Monday, January 25, 2010

Pimping Ain't Easy

No it's not what you think good Lord I got you people trained too well, so get your mind out of the gutter or the drain pipe, or the channel, or the sewer, or the trench, or the trough....

Anyways, about a week ago, I wrote a post about getting my ego battered and bruised again by doing querying. The post garnered some rather witty and enlightening comments, of which one of then was left by Riot Kitty. The comment she left was this:

"Synopsis, cover letter-what the fuck can they really tell you without reading the book?? It's tricky. I'm at my wits' end writing them too."

Which I thought was a pretty good comment to leave. However, the response that I left, got me to thinking about the whole process of querying agents/publishers:

"I agree, the only way that you really can get a better idea about a writer, is to read the actual book. However, in order to get them to that, you have to make your query synopsis outstanding enough or intriguing enough for them to take a chance. I know it kind of sucks, but what are you gonna do? I do know when I was querying some three years ago, there were a few out there who required a couple of chapters instead of synopsis. To use a really bad street level analogy, this is what I equate it to:

Agent/publisher: pimp.
You the writer: potential money maker for the pimp.

In order for you to become a money maker for the pimp, you got to give him enough of a sample to rock his proverbial world, so that he'll want to take a chance on you to become his money maker."

Now, I spent the next day (1/16) while I was out walking to do my morning errands thinking about my response to R.K., and I came to the disturbing realization that I just equated being published with being a hooker.

Has it really come down to this? Is my analogy spot on for the publishing industry (or for any phase of the arts & entertainment industry for that matter), or am I still showing some lingering hostility and resentment from the last time I went through this?

Granted, I'm still considered a newbie to a certain degree, but I got the feeling that I just accurately described the entire process of traditional publishing.

So my good readers, the question for today is this: is my comment an accurate description of the process of being published, and for that matter, an accurate description of any other particular part (say music for example) of the entertainment industry?


  1. Yes, yes, and yes! Totally accurate.

  2. I guess if I'm gonna be a hooker I better invest in some better clothes and some makeup.

  3. Would you go to a movie that had a crappy preview?? Probably why would a publisher want to read your book if you can't provide a compelling synopsis? Seems reasonable to me.

  4. I just read your piece, "Ceadar's Mountain"......I really like it!

    My interest iswriting for young children and picture books...(although that's been temporarily put on hold) lucky that that does not require much of a synopsis..... therefore less stress!

  5. It made me think of a resume and how important it is to have a cover letter that knocks their socks off. You have to make them want to call you for an interview.

  6. You know, you're totally right! And it isn't easy :)

  7. I guess when it comes down to it, it does sound like an agent/client relationship is like that of a pimp/hooker. But it's also like many other industries where you have to present a peek of who you are (resume) to garner attention and secure an interview. It sucks that quite often an agent or publisher won't go beyond the query to see what a book is written like and judge the writing of the query on what the book will be like, but it's hard to imagine anyone having the time to read entire manuscripts. It's good when you can submit sample chapters and/or synopsis or when you get a request for a partial, but, much like job interviews, you don't always get the job. And, quite often, it's probably a good thing because you want whoever represents your work to respect and value your work as much as you do as they will be putting in a lot of time and effort representing you.

  8. "the question for today is this: is my comment an accurate description of the process of being published, and for that matter, an accurate description of any other particular part (say music for example) of the entertainment industry?"

    LOL well I'm sure THEY won't want to see themselves in that light but it sure sounds like it to me. Of course, you could cut out the middleman and self publish and then stand in the mall, like Mrs. Field's did and hand out "samples" of your book. Might help to add a cookie too. :)Bea

  9. Wow! Did I hit a nerve or what? Great comments everyone, so it's gonna be a pleasure in answering them.

    First off, let me say that I have nothing personal against agents/publishers. It ain't easy what they have to do on a daily/weekly basis.

    Now, on with the show.

    Mama Zee: Thank you, thank you, thank you. And, I was afraid of that.

    Charles: You might want to try K-Mart for you clothing apparel and CVS for your makeup. I don't know who to recommend for the hair though.

    Bearman: It absolutely does seem reasonable, that you should be able to write a compelling synopsis in order to hook someone. I was simply making a comparison between pimping/hooking and writing. Actually, you can take the pimping/hooking comparison and apply it to any part of your life, be it work or play.

    Carol: Thanks.

    You might be right about the market for children's books, in that less stres is involved because you don't have to write that detailed of synopsis. Just the same, you still have to expose yourself in order to get bites/nibbles.

