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jerry phoenix
11-19-2008, 03:16 PM
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article784051.ece

The exercise by The Sunday Times draws attention to concerns that the industry has become incapable of spotting genuine literary talent.

KTC
11-19-2008, 03:23 PM
I actually don't like that this stunt was pulled. It's insulting to the publishers and agents who were victimized to prove this point (I couldn't see anywhere that anyone knew that this trick would somehow be played on them). I can totally understand how published books could be rejected. Each well written book has its own home. To put the talent of these agents/publishers into question is underhanded and despicable. To have the two authors say that there is NO TALENT these days because their books weren't pounced upon when this test was done...that's just as despicable. Shame on them. Shame on all involved.

KTC
11-19-2008, 03:26 PM
There's more: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article784029.ece

jerry phoenix
11-19-2008, 03:26 PM
'It's insulting to the publishers and agents who were victimized'

were you one?

KTC
11-19-2008, 03:28 PM
Yeah. No.

Nakhlasmoke
11-19-2008, 03:29 PM
Oh please.

So the form rejections of a few agents are a sign that the industry is incapable of spotting talent.

*sigh*

We've seen this kind of stunt before and I'm sure the agents have too.

Boring.

Exir
11-19-2008, 03:30 PM
Times change.

Each writing has a historical, social, and political background and context to it, so good writing 100 years ago is not necessarily good writing today.

Take Charles Dickens. His writing style is directed at a very specific audience, and his style of writing would be considered as way, way too wordy by publishers today.

I don't think the studies prove anything, other than the fact that things have changed.

Exir
11-19-2008, 03:32 PM
Oh, and it also shows that writing is extremely subjective.

Go figure.

jerry phoenix
11-19-2008, 03:33 PM
so good writing 100 years ago is not necessarily good writing today.

?????

what rubbish.

Marian Perera
11-19-2008, 03:34 PM
The world changes?

what rubbish.

Nakhlasmoke
11-19-2008, 03:39 PM
*sigh again*

Let me guess, the next thing we're going to get is a rant about how publishers and agents can't see genius when it's slapped in front of them and so you're going to self-publish?

I could be wrong. I'd like to be.

jerry phoenix
11-19-2008, 03:43 PM
a (hopefully well writen) rant is never far away on this board.

Marian Perera
11-19-2008, 03:45 PM
Feel free to write one, then. Unless you have another link to something we've all read before?

Captain Ian
11-19-2008, 03:47 PM
If I don't like a book, I will not suddenly like it if it has won a prize.

Exir
11-19-2008, 03:47 PM
so good writing 100 years ago is not necessarily good writing today.

?????

what rubbish.

Perhaps all you are trying to do here is to start an argument, and nothing I say will change your mind, but let me just elaborate on my point with another example.

Let me give another example of a writer whose writing is very time specific. Jules Vernes.

His books are very good books, and many would call them classics, but if you show the books to a modern readership unaware of their background, it would be pretty darn hard to get them excited about electricity, submarines, flying machines, light bulbs, etc. Try submitting Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea to any modern publisher, and I guarantee that it will be rejected. Why? Because submarines are not novelties anymore.

Okay, that may be a clumsy example, but my point is to illustrate that books can not be judged and taken outside of its background and context.

KTC
11-19-2008, 03:47 PM
Many tremendous books were rejected prior to publication. If published books remain unknown to agents and they review them for publication...they might see any number of reasons why they would not sell in today's market. Good writing is only one factor. This scam is the rubbish. Books go in and out of fad. The two authors should have just kept their mouths shut when asked their thoughts, or said that it was a ludicrous thing to do.

jerry phoenix
11-19-2008, 03:49 PM
Feel free to write one, then. Unless you have another link to something we've all read before?


oh meeow

Exir
11-19-2008, 03:49 PM
And yes, that would apply to literary novels as well. They are also affected by time, albeit more subtly.

Marian Perera
11-19-2008, 03:53 PM
oh meeow

You're funny. Post more.

jerry phoenix
11-19-2008, 03:57 PM
more

Nakhlasmoke
11-19-2008, 03:57 PM
Jerry,

Because you're fairly new to the site, you won't know that we see this kind of thing quite regularly.

