Stories will Save Us

Newsletter editor Rachel here

 

I sent out 57 query letters for my book.

 

FIFTY-SEVEN.

 

And these were no vanilla “to whom it may concern” letters. These were personalized, charming love letters detailing exactly why MY book should be published.

 

Not a single bite. Not one. Just the sound of crickets and my dying dreams. 

 

Now you might be thinking “It can’t be that hard to find a publisher, maybe she didn’t put in enough research.”

 

Oh, believe me. I researched the sh*t out of it. 

 

But all of my research was pointless because there was something I didn’t know–  something that completely changed my understanding of the whole querying, agent finding, and publishing process. 

 

You see, I thought that publishers were evil villains intent on stomping all over the dreams of writers like myself. 

 

They aren’t.

 

I just didn't understand what goes on behind the scenes at a publishing house. Publishers have to meet deadlines and fill quotas and answer to a boss. So even if they fall in love with a project, it might not be right for their list, or for the market. Agents understand that, and successful authors understand that.

 

I didn’t have the full publishing picture so I couldn't craft a proposal that made it easy for an agent to choose to represent me, and a publisher to publish me. 

 

But thanks to Stephanie Hitchcock, senior editor at Atria (part of Simon & Schuster), I can get the full picture. And so can you. 

 

So my crush this week is very clearly on this incredible woman who makes it her publishing goal to represent minority voices. Her specialty is around nonfiction books told by uncommon thought leaders and diverse authors. She– like all publishers–is choosy about who she represents, and she seeks out hidden and otherwise untold stories. 

 

She is one of those people in a rare position where she decides whose voice gets amplified, and whose story gets told. Rather than going with the whitebread, basic, and predictably lucrative option, she takes a chance on new writers. She purposefully looks for diverse narratives that challenge the status quo. 

 

She uses her voice and her success to bring up women and minorities with her. I can’t think of a better way to subvert the patriarchy and fight for equality. 

 

Later today, she is sitting down with Sarah Lacy to talk all things publishing– her incredible career, what she looks for in a book, and how the pandemic and the polarization of our culture has changed publishing forever. 

 

Whether you’re a writer or not, it’s going to be an outstanding conversion to listen to. 

 

You can bet I will be there taking notes– not just on how to publish-- but on how to be a woman who uses her resources to amplify the voices of others.

 

I hope you'll join too!