As I write and post this, it’s Draft Day for the US National Football League (NFL). That’s the day when all of the NFL teams make their choices of new talent, and it’s a very exciting, important day. Representatives from the teams gather and select players, and the announcements are made by the NFL’s Commissioner. There’s a lot of tension, too, as players and their agents wait to learn whether they’ll be first round (top) choices, whether they’ll be picked later in the process, or whether they won’t be chosen at all. The whole process has got me thinking about the way publishers choose authors. What if the process were the same? What would it be like?
Before we go on, please do not bring your disbelief into this blog post. It’ll be much happier playing elsewhere for a bit. Ready? Here’s my look at…
Draft Day For Authors
Announcer 1: Good afternoon. I’m Mark Mason.
Announcer 2: And I’m Tara Turner. Welcome to Draft Day 2015.
Mark: It’s going to be a great draft this year. We’ve got some terrific talent, so we should see some exciting choices.
Tara: That’s right Mark. I think the publishers are going to do really well this year.
Mark: Now, of course, all the talk lately has been about Brenda Brownstone. Her historical novel has gotten her a lot of attention. She could very well be the first pick.
Tara: But can she be consistent? That’s the question, Mark. When she’s at the top of her game, no one can come close, but she’s also had her off times.
Mark: Yes, she has, Tara. But the word is, EverLine Publishers is counting on her settling out. And they need some historical writers.
Tara: Writing Commissioner Stephen Styles is coming up to the podium now. Looks like we’re ready to start. Let’s listen.
Commissioner Styles: Welcome to the 2015 Author Draft. I’d like to thank everyone for being here. Without further ado, let’s get started. EverLine Publishers starts the draft for this year. For the first round, EverLine chooses… [Reads card] Brenda Brownstone, New Orleans, historical novelist.
Mark: Well, that’s pretty much what we expected. And you can see how excited she and her agent are. I think she’ll be a good fit.
Tara: I do too, Mark. Now, in just a few minutes, we’ll hear from Fairwinds Publications.
[A few moments later]
Commissioner Styles: For the second pick of the first round, Fairwinds Publications selects [reads card] Carl Cameron, Edinburgh, crime writer.
Mark: Well now, that is a surprising choice. Fairwinds is already deep when it comes to crime fiction. You’d have thought they would have gone for romance writer Nicki Knowles. They need a good romance writer.
Tara: That’s true, Mark, and you can see that the fans are not happy at all about this choice. [Sounds of boos and ‘No!’ in the background] It’s not clear why Fairwinds would have gone in that direction.
Mark [Shaking his head]: Well, they may be proved right in the end, but it’s not the choice a lot of people would have made. Let’s get ready for the next pick.
Commissioner Styles: For the third pick of this first round…Eagle Feather Press has traded its first round draft pick to Camblethorne Books. Camblethorne Books chooses [Looks at card]…Shayna Shilmer, Melbourne, thriller writer.
Tara: Now that’s a smart trade by Eagle Feather, Mark. They’re going to pick up Camblethorne’s choice in the next round, and that actually works for them, since they’re trying to build up their science fiction section.
Mark: That’s a good point, Tara, although I will say, I’m not sure whether it’ll pay off. Peter Prentiss is one of the strongest science fiction writers out there, and he may very well go in this first round. Marsdon Books has their eye on him, and they’re up at fifteenth pick.
Tara: True, Mark. We’ll just have to see what Marsdon does.
[Several hours go by]
Mark: So far, it’s been a really exciting first round, hasn’t it, Tara?
Tara: It sure has, Mark. Lots of terrific picks and some interesting deals and trades, too. It’s shaping up to be a great publishing season! And now we’re down to the last three picks of the first round. It’s Random House’s turn now, and my feeling is that they’re going to go for a literary fiction writer. And my guess is that they’ll probably pick Edward Eddison. He’s got the atmospheric talent they’ve been looking for, and before the broadcast, his agent told me she was really optimistic for him.
Mark: I think that’s the way they’ll go too, Tara. They have been a little soft on literary fiction. In fact, I think that’s part of why Simon & Schuster looked so good last season. Their literary talent just dominated.
Commissioner Styles: In the thirtieth pick of the first round, Random House selects… [Looks at card] Edward Eddison, London, literary fiction writer. [Loud applause]
Mark: Looks like you nailed that one, Tara. And there’s Edward and his agent hugging. Clearly they’re delighted by the news.
[At the end of the first round]
Tara: Well, that’s it for the first round, and it’s been fantastic, hasn’t it?
Mark: One of the best I’ve seen in a while.
Tara: So what do you see coming up in the second round?
Mark: Now, that’ll be interesting, Tara. You notice that mystery writer Anna Ambliss, out of New York, didn’t go in the first round. And earlier in the year, she was looking like one of the best prospects for this season.
Tara: She certainly did look good, Mark. But of course her chances have been impacted by that liquor store incident.
Mark: Yes, we’ve all been following that story. Now, her attorney claims the whole thing was a misunderstanding. According to him, she was doing research for her next novel.
Tara: Whatever the outcome of that hearing is, it’s definitely hurt her here in the draft. She could very well fall.
Mark: She certainly could. [Turns to face camera] That’s it for our coverage of the first round of the 2015 author draft.
Tara: [Also facing camera] Make sure you catch all the second-round action tomorrow!
[Cut to advertisement]
So what do you think? Would you want publishers to choose their authors this way? Writers, would you want to be in the draft?
You may now collect your disbelief on your way out. Thank you.