It's not that we're pissed with you - but rather with the stupidity that goes into these kind of stunts just so that some reporter with only the vaguest grasp of the book publishing industry can go" nyah nyah nyah, agents don't know shit and that's why they rejected my amazing work of great and terrible beauty etc"

Sorry it seemed as if we were attacking you, it just gets tiring.

Stick around, and you'll soon see how the industry really does work.

:D

Marian Perera
11-19-2008, 04:05 PM
more

You should submit this creativity to an agent, Jerry.

Polenth
11-19-2008, 04:22 PM
So how many rejections did they get the first time around, back in the 1970s? I noticed the article didn't mention that. Twenty rejections is peanuts (and it was then too... things haven't changed that much).

KTC
11-19-2008, 04:55 PM
What I would find interesting is if the same witch-hunter...er, I mean reporter...polled the same number of present day book buying/reading public to find out what their thoughts are on the two books. The 'reporter' may find that none of the readers like the aforementioned books either. This would reflect on present market...not on the writers who obviously had their egos flogged. If the readers were to give the books the thumbs down...then it is obvious that they agents/publishers made the right decision in rejecting the books.

scarletpeaches
11-19-2008, 05:06 PM
Everyone is allowed to not like a particular book; even agents and publishers.

There are plenty of prize winners I'd toss aside because quite frankly, they bore me.

And maybe, just maybe, these people concerned recognised the books and rejected them because they were bored with the same old trick being pulled on them which countless idiots have played before.

So they rejected these novels? So what? Does that mean every agent and pulisher in the land would? Even if so, big deal. They're allowed to not like them.

selkn.asrai
11-19-2008, 05:13 PM
I've seen this done before--the results are never anything but disheartening.

What I find more saddening is that a) the reporters assumed that the agents and editors wouldn't recognize these books and b) that they were right. They didn't.

Toothpaste
11-19-2008, 05:15 PM
Even so, just because these books are rejected, therefore there are no good books accepted? That is a logical fallacy. Jerry, I'm sorry if you feel piled on, but there is an article like this every few months or so, and always (unfortunately) by some bitter writer. And while yes, sometimes these books are rejected outright (because they don't serve today's market - and you may well wish to argue this point, but further remember the market is established by READERS not editors), some are rejected by agents/editors because they either read as "derivative" or just plain plagiarism. We do not know the reasons the books were rejected.

What I don't understand is why people are so unwilling to understand that art becomes famous as a product of its time. I am not saying that the art itself is no good, but look at Shakespeare. There are some bits that are almost universally cut from those plays, because as good as he is, those bits are so particular, so meant for a different kind of audience and setting, that it really is pointless in performing them. Heck look at Restoration comedies. They are almost entirely inside jokes. Just like how in Family Guy there are so many cultural references that fifty years from now I doubt people will get half the humour. The Mona Lisa is not the most famous painting in the world because of how it looks, but circumstances surrounding its existence.

So if the point of the article is to prove that a famous book of yesteryear would not be so today, I take it as a good point. But it is ridiculous to conclude that therefore agents/editors don't know a good book when they see one. I have read so many excellent books this year to know that simply is not true.

Mr Flibble
11-19-2008, 05:18 PM
Disregarding all the 'well they were 30-year-old books they might be out of fashion' thing, the bit I found interesting was: Doris Lessing, the author who was once rejected by her own publishers when she submitted a novel under a pseudonym,

Marian Perera
11-19-2008, 05:21 PM
I read somewhere that Isaac Asimov got rejection slips well after he had hundreds of books published. Being a bestselling and/or incredibly talented author doesn't mean that everything you write will automatically be accepted.

allenparker
11-19-2008, 05:28 PM
Didn't anyone else see the parallel between a published author sending in a good sting manuscript to see if it is published and a published author sending in a specifically bad manuscript to a publisher to see if it is published?

I don't want to point fingers, but wasn't there a few sting ms's sent out from AW to the publisher who should not be named?

Isn't this the same thing? A test?

Twenty rejections for the average novel from the slush pile would be peanuts. I would think an almost flawless manuscript with excellent editing and award winning layout would receive something less than 20. When you consider two authors, that makes a total of 40 rejections/non responses.

The only questions I have is if they gave the people long enough to respond and why they didn't use a control and send the book with the author's name afterward.

