I recently submitted manuscript proposal or query to six literary agencies. Most of my inquiries have been largely unsuccessful. I chalk this up to my inexperience in the industry or profession. In one regard, this process is very difficult. In the other regard, the process resembles a very interesting journey. The process has become interesting at times once I am somehow able to hold constant all of the different variables that would ordinarily increase anxiety. This task can be insurmountable at times. Holding anxiety constant provides opportunities to observe what I consider the very small crumbs of information that I hope might lead to a publication. I will try and remember to blog the experience.
I first heard of the term ‘concentric circle’ as an adult student at San Jose State University. I probably heard the term in a geometry class in high school. One professor described it briefly in a lecture or during office hours. A few other helpful points on writing accompanied the discussion. I think I remember that at least one of the points centered on formatting a written paper. I have since become intimately involved in learning to write and continuously attempt to put forth a written product for publication. I enrolled in graduate school to learn or re-learn how to write. This process is ten years or longer in the making for me.
I think I understand the concept of a concentric circle in terms of marketing a written work after publication. Application of the concentric circle is used to identify an inner core audience and then grow outward as people read the work and discuss the ideas and content within it. Social media can facilitate this discussion rapidly for marketing purposes. In the age of social media, the spread of an original idea can occur rapidly because of the inter-connectivity of the digital marketplace and discussion forums. I am skeptical of social media and online forums as starting points for endeavor. I am old-fashioned in the sense that I prefer word of mouth and the human interaction and discussion in the generation of ideas, even when I say absolutely nothing. Social media often removes the human interaction from the equation and translates to mean spirited mobilization of a collective. Another former Professor at San Jose State said to practice divorcing the self from the product to increase the likelihood that negative feedback is channeled appropriately. The lesson: the self is distinct from the product.
Of course, words matter. The reality of life is that individual people do not always couch human discourse in complete sensitivity to a collective or individual norm. This is probably part of one person or group fighting for the right of a less strong person or group because the stronger person or group feels that the less strong person or group has been slighted by the collective in some real or perceived fashion. People feel emotion which can sometimes cloud objectivity and decision making in private and public settings. Collective mobilization can be a positive for trampling a political opponent or demonstrating action for some other worldly cause, but the individuals within the collective are just as likely to experience some form of Group-think behavior that includes negative aspects that harm individuals in society. Group-think behavior is the normative and subjective cloud over a collective that ruins societies, tramples individual rights, and destroys individual innovation.
Proponents of social media are likely to argue that technology is the future of innovation and sometimes neglect the human drive for improvement which exists externally to the social media industry. Social media forums can reduce the human element of life into a compartmentalized veil of binary choice. No room for human error occurs within this compartment. The is one example of the concept for American exceptionalism. The contradiction is that most people are ordinary and aspire to exceptionalism.
Compartmentalization and technology put Americans in space and onto the moon after American people decided to work with one another toward accomplishing that goal. I would venture to say that this process toward the heavens led people to rely more on their inner angels than on any tool devised for space travel. The technological tools facilitated the process. The belief generated the way forward.
One of the positive aspects of not having an inner core audience out of the gate is the organic development of an original work in the process of discovering new knowledge. The process of discovery is often brutal. Some people have remarked that the process can also be rewarding.
Concentric circles remind me of a topographical map. For the first time reader of a topographical map, thousands upon thousands of lines move squiggly in what appears as many different directions. Trained topographical readers understand that lines very close together indicate sharp increases in elevation. Lines further apart indicate gradual increases in elevation. Centers of elevation are often marked by a hilltop number, ridge, mountain top elevation, and so on. Different fields of study are likely to have similar characteristics for analysis. For example, meteorologists study wind patterns at different levels in the sky. Oceanographers study the sea patterns and tides and life within the ocean and must also have knowledge of the ocean floor. Marketers need to understand the production and consumption cycles and equilibrium to study the consumption and production patterns of society. It is very likely that all of these fields use the concentric circle to some level to identify the cores of change in each respective field. The core of change in the process of publication is likely the publisher, the literary agent, and the author.
I view the concentric circle applied to the publication of a manuscript as the opposite of a topographical map with concentric lines that represent the depths of discovery rather than elevation. The outer rings of the concentric circle resemble individuals or groups in society that are closer to the surface of society. The inner rings represent layers of critics who discuss in unison the ideas put forth by internal and external members of the ring. The concentric core audience are the final decision makers or possibly the gatekeepers that permit or reject the original idea for publication. The criteria that I used to move this project forward is: Will this project contribute to the scientific body of knowledge? I think I am beginning to recognize that there is more criteria to this process than the question I used to continue down this path.
Unfortunately, a new author’s path is completely uncertain. The new author assumes all of the entrepreneurial risks involved in working toward the completion of a project that seemingly has no end. The end of a project is the beginning of a publication. Yet, the author has limited control of the process for publication. This is likely to mean that undertaking a process with limited control over an outcome increases the ambiguity and uncertainty of completion. Who on earth would knowingly engage in or actually seek out this type of activity?
I submitted proposals for a manuscript that includes 14 chapters. I realize that I would work with an agent in the process to determine the content of a publication, but I also think that eight of the chapters and the current epilogue should be combined to form nine chapters. I also think that the first six chapters should remain in the current chronological order. The current eighth chapter should actually be the seventh chapter and the current seventh chapter should become the eighth. The current epilogue should become the ninth chapter of the first manuscript.
I worked at least three times longer on the first eight chapters and epilogue than I did on the other five chapters. The last five chapters have caused me significant and sometimes increasing frustration and headache. This frustration may be a result of my attempts at combining the first and second parts of the manuscript to form one manuscript rather than two manuscripts. I am supposed to start a program this fall that could provide new topics of study that could align the overall themes of government regulation of the environment with the second five chapters of the manuscript. The new topics of study are likely to include environmental regulation and policy. I hesitate in moving forward in this second endeavor and manuscript because I have yet to see any fruits of my labor regarding the first endeavor and manuscript and the nearly ten years of graduate school. I am already going to have a difficult time paying for the costs I have incurred in this process.
Baldwin, J. Norman. “Political Science 662 Organizational Theory.” Class Notes at The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa (Spring 2016).
Posamentier, Alfred S. and Robert Geretschlager. The Circle A Mathematical Explanation Beyond the Line. New York: Prometheus Books, 2016.
Posementier, Alfred S. and Ingram Lehman. The Secrets of Triangles A Mathematical Journey. New York: Prometheus Books, 2012.
Ross, Gail and Howard Yoon. “Publishing and Social Media.” YouTube Ross Yoon Agency, Washington D.C., (November 2, 2010).