Imagine working a second job scrubbing the floor of a filthy aircraft hangar. It sounds daunting, but I’m not finished yet. Inside the hangar are thousands of people just like you. Your task is to clean the small area of floor under your shoes, and then get the attention of a handful of people way the hell on the other side of the hangar. Pretty damned frustrating already, but to top things off, you notice your shoes are covered in mud and pebbles and other crud. So then you clean them and redo the floor.
You cry out, “Look! I’m finished!”
A few heads turn in the crowd– but they aren’t the people you really want to take notice. Still, it’s nice to be appreciated. One of these jokers says, “Great job my man. I’ll give you nothing for it, but I’ll let everybody here know how well you did.” Then another says, “Hey, I’ll give you enough to buy a movie ticket. No popcorn though, buckaroo!”
You yell again at the sacred group of well dressed people in the distance. Squinting, you notice something peculiar. These people have no faces. You squint some more. Oh no, wait, it isn’t that they’re faceless after all; they merely have their backs turned. You shrug and sell your polished floor for a movie ticket. By the time you return to the hangar to start a new job, many more people amble about the hangar now.
You find a space again. Your shoes aren’t as dirty this time, so the process goes more quickly. Now you yell and several people recognize you. They pass it on to others. You begin a process of cleaning newer, larger areas of the floor, with more people glancing down at your work, some huffing and some humming with appreciation. You’ve even had a few paychecks now– nothing too big, not like its going to pay your rent or anything, but it’s something.
Now you tidy up a floor with only a couple strokes of a broom. Immediately, your network of clean spaces create a pathway to those distinguished New York type individuals at the far end. You’re standing behind one now, you’re glancing down at your shoes (are they dirty again?), and you’re poking him in the shoulder. He’s deep into a conversation about money with the others. It sounds shallow and fascinating all at the same time. You poke others. They don’t turn around. Poke again. Nothing.
So it’s come to this. My advice, new writers, is to goose publishers as hard as possible. Do something to break them out of that discussion of money, if only for a moment. They might not address you at all, but someone might look over her shoulder to a beautiful clean floor and say, “Wow, who did all that?”
You’ll be standing there, grinning proudly.
Oh and when you do this, please let me how it all goes. I’m still pulling gum out of my shoe.
Benjamin Kane Ethridge is the Bram Stoker Award winning author of the novel Black & Orange. His official web presence is www.bkethridge.com and you can Facebook him here, www.facebook.com/benjamin.kane.ethridge and Tweet him here, www.twitter.com/#!/bkethridge. He’s also on Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/benjaminkaneethridge