A brief but enlightening conversation about publishing…

Setting: My House, Dinnertime…

Players: Well-Meaning and Supportive Relative, Me…


Relative – Hey, Katy, how’s that book you’re working on coming along?

Me – Really well, actually. I’m moving pretty quickly. It’s a lot of fun to write so far.

Relative – What’s it about again?

Me – It’s a ghost story, a mystery, and a romance all wrapped up into one.

Relative – And what about that other book? The one you said agents were reading?

Me – Still waiting to hear back from most of them.

Relative – Here’s an idea… what about just calling Walmart and asking them if they’d be willing to sell your book?

Me (at a loss) – Um, that wouldn’t really work…

Relative – Why not?

Me – Because my “book” is a word file on my computer. Books have to be produced before they’re sold at major retailers.

Relative (thoughtful) – Oh…

Me – Before books can be produced, they have to be bought by a publisher. Before that–in most cases–they have to be agented.

Relative – Hmm… well, do you *think* Walmart will sell your book someday?

Me (undeniably hopeful, yet realistic) – Walmart sells best-sellers, for the most part. Books that have already proven themselves.

Relative – Yeah?

Me – It takes a long time or a ton of luck–often both–to get to that point.

Relative – Oh, well hopefully, right?

Me – Yep, hopefully!

Moral of the Story: If you’re not IN IT, you just don’t get it.


9 thoughts on “A brief but enlightening conversation about publishing…

  1. Jus Accardo says:

    That is so true. I’m always amazed how my family and friends see the publishing business.
    “Oh? You’re a writer?”
    “What have you written?”
    “I’m not published yet.”
    “Oh. Well why not? Can’t you sell you’re book to Barnes and Noble or something?”
    I can pull bunnies from my but, too.

  2. Amie Kaufman says:

    Oh, amen to that. This is one of the reasons I tell most people–but not all people–about my writing. It’s so difficult to answer the ‘how’s it going?’ questions in a way that’s mutually comprehensible.
    Me: Great! I’m really getting through my rewrite and I got some great feedback, so I think it’s going to be way stronger.
    Them: Hasn’t this been going for a year now? When do you think it will be published?
    Me: Well, first you query, and… actually, you want some of that cake? It looks good!

    • katyupperman says:

      You’re brave, Amie! I don’t even go into the whole querying process. The one time I tried, I got, “Wait… isn’t there, like, a database where you can submit your stuff? Then agents can just find it and contact you.” Um, no. Not exactly!

  3. Heather Howland says:

    Love their optimism! Maybe they’re onto something. Wonder what Walmart would say if you called them up and asked? LOL

    I have writers in my family, so the conversations are usually a little more accurate, but the few non-industry friends I have are always asking where they can buy my book. There seems to be a disconnect between “I wrote a book” and “I published a book.”

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