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Thread: Stephen King's advice on seeking an agent

  1. #126
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Blaze View Post
    When I originally stated all my opinions, please note I was referring to all mainstream writers, not specifically picking on Stephen King.
    I see. You weren't insulting only Stephen King. You were insulting pretty much all published writers.

    You are forgetting the number one rule here at AW: respect your fellow writer.

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  2. #127
    Jun-Ikkyu Nick Blaze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terie View Post
    I see. You weren't insulting only Stephen King. You were insulting pretty much all published writers.

    You are forgetting the number one rule here at AW: respect your fellow writer.

    Those grapes you're pretending you don't have? They're sour.
    All published writers are mainstream now? Goodness!

    EDIT: Also, please note that I respect everybody here, whether for their writing or not, and have no reason to state otherwise. This site has given me information I could not payback in fifty year's time. Unless you consider yourself "mainstream" and have gotten on the NY Times bestseller's list, I haven't even come close to insulting you. Nor have I ever accused anyone here of being talentless. For all I know, and I have given everyone he benefit of the doubt, that even if you are very popular, that you're the some of the few talented authors who have found their way into many people's hearts.

    I have a deep respect for anybody who can spend every year improving their skills, clearing their mind, and getting rid of their egos. Just like the martial arts, I feel any art can accomplish this: writing, painting, sculpting, to trades like carpentry, masonry, metalwork and more. But writing just for the sake of being published does not fit into the same category as crafting a novel with skilled hands.
    Last edited by Nick Blaze; 03-18-2011 at 12:09 PM.

  3. #128
    Toughen up. gothicangel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamiekswriter View Post
    The fact of the matter is almost all self pubbed writers are still trying to get an agent. They're just not putting their dreams on hold of being published while waiting on odds that seem to be like hitting the lottery.
    What self-pubbed authors fail to understand - is that unless you've sold tens of thousands - is that self-publishing works against you in the eyes of an agent. They have no interest in the self-published book as it has lost its first publication rights, and it is not a legit publishing credit.

    Saying 'this is my first novel' looks a lot better on the submission, than I self-published X title which sold 500 copies.
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  4. #129
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Blaze View Post
    All published writers are mainstream now? Goodness!
    I would strongly suggest that you look up the words you throw around so blithely. For example, if you actually looked up what 'mainstream literature' means, you'd find out that it is generally accecpted to refer to commercial -- as opposed to literary -- literature.

    So, when you said this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Blaze View Post
    When I originally stated all my opinions, please note I was referring to all mainstream writers, not specifically picking on Stephen King.
    you were insulting most of the writers here, because the majority of us are writing mainstream, commercial literature.

    Own your words. You knew you were being offensive right from your first post in this thread when you said this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Blaze View Post
    I'm going to post my opinions here, so be warned.
    You are entitled to your opinions. Conversely, when you publically state opinions that insult other people and their work, the people being insulted are entitled to take umbrage.

    Wisdom would suggest that publically stating opinions that are insulting of writers isn't the appropriate thing to do in a writers forum.
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  5. #130
    Jun-Ikkyu Nick Blaze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terie View Post
    I would strongly suggest that you look up the words you throw around so blithely. For example, if you actually looked up what 'mainstream literature' means, you'd find out that it is generally accecpted to refer to commercial -- as opposed to literary -- literature.
    Yup, just looked up the definition of "mainstream" (also note, not all of the authors here write literature, so I will not look up "mainstream literature". Just the word itself will do: "the thoughts, beliefs, and choices that are accepted by the largest number of people ". So thus, the most popular, not all "commercial" fiction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Terie View Post
    So, when you said this:



    you were insulting most of the writers here, because the majority of us are writing mainstream, commercial literature.
    If you write only for the money and not for the sake up bettering yourself as a human being, then yes, you may be insulted. Otherwise, see above.

    Quote Originally Posted by Terie View Post
    Own your words. You knew you were being offensive right from your first post in this thread when you said this:



    You are entitled to your opinions. Conversely, when you publically state opinions that insult other people and their work, the people being insulted are entitled to take umbrage.

    Wisdom would suggest that publically stating opinions that are insulting of writers isn't the appropriate thing to do in a writers forum.
    This is a forum and I knew I was going to be stating something in a manner that some people may think I was stating as a fact. Again, it's a free country and I can make objective statements about a person's writing abilities. I, myself, am not astounding, nor have I really pursued publication yet. But I have (as far as I know) never read an author's book that belongs to AW's posters. I believe that even if they are extremely popular, the ones who post here I will say have much talent, before I even read their works.

    Wisdom would state nothing, but a wise person may state that "it's useless to try and educate those who do not wish to be educated" which may, or may not, refer to both parties present here. I did not intend to insult anyone here, and I have explained this many times.