My guess is the manuscripts got a five page read buy an intern and was thrown into the wolf pen. The letters sounded more like form rejections.

James D. Macdonald
11-19-2008, 05:47 PM
I wrote more extensively about this same stunt two years ago. The Thousand Injuries of Fortunato (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007138.html)

ClaudiaGray
11-19-2008, 06:48 PM
Mostly I feel bad for Naipaul, who must have thought at this point in his career that anonymous assistant rejections were behind him. But no! Still, rejections, coming at him from all directions! Like any writer needs to hear about an extra rejection. :D

ETA: And now I see that Naipaul is dead, which I had missed somehow. I guess that is the only way to truly escape rejections!

Clair Dickson
11-19-2008, 06:59 PM
Did they send unsolicited manuscripts? Auto-reject!
Bad queries are also rejected without necessarily reading the pages.

The (almost three year old) article doesn't really explain the circumstances they used to "test" agents.

But anyone who finds this proof of anything beyond "tastes are subjective" and "marketable writing changes over time" then that's just one less query in the pile with me. I figure that's got to better my odds just a wee bit. =)

Phaeal
11-19-2008, 10:34 PM
Meh, agents and publishers sometimes reject brilliant work, sometimes accept deeply flawed work. No news there. Far as I can figure, they're looking for work with an angle or angles they can exploit to rack up sales. Selling is their job, after all. On occasion, one of the exploitable angles is literary genius, but that's not necessary for sales. Some cynics might even say it's a liability, a factor to be overcome on the road to big numbers.

I'd be interested in knowing what might be the legal ramifications of offering another writer's work for sale, if anyone knows. My guess is you can get away with it pre-contract or pre-payment?

ishtar'sgate
11-19-2008, 10:57 PM
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article784051.ece

The exercise by The Sunday Times draws attention to concerns that the industry has become incapable of spotting genuine literary talent.
Interesting article. It's more likely that, rather than being incapable of spotting talent, they know what their readers want. They're operating a business and they want to sell books so they will accept what sells.

MarkEsq
11-19-2008, 11:33 PM
I'd be interested in knowing what might be the legal ramifications of offering another writer's work for sale, if anyone knows. My guess is you can get away with it pre-contract or pre-payment?

I would guess that is right. It's an issue of damages - until someone pays for the work, the original author has not lost out on any income and therefore has no damages, usually an essential element to a lawsuit.
That said, there may be a statute that provides for automatic damages in a case like this, but I don't know if that's the case or not.

blacbird
11-20-2008, 01:22 AM
so good writing 100 years ago is not necessarily good writing today.

?????

what rubbish.

Do you know what the best-selling novels were 100 years ago?

caw

jerry phoenix
11-20-2008, 04:06 PM
Do you know what the best-selling novels were 100 years ago?

caw

i didnt know the best selling novels of 1908 off hand, caw. i just had a look.
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz was published 100 years ago as was Anne of Green Gables, Wind in the Willows and A Room with a View.

the bible sold well back then too.

James D. Macdonald
11-20-2008, 08:35 PM
Here are the top-ten best sellers from 1908:



1. Mr. Crewe's Career, Winston Churchill

2. The Barrier, Rex Beach

3. The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, John Fox Jr.

4. The Lure of the Mask, Harold MacGrath

5. The Shuttle, Frances Hodgson Burnett

6. Peter, F. Hopkinson Smith

7. Lewis Rand, Mary Johnston

8. The Black Bag, Louis J. Vance

9. The Man from Brodney's, George Barr McCutcheon

10. The Weavers, Gilbert Parker

James D. Macdonald
11-20-2008, 08:36 PM
That Winston Churchill, BTW, isn't the future Prime Minister. The Winston Churchill above is the reason the Prime Minister published as Winston S. Churchill.

Cybernaught
11-20-2008, 08:55 PM
I've often heard that J.R.R. Tolkien and Mark Twain would have a difficult time trying to get published in today's market. I guess this is just proof that the industry, and its standards, have changed.

Cybernaught
11-20-2008, 09:00 PM
On the contrary, try publishing The Illiad in today's market. You're likely to hear:

"There was far too much repetition and silly Deus Ex Machina in this. Also, excessive gore and violence should not be used a gimmick. And what was the deal with Book 10? Mr. or Ms. Homer (I can't be sure), did you even proofread this manuscript before you submitted it? Are you blind or something?"

