How to Succeed in Publishing Without Really Trying :
Hey, you. Yes, you at the bar there, the blonde. Want to hear a story? Well, all things considered you’re alone in a bar on All Hallows. Don’t look at me like that, that’s what today is called! But hey, if you want to hear one, I’d be the guy to ask. I used to be an author, you know. Damn good one too… But those days are long behind me. So, about that story…You want to hear it? I’ll take that as a yes then.
A few years ago, I was in a rut. I was fresh out of college with some bullshit degree or other. Yeah, It could have been creative writing… Either way, I had no job and my landlord was ready to evict me. To save my ass, I slogged down to Harper and Roe publishers in the rain one day so I could submit one of my short stories to their editors. It was a good story too! It was about this killer who picked up his victims in bars… Easy, sweetheart, It was just a story! No need to jump like that! Anyway, I was standing in some bigwig editor’s office as he looked over my submission. He was murmuring and scribbling notes onto a legal pad as he read. Occasionally, he’d look up at me and nod before going back to reading. Half an hour later, he put down my manuscript and motioned for me to sit down.
“Look, kid, you’ve got guts. But you don’t have too much else. This,” he paused,” thing you gave me has no commercial value whatsoever. There’s no market for it. In addition, it quite frankly needs to be burnt. That’s how bad it is, kid. I did my part and entertained the notion of publishing it. But I honestly don’t think I can. Sorry, kid.”
Then he leaned back in his leather chair and buzzed his secretary in to show me out.
By seven o’clock that night, I’d shown my story to practically every publishing house in New York. Every one of them had either turned me down or kicked me to the curb. Quite a few of them did both. I was at the end of my rope when my landlord gave me the ultimatum of two days to pay. How in hell’s name was I going to sell this story?!Defeated, I slogged back to my studio apartment. Flinging my sorry ass onto the couch, I looked up at the water stained ceiling.
Screaming up at the gross cracked plaster, I begged any power ,benevolent or otherwise, to grant me the ability to write. I offered my soul, my hands, even my left shoe to get just an ounce of talent. Then, mercifully, I blacked out.
Let me tell you, sweetheart, waking up wasn’t too much fun. My ribs ached, and there was a pit in my chest, like something had been torn out of it. I moaned and stumbled into my apartment’s tiny kitchenette. Pouring myself a cup of coffee, I sat down at my minuscule table. All of a sudden, I got this idea. It was terrifying! I just had to write it down! I pulled my laptop over to me and feverishly began to write. The five page story I wrote that night went on to be included in more anthologies than Stephen King! Come to think of it, you may have heard of it…it was about some Russian scientists keeping people awake for days… Anyway, let’s continue, shall we?
My Russian sleep story was just the beginning, I was churning out mind scrabbling stories that kept people’s minds awake for days. They were hair-raisingly terrifying. Publishers were basically eating out of my hand, begging for my manuscripts. My work was in practically every bookstore in the country. Authors submitted their work to me in hopes of getting into one of my many anthologies. I was at the top of my game and not a single person could bring me down. Strangely enough, even beautiful women like yourself enjoyed sharing my company. And I loved theirs… But though all my success and fame, there was an undertone of fear, and a sense that I had lost something….
One day, after getting off of a call with my agent, HE came. He stood in front of my big, polished out desk. (I’d long since moved out of my studio apartment) He had on a well tailored Armani suit, and a rose buttoner. He seemed perfectly normal, perfectly…human. I wish I had never looked away from his astonishingly green eyes. He-he had no feet… Well, none to speak of… They were hooves. Night black hooves. The more that I looked at him, the more I noticed . His fingernails were long and buffed to a wicked point. He had two small bumps on either side of his forehead. His eyes, though blindingly green had no pupils… Then, he spoke to me, ” Good evening, sir. I believe you owe me your soul.” Mouth agape, I tried to protest. He silenced me by raising a hand. “Sir, we made a deal. You gave me your soul and I gave you talent. Now, your soul, if you please…” I stammered, ” P-please… D-don’t take me! I-I-I could find others! Y-you could take them. He smiled, a forked tongue whisking by his teeth,” Of course… If you find me someone else, I could free you. But,” his smile grew wider, ” you’ve just buried yourself further in the devil’s bargain.” The relief creeped across my face and I visibly relaxed, letting out a sigh. My relaxation spurred something in him and he bark at me,”This won’t be so easy, sir! I demand one human soul per week from you. If you fail to provide a soul on any given week, my-ahem-compatriots, will come and perform some ‘damage control’.” He bowed, ” The clock starts now, sir. I’ll be waiting.”
Well, honey, that’s my story. Pretty good, eh? Now, what do you say that you and I head back to my place? It’ll be fun. We can have some wine. You could get a little tipsy… Maybe I could borrow your soul?