    Lynn: Exactly. Even more so in today's economy where the competition for jobs is much fierce, especially in the public sector.

    You still gotta do whatever it takes in order to get someone to call you for an interview, or in this case, request a partial or a full.

    R.K.: It sure isn't. I think that's why I got so frustrated the first time around ('06-'07). I was used to having some moderate success in the workplace, and I thought it would easily translate to writing.

    Boy was I wrong.

    But now we're three years older, three years wiser, and this time, we're willing to do whatever is neccessary in order to get the job done.

    Talon: So very true. I think because that their time is a precious commodity, you really have to wow them with the query letter/synopsis in order to get them to request further material from you.

    And you're right about the same thing goes for work. In order for you to stand out, you have to wow people with a cover letter and resume.

    And you're also right about the ultimate end result. You want the person who ultimately represents you, to give you 110%, just as you would want to give them the same 110%.

    Bea: I actually tried that way for a little bit, but in the end, I felt it wasn't really for me. Some people have that natural salesmanship and some don't. Unfortunately, I'm one of those who don't, which is something I'll have to learn to do better if I want to get anywhere in this business.

  10. Interesting you talk about past success and translating it to writing - writing has been a big component of every job I've had since I graduated from college. But it's so unlike being a reporter (one of my editors said, "She just grabs people by the collar and says, 'You WILL talk to me!'") or doing marketing or pr writing or grant writing...frankly, your analogy is right on.

  11. I agree with u

    Please visit my blog

  12. R.K.: Thanks for making a return visit.

    Writing was never really that much a component of my life until the tail end of 2005, when a personal crisis jumpstarted the need to find a way to deal with it in the easiest way possible.

    But, as I'm want to do with other things that grab my attention, I'm willing to try my best to achieve my goal, no matter how long it takes.

    Prerna: Thanks for stopping by to visit.

    I did check out your blog, and it seems to be very nice.

  13. It's a game of semantics. I mean, anyone who works for a living could compare themselves to a hooker. I sell my time and my body to my employers (although all I do with my body during that time is type and fix the photocopier). The big deal with prostitution is that you're selling something that ideally should only be given freely in love. I don't feel that's the case with writing, so authors are not whores anymore than any other paid professional.

  14. Interesting way of looking at it. Never really thought about it like that.

    I guess it does boil down to semantics, but I still feel to certain degree that writers are whores (like that old fashioned term), in that they have to give free samples (unpaid published stories) in order to get what they they really want (published stories, published books, agents).

  15. I think you have to helicopter yourself into their office wearing a Shakespeare costume, offer them a bottle of scotch, a plate of burgers and dance the fandango to get their attention??

  16. Jannie: Just about.

    Maybe through in being their personal assistant for a week or two at their humble abode.

  17. Sorry to say that I think you may have something here with this analogy. Do we want to feel like we're peddling our creative "assets" to make the company richer? I don't feel too comfortable thinking about the publishing process now. I think I'll stick with me and my laptop in our mutually exclusive relationship for now. I don't have any "hooker shoes" anyway :)

  18. Kelly: Thanks.

    I really am a little leery in most things that pertain to the publishing industry.

    So I simple try to do my best to navigate the minefield that is called "publishing" the best that I can.

    I will always be a bit jaded/cynical when it comes to publishing, because that's what makes me, me.

  19. I think what irks me more about the publication process is that it isn't necessarily a reflection of one's talent or ability. A lot of it is just sheer pot luck - Unless your a celebrity of course when you could write a pile of poo and still sell it:)

  20. Excellent point. Sometimes you can have all of the talent in the world, and make absolutely no headway. Sometimes, you can hit that pinnacle by sheer luck, don't do anything else afterwords.

    Like "To Kill A Mockingbird".


Go on, give me your best shot. I can take it. If I couldn't, I wouldn't have created this wonderful little blog that you decided to grace with your presence today.

About that comment moderation thingy: While yes, it does say up above I can take it, I only use it to prevent the occasional miscreant from leaving thoughtless and/or clueless comments.

So remember, all of your comments are greatly appreciated and all answers will be given that personal touch that you come to expect and enjoy.

G. B. Miller

The Legal Disclaimer

All the content that you see here, except for the posting of links that refer to other off-blog stories, is (c) 2008-17 by G.B. Miller. Nothing in whole or in part may be used without the express written permission of myself. If you wish to use any part of what you see here, please contact me at