Exir
11-21-2008, 12:59 PM
I've often heard that J.R.R. Tolkien and Mark Twain would have a difficult time trying to get published in today's market. I guess this is just proof that the industry, and its standards, have changed.

But if J.R.R. Tolkien and Mark Twain had lived today, they would probably write differently.

Buffysquirrel
11-21-2008, 03:12 PM
How exactly do we know the books weren't recognised? We only know for sure in one case--the agent who expressed interest in Middleton's book. If she'd recognised it, she certainly wouldn't have done that. Think about it--anyone who did recognise the books would hardly do anything other than ignore or reject them, would they? Nobody's going to write back, "Dear Plagiarist...".

I think this is a worthless exercise as there's no evidence the majority of agents and publishers didn't recognise the books. ST must try harder.

Marian Perera
11-21-2008, 03:13 PM
Nobody's going to write back, "Dear Plagiarist...".

Exactly. The last thing they want is to get into a heated correspondence with the sort of person who would plagiarize a book. Remember Lanaia Lee?

KTC
11-21-2008, 03:15 PM
Oh, please. That name makes me nauseous.

cletus
11-21-2008, 03:28 PM
I believe the people giving out the literary prizes are the ones who have a hard time spotting a good read. I've thrown many (OK, two) a Booker winner across the room through frustration and boredom. I will not even pick up a book now if it says it was nominated on the cover.

Julie Worth
11-21-2008, 03:55 PM
I believe the people giving out the literary prizes are the ones who have a hard time spotting a good read. I've thrown many (OK, two) a Booker winner across the room through frustration and boredom. I will not even pick up a book now if it says it was nominated on the cover.

Exactly, the fault could lie entirely with the Booker judges. As one of them said about the response to their selection on the day after: Never read blogs. We are a sub-standard panel of self-serving nitwits who have chosen a dud novel from a duff shortlist from a poor longlist in a dying medium, say the bloggers... Elsewhere, Janet Street-Porter calls us snobs. I find an odd liberation in being despised, though I don't suppose I'd like it for long.

Willowmound
11-21-2008, 05:04 PM
Remember Lanaia Lee?

No. But if she makes KTC nauseous, I'd quite like to know the story!

Selcaby
11-21-2008, 05:46 PM
I'd like to know who wrote the query letter and/or synopsis that accompanied each submission, and how much trouble they put into them, and whether they were any good. If they weren't, that alone could be enough to get the book rejected.

Richard Martin
11-21-2008, 09:37 PM
But if J.R.R. Tolkien and Mark Twain had lived today, they would probably write differently.

That sets off the imagination.

James D. Macdonald
11-21-2008, 10:37 PM
No. But if she makes KTC nauseous, I'd quite like to know the story!


Google the name. With "plagiarism."

Fullback
11-22-2008, 04:04 AM
I think this only demonstrates that an unknown writer can't just be good to be published -- they have to persevere. It validates the advice given here on AW and says little about the industry. Published writers and aspiring writers who read AW already know this.

Polenth
11-22-2008, 05:38 AM
i didnt know the best selling novels of 1908 off hand, caw. i just had a look.
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz was published 100 years ago as was Anne of Green Gables, Wind in the Willows and A Room with a View.

Have you looked at the publication stories of those books? You might find they're not as different to today as you're thinking they were. The main difference that struck me was the no advance strategy. I haven't heard of any recent books where a major publisher decided not to pay an advance (though someone else might know of one). Not paying an advance means the author takes the risk, rather than the publisher.

Anne of Green Gables was rejected numerous times, despite the author having a healthy set of short story publishing credits. This page describes:

"When Montgomery sent out the finished book in 1905, she got so many publishers' rejections that she sadly put the story away in a hatbox."

(Amazon Feature (http://www.amazon.ca/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000192551))

The Wind in the Willows was rejected many times, and eventually published under the agreement that the author would get no advance. The author had published several books previously.

(Telegraph Article (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2008/02/10/sv_windinthewillows.xml&page=3))

There wasn't a good reference to it online (though a few fleeting mentions), but The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was also rejected many times. It wasn't the author's first book, but setting a fairytale in America was an unusual thing to do at the time.