    I believe, from experience, that the more popular something is, often the less talented it is. I stated my opinion and people tried to say I was wrong. There are so many books that are just stories, nothing of any gain to me aside from a fanciful adventure. Whereas other authors, such as Gene Wolfe, Milton (as mentioned before), and Tolkien (a very popular writer, and an exception to my beliefs) can add something of benefit to a reader aside from just a story. That to me is a large portion of quality writing and quality books.
    Last edited by Nick Blaze; 03-18-2011 at 01:42 PM. Reason: Stupidity.

  6. #131
    practical experience, FTW firedrake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Blaze View Post


    I believe, from experience, that the more popular something is, often the less talented it is. I stated my opinion and people tried to say I was wrong. I could honestly name you 100 books off the top of my head that are just stories, nothing of any gain to me aside from a fanciful adventure. Whereas other authors, such as Gene Wolfe, Milton (as mentioned before), and Tolkien (a very popular writer, and an exception to my beliefs) can add something of benefit to a reader aside from just a story. That to me is a large portion of quality writing and quality books.
    Feel free to post a list.

    'Just stories'? Oddly enough that's why I write, to tell a story.

    Bugger, I must be getting it all wrong.

  7. #132
    A new year, a new avatar Snappy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Blaze View Post
    I believe, from experience, that the more popular something is, often the less talented it is. I stated my opinion and people tried to say I was wrong. There are so many books that are just stories, nothing of any gain to me aside from a fanciful adventure. Whereas other authors, such as Gene Wolfe, Milton (as mentioned before), and Tolkien (a very popular writer, and an exception to my beliefs) can add something of benefit to a reader aside from just a story. That to me is a large portion of quality writing and quality books.
    As an English major in language and literature with a BA, MA, and pursuing a PhD, I can't help but wonder how you are judging talent in writing. Does talent equal to technical skill such as grammar and spelling? Is it a matter of fleshing out characters? Is it an intriguing plot? Or is it a combination of all these things? If so, then several commercial fiction authors have the "formula" to be considered "talented".

    I won't even begin to debate the academic canon of English works. To do so, would be to take this thread too far of course. However, I will say that I do not consider all "literary" works and not all "canonized" works to fall into the "talented" area. Of course, this is my opinion and highly subjective. And isn't that the point? Isn't judging for talent subjective?

    To your last remark, what do you gain from fiction other than "fanciful stories"? If the author has taken you on an adventure, transported you to another time and place, made you feel along with their characters, isn't this the whole point of fiction?
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  8. #133
    Sometimes I creep myself out. AW Moderator Calla Lily's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Its2Snappy View Post
    To your last remark, what do you gain from fiction other than "fanciful stories"? If the author has taken you on an adventure, transported you to another time and place, made you feel along with their characters, isn't this the whole point of fiction?
    It's why I write fiction.

  9. #134
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    I just love the "present company excepted, of course" side of the argument.
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  10. #135
    The 1st Rule of Write Club: Write! Jamiekswriter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gothicangel View Post
    What self-pubbed authors fail to understand - is that unless you've sold tens of thousands - is that self-publishing works against you in the eyes of an agent. They have no interest in the self-published book as it has lost its first publication rights, and it is not a legit publishing credit.

    Saying 'this is my first novel' looks a lot better on the submission, than I self-published X title which sold 500 copies.
    Agreed. If I only sold 500 copies of my self titled book, I wouldn't even mention it to the agent/publisher. I also wouldn't try to sell a self published book to an agent/publisher. The rights are gone; the ship has sailed.

    If the "next book" gets picked up by an agent or publisher and gets favorable feedback from readers and the reader wants to purchase the self pubbed book, they can find it where I left it on Amazon/Smashwords/where ever. If the agent/publisher want a piece of that action (doubtful), then they can make me an offer (but I don't see that happening and I would never approach them to do so).

    I agree being a "debut" author gives you an edge in the eyes of an agent, but if I only sold 500 copies of my self pubber, I pretty much *am* a debut author. No one's really heard of me anyway and with sales that low I wouldn't mention it unless an agent asked me about previously published works. And if it's that big of a deal breaker, I can write under a pen name/similar name and be a "debut author" again.

    In fact, I just queried an agent (if you need me to I can look up who, but I can't be arsed to at the moment) and on her submissions she said that she's not interested in previously published novels *UNLESS* they've sold over 5,000 copies. I was totally blown away that she'd even consider it.
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  11. #136
    Hopelessly Hopeful Tromboli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torgo View Post

    That's the whole problem with this debate. Being a bestseller is a sign of a quality; at least one. Books have all sorts of qualities, all sorts of facets; they speak to different things in different people, are designed to perform different functions in different situations. They're more complicated than 'high' and 'low'.

