Comments 4

Finding The Right Publisher Is Like Finding The Right “Fit”

My friend Joe Schwartz, author of Joe’s Black T-Shirt, recently sent me a letter discussing the submissions process of finding a home for your novel. Here’s what he said:

Joe S. on publishing: “Is it a numbers game? Maybe. More likely though it is an appreciation thing. The right key for the right lock.”

What came to my mind reading his letter was the parallels with this statement to the film version of Neil Gaiman’s Mirrormask.

In Mirrormask, the juggler Valentine helps the protagonist, Helena, search for the mirrormask that will restore the lands of light and shadow to their proper order.


MirrorMask (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Valentine has an attack of conscience, he takes the magic key to the small building with locks — floor to ceiling high — and frantically tries them all, desperate to find the one that opens to save Helena and the magical world.

The search for finding the right lock for the magical key is a great parallel for publishing whether you are trying to find the right editor, the right agent, or the perfect publisher.

When Helena first finds the room with the many locks, she could have taken the attitude that the task was hopeless. Instead, she says, “Well, one of them must fit.”

You just need to find the one matching lock for your key (novel).  You’ll probably try out a lot of locks that aren’t a good fit. Bring a pencil and don’t take it personally. Just keep at it.  Eventually, like Valentine, you’ll find the perfect one.

Haven’t seen the movie but still curious?  Check out the clip below (minute 7:40-8:45).

[tentblogger-youtube NWqKP0Rp2ng]


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This entry was posted in: Writing


Lauren Miller is a Midwestern born writer with a passion for Jesus, the written word, and dogs. She has two decades of experience in the library field and reviews books for the Historical Novels Review (UK). She likes to spend her free time enjoying period films, discovering new reads, and being surrounded by other people’s pets. Lauren, her husband, and their wily Maine Coon (who isn’t quite a dog) live in Missouri. You can learn more about Lauren’s writing at LaurenJoanMiller.com.


  1. I like that: the right key for the right lock. It’s nice to have a visual for this subjective process, to put the rejections into perspective. Thank you!


  2. T.W., based on your own publishing experience (as the author of Zero Time), is this a good analogy for writers to latch onto? Would you describe it differently? Last question: What do you think of Neil Gaiman?


    • Actually, I think you and Joe did a great job of describing how we “should” view the process of trying to find a home for our work. It’s better for your self-esteem and probably more accurate than believing your writing just isn’t good enough (which is a common reaction). Even if you are published, rejection still happens (a lot) and still stings. It’s wise–and kinder to yourself–to focus on the subjectivity inherent in the process. As you said, don’t take it personally. Just keep at it.

      I’m lucky–I still have lots of Neil Gaiman’s books ahead of me! I’ve only read Neverwhere and the Anansi Boys, and liked them a lot.


  3. Pingback: Lauren Miller | Author of Historical and Spec Fiction | Best of 2012

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