We All Want That Secret Handshake

This was the very first article published on Red Room in 2008, and nothing has changed much. I'm still using my writing skills to pay the bills with "corporate communications" (i.e. providing content for everything from annual reports to whole websites). My fiction projects still lead to very interesting conversations. Writing about the arts inspires me daily. And nobody has taught me the secret handshake yet.

Seeking A Secret Handshake Or How To Sell Your Book

When people hear that I am a published writer, they always ask how I sold a book. In short, the secret handshake that everyone always knows that writers and publishers have but won't reveal to other people. Many seem to believe that there is one surefire route to being a published author that will allow them to skip all that dreary business of sending out queries and reading rejection letters.

Sadly, nobody taught the secret sign to me. Instead, I've sold nonfiction books, novels, stories, and several hundred articles to publishers without one single handshake. I also have supported myself in a less than luxurious lifestyle by doing various forms of commercial writing: catalogs, advertisements, press releases, and other business media. I've even hopped to the other side of publishing blanket and actually produced a number of books for other people at the start of this century. For one brief period in the 1990s, I ran a bookstore, an experience that left me with nothing but admiration for independent booksellers and the amount of work that they do to sell books!

These days, my writing life is a nice mix of business assignments (the stuff that pays my bills) and what I consider "fun assignments" (the assignments that might only pay for a dinner out but lead me into interesting conversations and friendships).

But if you know the secret handshake, can you teach it to me?


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