The Price of Admission

Mick Silva will  be at NCWA’s 2011 conference. See end of post for links.

Now I know some of you (including some naysaying coworkers) think I’m crazy for saying and doing some of the things I say and do. Maybe I am. I just find it a lot of fun to look at the publishing challenges square in the face and say, “Pppppfffffff!” I’m not trying to climb any corporate ladders and I’ll never be a salesman or a gatekeeper. I can only do one thing and that’s carry out this passion for assisting in the creation of excellent books. And though it’s appreciated, I don’t need any concern over my employer’s feelings about my opinions.

I’ll be fired when God decides it. Until then, I’m too fired up to worry about it. (I since left Focus and was let go from WaterBrook in a downsizing, so make of that what you like…)

I have to get home to write, but I want to leave you tonight with this little snip from an article that brought a knowing smile to this editor’s face (yes, we can smile, you just can’t usually tell we’re doing it). Good stuff to keep in mind about your future coach. This comes from David Milofsky, novelist and professor of English at Colorado State University…

“All [industry] professionals … are often reluctant to express their true feelings about a manuscript, and [therefore] freight their rejection letters with euphemisms. And for good reason. Who needs an argument with an author you’re never going to work with? The following glossary, offered with tongue in cheek, might help literary hopefuls decipher messages received…in response to their work:

Interesting = Boring

Has potential = Amateurish

Moving = Show it to Mom

Needs work = Hopeless

Mid-list = Won’t sell

Intelligent = See “interesting”

Ambitious = Too long

Spare = Too short

Poetic = Insomniacs only

Plot-driven = Superficial

Excellent = Possible, with a rewrite

Cinematic = Unreadable

Marketable = People will buy anything

Challenging = See “poetic”

At this time (as in, we can’t use it at this time) = Never

Experimental = In your dreams

Character-driven = No story

Novel of ideas = No one will read it

Talented = How did you get in here?”

Sadly, it’s fairly accurate, but I suggest you don’t ponder this too long. Use it to realize who your most important reader really is, and then completely forget you read it. This is what you’re up against with any pro editor, but it’s just the price of admission. And you and I both know you can break through that cynicism with your great, polished writing. It happens every day, even today…

So hang in there! And don’t let anything keep you from getting the WORD out.


Mick is a “former big-publishing book editor, now full-time book nerd. Sage father. Masterful husband. Blogger, novelist, and all around lucky dude.” On her post, Michelle Hollomon added, “Kindergarten-teacher-kind.”

Mick “began in 2005 with high hopes the industry was changing. Wonderfully, now it is, and a new “elite” of connector authors is emerging. I’m excited to share with you what I’ve learned about how they connect.”

He will be presenting a workshop at Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference in May. Registration soon as rates go up on April 1st.

4 thoughts on “The Price of Admission

  1. Thanks. Perfect timing. I just returned from Writing for the Soul. My favorite part was the connecting with the agents and editors on a personal level. I also laughed so hard I almost didn’t need to do situps today. Liz Curtis Higgs was hilarious. Thanks for finding those connector authors. See you in May at the Northwest Christian Writer’s Association Conference.


  2. Mick, I enjoyed your discussion presented at NWCA, I found it somber but encouraging. And this post is a great reminder to follow what you had spoke about and finding connectors.
    To quote you~”This is what you’re up against with any pro editor, but it’s just the price of admission.” Seems we are told in the Bible to consider the cost in ministry. Guess this is one of those costs if you want to write.
    Thanks for being real.


  3. Thanks for your words and for your talk to NWCW last week. It was very validating in terms of my own writing journey. And I too, love that last sentence – Hang in there…


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