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Old 08-17-2013, 07:36 PM
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Default Harmful effects of publishing & education industries


Hello.

Yeah, this thread will probably get hijacked by Mr. Toad and Co. (Ltd.), but I'll give it a try anyway.

How have you seen the publishing system quash good writing? How have you seen it discourage good writers and denigrate the field of writing in general? Ditto for the university system (or even schooling at the pre-college level).

I'd love to hear your stories, analyses, etc.

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Old 08-17-2013, 11:47 PM
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Well, I dunno about publishing or university, but pre-college public American education isn't exactly friendly to the humanities in general. Or rather, it's indifferent. Most classes focus on reading the "easy" classics and spitting out five paragraph essays. My high school didn't have any creative writing classes, though I understand this isn't true for all schools.

But then again, public schools aren't exactly interested in turning out little artists. They just want to make sure you can communicate in a semi-coherent fashion. Besides, you can't really expect teachers with 150 students to scrutinize every sentence of every paper.

Occasionally, you do get teachers who write detailed personal feedback on essays and offer to read short stories, poetry, etc. on their own time. But they're far from the norm.

And I thought it was a frog, not a toad.
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Old 08-18-2013, 12:48 AM
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I think you'll find Mr Toad is Herr Frog.

Right now I'm jumping through hoops because my story is present tense and an epic fantasy which steps outside of the usual mould. The same agents who've comment on those elements have specifically said how good the story, writing and characters are. They've also read all three chapters I've sent.

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Old 08-18-2013, 02:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Ruddigore Jones View Post
How have you seen the publishing system quash good writing? How have you seen it discourage good writers and denigrate the field of writing in general? Ditto for the university system (or even schooling at the pre-college level).
I think that unless you have extensive inside experience of the publishing industry (or even if you have), you won't have seen good writing quashed, or the 'field of writing' denigrated. You will just think you have, having heard third hand about the guy who wrote a future classic and had it rejected 153 times before breakfast.

I don't think enough people know enough about how publishing actually works and, the more self-publishing gets used as the easy way for getting shit writing to market (along with, admittedly, the occasional diamond), that situation will continue to worsen.

Where did this moronic myth that publishers were the enemy of writers ever come from? Hell hath no fury like a (bad) writer scorned, maybe.
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Old 08-18-2013, 04:13 AM
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... but that's not the case that Ruddigore Jones is making, is it? He's not saying that any publisher is harming writers. He's saying that the system has evolved in such a way that it fails writers.

Personally, the system didn't fail me. I have a small-press publisher, which is realistically where I belong; I can write but I'm not exactly Michael Crichton. Bloomsbury isn't going to be interested in the Collected Works of Non Serviam.

But I would agree that from the writer's point of view there really is a systemic failure, because the industry fails to recognise good writing when it's submitted.

I've read a lot of unpublished fiction in my life. Most of it is pretty crap. Some is crap with good moments, and some is actually pretty good. A small amount is on a par with, or better than, published writing.

And a substantial fraction of these people who post "pretty good" stuff to writersbeat or other similar websites never get a publishing deal. Unless you hang around places like this, you'll never see it.

It's also pretty obvious to anyone with a brain that some of the stuff that does get published is complete crap from start to finish.

I agree with Ruddigore Jones that this sucks.

I occasionally do things about it so I also see it from the other side. From time to time I've been involved with small press publishers, putting out free e-zines (once in fiction, but mostly in non-fiction fields); I do proofreading and layout sort of tasks as a volunteer. The hope is that writers can build an audience with things like that.

Now, the problem with these ventures is reading the slush. You have to get people to read all the submissions, and while there might be enough volunteers for issue 1 and 2 of a new startup, by issues 3 and 4, you're struggling with the backlog. And so, inevitably, you skim and skip bits. You develop shortlisting techniques, such as reading the first paragraph on each page, or automatically rejecting anything with a spelling mistake in it, or checking the covering letter to decide if the piece is worth reading at all. Because when you have half a million words of submissions in your inbox you have no alternative.