I couldn't find the publication story of A Room with a View.

Inkdaub
11-22-2008, 02:08 PM
I would wager that the books weren't even read except by slush readers who have been instructed to reject...reject...reject...unless they are moved to religion by a manuscript. This results in readers just scrapping manuscripts without reading them in anything more than a cursory skim. These slush piles are pretty big after all. I wouldn't read too much into it as far as the health of the industry as a whole goes.

It reminds me how...every so often...a joker will post pages of a renowned and often award winning screenplay at websites like Zoetrope only to have the nutters tear them apart. I remember The Seventh Seal being especially derided...haha.

It is what it is. Sometimes people will do what they think they are supposed to do. If the readers knew they were reading Booker winners the response would have been very different.

miles
11-22-2008, 05:48 PM
The first couple of paragraphs from IN A FREE STATE:

It was only a two-day crossing from Piraeus to Alexandria, but as soon as I saw the dingy little Greek steamer I felt I ought to have made other arrangements. Even from the quay it looked overcrowded, like a refugee ship; and when I went aboard I found there wasn't enough room for everybody.

There was no deck to speak of. The bar, open on two sides to the January wind, was the size of a cupboard. Three made a crowd there, and behind his little counter the little Greek barman, serving bad coffee, was in a bad mood. Many of the chairs in the small smoking-room, and a good deal of the floor space, had been seized by overnight passengers from Italy, among them a party of overgrown American schoolchildren in their mid-teens, white and subdued but watchful. The only other public room was the dining-room, and that was being got ready for the first of the lunch sittings by stewards who were as tired and bad-tempered as the barman. Greek civility was something we had left on shore; it belonged perhaps to idleness, unemployment and pastoral despair.

Other than some nice description, it doesn't do much for me. If I were an agent with a thousand queries and a few hundred partials to read, I don't know what about this opening would get me excited.

scarletpeaches
11-22-2008, 05:52 PM
Lanaia Lee's page on Encyclopedia Dramatica (http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Lanaia_Lee).

Willowmound
11-22-2008, 10:23 PM
They spelled Absolute Write wrong.

Richard Martin
11-22-2008, 11:26 PM
"Even from the quay it looked overcrowded, like a refugee ship; and when I went aboard I found there wasn't enough room for everybody."

"Overcrowded" is pretty close to "there wasn't enough room for everybody." And if there "wasn't enough room for everybody," how did he get aboard?

Why, if I were an agent . . .

Richard Martin
11-22-2008, 11:33 PM
Lanaia Lee's page on Encyclopedia Dramatica (http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Lanaia_Lee).

Her "For your own sake retrefy this mess" is an instant classic.

Mr Flibble
11-22-2008, 11:40 PM
Lanaia Lee's page on Encyclopedia Dramatica (http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Lanaia_Lee).

I'm trying to read that cos it's quite funny. I keep getting distracted by AwesomeRack though. Apparently she lives in my town. I think I'd have noticed tbh. You can hardly miss the 'huge tracts of land'

AZ_Dawn
11-23-2008, 12:35 AM
Let me give another example of a writer whose writing is very time specific. Jules Vernes.

His books are very good books, and many would call them classics, but if you show the books to a modern readership unaware of their background, it would be pretty darn hard to get them excited about electricity, submarines, flying machines, light bulbs, etc. Try submitting Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea to any modern publisher, and I guarantee that it will be rejected. Why? Because submarines are not novelties anymore.
Let's not forget Verne's large info dumps. I don't mind them; I think they enhance his stories. But most people these days don't like info dumps. Just try to get them to read a 19th Century info dump! A modern publisher would write the rejection slip before finishing the first chapter.

Elidibus
11-23-2008, 01:44 PM
I always thought writing changed with the times. Right now, it would seem we're in the "quick fix, instant gratification microwave dinner" time where people don't necessarily want lofty prose and entire paragraphs of description. They want to get to the meat, and they want to get there fast.

You can't submit a story from 30 years ago and expect it to be as successful the second time around. That's a whole other generation, growing up with TV, internet, bad 80's haircuts. It's gonna take something different for an agent to make a sale nowadays.

