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Jul26
The Popularity of Books Such as Redneck Haikus: How To Pitch Wild Book Ideas
Rodeocowboy.JPG "You think Kierkegaard
Is a new deodorant.
I must be insane."

Joel Derfner wrote a whole book of funny, pithy hikus like that one, detailing his search for love in New York City. Today, he tells us how he turned these bite-sized poems into a book deal.

Welcome to the third installment of my interview with Joel Derfner, part of my deceptively simple feature:
Five Easy Questions. In the spirit of Jack Nicholson’s mad piano player, I run a serialized set of weekly interviews with writing pioneers—delivering some practical, unexpected advice about web publishing...

Jason Boog:
You published Gay Haiku a couple years back. That's a pretty unusual book pitch. How did that whole project develop?

Joel Derfner:
Gay Haiku happened completely because of my blog, but in an indirect way. In the summer of 2003 I did the Blogathon, in which participants posted every half hour for 24 hours in exchange for readers' donating money to charity (my charity was a scholarship program for musical theater writing students).
I figured, okay, no way am I going to be able to come up with 49 interesting, funny, grammatically correct posts in a day, especially not at 3:30 in the morning, so I'll just write haiku about all the bad dates I've been on and all the bad sex I've had.

When I was done (and had raised over $600 for my charity, thank you very much) I looked at the lot and thought, these are good, I'll write a bunch more and try to get them published.

A friend from college who was a literary agent--a very serious one, not the kind who would represent a book called Gay Haiku--made some suggestions for agencies to contact.

I started with the first one on the list and sent a cover letter (I think I used phrases like "the growing appetite for haiku books, as evidenced by the popularity of books such as  Haikus for Jews and Redneck Haiku") along with the manuscript, which was all of six pages long.

I didn't hear anything for like two months and then I called the agency and they said, we can't find it, please send it again, and then one of the agents called me and said, "Oh, the reason we couldn't find it was that it was in the 'good' pile." She  sent it out to a bunch of places and Random House made the best offer. I'm donating part of my royalties from the book to the scholarship fund that was my original inspiration.

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