And thus you get the guy who's bad at covering letters, or the woman who writes beautiful and eloquent prose but has a blind spot for the greengrocer's apostrophe, or the one who's written something utterly brilliant but has a similar opening paragraph to something the slush reader didn't like an hour ago... and they submit and submit and get absolutely nowhere.

There isn't a solution. But it's true that from a writer's point of view the industry sucks until you get a regular publisher.
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Old 08-18-2013, 09:07 AM
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They are some excellent self published books on amazon. Few and far between, but they exist, and sometimes I find myself wondering why they never landed a publishing deal.

The system is too fierce. It's not about how good a writer is, it is about how much money you can make from that writer.

The industry is as it is.

I recently sent an email too all agents I submitted to, telling them I no longer require an agent for that project. You know what? 2 of them got back to me with a rejection letter. Not sure if it was a deliberate attempt of 'We wouldn't have taken your work on anyway'.

I've self published, and so far I've almost hit 40 sales in just over 2 weeks without any advertising, and its August - the month where sales usually go down under for most. I have an editor now who I'm going to work with to improve my books further.

The normal route can be frustrating at times, and life is too short to waste too much time on it
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Old 08-18-2013, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by FutureFootball View Post
The system is too fierce. It's not about how good a writer is, it is about how much money you can make from that writer.
In fairness that's often not true at all. If you're a money-oriented person then you probably don't work in publishing. With only a few exceptions, the people I've met in publishing have been idealistic, quality-oriented and badly underpaid.
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Old 08-18-2013, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Non Serviam View Post
In fairness that's often not true at all. If you're a money-oriented person then you probably don't work in publishing. With only a few exceptions, the people I've met in publishing have been idealistic, quality-oriented and badly underpaid.
You just need to look at the various publicity stunts to see where I'm coming from.

Doesn't matter how good a book is written, if it won't appeal to an audience and won't generate income, no one is going to take it on
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Old 08-18-2013, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by FutureFootball View Post
Doesn't matter how good a book is written, if it won't appeal to an audience and won't generate income, no one is going to take it on
Really???[/sarcasm]The publishing industry exists to make money. Just like everything else, everywhere you go.

It has existed to make money since it was created, and will continue to exist to make money until it ceases to exist.

That is also true of the people doing the writing as well as the people doing the publishing.

If you didn't think it was something people would buy, you wouldn't bother publishing it. You desire to make money off the story you published.

The publishing industry publishes the stories the people want to read. When people's tastes change, so does what the companies will publish. Money, the desire to make it, is behind that motivation- and it works.
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Old 08-18-2013, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Non Serviam View Post
... but that's not the case that Ruddigore Jones is making, is it? He's not saying that any publisher is harming writers. He's saying that the system has evolved in such a way that it fails writers.
The 'system' does not exist to serve writers. I think people forget that and expect publishers to be the goose that lays golden eggs. The system is there to serve readers - consumers of the product.

If we weren't writers - if we were all designing and building vacuum cleaners, for example, would we be complaining that the 'system' was weighted against us because it insisted on selling the products that consumers wanted, rather than the bit of tat we were working on? No, because in a consumerist society we recognise that the consumer, not the manufacturer, should dictate what we spend our hard earned cash on. Which is why manufacturers spend billions on trying to sway our opinions.
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Old 08-18-2013, 11:36 PM
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Mike, if I thought that what publishers are selling is what people want to read, then I'd agree with every word you just typed.

I don't and I don't.
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Old 08-18-2013, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by FutureFootball View Post
They are some excellent self published books on amazon. Few and far between, but they exist, and sometimes I find myself wondering why they never landed a publishing deal.
Usually because the authors never bothered trying.

Originally Posted by FutureFootball View Post
The system is too fierce. It's not about how good a writer is, it is about how much money you can make from that writer.
First, quantify 'good'. You can't, because it's subjective. My great is your shit, and vice versa.

And you're wrong about the money side, too. A large percentage of publishing is about making a loss. It's rare, no matter who the publishing house is, for a first book to make any money. Most will make a significant loss. The author won't be out of pocket, as they'll have received their advance, but the publisher will lose money. The gamble is whether that author might be the one in a thousand who hits it big with their first book, or that enough interest is gained with the first book to make the second turn a profit.

