Monday, March 14, 2011

Bracketology

As I watched the announcement of the NCAA men's basketball tournament on CBS last night, it dawned on me that making the tournament was a bit like getting published.

There's a lot of hard work involved, sure, and a lot of waiting for other people to make decisions that you have no control over, and frankly sometimes seem ridiculous, but honestly, it's sometimes entirely inexplicable why some teams make it, and others don't.

You have automatic qualifying conferences, at large bids, and a bunch of other formulae and reasons why certain teams make it, but they're generally quite hard for most people to understand, and there is inevitably someone left pissed off for getting skipped over. This year it's the University of Colorado, Virgina Tech, St. Mary's, the University of Alabama, and I'm sure several others.

Then you have the teams that probably shouldn't have made it, but did. I'm not knowledgeable enough about college hoops to judge this one for myself, but all the experts say that UAB, VCU, and USC don't belong.

Anyway, this needs to be a quick post today, but I think this sounds a lot like publishing. All my published friends say that first you have to write a good book, work really hard, and then there must be a sort of a perfect storm of timing, luck, and fundamentally subjective taste. I don't have any reason to doubt them.

You've got authors like James Patterson (think Ohio State), who can essentially write anything, and it will be published, and be commercially successful. Then you've got authors like Brunonia Barry, or Christopher Paolini, whose road to publication did not go through the normal routes, but who still found success (think Butler, last year). Finally, you've got authors like Amanda Hocking, who find incredible success without entering the traditional publishing waters (I'm not sure I have a perfect basketball analogy for this one, but maybe this would be the winner of the NIT).

What do you guys think? Am I nuts? Did anyone get left out of the tournament that you would have liked to see make it? Is there anyone who made it that you think does not belong?

35 comments:

Jessica Bell said...

UM .. I know NOTHING about basketball. LOL. But just wanted to let you know that I was here. My two cents on what' like publishing: Life is like publishing. You work hard and sometimes you get your fair share in return and sometimes you don't. :o)

Natalie Aguirre said...

I don't know anything about basketball either. But I think you're right about the analogy. And that there has to be the combination of timing, luck, and subjective tastes, with emphasis on the subjective, to get published.

Laura Pauling said...

Yeah, I've heard writing a good book has something to do with publishing...

Sarah said...

Despite having spent my formative years in Indiana (while Bobby Knight was coaching IU, no less), I know nothing about basketball. However, I love this analogy. Because it is more complicated than writing a good book, but it's also not as simple as being lucky. As you say, there are so many factors that have to come together.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I haven't looked at the list yet, so not sure who got left out. Any you care to mention that make it far but really aren't that good?

salarsenッ said...

I have to say that my Perfect Storm has been brewing. Just haven't been hit with the correct cloud, yet. LOL There are a lot of variables in the publishing world that I do believe must align for each of us. How, when, and why...not sure.

Bish Denham said...

I know nothing about basketball except that Tim Duncan (from St. Croix)plays for the Spurs and that they are headed to playoffs for like the 14th time in a row. Go Spurs!

I think as writers we can find analogies for writing in just about anything :)

Old Kitty said...

I haven't a clue about basketball but I like your analogy!! :-) All boils down to hard work, persistence, hard work, luck, persitence, hard work....

I noticed Spurs being mentioned. I thought at first it was Tottenham Hotspurs football team!! Go Spurs! (football team!!) only cos my brother supports them and I have very fond memories living in Tottenham! Take care
x

Melissa Bradley said...

An apropos analogy to be sure. I'm an Illini fan and am so happy right now.

Paul Joseph said...

Kentucky is in. All that matters to this guy :)

Jaydee Morgan said...

I'm another who doesn't follow basketball but your analogy definitely works. I believe luck can play a part in it but I always find those who are the luckiest are those who work the hardest.

Hannah Kincade said...

uh, yes?? hahaha, no you're not nuts. I think those are appropriate examples. You could give the most extreme example of success and that's Mr. Stephen King.

Who wouldn't want a $450,000 deal for the paperback edition of their first book??

Again, that's an extreme example...

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Ah, yes, the perfect storm. Wouldn't mind one of those--unless I was on a boat. Then it would kind of suck if it was like in the movie. ;)

Hard work. Perseverance. Luck. That's what it boils down to. But each success story has it's own combination of the three elements.

Kristi Helvig said...

