In one of my favorite scenes from the original Ghostbusters, Zuul, inhabiting Dana’s body opens her apartment door to Venkman.
“Are you the keymaster?” she asks.
“Not that I know of,” he answers.
Door slams in his face. When he knocks once more, the question is repeated. This time he replies that he is the keymaster and walks right in.
When I began writing with the goal of being published, Ezines were a big deal. I thought that before taking on the challenge of submitting to book publishers, I’d try selling a short story to an Ezine.
I’m not sure if it was the blunt language used by the magazine submission guidelines or my military upbringing’s emphasis on following orders, that defeated my natural inclination to rebel. Research seemed to confirm that publishers were serious about their “my way or the highway” approach to reading submissions.
We’ve all heard stories of folks, seeking admission into heaven, meeting St. Peter at the pearly gates. Whether writers like it or not, the publishing world is a lot like that. If you want to enter the kingdom, you have to get by the gatekeepers. It’s not an easy task. It is compounded when a writer refuses to use the keys he’s given and tries to break down the door.
All the positive thinking in the world; all the talent in the universe will not accomplish what simple compliance will. Our modern world is overflowing with self-published authors playing by their own rules—most of them wishing some publisher would recognize their talent. Been there, done that. I still have the T-shirt.
Writing requires toughness, persistence, and a wide streak of self-reliance. There are road signs along the way. However, where you go in the kingdom, from submission to sales, ultimately rests squarely on your own shoulders. The keys and how you use them are in your hands.
Are you the keymaster?