As NS says, most publishing houses are staffed by idealists who love books. And, of course, accountants. You cannot run a business at a loss.

You may slap your head in despair every time a new celebrity biography hits the shelves, or a new badly written pot-boiler hits the best-seller lists, but you should rejoice. Those things make money, and provide the funding for all the gambles and the maybes and the loss-making first novels.

'Good' books - literary masterpieces - are being published every day. The problem is that most people don't want to read them.

Did you know, for example, that 2 or 3 years ago Katie Price's ghost-written novel came out at around the same time as the Booker Prize finalists were announced? Her book outsold the entire Booker short-list by a factor of 10.
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Old 08-18-2013, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Non Serviam View Post
Mike, if I thought that what publishers are selling is what people want to read, then I'd agree with every word you just typed.

I don't and I don't.
In what way are publishers not selling what people want? And what would be the point? The only way to make money is to give people what they want. Your issue, I think, is not with what publishers provide, but with the ignorant semi-literate morons who constitute 90% of the book-buying public.

I don't have access to sales figures but I'd be willing to bet a limb that the aforementioned Katie Price has outsold Toni Morrison. And nobody held a gun to anyone's head to make them buy her books.
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Old 08-19-2013, 12:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Non Serviam View Post
Mike, if I thought that what publishers are selling is what people want to read, then I'd agree with every word you just typed.

I don't and I don't.
This may be one of the most blatantly nonsensical statements I've encountered.

A publishing house exists to sell books. The only way top do that is to publish what people want to read.

The fact, simple ands indisputable, that people purchase anf read published books means the publisher is providing the product they want.
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Old 08-19-2013, 01:39 AM
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From my experiences with people in the publishing industry, I know this:

99% of people would rather discover the next James Joyce than publish the next celebrity tat. Most of them want to be proud of what they get into print, not ashamed.

They don't always get what they want, and everybody makes mistakes.

For anyone who's ever struggled with the first chapter of Harry Potter (as I did) and given up, you will appreciate how difficult a publisher's job can be. On the basis of that chapter I would have rejected it - as many publishers did.

Whether or not you consider it to be good writing, no matter how much you might look down your nose at it, it was a book that millions wanted to read, and it made a lot of money for author and publisher. More importantly it has subsidised the publication of many other books by people like us which may not otherwise have seen light of day.
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Old 08-19-2013, 01:59 AM
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I thought the first publisher accepted Harry Potter after she rewrote the first paragraph/chapter? The others rejected a different first chapter./paragraph. But I don't know there are that many urban legends with JK Rowling.

I think there is a world of difference between what we buy as consumers because it is available and what we actually want.

Over the past fifteen years I have found it increasingly difficult to find books from debut authors I want to read. It takes me a lot longer to find a distinctive voice that stands out and doesn't read like it attended the same creative writing course as the one before.

If nothing else the likes of JK Rowling and Dan Brown are distinctive even if they are not the best writers. And they don't sound like they've read Stephen King's book.

More than once I've bought a book because it seems OK and the best of a bad selection.

I'm not alone it is a complaint I know my librarian friends get regularly. I don't know if it is an unwillingness to take as many chances with publishers or just a rubbish trend.

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Old 08-19-2013, 04:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike C View Post
In what way are publishers not selling what people want? And what would be the point? The only way to make money is to give people what they want. Your issue, I think, is not with what publishers provide, but with the ignorant semi-literate morons who constitute 90% of the book-buying public.

I don't have access to sales figures but I'd be willing to bet a limb that the aforementioned Katie Price has outsold Toni Morrison. And nobody held a gun to anyone's head to make them buy her books.
Hmm. Being Jordan is one of the least crushingly stupid of the many ghostwritten celebrity autobiographies on the market. I won't go so far as to say it's worthwhile or publishable (or even particularly readable) but, it's better than you may imagine from the cover.

What I'd say to you, Mike, is that there's a distinction between what people want and what people buy. In other words, our prospective buyer wants X, but can't get X, so they settle for Y rather than walk away empty-handed ---- and the publishers think "Oh good, we must be selling the right thing" and publish more Y.

