What TV Got Wrong: Being a Writer (New Girl Edition)

Okay, New Girl is one of my absolute favorite shows. I love the characters. I love the antics. It makes me happy. And as the series progresses, we learn that one of the major characters is a writer (and writes an absolutely terrible first book, that includes a word search).

But there is one particular episode in season 6 that drives me absolutely insane (potential spoilers if you haven’t seen it): the episode all about Nick’s Pepperwood Chronicles novel. Specifically when he gets his first rejection from a publisher and his friends push him into selling it himself.

You see, in episodes leading up to this one, it’s slowly being established that Nick is a writer working on a book. And I have issues with some of those moments as well, such as when every. Single. Person. On the show. Tells Nick his book is perfect with absolutely no corrections or issues (hint: no book is ever perfect, even after publication). But for now, I’m going to focus in on this one episode.

So anyway, back to this episode. Here are the things New Girl got wrong about being a writer, as well as a reality check.

Myth: If you get a rejection, your career is over.

Nick submitted his Pepperwood Chronicles book to a publisher, and they rejected it. He was so embarrassed he wouldn’t tell anyone, and he decided it meant his career is over.

Here’s the hard truth: if you want to be traditionally published, whether you submit to an agent or directly to publishers, you will have rejections. So many rejections. And you know what? None of them mean your career is over.

Think about this: J.K. Rowling got over 100 rejections for Harry Potter, and that series is one of the best selling series of all time.

A rejection doesn’t end your career. And it doesn’t mean your book is bad.

Myth: As soon as you finish the book, you’re ready to submit it. Or publish it.

Okay, so truth be told, I do not really know what Nick did after finishing the novel. But as I said before, everyone told him it was perfect.

Your book is never ready to be published as a first draft. Even if you draft fast or clean, you need beta readers to make sure you don’t have loose ends, offensive material/misrepresentations, or major plot errors, and preferably a series of developmental editing, copyediting and line editing, and proofreading. Then you can move on. Even indies should follow these steps, even if they don’t hire people for them and just find good readers to help (many indies just don’t have that kind of money starting out, and I’m learning that’s not as big a deal as I once thought).

And if you’re going traditional? You still need beta readers and several more rounds of revision to polish it so it is as close to publication ready as possible. No agent or publisher will take a first draft, and it makes you look unprofessional.

Truth is, you’re going to have several drafts of your book as you tweak it and make it either publication ready or ready to submit. Never ever ever a first draft.

Myth: You should make your own books to sell. And you can do it in a day.

This one is weird, but in the episode, Nick’s girlfriend gets him a book reading at a bookstore. For his unpublished book. The night she finds out about the rejection.

Problem is that he’s unpublished so has no book to sell.

No problem for New Girl’s title character, Jess. She just whips up a bunch of books for him to sell (honking beasts, by the way…note: page count is important!).

NO. You are not going to make your own books as an indie. You upload your work to a print-on-demand site, they print when they have an order, and it takes a few days to be available. Also, you’re going to want to order yourself a proof copy to make sure you didn’t screw it up. And if you have the money, you’ll probably be hiring someone to design a professional cover that’s not literal bits of paper cut and glued to a brown cardboard cover.

Myth: As an unpublished, unknown author, a book reading will solve your problems.

If no one knows you exist, you’ll be lucky to get a few butts in chairs at a reading, unless it’s a collaboration with a better-known other author. In the episode, Nick packs his reading (even though it isn’t a ton of chairs). And it’s viewed as the solution to his problem, the jump start his career needs.

A reading (or a book tour) is unlikely to sell you many books, and it’s a gamble that even traditional publishers rarely take anymore.

Concluding Thoughts

Bottom line is that TV gets a lot of things wrong (most people know this already), so don’t be discouraged if you see TV writers hitting it big while you’re still struggling to break in or be read. Or even to write.

Writing is a complicated thing that is mostly different for each person, but stick to it! And keep your eye out for more misrepresentations in media. 🙂

For now, though, do you have any pet peeves in TV or misrepresentations of what you do that drive you crazy? Share with me below!

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