Friday, March 12, 2010

There is no conspiracy

There is still a vocal, albeit minority voice on some chat groups out there that editors and agents are actively trying to keep good books from being published, because their books are too challenging, too different, or too wierd.

If you want to publish a book in a specific genre, and you are really stretching the conventions of the genre, then you really have to write an amazing book. And some genre's have a smaller readership, I'm thinking men on men erotica, has a smaller reader ship than a standard romance, but truly, when books like The Hunger Games, with it's alternate world and hard decisions can get published for teens, then anything if written well enough can be published at some point.

I think it's easier to believe there is a conspiracy, than to understand that the writing isn't good enough, but if we make excuses, then how do we get better.

I'm hunting for an agent and trust me, when I get a rejection, I desperately want to hide behind the idea that my book is too different.

But I truly believe any book, if amazing, will find a publisher and readers.


Eileen said...

LOL, Sinead. I remember years ago meeting a woman who sent me to her website to read her book. It was emblazoned with headlines like "The Book New York Publishers Don't Want You to Read." I thought, wow, this must be something really special.

It wasn't. It was just bad.

I think there are sometimes books that straddle too many lines or don't have a niche yet and might have a difficult road to publication. Before I found an agent for Do Me, Do My Roots I had at least two rejections that both basically said they liked the story and the voice, but had no idea where to try and place it.

Eventually, I found an agent who did know where to send it and the rest is, as they say, history.

If your story is really outside the box, it might take more perseverance to find it a home, but I think you're right. It will find one eventually.

Kathy Holmes said...

I agree that certain types of books take longer to find a home and while waiting, can feel like what you're writing is just too different. But I also believe that while you're waiting, your writing is getting better. And then one day, the writing and the market meet. Just like in Jersey Boys when Frankie Valli said, "After 10 years, suddenly one day the whole world exploded" when "Sherry" topped the charts. Still working on that moment. :)

Alli said...

I think there are a lot of really good books out there that haven't been published because they just haven't hit the market at the right time. They're either too early, or too late. Sure, some books create their own genre but no doubt it takes a lot of rejections to find that one agent and publisher ready to take the chance. It can happen. And I agree with writing and improving the craft until you become an overnight sensation (ten years later!).

Cat Connor said...

I am quite sure it's all in the timing! If only we all had crystal balls telling us what agents and editors were looking for and could write accordingly! But then - there would be a surge of books all very similar. How boring would that be?

The best bet is to keep writing, keep submitting and keep learning. If your book is THAT good, it will find a home (and sometimes we need to think outside the square.)

Kimber Chin said...

That's interesting because I was told by an agent (one on the RWA lists - not saying that this means the agent is any great shakes, just that they weren't nobodies) that although she loved the book I pitched to her, she couldn't sell it. She reco'd going ePub or small press with it and pitching something more mainstream to her.

The big publishers need big sales. That's simple economics. Even if they love the book, if they think it is too niche, they won't publish it.

And I'm kind of laughing about the m/m being niche. In the ePub world, that is a HUGE market. It ain't niche. It just isn't print happy.

Maureen McGowan said...

Well said, Sinead. There are exceptions, and yes, some books are trickier to place. But I've met way too many writers who think they're the exception. We can't all be the exception...

It's human nature to want to think "it's too different" is why a book didn't sell. Especially just after the sting/disappointment of a rejection. We've all done that.

And to Kimber's point... yes, we've all had agents/editors say "I just didn't know where to place it" or "We just weren't sure how to market it". Many of us have heard both of those things many, many times... It's a pretty stock rejection once the writing is at a certain competency level.

But I really take Sinead's point that if that's the feedback you're getting, and you want to be published in a way that lots of people will get a chance to read your book... then you have to be patient and persistent if you're writing something a little different... AND also be willing to take a honest critical look at whether "different" is the only reason your ms's aren't selling. That's the hard part.

Hunger Games is a great example. I mean, a book about a teenage girl killing people sounds like a pretty hard sell... But it was so well written and so compelling it couldn't be ignored.

Maureen McGowan said...

Also... Clearly publishers want to make money. I don't think that contradicts what Sinead was saying. And to make money publishers have to publish great books they think/hope lots of people will want to read.

It's the people who think that's the kind of book they've written--but that agents and editors are blocking them from the success they deserve, or who think their books are "too edgy", or who claim that big publishers somehow don't want to publish good books--who make some of us a little crazy. Those are the conspiracy theorists I think Sinead was referring to. Like the writer Eileen mentioned in her comment... more like "The Book New York Publishers Are Smart Enough to Know You'd Never Want to Read".

On the other hand, I think it's great that there are tiny publishers willing to put out books that aren't commercial or won't appeal to a wide enough audience to be economically viable.

Those sort of publishers aren't new and are certainly not looked down on. Indie publishers have always been highly respected and put out riskier less commercial books. So, I don't agree that publishing looks down on independent art... (to Kimber's point on the other post.) I think the publishing world does, however, look down on substandard work/art... and in the digital world it's become too easy for substandard work to get published. (Not saying ALL of it is... just that a lot of it is.)

Kimber Chin said...

I think it comes down to intent.

There are writers who intentionally create indie works (I do this with my Kimber Chin stories). They can't expect to sell into big publishers (and they wouldn't want to because that's not their goal) but that doesn't mean their stories are substandard quality either.

Small distribution doesn't equal bad and big distribution doesn't equal good. It isn't that simple (because people are strange).

Maureen McGowan said...

I totally agree Kimber.

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