At least, that's the only explanation I have for Eragon, Twilight or 50 Shades...

Originally Posted by Synch View Post
This may be one of the most blatantly nonsensical statements I've encountered.

A publishing house exists to sell books. The only way top do that is to publish what people want to read.

The fact, simple ands indisputable, that people purchase anf read published books means the publisher is providing the product they want.
Synch, please don't quote your free market ideology at me as if it were fact. It's not. Publishing doesn't work like that. It's technically a business, but it's not conducted in a businesslike manner. It doesn't make a lot of money. Books are not effectively advertised. Most are just stuck on bookshelves in the hope that the cover and the title will sell them, with zero marketing effort except to the extent that the author personally goes out there and pushes. All the marketing budget is spent telling people about the next Harry Potter: the surefire successes. The way it works is objectively dumb. Publishers and bookshops survive because of favourable tax treatment and government life support, not because they're good at selling people what they want.

The majority of books from small and medium-sized publishers lose money. A few successful ones subsidize all the costly flops, but essentially owning a publishing house is about aspiration and arty-farty lifestyle rather than making money.

The only way you're likely to make a small fortune in traditional publishing is to start with a large one.

None of the traditional publishing houses can adapt to ebooks and print-on-demand. Therefore they're all heading down the tubes anyway.

The main reason my stuff gets published is because the people who run small press-publishers in my field know me. They've published my stuff before, so I get the fair hearing that someone new to them wouldn't. This attitude is conservative and safe and what it achieves is publishing houses that mostly put out almost exactly the same thing they put out last year.
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Old 08-19-2013, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by AnyaKimlun View Post
I thought the first publisher accepted Harry Potter after she rewrote the first paragraph/chapter? The others rejected a different first chapter./paragraph. But I don't know there are that many urban legends with JK Rowling.
I don't know either. All I know is that I found the first chapter of the published book tedious and boring. My daughter, who is a big HP fan, said the same - she only persevered because her friends told her it got better.

Originally Posted by AnyaKimlun View Post
It takes me a lot longer to find a distinctive voice that stands out and doesn't read like it attended the same creative writing course as the one before.
Is the fault there with publishers, or with writers?

Originally Posted by AnyaKimlun View Post
If nothing else the likes of JK Rowling and Dan Brown are distinctive even if they are not the best writers. And they don't sound like they've read Stephen King's book.
But there lies the problem; I think Rowling is boring, and Brown is a hack. If I was publishing, they'd both be on the reject pile. That's what happens when you try to impose your personal taste on others.

Originally Posted by AnyaKimlun View Post
More than once I've bought a book because it seems OK and the best of a bad selection.
Read reviews. There are great books out there but you sometimes have to go looking.
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Old 08-19-2013, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Non Serviam View Post
Hmm. Being Jordan is one of the least crushingly stupid of the many ghostwritten celebrity autobiographies on the market. I won't go so far as to say it's worthwhile or publishable (or even particularly readable) but, it's better than you may imagine from the cover.
I won't argue - her ghostwriter is very talented and has written a string of her own novels. That doesn't mean that Jordan, in an ideal world, should be allowed shelf-space.

Originally Posted by Non Serviam View Post
What I'd say to you, Mike, is that there's a distinction between what people want and what people buy. In other words, our prospective buyer wants X, but can't get X, so they settle for Y rather than walk away empty-handed ---- and the publishers think "Oh good, we must be selling the right thing" and publish more Y.
Really? I think there is a distinction between what a small minority of people (and us writer types, being more than usually discriminating and literate, maybe, might form a large part of that) want, and what they buy. But I buy a lot of books, and I discriminate, sometimes take chances, and am not often horribly disappointed.

The great unwashed masses however do not discriminate. At least, that's the only explanation I have for Eragon, Twilight or 50 Shades...[/quote]

Originally Posted by Non Serviam View Post
None of the traditional publishing houses can adapt to ebooks and print-on-demand.
Au contraire - they've already adapted. Do you not own a kindle? Can you name any book from any large publishing house that isn't available as an ebook? E-readers only caught on because big publishers got on board; nopbody is going to splash out 100 quid on an e-reader just so they can read self published books. They want the same choices they get in a bookstore.
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Old 08-19-2013, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike C View Post
Is the fault there with publishers, or with writers?
I think it is with the industry but I don't know - I said that it could be a trend. I do know I see the fruits of it. Part of me thinks internet forums like this play their part. Because the list of shoulds and shouldn'ts is given greater coverage.