Oh, how I love sports analogies! A bunch of people here are sure to be disappointed about CU not making it, but I'm not a huge basketball fan (though my siblings are all former Tarheels, so I root for them). You're right that there's always a certain amount of luck, synchronicity or whatever you want to call it involved. I think if you're a good enough writer, you'll get there, but it may not be in the time frame you'd like. :)

aspiring_x said...

what a cute analogy!!! i never paid any attention to march madness until nb's contest last year- and man! guessing the teams and watching the results was such a blast! i even was ranked pretty high!... at first.... then it went downhill pretty quick. eep! my hubby and i were pretty competitive about it... too bad he won last year- stupid duke! but this year! man, this year will be my year!!! :D
(i just pick teams by which names i like! eeks! that would make me a terrible literary agent in the analogy!!) :)

Chris Phillips said...

Good analogies overall. I like the NIT/self pub comparo, because it is like being successful on the fringes, without the same respect a tourney team gets.

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

James Patterson is Duke. Just sayin'.

Lydia K said...

I only follow pro-football. March Madness is totally wasted on me.

Have fun!

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I actually really like this analogy - bracket picture included. What a strange, strange world it is.
And I know a fair amount about the game basketball, but almost nothing about college teams. Enough to know this works, though. :)

Jess said...

I don't know much about the teams in the tournament, but I definitely agree with the analogy. It's hard sometimes feeling like the little team that keeps trying and trying and never getting to the top games. Oh well, better than not playing basketball at all, right?

Hilary Wagner said...

Yeah, I'm a basketball dunce! I do know that March is statistically the worst month of the year for work production. They (whoever they is) says it is all due to March Madness! Too funny!

- Hilary

Jared Larson said...

I think this is awesome. Just goes to show that we got publishing on the brain, and even March Madness can't break away from the fantastic comparisons. Go Utah State!

Tracy said...

And this is one of the main reasons I don't watch basketball. Actually, that's not true, I just don't really care all that much for basketball. But if I DID, this whole bracket system would drive me insane.

That being said, I think you utterly nailed it with the analogy!

Steve said...

St. Mary's got screwed.

James Patterson is the NCAA; rich, known, and not really playing the game.

Jules said...

I so agree with Bama. They beat Georgia in the SEC, Georgia gets in and Bama goes home, go figure. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Cynthia Lee said...

I've sometimes wondered how many really good, even great books go unpublished in the world, for whatever reason. It's kind of depressing.

(Please understand I'm not slagging traditional publishing. I'm very grateful that good and great books get published, just curious about the ones that don't).

Christina Lee said...

Well lookey you and your analogies!

Too bad I don't have Ohio State's "luck" (we're from Cleveland and basically root for them--except it makes our Ann Arbor Michigan side of the family pretty angry, esp. during football season)! :-)

LTM said...

ergh--March madness. And it's all happening in Indy, too...

I don't know from basketball, but you're right. There are several factors involved in this process that are completely beyond our control and that fall into the realm of luck. I guess more educated luck. Sort of. I hope... :D <3

And go UAB. Huh?

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

also, don't forget Patterson has his cabal of writer slaves.
Also, brackets makes me want to play a foosball tournament. Good times!

Abby Minard said...

I don't know anything about brackets and how teams get chosen, but I understand your analogy. A bit of talent and a bit of luck seems to be the consensus.

Ted Cross said...

I keep looking at Nathan's site to see if he will do his bracket game again. What amazed me most about the bracket this year is how much harder it is to pick than usual. Every team I look at has huge flaws, even the top ones. I NEVER put all four top seeds in the final 4, yet this year I just can't really see anyone who can stop them. I'm sure there will be huge surprises this year, and by that I mean even bigger ones than usual; either that or all the top seeds will make it!

Angela Ackerman said...

There's definitely some good parallels here, no doubt about it. I think that's probably why to be a writer you have to be a little bit Charlie Sheen in the head. Some folks think we're crazy, but we do it because we love what we do, and the goal is worth it. :)

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I like your analogy!

Hope you're staying dry today :))

Carolyn Abiad said...

I know nothing of this [bracket] business!

A Backwards Story said...

This is such a great analogy! And so true, too. For the longest time, I swore I'd never read Patterson because I don't approve of his ghostwriting tendencies. Someone got me hooked on Maximum Ride though...

Mm, and I *love* Brunonia Barry! I started putting together an entry that I'm planning to post later this week that mentions her. Yay, she needs more readers!

And I know, isn't Amanda Hocking's story amazing? Almost makes you think twice... Did you hear about Barry Eisler? http://www.idealog.com/blog/eislers-decision-is-a-key-benchmark-on-the-road-to-wherever-it-is-were-going The world is changing...