But I will say one thing for that website. I do believe that shiny and flashy things in general are the best sellers and that goes for books as well. Seems to me these people like their shiny baubles. If it's what they want and they're willing to pay for it, who am I to say otherwise?

Of course, this is just my opinion of things. Hopefully, things are better than my current attitude.

sundawson
01-16-2009, 05:12 PM
This is for all of us who are giving agents way too much power. Remember, we're the power, not them. I think this example sheds light not only on the problem with agents but the fact that we have entered into and are fully esconced in the age of no "gatekeeper" thanks largely to the internet. Too many people writing, not enough writers, and thus the writers are becoming overlooked, as are artists in many areas. Just because a person CAN, as in can put up their work or writing or whatever on the internet, doesn't mean it IS. While the agent is of course the gatekeeper now, the cycle has become far too vicious.



Here's a story from the London Sunday Times, January 1, 2006:
They canít judge a book without its cover. British publishers and agents have rejected two Booker prize-winning novels submitted as works by aspiring authors. One of the books considered unworthy was by V. S. Naipaul, who won the Nobel prize for literature.
Typed manuscripts of the opening chapters of Naipaulís In a Free State and Stanley Middleton's Holiday were sent to 20 publishers and agents. None recognized them as Booker prizewinners from the 1970s that were lauded as British novel writing at its best. Of the 21 replies, all but one were rejections.
Only Barbara Levy, a London literary agent, expressed an interest, and that was for Middletonís novel. She was unimpressed by Naipaul: ďIn the end though Iím afraid we just werenít quite enthusiastic enough to be able to offer to take things further.Ē

Noah Body
01-16-2009, 05:22 PM
I'm not surprised that the literary machine of the 21st Century wouldn't be interested in novels from the 1970s. Tastes change, and what sold 30 years ago wouldn't be very easy to sell today.

sundawson
01-16-2009, 05:34 PM
That's such a bull shitty stock cop out response. You're not looking at the soul of the artist anymore and soon you'll be saying "yes, I agree that a writer can only get an agent or a book published if they have good credit." Sometimes the greatest stuff doesn't come in pretty packages. If we keep accepting and swallowing this wall of shit it'll only get worse.

M.R.J. Le Blanc
01-16-2009, 06:34 PM
This is for all of us who are giving agents way too much power. Remember, we're the power, not them. I think this example sheds light not only on the problem with agents but the fact that we have entered into and are fully esconced in the age of no "gatekeeper" thanks largely to the internet. Too many people writing, not enough writers, and thus the writers are becoming overlooked, as are artists in many areas. Just because a person CAN, as in can put up their work or writing or whatever on the internet, doesn't mean it IS. While the agent is of course the gatekeeper now, the cycle has become far too vicious.



Here's a story from the London Sunday Times, January 1, 2006:
They canít judge a book without its cover. British publishers and agents have rejected two Booker prize-winning novels submitted as works by aspiring authors. One of the books considered unworthy was by V. S. Naipaul, who won the Nobel prize for literature.
Typed manuscripts of the opening chapters of Naipaulís In a Free State and Stanley Middleton's Holiday were sent to 20 publishers and agents. None recognized them as Booker prizewinners from the 1970s that were lauded as British novel writing at its best. Of the 21 replies, all but one were rejections.
Only Barbara Levy, a London literary agent, expressed an interest, and that was for Middletonís novel. She was unimpressed by Naipaul: ďIn the end though Iím afraid we just werenít quite enthusiastic enough to be able to offer to take things further.Ē

Did it ever occur to them (and you) that maybe these agents recognized yet another test and decided they weren't going to fall for it? This ranks right up there with the corner-fold crap and other tricks writers use to 'test' agents to see if mss are actually being read. I'd have rejected it too, on that merit alone if not for the fact that one could also accuse those aspiring authors of straight-out plagerism. Seriously, this proved nothing. If you don't like the way the publishing industry is run, then don't get in it. It's as simple as that. Or else self-publish.

ChaosTitan
01-16-2009, 07:34 PM
The article is three years old. All of these "let's test the system" attempts are silly. They don't prove anything. And they've been discussed over and over and OVER on this board. It's really old news.

Jcomp
01-16-2009, 07:35 PM
I don't think this attempt at trickery necessarily proves anything. But...