But there lies the problem; I think Rowling is boring, and Brown is a hack. If I was publishing, they'd both be on the reject pile. That's what happens when you try to impose your personal taste on others.
Give me an agent who doesn't try to impose their personal taste on the industry. I've got the personal rejections to indicate it. If it isn't down to them then they should learn to be more honest. As someone who is not in the industry my only contact is through websites, other authors, askagent and their emails/phone calls. They might only have a synopsis and three chapters to form an opinion on - I haven't got that much. Badly written rejection letters, difficult to use websites, unclear instructions for submission etc (Admittedly this has improved over the past three years) are all I have to go on to form an impression on. And a lot of it points to "We can't give a bugger about the writers who are trying to submit" It might not be their intention but it is how they put it across. With their submission guidelines many of them make writers jump through hoops just to send the work in and get it right. Publishers, agents etc do not sell themselves very well via the easiest available medium and I think that is where the attitude comes from.

Read reviews. There are great books out there but you sometimes have to go looking.
I do. And have to say some of the real gems I've read this year have been self published. Took some searching but I found them. Each of them struggled to get published traditionally. There are great books but it used to be you could pick up a book and get a real feel for the author - that is harder to find than it used to be I need to look through many more books.

Personally i don't give a monkeys for reviews. I prefer to assess the book through the blurb and first few pages.

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Old 08-19-2013, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Non Serviam View Post
Now, the problem with these ventures is reading the slush. You have to get people to read all the submissions, and while there might be enough volunteers for issue 1 and 2 of a new startup, by issues 3 and 4, you're struggling with the backlog. And so, inevitably, you skim and skip bits. You develop shortlisting techniques, such as reading the first paragraph on each page, or automatically rejecting anything with a spelling mistake in it, or checking the covering letter to decide if the piece is worth reading at all. Because when you have half a million words of submissions in your inbox you have no alternative.r.
Along with contracted editorial work, I've worked as a contract slush-pile reader too.

Now, I have to admit, with the publisher I worked for, you had to read the whole submission (novel length etc). It's a paid posistion, but also contracted, so to ensure we'd do our jobs, we had to do a synopsis of the novel. There was also a whole host of criteria you had to make sure the work fitted within. But yes, in the end, a proportion of it came down to whether I loved it. But I'd also been editing for this particular publisher for a long time, so I knew what their likes were too. And vice-versa, they wouldn't send any work to me that fell outside of my comfort zones (Historical, Steampunk etc).

Does the publishing idustry in general quash good writing? I think it tries not too, but sometimes they get it wrong and miss good opportunities, or they play it safe and keep publishing what they know sells. Readers will then keep reading what sells because they're not exposed to something different via the publisher. Or readers won't look at anything else because they don't want their comfort zones breached.

I think this is where 50 Shades falls. BDSM in novels has mostly moved outside of the mainstream readership, and long before 50 S came along too. Diffrence being this time, it started orginally as a fanfic work with a more mainstream work in mind, and it just seems to have... hopped over the fence and gone mainstream.

I know my son's girlfriend picked it up after reading twilight and the rest was history.
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Old 08-19-2013, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Whiskers View Post
.

Does the publishing industry in general quash good writing? I think it tries not too, but sometimes they get it wrong and miss good opportunities, or they play it safe and keep publishing what they know sells. Readers will then keep reading what sells because they're not exposed to something different via the publisher. Or readers won't look at anything else because they don't want their comfort zones breached.
.
This fits with the rejections I've had. Over half of my submissions have drawn personal comments rather than form rejections and I know most of them have read all three chapters. (They commented on a specific element and it was the one that drew some but scared others)

If I lay aside the present tense ones because upon questioning it seems to be a style issue rather than something fundamentally wrong with the writing. The others seem to be along the lines of characters are great, writing strong, plot exciting and fast paced, they want to know what happens next but they don't know where to place it. But they'll see my next work. I even got a follow up email from one agent to see if it was going to be published because she wanted to read it.

