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.
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).