MXME: A year ago November, a publisher who shall remain nameless was sitting opposite me in a restaurant. A group of us were chatting over lunch. I was relating a story about my childhood and how it came about that my family moved to England in December 1948. The publisher said he thought that was a good story. He repeated this to me several times, and finally said, “Do you hear me? I said that is a good story.” I responded, “When a publisher says to a writer, ‘That is a good story,’ I assure you that the writer hears that.” I promised to write the story and send it to him.
Well, I’m a slow writer, but the following October, I had enough of it written to take it to him at a writer’s conference. (I had an appointment with him for that purpose.) Instead of looking at the manuscript I had brought, he SOLD me another book and said he wanted me to read it and take his course. I was annoyed that he hadn’t even had the courtesy to look at what I had brought to the appointment, and more annoyed that he sold me a book I didn’t want, and still more annoyed that he wanted me to take his course. He knows nothing about me, my education, or my background. I’ve taken many writing courses—night school, correspondence, etc. The best courses were the two I took from the Institute of Children’s Literature (see link on this page). I continue to read about writing and to attend conferences and workshops to keep learning, but I balk at being badgered into taking one specific course in order for a certain publisher to see one manuscript. I’m sure that if I were to sell the book to that publisher, he would get far more out of me than I would get for the sale of the book. I’ll write the book, because I agree with him that it is a good story, but he’s last on the list of publishers who’ll get to see it.