Umm no because you didn't take it on lol

I've now officially scrapped the book because I've reused too many lines in my new book. If I get similar responses to my new one then I'll self publish because I don't think I can write what they are after. In some ways form rejections would have been easier to accept because I could have convinced myself it was just not their thing or they didn't like it.

I'm left feeling my work is obviously good or I wouldn't have got personal comments in the rejections or the phone call I got from one agent. But not one has even asked to see a full - so maybe it isn't good enough. I can't financially afford a literary workshop, editor or to go to conferences so there isn't much more I can do.

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Old 08-19-2013, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by AnyaKimlun View Post
If I lay aside the present tense ones because upon questioning it seems to be a style issue rather than something fundamentally wrong with the writing. .
Tense is a funny as pov. I was looking for publishers to sub to a few days ago, and I think it was one of the main Romance ones that stipulated no 1st pov -- Ever, to the point it's an instant rejection. I write 1st, aslo 3rd. My 1st pov has done really well. It really is just down to style and taste on both. Butif I'd have subbed there...?

On the tense issue, I've read some brilliant novels. (The author I'm working with on a shared-world project, she works present tense, and does it damn good.) There are markets out there for it.

Have you only tried agents, Anya?
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Old 08-19-2013, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Whiskers View Post
Have you only tried agents, Anya?
Pretty much. I did turn down a couple of small presses two years ago because neither my book nor myself was ready to be published. I'm glad I did because it is thousands of times better and my writing improved as a result.

I'd made a list starting with agents then moving on to publishers who would take direct submissions. HarperVoyager turned me down but I expected that because the draft wasn't up to scratch. I sort of made the first ten chapters and the last three sparkling but the bit in the middle needed cardiac surgery. (There was a deadline and I rewrote it in a month).

But near the end of the agent list I started writing my new book and I think I've cannibalised too much of Mayhem to submit them both. This one is limited third and in past tense. My personal opinion is this one will be much better and I like the fact my MC is gay, and that isn't Romance or an LGBTQ book.

I didn't intend to be a writer. I wrote the first draft of Mayhem by accident three years ago having never really written before so learning about publishing and how to submit etc has been a huge learning curve. I'm not bitter because hopefully it will work out for the best but to be honest I also understand the frustration, the anger and bitterness among writers.

Publishers, agents etc do not make the submissions process easy to understand and follow. It varies hugely and can be very frustrating. It can feel like pissing at a target in the dark. I'm not stupid, I'm not uneducated but when what one agent thinks is a good covering letter is not what another likes it is hard to know how to approach it.

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Old 08-19-2013, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Non Serviam View Post
At least, that's the only explanation I have for Eragon, Twilight or 50 Shades...
Actually, having spoken with those who have read and, disturbing as it may seem, enjoyed all three of those, I would say the facts speak for themselves- people are buying them because those types of books are what they want to read.

Originally Posted by Non Serviam View Post
It's technically a business, but it's not conducted in a businesslike manner.
Of course it isn't. After all, publishers don't buy books from established authors, known to sell well, and aren't more likely to "take a flyer" on unknown, or lesser known, authors who write in the genres the publisher in question knows to sell well under their brand.
Oh...wait. They do.

Originally Posted by Non Serviam View Post
It doesn't make a lot of money.
On that we are agreed.

Originally Posted by Non Serviam View Post
Books are not effectively advertised. Most are just stuck on bookshelves in the hope that the cover and the title will sell them, with zero marketing effort except to the extent that the author personally goes out there and pushes. All the marketing budget is spent telling people about the next Harry Potter: the surefire successes.
Okay. Let's take a look at a hypothetical situation here.
You have $1,000 US in your advertising budget. You have 10 new books getting ready for release in the next month.
Of those 10 books, 3 are from established authors who you know, by virtue of having worked with them before, sell well. 2 others are from new authors, but are in a genre and style you know sells well.
The remaining 5? Those are from unknown authors, and in genres you either don't have experience with or have had trouble selling before.
Who is going to get the majority of your advertising budget? To put it simply, it's going to be the ones you know will give you back the money you put in.
The way it works is objectively dumb. Publishers and bookshops survive because of favourable tax treatment and government life support, not because they're good at selling people what they want.

