It’s a dog’s world out there when it comes to getting published and selling books. You feel as if you’re always in the doghouse, covered with the fleas of rejection and sadly there’s a good chance you might never get your bone.
No one would think you’re crazy for wanting to give up and merely bark at the moon.
But there’s something more productive you can do and it’s illustrated by this well traveled advertising story.
Not too long ago, the executives at Bowser Buffet, a major pet product company, hired a prestigious New York advertising agency to promote the launch of a new dog food.
After bringing in a renowned film director to create an emotionally vibrant 30-second commercial the agency previewed it before a focus group of pet owners and their dogs who responded with tears of joy and howls of delight. Then the ad was unleashed, airing heavily before, during and after the Super Bowl at the cost of tens of millions of dollars.
After the initial buzz subsided the ad agency received an angry phone call from the CEO of Bowser Buffet.
“We spent a fortune with your fancy, high falluting agency and our sales stink,” bellowed the portly executive in between puffs on a well chewed and slobbered Cuban cigar.
The stunned account representative who took the call hung up the phone and the alarms were sounded. All martini lunches were cancelled and in short order staff from all branches in the agency were cramped into the marbled conference room which featured a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline (as well as a topside glance into Louie’s Delicatessen which further tantalized the famished).
They argued for nearly forty minutes with voices raised and fingers pointed trying to determine who was at fault for the agency’s failure. One thing was certain: Somebody’s head was going to roll.
Finally, there was a lull in the clamor and one of the interns who had assisted throughout the entire ad campaign stood up rather boldly and cleared her throat before announcing, “It’s the dogs.”
“You’re going to blame the dogs?” hollered out one of the graphic artists who happened to own a bejeweled toy poodle called MiffyWooskie. Shouts echoed additional protests. But Joey the copywriter, who was sweating from energy drink withdrawals, pounded on the table with his two-tone shoe and they quieted enough so the intern could speak again.
“Yes. It’s true. It’s the dogs. You see…they don’t like the dog food.”
As it turns out, this is just one of a dozen classic cop-out stories any agency worth a bean keeps in hand in case of emergency, but there is a lesson here for those of us throwing our hats into the writing business.
It’s difficult to get an agent. It’s nearly impossible to get traditionally published. And even when we do, it’s challenging to achieve strong book sales in this economic climate.
When we experience set-backs it may very well be that all of the agents simply don’t get it, our books are too amazing to be comprehended by common folk and a full blown conspiracy truly exists in the publishing world against quality literature.
But sometimes the explanation is much simpler. The dogs don’t like the dog food. Our writing, ideas and platform aren’t where they need to be.
That doesn’t mean we’re a failure. It’s no reason to surrender our dreams.
We merely must remain open to the concept that we’re just not ready…yet. Because in writing perseverance is a major asset; whereas, denial is not.
So we do what all eventually successful writers must do.
1. Learn what the dogs like.
2. Make the best food possible.
The craft of writing is difficult to master and undeniably benefits from innate talents. For some, the journey to excellence takes longer than others and there are those who may never fully arrive.
But there’s no benefit in wasting time and blood pressure levels by shaking your fists at the cruelties of the publishing world.
Rather, focus on the things you can control such as researching the needs and tastes of your readers and developing your writing skills. Never stop working on your cooking skills and be relentless in honing the perfect recipe which one day make actually drive the dogs into a frenzy.
And even if those fickle canines never catch on to your culinary brilliance, always keep joy alive in the kitchen.