Rant time. So, I’m in the process of trying get a book published. I didn’t expect the process to be a simple one, but I was not prepared for the level of frustration this quest would cause me.
As some of you may know, I was once the mascot for the New York Mets – quite the unique job. Over the years, I’ve frequently recounted stories of some of the things I experienced both on the field and behind-the-scenes and nearly every time, the reaction I got was, “You should write a book.” Well, that’s all well and good, I thought, but nobody knows who I am. I’m not Tina Fey who gets a multi-million dollar deal handed to her on a silver platter, or even a lower-level personality like Chelsea Handler, who is somehow able to convert a little talk show on E! into a New York Times best-seller. Nor am I a “Real Housewife” – since apparently every single person on that show can score a book deal, writing ability notwithstanding. Mind you, I don’t begrudge these people their book deals. I understand that celebrity sells, but I have to believe there’s a place for quality writing in the writing of books.
Once I was hired by ESPN.com to write on a regular basis, I figured the time was right to attempt to test the publishing waters. I wrote a book proposal and it wasn’t too long before I ended up with a terrific literary agent who not only loved the idea for the book, but was very optimistic about its potential for success. After working carefully with my agent, refining the proposal, we sent it out to potential publishers. Some passed outright, which was to be expected. What I didn’t expect was the large number of responses we received that read something along the following lines: “What a great proposal! AJ is definitely a very talented writer. I couldn’t stop reading. Loved it! But I have to pass…”
Look, I can accept rejection. But again I ask, shouldn’t book publishers be looking for well-written books from actual writers who they can establish a long-term relationship with?
Case in point, I recently read that Carrie Prejean has gotten a book deal. (If you just said, “Who?” I rest my case.) She’ll be writing “Still Standing,” a memoir all centered around the one moment in time that made her famous for all of a day or two, when, as Miss California, she answered a Perez Hilton question on gay marriage. (Oh, yeah, you kind of remember her now… )
Really? An entire book? Does anyone really care about this? I mean what’s next – a book deal for the former Miss Teen South Carolina (“such as South Africa, and the Iraq, such as…”) on geography tips?
Or how about a sweet six-figure contract to that couple that had their wedding party dance down the aisle in that YouTube video making the rounds? I can see it now – “Chapter 10 – Sunglasses or No Sunglasses” and “Chapter 13 – That Aisle Is Narrower Than We Had Planned For.”
We’re still shopping the book around, and I’m still optimistic that we’ll be able to find a taker… but every time I see a book deal handed over to someone who probably had no desire to write a book in the first place, probably isn’t going to be writing the book without help from a ghost-writer or two, and in all likelihood will be completely off the pop-culture radar by the time the book sees the stores, I cringe.
Not every book is for everybody, but I’ve read books on topics I wouldn’t normally have an interest in solely on the recommendation of a friend who simply said, “It’s really good. You’d like this.” Haven’t you?
Hey, Perez Hilton, if you read this… give me a call and ask me something. Maybe I can come up with a crazy enough answer to get the publishers to come running.