An aspirational author’s guide to effective self sabotage (Part 1)

September 8, 2009

3895914578_d95e5db3391. Write first, ask questions later

This is a key to remaining in obscurity. Follow your impulse, write your book and not only when you are drained of all motivation, seek feedback. When you seek feedback, start with learned friends. Avoid anyone remotely connected with the publishing industry. Ideally, find a bored English teacher who will judge your work alongside adolescents and curriculum writers. This will really ensure that your chance of connecting with a commercial book category is seriously diminished.

2. Send, send, send

Send your manuscript to as many publishers as you can find on the internet. Write one letter of introduction, and copy it to every recipient. Be careful to avoid any specific iterations of your project that take account of having studied a publisher’s business. Studiously avoid any kind of commercial proposal document unfolding the metrics of audience, previous success stories, marketing ideas and your availability to publicise the book. Send a stamped self addressed envelope to make it easy for the publisher to reject you without reading the manuscript.

3. Maintain radio silence

Never ever follow a publisher up with a direct phone call. Such an invasion of privacy could move your ideas into some kind of heightened relevance. Keep quiet. Believe that, if its meant to be, it will simply drop into your lap. Forget about any advice like “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” or the parable of the persistent widow. Just wait patiently. If this doesn’t work blog about unresponsive publishers.

4. Stick to your guns

If you receive feedback from someone in the publishing industry before you submit your manuscript, make sure you remain true to your original vision. Don’t even think about rewriting. Back into a corner and reiterate the feedback from your friend who is an English teacher. Stay focussed on your talent. Your ideas. Don’t compromise. Don’t listen.

5. Pitch hard

If you get a pitch meeting with the publisher, go hard. Lean into their personal space. Go for a knee-grab to reinforce your point. If you can, move around the desk to where they are sitting and really get in their face. Give them condescending looks when they sound unconvinced. Remember, if you don’t labor your points, how will the dummies ever get it?

photo by Lao P

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8 Responses to “An aspirational author’s guide to effective self sabotage (Part 1)”


  1. Way too close to the bone for me, Ben. It all sounds too much like best practice to me!

    Enjoyed the chuckle.

    Best, Robin

    • Ben Dawe Says:

      Thanks Rob. “Best practice” is a wonderful weasel phrase.

    • louise Says:

      OMG! I do number 3!! I was always under the impression that to “bother” a publisher or agent was author suicide.
      OK, where’s that number….

      • Ben Dawe Says:

        Hey Louise
        So pleased you visited my blog.
        I really hear you on this one. I do recommend checking in with the Publisher or their assistant so you know where you stand and can learn from their comments (either on your ms or the marketplace). The danger
        of obscurity is bigger than the danger of rejection – in my view.
        All the best with your writing
        Ben


  2. […] An aspirational author’s guide to effective self sabotage (Part 1) An aspirational author’s guide to (success or) self sabotage-(part 2) I liked the humour in this, the ironic statements actually made me smile. Keeping in the vein of the piece, you probably should not bother to read it. How about a nice couple of hours on the sofa, doing Sudoku? […]


  3. Hey there, I’ve found your site on Bing, it’s really interesting. I surely will be back later to check things out again. Keep up the good work!


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