Bush League

Dear Miss Snark,

I've written a satirical novel about George W. Bush and my query letter to agents has had a slew of instant form rejections. I'm puzzled since it seems like a pretty commercial premise -- people have made plenty of money making fun of Bush in every other genre and medium. The folks doing the rejecting haven't seen a writing sample in most cases, so the problem is not that it sux. Could the problem be that mainstream book publishing is just too slow -- is it pointless to try to sell something that will no longer be topical in two years or so? Should I give up and trudge directly to iUniverse, or are small presses sometimes faster and therefore a better prospect?

President Bush, for good or ill, will be out of office in about two years. The Republican convention is set for September 1, 2008. The campaign, and thus our interest, starts in Iowa in January 2008. That's 13 months away. That's a heartbeat in terms of publishing.

Once he is out of office, no one will care about a novel satirizing him.

Small presses aren't eager for things that have no back list.

You're a day late and a dollar short.


lizzie26 said...

Small presses also take about 18 months from acceptance to published book.

Dave said...

Whatever your political opinion of George Bush, the day he leaves office he becomes an "elder statesman" and as such, isn't worthy of satire. TO abuse an elder statesman is childish, churlish and bad form.
Nothing ages faster than satire in the writing world. There are only a few novelists who wrote satire for the ages - Animal Farm (for one) and Hitchhiker's Guide (for another).
Right now, I am going to throw out my copy of Primary Colors because it's dated. Do you remember a Maureen Dowd book called "Bushworld" that was so popular and had so much comment? It's now a forgotton tome gathering dust.

BitchySmurf said...

It's not just small presses that take that long. I was always told that the average time from completion to publication for a book was 2 years.

Plus the people at the Onion just published a Bush satire. So I doubt publishers are eager to publish an unknown when well-knowns were published two years ago, to minimal success.

xrrwefek said...

I think your own line "people have made plenty of money making fun of Bush in every other genre and medium" shows that there's nothing fresh or original here--not even to mention the limited shelf life.

You might want to serialize this on a blog, podcast it, or rewrite to make it universal (governments and government officials don't change that much from century to century).

michaelgav said...

Miss Snark recently answered a question about "platform."

I may be wrong because I'm not an insider, but it would seem to me that a satirical novel about President Bush would require platform in this current market. Dozens and dozens of best-sellers, scores (or maybe hundreds) of non-best-sellers, have been written about national political figures in the last few years. Even if yours is different, I doubt you could stand out at such a crowded party without something that "pre-validates" you.

Anonymous said...

May as well go with Lulu-dot-com for such a small print run.

I agree with Dave on the "elder stateman" thing. There are several past presidents who were no great shakes while in office, but are rather well thought of with it behind them.

I've often thought what I'd be like as president, but the job doesn't pay enough for the &&&& you have to put up with.

Now I think I will re-read "The Prince...."

Wassup said...

That's right, we're stuck another two years with that guy!

When GW's mug shows up on the TV screen, I switch channels. You can be darn sure I'd never read a book about him after he leaves office.

Dave Kuzminski said...

Just think of doing this instead. Keep the manuscript, but change the names as soon as the election is over. After all, most Presidents behave the same way in office. This way, you'll have the jump on all the other writers.

Oh, of course, you'll have to rewrite a few paragraphs such as showing how it was actually the new President's fault for causing GWB to start those wars. Once you get past that, you're ready to rock and roll. ;)

Seriously, unless you have some street creds, it's unlikely that your satire will be received well regardless of who's the President unless by chance you're actually closely related to the next one.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

And if your going to serialize it on a blog, I'd be real careful about what you say about the "sitting" President.

Let that young lady on MySpace be your guide!

The Secret Service hauled her butt out of school to question her.

If I remember correctly we had that same type of discussion (about what you can get away with saying about the President) here on Miss Snark's last year, and someone chuckled at the thought of the Secret Service not having a sense of humor about blog posts!

Anonymous said...

Rewrite it so it's not about Bush but about a generic politician. There's a British TV series called "Yes Minister", about an MP and the civil servants he works with, which was made in the 1980s and is still funny today because (as far as I know) it wasn't satirising a specific person but politicians, and the political system, in general.

Also, the thought of reading a whole novel about George W Bush makes me feel very weary. I imagine an awful lot of jokes revolving around him mispronouncing words, or not being able to find other countries on the map. I would have thought it was essential to send pages with your query to prove that your comedy is actually funny.

Anonymous said...

George W., elder statesman?


Now that's ripe for satire. Set it in the future. George W. is sent as a peace envoy to negotiate between the warring nations of North Korea and China.

You can have that idea for free but I want an autographed copy.