Too many people writing, not enough writers, and thus the writers are becoming overlooked, as are artists in many areas.

I actually agree with that. We've seen it happen in the music industry and now it's coming around to the publishing world. Marketability and a person's "hustle" is given a greater worth, drawing some value away from pure "talent." And that's understandable to an extent, but also lamentable, and if it runs unchecked it can prove detrimental to the industry.

gothicangel
01-16-2009, 07:48 PM
Have you recently picked up a book published in the 70's? I work in a second hand book shop and - eurgh!

Also yes writing has changed. Over the last 100 years fiction split in to two camps: literary and populist. We've had modernism and post-modernism. There's been writers like Hemingway who pared everything down. I love Dickens; but it just wouldn't get published today (considering it was originally written for serialisation in newspapers.)

Julie Worth
01-16-2009, 07:53 PM
Have you recently picked up a book published in the 70's? I work in a second hand book shop and - eurgh!

If what was considered publishable didn't evolve, there would be no hope for any of us.

nevada
01-16-2009, 09:13 PM
Case in hand. Victor Hugo, Les Miserables. Considered one of the great novels of any language, any century. When Victor Hugo was alive he was considered a great writer. (yay for once an artist didn't have to die before he was recognized) but when he published Les Mis the artistic community ridiculed him for it saying it was hopelessly outdated and old fashioned and he'd lost his touch.

times change.

deal with it.

agents know what sell. thats what you hire them for. not to judge if you wrote great literature. thats for other people to decide.or you. but if you think you wrote great literature then you probably have golden word syndrome and self publish.

again you is general not anyone in particular. I do seem to be fond of second person. Even my self affirmations are in second person for all the good they do. hmmmm maybe i really should write a book in second person. :D

The Lonely One
01-16-2009, 10:02 PM
maybe i really should write a book in second person. :D

I'd read it.

Birol
01-18-2009, 07:59 PM
That's such a bull shitty stock cop out response. You're not looking at the soul of the artist anymore and soon you'll be saying "yes, I agree that a writer can only get an agent or a book published if they have good credit." Sometimes the greatest stuff doesn't come in pretty packages. If we keep accepting and swallowing this wall of shit it'll only get worse.

Interesting response, Sun. It says a great deal about where you are as a writer. It's also right on the edge of being a personal attack. I do not tolerate personal attacks.

Marian Perera
01-18-2009, 08:47 PM
You're not looking at the soul of the artist anymore

How does one look at artists' souls (or anyone's souls, for that matter)?

Also, I read novels to be entertained. What entertainment value is there in soul-observation?

James D. Macdonald
01-19-2009, 05:35 AM
Here's a story from the London Sunday Times, January 1, 2006:

And so this thread comes full circle. That was the same story that the OP linked to. (And it was fully discussed back in 2006 when it happened.)

Short version: This experiment is meaningless.

Ralyks
01-24-2009, 05:24 PM
I haven't read these books, so I can't judge, but might this little prank merely be evidence that the kind of literary talent awarded with literary prizes is more often faddish than universial? I think there are a great many readers, academics, literati, editors, and publishers who would confess they didn't like certain books if they weren't told they should think those books are great. Furthermore, the idea that quality of writing is objective and that good writing should be instantly recognizable is, to begin with, perhaps a false notion. Very bad writing is instantly recognizable, one hopes, but good writing is a more subjective matter.

Birol
01-24-2009, 06:19 PM
Skylar, there are plenty of academics who will readily tell you that they don't like certain so-called great books or authors. I believe you are stereotyping a group of people without actually knowing or spending time with them.

LeeFlower
01-24-2009, 06:24 PM
It's possible that some of these agents did recognize the quality of the work, because they recognized the work itself. If I were a busy agent, and someone queried me with an MS that I knew had already been published to critical acclaim years before, my first reaction would not be "hm, a reporter must be trying to make a point about the publishing industry. I should call them and explain how these things work."

My reaction would be "This is a crazy person. Form rejection." Because rule #1 with crazy people is Do Not Engage. You can never tell when taking a couple minutes to explain to the submitter that You See What They Did There will result in them harassing you for months about how the CIA zapped the novel out of their brain and set it up to look like it had been published thirty years ago.

ETA: and I see that I was beaten to the punch on Page Two. Whoops.