Come on, look over here right now and answer me this one simple question: Who among you is going to throw the first stone? By my way of thinking, it damn well better be you. No, no, no, this isn’t some biblical stuff, and I’m not the second coming. Actually, I’m the original devil, the one and only little voice inside your head that knows the secret to getting you published. We’re standing together on the broad brow of the mountain, and looking down I offer you all that you see before you, if you’ll just cast aside your whimsy and your preconceptions (unfairly ingrained by institutional learning) and go for it. Yes, Fame, yes you can have it. Riches, certainly. Happiness, probably not. But come on, now, don’t go all crazy on me, two out of three isn’t all that bad. Here, it’s simple: Just rear back and fling your best shot.
Okay, so maybe I’ve tantalized you enough, you just might huck that rock, but where? Well, let’s say you pick the top 20 agents and let a whole barrage fly. ”But Devil-Boy,” you complain, “agents don’t like multiple submissions…” Well, I get your point, but how about we just lie to them, then? It’s not like you’re making your first communion or fibbing about something important like your taxes here. Are these literary cogniscenti-dudes or wenches as they may be—are they actually family? Or your dearest and most cherished best friends? Do they even have your interest at all at heart, except where it may accidentally parallel their own? Think for a moment about what they’re asking. Why the hell do they want exclusive, anyway? Well, the answer to that one is simple: The industry is built on laziness and greed. It’s easier and safer to publish the 33rd tired old Robert B. Parker Spenser Detective rerun than to consider your fresh new offering. And, knowing that, don’t you think it’s unfair of them to ask such an enormous concession of you? Exclusivity?! Give me a break here! After all, didn’t you just spend a year of your life writing something almighty sweet that could make a goddamn lot of people including them very, very rich? Well, yes, you did. It’s just that the right ones don’t know it yet. And how are they going to know it if you don’t smack them square between the eyes with your best, smoothest, roundest skipping stone? After all, it’s not like we have seventeen Albert Einsteins, Teddy Roosevelts, Mohatma Ghandis and Donald Trumps in the same room here.
Oh, I almost forgot the most important thing—make sure it’s a smart rock. (You still following? It’s the one I’ve convinced you to huck simultaneously to twenty or so lucky agents.) What’s a smart rock? Well, it’s an informed communication, like a sword between the 2nd and 3rd rib on the right side of the chest, like a heat seeking missile going after your mother-in-law or a just-right chop to the artery on the side of her neck. A dumb rock would be sending a girly-man, metrosexual literary editor your smoldering new, better-than-James-Bond-and-Dirk-Pitt-Combined action thriller novel. Or wafting a haut-sniffing, literary feminist sweetie pie your fiendishly clever but insane manuscript proving women should be barefoot in the kitchen, chained to the stove. In both examples, you’ve written like the genius that you are but marketed like Clyde Clodhopper. That’s seed thrown on fallow ground. Pearls to swine. A waste of your time. No, no, no, no Julio (and Julia)—know who these stumbling blocks in your way are, and you’ll know what they want. Know what they want—and give it to them! Do that and they will fall down, slaves to your bidding, and rightfully praise your genius. Yes, they will.
John Klawitter is a Hollywood writer, producer and director who writes fiction and non-fiction books. He often adapts his novels to screenplays that he then peddles around town. (So far, a few fat options, but no brass ring.) His novels are based on his years surviving as a creative person in the ad biz and in show biz. It is an interesting life.
He has worked as the Creative Director of Disney Studios in Burbank, and as an independent creative resource for Warner Bros, Universal Studios, Paramount and the Disney Channel, as well as for many indy production companies including Hanna Barbera, Franke Films, Pink Planet Productions, Eyeline Films and Zoiyu Productions. His films and television specials have appeared on NBC, the BBC, and the Disney Channel, and he has written many memorable song lyrics, advertising jingles and television show openings, including “Disney’s Wonderful World”, “Now & Then”, and “The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show”.