Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Recently at a meeting of my writer’s group some of the published writers were encouraging the unpublished writers to send their work out. One member described sending his work out like sending it to “the Big Bad Wolf”.

Like the furry, big toothed guy in the fairy tale, agents, publishers and editors(let’s call them the Big 3)have a lot of power. It may not be life and death. An agent hasn’t gobbled me up…yet. But it feels like life or death sometimes when they’re judging something that so much of your life, your time, your identity is tied up with. Power isn’t the only thing the Big 3 have in common with the Big Bad Wolf.

1. Mistakes—Sometimes the Big Bad Wolf was wrong. He thought he could blow down the little pigs brick house. Well, he huffed and he puffed…and that didn’t go the way he planned, did it? So if you get hit with a rejection(and you will)they could be wrong. Some of the best writers of our time were told at one time or another that they were unpublishable: J.K. Rowling, William Faulkner, John Grisham, Dr. Seuss, Ernest Hemingway.

2. Clues—When the Big Bad Wolf blew down his brothers’ two houses, Pig #3 tried to figure out a Plan B to keep his house from being destroyed. The Big Bad Wolf lets people know what he was thinking. “I’m going to huff and puff…” The Big 3 do too. They give you clues. “You have too many POVs. This is too short. You need to focus your idea.” Take those clues and use them so you(and your work)are better prepared next time you meet the Big 3.

3. Bad Endings—The Big Bad Wolf seems unconquerable at first. Who thought a little girl and her grandma could escape him? But he always comes to a bad end: being chased by a lumberjack, burning his tail in a roaring fireplace.(Please don’t try this with editors that reject you.) The Big 3 seem unconquerable too but if you stick with it long enough, learning, refusing to give up, you could come out on top too.

As someone who works with agents, editors and publishers let me tell you there is one way the Big 3 and the Big Bad Wolf differ. The Big 3, for the most part, are nice people who don’t enjoy gobbling up people’s dreams. They want you to succeed. Your success is good for them too. Make them your ally, not the enemy. The fourth little pig, maybe?

Do you think of the Big 3 as the Big Bad Wolf?

Today Jodi Webb is sending out her picture book Harry and the Team to the Big Bad Wolf, ummm, an agent. To learn more about her obsession with fairy tales visit Words by Webb.


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