Thursday, February 26, 2015

Personality and Taste by Terry Burns

How does personality and taste enter in to getting published?

Actually it is very important. A number of years ago I was at a conference at Texas A & M and sat in a workshop on communication. That was in the 70’s and he gave an illustration that has stuck with me to this day.

He said to imagine that we had a box with index cards in it. (OK, today this would probably be a computer file.) On these index cards were written the sum total of our life experiences and background. A card would have our family background and upraising, another our education, our faith and beliefs, and on and on with all of the aspects of our life.

Now imagine that everyone has such a box. Before we write something, or communicate with anyone in any manner we thumb through the box and frame our communication according to the cards, we frame it in terms of our knowledge and life experiences.

The problem is that the person or persons that we are trying to communicate with have totally different boxes that they will thumb through and will use to decipher our writing or message. We will be successful in our writing and in our communication to the degree that we are able to find common ground with the maximum number of people.

That puts a whole new face on it, doesn’t it? But let me be more specific about submissions for publication. I’m likely to want to work with a project if the author and I find this common ground. They seem like a person I would want to work with. Then there is the project itself, is it something I really relate to? Do I like it, enjoy reading it, or more importantly do I really want to try and get it into print? That’s where personality and taste enter in, I relate to the author and to the project.

But it doesn’t end there. If I take it on I am then faced with finding the right acquisition editors. Again, are they people that I relate to well, is there a personality fit? More important do we have similar tastes? Just because I really like something doesn’t mean it fits a particular editors taste and they like it as well. Cultivating these editors with similar tastes is an ongoing process.

The most important thing is stellar writing, but the path to publication is through people. And there personality and taste matter.


Jenny McLeod Carlisle said...

This is how our writing ultimately reaches readers who have personalities and tastes of their own. I think this is why I don't want to indie publish. I need the affirmation along the way from real people that my efforts are worthwhile. Thanks for this blog, Terry, and for all you do.

Linda Glaz said...

When you first talked about index cards, I thought you were going to say each character has a box like that as well. No matter which direction, this is a great post. Really helps to understand the process better.

Diana Flegal said...

I liked the word picture with the index cards. Great way to look at it.

Face to face at a conferences really help me get a feel for whether a potential client and I will be a good fit.

Terry Burns said...

Good comment - it would help to understand that each character does have their own set of index cards.

Ashley Ludwig said...

Amazing insight. Thank you for putting this together in such a concise manner. I'm so thankful to have the opportunity to be represented by you, Terry.

Linda Glaz said...

Amen to that!