Friday, July 15, 2011

Thought for the Day

There are many reasons I reject a query, but in all rejections I acknowledge that publishing is subjective and therefore others might feel differently. Your reply that subjectivity means that only works of "poor quality" are published because publishers are "too lazy" to look at quality and "genius" is a tad ridiculous.



S.P. Bowers said...


Rick Daley said...

Yeah, those people should go to the local library and read Every. Single. Book. In one week.

Then they might understand selectivity and time management.

WORD VERIFICATION: fastog. The quickest caveman.


steeleweed said...

1) I agree that a lot of junk gets published, but that just reflects public taste (or lack thereof).

2) Most of the rare self-pub which go viral and get picked up by the mainstream are also usually crap that just happens to get lucky.

3) Laziness: It costs publishers no more time to look at quality than at junk.

4) While no one is always right, publishers and agents are more likely than a new author to know what will sell.

5) Editors in particular are quite likely to recognize great work, even if it's not marketable.

6) If submitters are so convinced the book(s) will make them rich, they should self-pub and not have to share the $$$ with anyone. (And stop insulting agents & publishers).

I self-pub'd a novelette via Xlibris (back when it was cheap). It was useful as a learning experience - I enjoyed writing it but it needed better editing. It's a fun read but I have no illusions about it being Literature.

I have a novel in final edit but will not even try to mainstream. The literary quality is not bad but I recognize that it's simply not a style of writing that will sell today - it moves too slowly for today's readers. (Would have sold in 1890?)

I have set up a publishing company to publish three other books (which I didn't write) and which should sell 200-300/year forever, so that will be POD and I'll keep the profits.

I'm recently into book-binding and will probably self-pub both my books and some poetry. Will create each copy by hand, which tells you how few I expect to sell.

Writing is different things to different people, but publishing is a business - and most writers know very little about business.

Giora said...

The main reason for publishing a book is, or should be, because there are many potential readers willing to buy the book and read it. If there are many readers who enjoy the so called "poor quality" books, then literary agents and book publishers are doing a great service to those readers by promoting and publishing these books.
And yes, my 75K women's fiction novel is very commercial (not literary) and hopefully will appeal to many readers, and those view it as "poor quality" are welcome to buy other books.

London said...

Those poor, sad, misunderstood geniuses! Ha.

Sarah J. MacManus said...

As an editor, I think my subjective viewpoint is pretty significant to the process.

I suspect that writers don't alway understand that the editor or hands-on agent will be required to read the work through as many times as the author did while writing it.

Even if the work IS brilliant and MAY sell, if your editor/agent isn't feeling it, then you're going to get very poor work from them.

End of story.

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

I hope he/she doesn't tell that to the brilliant writers out there who somehow manage to outwit the lazy publishers and get their words in print!

tourmelinerain said...

When good sense is absent, there's a lot of space for the ego to grow into. I should know - every time a friend or relative raves about how talented a writer I am, I can feel the old ego trying to edge out my good sense. When I get that response from an agent or editor, I might just give it a little more room to grow.

ryan field said...

I hate when I hear about this happening. It's usually a comment someone regrets saying down the road.

It's all so subjective. I also don't like anyone attacking quality. I've been hearing a lot about this lately and don't know anyone in publishing...or self-publishing...who isn't working hard for quality. I also don't like insinuations that one book is a higher quality than another because some people don't like the subjective content. Makes me want to rant :)

Anonymous said...

You go girl.

Melissa Crandall said...

I'm often stunned by the thrust of attitude directed at agents/publishers, particularly post-rejection. No one likes being rejected (I sure don't), but when one considers the sheer numbers of people hoping to get published coupled with trends, etc., and all the myriad factors that influence a decision, to fling vitriol certainly isn't going to help your endeavor.

Jessi said...

As far as I'm concerned, the fact that publishing is a) a business and b) highly subjective is exactly what keeps me going.

Rejections aren't personal, and that's a godsend.

Elisa DeLany said...

First rule of publishing: Leave your disgruntlement at the door.

Laura said...

Well, if you had any doubts at all about requesting material from that person, I would say that pretty much cinched it.

Pat Brown said...

Sturgeon's Law: "Ninety per cent of Science Fiction is crap. But ninety per cent of everything else is crap too."

That holds true as much today as when Theodore Sturgeon said it.

Riley Redgate said...

*sigh* Why do people do that? What possible reason do they have for --

Grrgh. Never mind. So sorry you have to put up with this crap - it's nice enough that you're even open to unsolicited queries in the first place.

Phil Hall said...

The only comment I have to this: Yes, publishing (and agenting, if I can make up a word) is highly subjective. No two people are the same, and all that--and not all tastes are shared. We know this. But upon deep reflection of these traits, I have come to the conclusion that publishing (and the aforementioned "agenting") isn't actually subjective at all--it is all viewed through the clarifying lens of marketability. If the book won't sell "well" (define as needed), then the book will not be optioned by an agent, and by extension, a publisher.

In short: it's all about money, people. Not anything more. You could have a totally killer story, but if it's not in a form that is digestible by the masses (i.e.: a guaranteed seller), you're better off self-publishing.

This isn't an indictment of the system, rather simply pointing out the transparently obvious to those that might have known it, but forgot somewhere along the way.

Kerry Lonsdale said...

niiiiice. cocky, know-it-all queriers.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Ms. Trite says she does not take rejection personally but I saw her crying in her Heineken, “they don’t like me, they really, really don’t like me.” She starts therapy next week. She’s planning on writing a book about it.

Carmen Fox said...

"Poor quality" and "crap"? I'd never claim to be a literary genius. Who am I to belittle someone else's sweat, tears and hard work? If they've managed to get interest from an agent and a publisher, well, that's at least two people more than those who didn't get either and "had to self-publish so that the masses won't be deprived of something wonderful". Self-publishing has many advantages, but sadly for many it serves only their own egos. Agents are only human, and have earned every right to have their own opinion. Plus, they are readers, and as such your target audience. No?

Dsmall said...

As an aspiring author, I will frequently hear "Not right for my list," or "the characters weren't compelling to me." What do you as an agent do if an author you've signed writes a second book that doesn't resonate with you? How do you pitch that book to publishers?