Sunday, June 6, 2010
It’s June and that means I’m getting ready to head to Alaska to commercial fish on the Bering Sea. You’re probably wondering what this has to do with writing. You wouldn’t think the two had anything in common, but surprisingly they do.
My family fishes for sockeye salmon—red salmon for some of you that aren’t up on the lingo. We also fish with gill nets, not a pole. Poles are for sport fishermen on vacation. This is commercial fishing. Serious fishing where you cast a net into the ocean that is 200 fathoms and hopefully haul in 5,000 to 6,000 pounds (yes I said pounds) of salmon per net. Sockeye salmon weigh on average 8 to 10 pounds each.
Once in a while you catch something bigger. Like a king salmon. King salmon don’t fit in the small webbing of our net. They are simply too big. The only way we catch them is to snag them. Usually their mouth is snagged on the net. One hard pull and they could free themselves and often do. But sometimes you get one snagged tight enough that it stays caught until you’re able to pull it into your boat. We love these surprises and take up bets on how much they weigh. The above picture is of a king caught in just this manner and when weighed came in around forty pounds.
The big six in New York are the king salmons of the publishing industry. They are elusive and hard to catch. Much like a king. You cast your net—send out queries—hoping to snag a big fishes’ attention. When you do get that request, you’ve only got them by a tooth. One upset and they’re swimming away.
So what do you do?
First, you must cast your net wide and often. You quit fishing and you won’t get published. Ever. Second, you must have your manuscript in the best condition to send them and snag them so tight that you can pull them into your boat.
There’s a saying in fishing: “It’s called fishing, not catching.” But in order to catch, you have to fish.
Here’s to catching that big one. See you in August!
Writer of Award-Winning Alaskan Romantic Thrillers.