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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Another Analogy...

So last weekend I was fortunate enough to join forces with a hundred other volunteers to help in the production of the Antiques Roadshow.

If you've never seen the show (some of you are international, after all) it's an appraisal show.  Regular people like you and me lug their antiques in and experts tell a little bit about the history of the piece and roughly what it is worth.  See this link for more info.

My job was managing the line.  Doesn't sound like much, but let me tell you it is AMAZING how many people can screw up the "end of the line" concept. I did not go on the set so I will probably not be in any of the episodes they'll air in January.  Still, I had fun and had a LOT of time to think while walking the line.

It occurred to me that the Antiques Roadshow is a lot like publishing.

Think about these numbers:  19,000 ticket requests. 6,000 visitors. 10-12,000 appraisals and only 50 were filmed for TV.  That's less than 1% of visitors.  Remind you of anything?  Strikingly similar to slushpile statistics don't you think?  

A good portion of these people knew their piece wasn't worth anything, and yet they still packed it up and endured long lines to hear someone else tell them what they already knew.  If these were writers, they are the ones who have no business writing. They don't understand the work involved, or how the process works.  These are also the people most likely to get belligerent when they are told their piece (or, ahem, writing) is worthless.

Some people DID have something special, and they attracted the attention and admiration of the crowd even while they were in line. Their appraisals were selected for filming. If these people were writers, they are the ones who have "it" and are destined for publication.  They just need to persevere through the process.

Some people didn't bring anything, they just wanted to see what was going on.  They weren't allowed on the set without an item, so the joke was on them in the end.  THESE were those people who approach other writers with "I've got this great idea for a book, would you write it for me and we'll split the profits?"

As for the rest of the crowd?  They fell in that dreaded middle ground.  Some of their pieces would have been more valuable but they had been damaged.  For others, the market for that particular item had fallen apart.  And for another portion, their painting/buffet/necklace/pottery wasn't worth much money but had a lot of sentimental or ascetic value.  I think of this group as emerging writers. They may or may not find a place for their work someday, but as long as they enjoy themselves along the way, what do they have to lose?

So there you have it...how the Antiques Roadshow is like publishing.  


Get your writing/publishing analogies ready.  We are TOTALLY having a contest...I hope to kick it off next week if I can iron out the details by then. (Like, how big of a prize can I afford to give away?)

9 comments:

Nicole MacDonald said...

Oh god I'm soooo envious - I LOVE that show :)

Mason Canyon said...

It's interesting to know they wouldn't let people on the set without an item. Sounds like it was fun. Love your comparison with writing - good match.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Jen said...

I love giveaways so I look forward to what's for grabs!!!

I've heard of the show and seen it on grandma's boy but never actually been to one or watched it. Then again I'm not one who has anything worth value so probably why I haven't taken the time. I don't collect either, but it is cool to hear what it's like behind the scenes.

It's like the contestants of American Idol and such, there are thousands of them but only about 30 make it on the show to actually be seen regularly.

HAPPY THURSDAY!

aspiring_x said...

great analogy... daunting and sad... but true! :)

Jaydee Morgan said...

I've watched that show many times over the years and the way you've written about it here makes for a perfect analogy!

Carole Anne Carr said...

How exciting, being involved in that Vicki! A real insight into what happens. Hugs..

Stephen Tremp said...

This is a good analogy. Groups of people are, well, grouped. Then sorted. The perceived cream rises to the top, some will be placed on the back burner and used if the need arises. The rest are discarded.

Stephen Tremp

Tahereh said...

you are so right. it's amazing, once you really start looking around -- you realize that the rules in publishing are really just basic concepts. we screw them up all the time.

big sigh.

but how cool for you to be helping out with that show! i used to watch it a lot. lol.

I LIKE HISTORICAL STUFF

Carolyn V. said...

Wow! That is so cool Vicki! I always wondered how they did that. And what a great analogy! =)