The Writing Whirl

Adele and I struck out trying to get an agent for our jointly-written account of our adventures in cardio-vascular land. Half the time we got a form rejection; half the time they ignored us. “You don’t have a national platform,” one agent we met informally warned us before we began looking.

The next step was to query publishers who didn’t require authors to approach them through agents. The first — no, second one — we queried, on the basis of our proposal and two chapters, he would publish our book if we met one of two conditions. Get an endorsement from a celebrity he could splash on the cover. Get a five-star review from Kirkus. (The way Kirkus works now, he explained, is if you pay it $500, it will give you a review you can publicize or keep quiet, like the College Boards. The odds on five-stars, though, are 99:1 against.)

We liked that he believed works judged meritorious deserved publication. But unlike, say, James Laughlin or Barney Rosset, he didn’t rely on his own judgment. He left it up to celebrities or Kirkus. (I should add there were other enthusiasm-dampeners about his operation as well.)

We decided to continue looking.