wolves drop fresh meat on her porch, the eagles leave eggs for her to eat, the bears mark trails for her to find berries and fiddleheads, and the cougar guards the perimeter to keep out the papparazzi.

  2. First Kat, my sides hurt from laughing. This is one of the best posts that I have read . OK Indie brothers and sisters you have had some brilliant ones as well, but this is PRICELESS. Kudos! You have such a natural talent for comedy, you are great! Hey, I remember typewriters, someone said to keep one they’d be good for labels to all those agents and publishers way back in the day.

      1. Lady you did that and more. You are gifted, but I’m sure you’ve already been told. I loved what Yvonne posted. OK Stephen is the Evil Mastermind, now you are the Queen, but not of evil LOL

  3. Yep, super, been there done that, only I didn’t go to the library to find agents or even publishers. I had this gigantic book that listed every publisher in the world, their submission guidelines, and whether or not they took un-agented submissions. It also contained the names of agencies and their agents and their submission guidelines, but for the life of me I can’t remember the name of it. The book was a birthday present from my husband at the time who didn’t believe in giving gifts. Strange, controlling man, but that is for another story someday.

    Loved your story and Yvonne wrote a superb ending.

    1. Yup, as Lynne said, “Writer’s Market” – I have an edition upstairs. But back in those days, I used them at the library. Thanks for stopping by, Jacque!

      1. Writer’s Market could be it but for some strange reason I remember it having a longer name. And if it is online now, Lynne, those still pursuing a dream of getting traditionally published, it is a great resource if it is still as it was years ago. I don’t need them, but some might, lol.

  4. Jacqueline, the book is called “Writer’s Market” — they put out a new one every year. I owned a few editions myself, back in the day. Now I think it’s online. But who needs ’em, right? πŸ˜‰

    Kat, thank goodness your fairy tale had a happy ending, and didn’t turn into a horror story!

    1. Well, I left out the part about the big New York City agent. And the two movie deals. But that’s okay. I didn’t want to veer too much from the subject and end up wandering off behind the little animals. πŸ™‚

  5. Huzzah for history lessons, how lucky are we to be writing right now. πŸ™‚
    I read today that trad publishing is the new vanity publishing, and this just confirms it. Lovely post.

  6. Kat you always make me laugh you are so funny. Phenomenally beautiful you are, inside and out from what I can tell. I can only stand back and watch in amazement at your skill as a writer. Days of yore…. ahh I remember it well, before all these new fangely techno computer thingies and passwords and the like. *sigh*. Brilliant post. πŸ˜‰

  7. Here’s another of those pre-internet gorgeous authors; I am SO glad those days are gone. I hopefully (and hopelessly) bought Writers Market year after year. Dug them all out and binned them when I discovered CreateSpace and being able to publish on Amazon. Burned into my memory are all those fabulously encouraging rejections and the subsequent kicking the metaphorical cat around in the backyard to get rid of the frustration. You summed it up perfectly.

  8. I’m with you Kat. I decided I didn’t really want to be dead before anyone read my books. Another fairy tail; I found that fancy new (old) Smith Corona the other day. You know, the one where you could read one line of type at a time and hit the correct key and a miracle happened. I gave it to my grandson to play with. When he asked me how to charge it I swear I felt my bones creak.

  9. Typewriters, posted letters, sending post parcels containing printed manuscripts, but do you really think today’s young-blood writers will be able to suspend their disbelief to that extent?

    Priceless, Kat, just lovely. You are all that!

  10. I didn’t start querying until the internet was up and running. I can’t imagine the cost alone of the process. And the time!! I’d have gone nuts waiting. However, my mailman would become my new best friend.

  11. I agree with you on the hard knocks of getting your book traditionally published. You have worked hard on this book and you send it off to a hot shot publisher, who in return keeps you waiting for months and then rejects. So, yes it’s best to self-publish or indie publisher.

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