jesse kaellis en Lifestyle, beBee in English, Writers Bally's. Trop, Dunes, Caesars, Sahara. Landmark, Barbary, State Line, on and on. • 21 joints. I counted them again. 6/11/2016 · 4 min de lectura · +500

The SFU/Anvil Press 1st Book Contest

The SFU/Anvil Press 1st Book Contest

I never bothered to tell this story because the result was the same and it puts me in a bad light..As I have told before my ex-found a book contest sponsored by Simon Fraser University and Anvil Press, the First Book Contest, and the winner got a contract with Anvil Press. So I had a lot of material by then, and it was on an online forum. I didn't read the contest rules because I wasn't too interested. I can focus on some things, but I'm not too interested in the fine print. I'm not a professional type; I freely admit it.

So, Kelli, my ex is helping me proof, and I'm slapping these stories together on some instinct. The story, my memoirs, memories of a chaotic, unstable life, and the arcane jobs I drifted through.

It was a fair bit of work getting it ready; Kelli worked hard, and I will always be indebted to her, for her help and for believing in me. We get it ready and print it up, which cost about fifty bucks. The contest cost $35.00 to enter. We mailed it off, and I wrote it off. I forgot about it. It seemed pretty remote that I would ever hear from them again.

I made some submissions in the meantime. I was sending hardcopy submissions at the time for some unknown reason. I didn't know what the fuck I was doing all together. I submit to small Canadian publishers. It seems like a waste of time. Most of these small and medium-size outfits operate on Canada Council grants. My impression is that it is a pretty incestuous little scene. Besides, what did my book have to do with Canada? Much of it was about my Las Vegas life. That's the main nerve running through the book.

I have written about this before: what happened is that I shortlisted. I got an email when I was on the phone with Kelli telling me that I had been selected for the long list. I couldn't even talk; all I could do was cry. But the email informed me that the short list would be out in two weeks, and I was now competing against a field of nine in my genre down from an original field in creative nonfiction of 24. All first entrants were over 200.

Now I just wanted to shortlist. But as the date got shorter I even entertained the idea of getting a book contract on my first shot.

About a week before the shortlist was posted I read the contest rules for the first time. You were not supposed to make multiple submissions of the same material. Now I'm worried. I had gotten a rejection from Anvil; the publisher the winner got a contract with. What to do?! I make jokes about lying and how I like to lie, but I've never been magnificent at lying.

I had about a dozen rejections taped on my wall. Wallpaper. I pick up the phone and phone the Writer's Studio at SFU. I ask for John Mavin, the head of the creative writing department. I explain my situation to the chilly receptionist, and now I feel sick. Why did I do that? But I pictured me getting the prize, and they would call me out at the awards ceremony. I don't know what would happen, and I could be disgraced.

I understand why they need to do this; because what if someone won a contract with Anvil (instant obscurity) and at the same time or while they were gearing up for production the person got a bigger publisher, on the other hand, so what? The big publisher could just buy the rights. This does happen.

I get an email from Mavin, and he congratulates me on my honesty, but he tells me that he has no choice but to withdraw me from the contest. Now I'm dying. I leave a phone message, "Give me a call and give me that courtesy. I was honest." And I do get a call. I tell him that it is an industry practice; simultaneous submissions. He says it is not, but it is. He tells me that I was going to come in third. I thank him profusely. I fucked up, but I didn't lose anything. He tells me not to give up, "I made a hundred submissions before I sold a book." This guy was in his thirties. If you submit and wait to hear back on each submission before trying again, 100 submissions times an average turnaround of six weeks, why, lemme think -- his way took 12.5 years. It's possible that he's telling the truth. He was a good man. He sent me the reviews which were uniformly outstanding save for one guy who thought that my story didn't go anywhere, but that's okay because neither did my life.

So -- fellow writers or wannabees, don't sweat it. Multiple submissions and that's it. Good enough. You don't have to list them all. Yeah, no worries, Fuck them. They are not likely to show you any consideration. Agents are worse than publishers; super arrogant.

I've been told that just getting shortlisted is quite an accomplishment but as time moves on it seems pathetic to hold on to it. I did sell some pieces of the manuscript to co-sponsor Anvil Press. Then I had a bi-winning moment, and Kaufmann mailed my manuscript back to me. Did I learn something? Not that much. I’m still mental.

James Frey had a look at it, Harper/Collins had a look at it, and high-powered agent Eric Simonoff read it. These people liked my writing, liked my style, “loved” my voice. There is a lot more than being good at issue here. The hard print industry is downsizing at the moment. Harper/Collins merger with Penguin is an indicator. E-publishing is eating into their market. You have to figure that the people that work in these publishing houses, the editors, work hard, make a lot of money, and have a particular kind of lifestyle, especially if they are living in Manhattan. They are flooded with submissions and they don't have a lot of time. For instance, Michael Signorelli read my manuscript at home, probably in the bathroom. He doesn't have a chance to read it at work.

What I'm saying is these big publishers can't make too many mistakes, especially when it takes 80 to 100 grand to print and promote a book. I feel overwhelmed by the submission process. They tell you what they want, exactly what they want. They are looking for a reason to delete your submission. I got some harsh rejections, but on the other hand, I got some very encouraging ones. 

I saw how things were and I decided to e-publish. It's easy to do and doesn't have to cost much. But now I'm stuck promoting it, and that’s something that I don't care for. I'm taking a step back from the whole thing. The good part is that I can just keep writing to please myself.

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jesse kaellis 6/11/2016 · #7

Thank you, Ben, and another person, who shared my story.

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jesse kaellis 6/11/2016 · #6

Thank you, people, who chose my story, as relevant.

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jesse kaellis 6/11/2016 · #5

#4
In fact, Ben, I would have to delete as much of my online postings as I possibly could before I released this material for publication. I have a shot with the small publisher. What could I get out of it? Because it won't be money, that's for sure. I suppose just the personal satisfaction. Self-publish? An even more remote possibility to reach the public. But it will be out there for anybody that wants to read it. I have a file of "fresh" material that I gave a working title of "Outtakes" -- I have that, and I could give it a working title of, "Stuff that wasn't good enough to make the first cut." Thank you, Ben.

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Ben Pinto 6/11/2016 · #4

Jesse,
Sure, the publishers and agents prefer a virgin manuscript. After all, if they put it in print and it makes it on a few 'Top Lists' it makes the job of reselling it to publishers of other languages that much easier.
You can imagine the sales pitch.
Finally, selling the softcover rights, is the final ambition of your initial publisher and your hopes, at that time, too.
Movies wouldn't hurt, either.
Sites like this one and LinkedIn make meeting the right connections so much easier than the days when you had to send a ream cold.
The fact is that your best agent might be someone that isn't in the industry and isn't looking to make a dime off of your work, but just likes you and makes the right link for you.
Keep the pen to the sheet,
Ben

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jesse kaellis 6/11/2016 · #3

#1
I'm talking to a small publisher now, maybe for early next year. And I had a small publisher before, a three-year contract that I bought out early. That's a story right there. An agent is harder to get than a publisher -- in many cases. Thanks, Paul.

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jesse kaellis 6/11/2016 · #2

Thank you, Milos.

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Paul Walters 6/11/2016 · #1

@jesse kaellis Again a great piece . I was lucky and 'fluked' a publisher but as you say, thats when the hard work begins as without an agent its all too hard. Agents, they simply don't reply to ANY correspondence !! I wrote a piece on beBEE entitled " Securing a literary agent is like trying to catch the wind ! " www.beBEE.com However jesse, I love your stuff so keep submitting and I'll see you at the next literary festival somewhere exotic !!!

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