Originally Posted by Non Serviam View Post
The only way you're likely to make a small fortune in traditional publishing is to start with a large one.
I said nothing about a "small fortune." I said that publishing houses exist to make money, not to lose money.
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Old 08-20-2013, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by AnyaKimlun View Post
I think it is with the industry but I don't know - I said that it could be a trend. I do know I see the fruits of it. Part of me thinks internet forums like this play their part. Because the list of shoulds and shouldn'ts is given greater coverage.
I think writing forums and college courses share blame. The online writing community has changed immensely in all the time I've been a part of it. Sadly, a lot of the passion has gone. People used to be interested in the broader scope of what made a novel work, not the nitty-gritty. Nowadays the prevailing interests appear to be more about (a) the 'rules', (b) whether or not you should break them, and (c) the quickest route to publication.

Colleges tend to turn out cookie-cutter writers whose skills are honed for publication, not for experimentation.

Originally Posted by AnyaKimlun View Post
Give me an agent who doesn't try to impose their personal taste on the industry.
It has to be so, to a degree. Look at it from an agent's point of view. If you take a book on, you may have to work for weeks or months to sell it, and there is every chance that you won't. And if you don't make a sale, you've worked for no money. Agents only get paid by result. Therefore most agents won't take a gamble on a book that is just ok, or fairly good. They're most likely to sell a book they themselves have fallen in love with.
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:02 AM
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Re: Eragon etc...

Originally Posted by Synch View Post
Actually, having spoken with those who have read and, disturbing as it may seem, enjoyed all three of those, I would say the facts speak for themselves- people are buying them because those types of books are what they want to read.
My point entirely. You can beat people about the head with worthy novels, but you can't make them read them.

If we all had perfect literary taste, publishers would get it right every time. There would be no "where the fuck did that come from" aberrations from left-field like 50 shades. We would all be writing best-sellers.

All trad-published books, good, bad or indifferent, hit the bookshelves because people in the industry saw something in them that they thought others would like to read. And in the cases of Twilight, Eragon etc (exclude 50 shades because that happened a different way) they were right.

We might feel we are superior, and sneer at such books (I do, at least) but they are prime examples of publishing getting it right.
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike C View Post
I think writing forums and college courses share blame. The online writing community has changed immensely in all the time I've been a part of it. Sadly, a lot of the passion has gone. People used to be interested in the broader scope of what made a novel work, not the nitty-gritty. Nowadays the prevailing interests appear to be more about (a) the 'rules', (b) whether or not you should break them, and (c) the quickest route to publication.

Colleges tend to turn out cookie-cutter writers whose skills are honed for publication, not for experimentation.
It just makes it difficult. My favourite novel infodumps, uses adverbs frequently and creatively, starts with backstory etc And it adds to the colour and feel of the story.

Today it is unlikely it would get published
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Old 08-20-2013, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by AnyaKimlun View Post
. I sort of made the first ten chapters and the last three sparkling but the bit in the middle needed cardiac surgery. (There was a deadline and I rewrote it in a month).
Some editors call them 'Comp entry' submissions : The first chapters are perfect because that's what you usually sub and the author works them hard, then it degrades after that point. But it's good if you've spotted the problem back then. Some just keep on subbing.
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Old 08-20-2013, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Whiskers View Post
Some editors call them 'Comp entry' submissions : The first chapters are perfect because that's what you usually sub and the author works them hard, then it degrades after that point. But it's good if you've spotted the problem back then. Some just keep on subbing.
I knew it when I handed it in lol It was one of those opportunities that was worth a go but I knew it wouldn't be ready by the deadline which is why I made the beginning and end wonderful. I hoped they wouldn't read the middle initially. It was dire though - when I read it a month later I realised how bad. I mean it was very good for a month's worth of work but not good enough to accepted. However it also forced me to get it ready to the point it just needed an edit in the middle.

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