    I believe it's a profound error to talk about some books as if they are of lower quality than others, as if it were a purely linear metric, like a thermometer. To explain their popularity, we then have to say that the people who like them are of a lower quality than us. They don't have the critical faculties to discern the difference. .

    This! I think this statement puts it perfectly and therefore I second it.
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  12. #137
    i write words Aidan Watson-Morris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post

    Nobody has said that a bestseller is automatically of high quality. I mean, even Dan Brown's fans usually won't claim he's a great writer, just a highly entertaining one.

    But conversely, Charles Dickens was a huge bestseller. Was he catering to the herd? Dumbing down what he wrote? Or was he just an outlier? Or do you think Dickens was not a good writer?
    I'm fairly sure someone did say that, but I'm too lazy to look it up, so I'll concede that point.

    I'VE SAID THIS OVER AND OVER AGAIN: I'm not saying all mainstream writing is being dumbed down. OTHER people are saying that. I'm just being associated with that statement because - I'm not sure why, really. What I was saying was just to contradict the person who earlier I thought implied all bestsellers were of high quality.

    Can I leave now, please? I mean, I don't want to get associated with a side of the argument I'm not on.

  13. #138
    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Blaze View Post
    If you write only for the money and not for the sake up bettering yourself as a human being, then yes, you may be insulted. Otherwise, see above.
    Really? I write because I enjoy writing. And being paid for it would be nice. I don't think I've ever written anything with the express purpose of "bettering myself as a human being." (I try to do that in other ways.) So should I be insulted?

    To use another analogy, since you're into martial arts, is the guy who studies martial arts because he wants to get some exercise and wouldn't mind knowing how to defend himself if the need arises a schlub who can never be as skilled or as worthy as the guy who studies martial arts because it's his personal path to spiritual enlightenment and a way of life? There's nothing wrong with the latter, but lots of "hobbyist" martial artists can kick the asses of some of the "spiritual warrior" martial artists if it came down to it.

    There is nothing wrong with writing to be published. You keep ignoring counterexamples to your assertions. Dickens wrote for a living. He was a commercial writer. That didn't mean he wasn't also writing because he loved writing, because he had things to say, and because he was good at it. You seem to be saying that Dickens is a unicorn, a rare bird among all those other commercial writers who are just shitting words onto paper. I'm surprised that you really don't get why this is offensive.

    And saying "Oh, well, that doesn't apply to all you AW writers" is kind of dumb and transparent. Really, no one here is a bad writer? Come on now. If you're going to make broad statements, it doesn't fool anyone to say "Well, I'm not talking about you." What if Stephen King were a member of this board? Would you then exempt him from your criticism?

    (I'm not saying you do have to consider everyone here, or Stephen King, a great writer. But if you say "99% of all commercial writers write crap," it stretches credibility to say you're sure that everyone here at AW is in the 1%.)

    I believe, from experience, that the more popular something is, often the less talented it is. I stated my opinion and people tried to say I was wrong. There are so many books that are just stories, nothing of any gain to me aside from a fanciful adventure.
    Well, two things:

    1. You've been given many counterexamples. And I can point at lots of books that are neither popular nor good. In fact, most untalented writers don't become popular, because they are not talented. Sour grapes about Stephen King or Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling or Dan Patterson or Stephanie Meyer or whoever else you think is popular by lucky fluke or appealing to the unliterate masses is not a strong argument. If anything, anyone who sells in those numbers is by definition an outlier, regardless of their talent. I don't think you can extrapolate much of anything about the few writers who become millionaires.

    2. You are treating it as objective fact that an "entertaining story" has nothing to do with writing ability. If you don't care about storytelling, that's your personal aesthetic taste. Some writers are great wordsmiths but lousy storytellers. According to you, that would make them great writers. According to me, that makes them boring. Your personal tastes do not define writing talent.

  14. #139
    Hapless Virago IceCreamEmpress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Blaze View Post
    Whereas other authors, such as Gene Wolfe, Milton (as mentioned before), and Tolkien (a very popular writer, and an exception to my beliefs) can add something of benefit to a reader aside from just a story.
    Gene Wolfe is a strong seller, though not a bestseller. Milton was an enormous seller in his day. Your argument is unsupported.


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  15. #140
    practical experience, FTW wonderactivist's Avatar
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    I work at a bookshop and I think it gives me a unique perspective. I hear all the time that "popular=dumbed down."I say that's not true and here's why:

    ~ Every book that is sold today had to compete with the video games and 3-D Blue Ray movies next door.
    ~ Every new book sold beat-out better-known classics like Hemingway and Capote.
    ~ Every book sold somehow stood out from the blast of reality shows, Twitter wars, and Facebook status chains that are constantly pummeling us for attention.

    Every book sold has somehow touched a soul.

    When someone buys a sapphire or Palahniuk (whose name I can never spell), they're finding something in that book that their soul needed. If they buy a Kenyon romance, they're also getting something their soul needed. Sorry to disappoint the Franzen fans, but Freedom isn't going to fill the same kind of soul-hole that a Nick Sparks can fill.

    It's sort of like the Academy Awards never acknowledging the great comedies, but guess what? Laughter is the greatest soul food. That's why people like Evanovich and Tucker Max will out-sell people like Coehlo every time.

    Writing is ultimately communication. If someone is getting their soul food from it, then who is anyone else to demean it.

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    PS: I originally popped in here to say that Stephen King said that about agents originally in a different time--when authors could still query publishers directly. I don't know if he's said it recently, but as one of the most popular authors in the world, I'm not sure he can relate to the needs of the unpublished masses.
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  16. #141
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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Littlefield View Post
    So not true on the bold part, and pretty much a generalized judgment. Have you read On Writing. He does care about the words he puts on paper.
    He does care about his writing, and it shows. However, that's not what the post you are responding to said. It said that all he needed to do was scribble his name on something. Which is pretty much also true. He has said as much himself. I recall some comment he made about having reached the point where he could get his grocery lists published, as long as his name was on them.

  17. #142
    i write words Aidan Watson-Morris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    He does care about his writing, and it shows. However, that's not what the post you are responding to said. It said that all he needed to do was scribble his name on something. Which is pretty much also true. He has said as much himself. I recall some comment he made about having reached the point where he could get his grocery lists published, as long as his name was on them.
    I'm not a big fan of horror, so I haven't read much Stephen King. But if Stephen King did do something like that, I would totally buy it.

  18. #143
    Lost in the Fog rugcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Blaze View Post
    The Beatles were of average talent, neither extraordinary or bad, and there were many other bands that hit the market before the Beatles that sounded very close. I am, though, a musician, and I am, too, a writer. That gives me the ability to judge others without selling as many albums/books.
    I'm also a musician as well as a writer. To say that the Beatles were a band of "average talent" reinforces my belief that you equate technical virtuosity with talent and creative worth.

    The Beatles were musicians of average technical ability. They were also creative geniuses. BB King is a guitar player of average technical proficiency. I can find a hundred players in the Bay Area that can play circles around him, technically speaking. Not a one of them comes close as far as talent goes.

    You can watch American Idol and hear singers with tremendous command of power, pitch, vibrato, and all the other stuff. Very few of them are worth listening to.
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  19. #144
    Recovering Canucks Fan Becca C.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rugcat View Post
    You can watch American Idol and hear singers with tremendous command of power, pitch, vibrato, and all the other stuff. Very few of them are worth listening to.
    Amen! There's so much more to talent than technical proficiency. There has to be some soul to it, and that's whether it's writing, singing, guitar playing, dance... anything. You can be technically good at something but not have an ounce of talent because your soul isn't in it. In my opinion.
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  20. #145
    Mr. Boo is watching you. rosehips's Avatar
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    So, um... for what it's worth, my question got answered like five pages ago. Thanks!

    Carry on.


  21. #146
    Travel biologist, piss-poor fluffer quicklime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Blaze View Post

    If you write only for the money and not for the sake up bettering yourself as a human being, then yes, you may be insulted. Otherwise, see above.



    .

    then by all means, consider me insulted by this silly-ass argument.

    I do a host of things to "better" myself, but hell yes, I write chasing dollars (knowing that my attention would probably be better spent elsewhere), and I most certainly do not do it so I can brag about my self-evolution.

    As for King having nothing to say in terms of any deeper morals, that suggests you read with a blind eye or let your arrogance get in the way, or you simply haven't read much at all. It's one thing to dislike the guy, or think he is far too long-winded, but his books often speak volumes about the quiet, little things that hold people together and make them tick, especially in times of stress.

    One of the first lines in Children of the Corn, nowhere near his best work, was a woman arguing with her husband and saying "yes, I know we're in XYZ, Nebraska, but where the fuck ARE we?" If you don't get anything about human interaction or the nature of that couple in that line simply because there are no elves or dragons, the fault isn't King's
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  22. #147
    Travel biologist, piss-poor fluffer quicklime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Blaze View Post
    I have a deep respect for anybody who can spend every year improving their skills, clearing their mind, and getting rid of their egos. .

    considering some of the dismissive stuff you've posted in this thread, nick, I find this line rich with irony
    Three words that convey the meaning of six will always look better than twelve...


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  23. #148
    Holding out for a Superhero... Sheryl Nantus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
    So if you were an intelligent marketing and art department wanting to attract intelligent readers for urban fantasy and science fiction, what sort of titles and covers would you issue?

    Maybe some of these?

    Or these?

    Or these?

    I'm not a big fan of the tramp-stamped hottie genre myself, but come on now, you're being sillier than Nick "Stephen King sucks because he's popular" Blaze.


    Love those covers!

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