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Keith
07-13-2008, 07:22 AM
In Joe Heller's Catch-22 a pilot thinks he is crazy and wants to go home but can't because you have to be crazy to go home and if you're crazy you wouldn't have the sanity to request going home, or want to, catch-22.

I'm beginning to feel like there is a writers catch-22, in effect, at least in America. You have to get an agent in order to get published; you have to get published in order to get an agent. This is an oversimplification of course, however --- personally, I have been writing for 30-plus years have been published in 3 dozen, or more, publications and also, for the past maybe 2-3 years, several Internet publications, but this all seems very minor and trivial when I consider I can't find an agent who will even read a manuscript ...? As far as (big---book) publishers go, refer to above catch-22. So, then the question becomes why and am I really a writer?

I began writing poetry, then short stories and have completed four novels.

Does this make me a writer? Is it because I had a short story published in The Maryland Review and not the New Yorker or AIM Magazine, etc. and not Esquire, etc. that agents and/or publishers (one would be enough) are not flocking to my door. I have had (small) publishers request more of my writing and have been published more than once in several of these (small) publications. I guess the word small could be interchanged with the word insignificant as far as many (big, or should it be just bigger) publishers are concerned and, as far as agents are concerned, you got it, catch-22.

Writing is a very lonely profession and you can go crazy, as many writers have, so maybe I'm just going crazy, ah, there it is, I am going crazy, this letter is a bad sign then too, I can feel it. It's starting to make me feel almost as bad as when I write a query letter, I hate writing query letters; who likes getting rejected?

Wait a second, my wife has just come into my study and told me that I should stop writing this letter and stop writing query letters also, get back to writing stories and editing those I have already written, ah, but she is so much smarter than I am and so I'd better listen to her ... ah, she has also just suggested to me a way out of my predicament she has suggested I get a literary agent to ... ah ... but she is not a writer, my wife, ... catch-22.


Keith

maestrowork
07-13-2008, 08:08 AM
I'm beginning to feel like there is a writers catch-22, in effect, at least in America. You have to get an agent in order to get published; you have to get published in order to get an agent.

That's not true. Agents represent new writers all the time. Check around AW and you'll find these writers.

And you've already been published, so you're actually ahead in the game. Just focus on writing the novels, and submitting your best work. If you can't find an agent who will read your ms., perhaps you need to consider a) if the ms. is ready for prime time, or b) do you have a strong query.

Mumut
07-13-2008, 08:12 AM
You're so right and it can't have been like this a few years ago. I read a book written by a remote family member recently. It was published by a significant publisher but it was not well written as far as I'm concerned. Still, them's the breaks.

blacbird
07-13-2008, 08:25 AM
I'm beginning to feel like there is a writers catch-22, in effect, at least in America. You have to get an agent in order to get published; you have to get published in order to get an agent. This is an oversimplification of course, however --- personally, I have been writing for 30-plus years have been published in 3 dozen, or more, publications and also, for the past maybe 2-3 years, several Internet publications, but this all seems very minor and trivial when I consider I can't find an agent who will even read a manuscript ...?

Not news. This has been an established issue for a couple of decades now. I'm caught in it, and have no answer. And am pretty much ready to give it all up.

caw

blacbird
07-13-2008, 08:26 AM
That's not true. Agents represent new writers all the time. Check around AW and you'll find these writers.

And you've already been published, so you're actually ahead in the game. Just focus on writing the novels, and submitting your best work. If you can't find an agent who will read your ms., perhaps you need to consider a) if the ms. is ready for prime time, or b) do you have a strong query.

And if you can't meet either of those criteria, your work (and your chances) just plain suck. Speaking from personal experience.

caw

Toothpaste
07-13-2008, 08:46 AM
It's not easy. That's the plain and simple truth. I might have hit the lucky break with the writing, but my acting career . . .well let's not even go there. Point is, I kind of empathise . . . a lot. But just because it is damn difficult doesn't actually make that catch-22 statement of yours true. As Maestro already said, ask around here, you'll find proof on AW of how false your statement is.

Just because something is really really hard, and just because the business is pretty unfair in some ways (celebrities will always have doors open to them, that we lowly common folk will not), does not mean it is impossible, nor that the industry is out to get us.

You obviously have a lot of passion, and have had things published so you must be doing something right. That must give you some kind of confidence. Maybe it's just your query letter. Post it here in the Share Your Work section, I know Jim will be all too happy to tear it to shreds. He's evil like that. Maybe it's something else. I am in no position to say. I can tell you that of all my author friends, right now, I can't think of a one who had publishing credits before getting an agent. They all still got one.

It's not a catch-22. It really isn't. It's just . . . annoyingly difficult.

maestrowork
07-13-2008, 08:59 AM
If it's not difficult it wouldn't really be worth it, right? There's no guarantee of success, but it's not catch-22 either. Perseverance is the key. And like Randy Pausch said:

Brick walls are there for a reason; they let us prove how badly we want something.

JamieFord
07-13-2008, 09:30 AM
Agents rep newbie writers all the time--as long as they have a book they think will sell. Short fiction pub creds are great, but they're not as relevant to an agent as they might have been 30 years ago. It's a tough biz. But don't give up.

Mumut
07-13-2008, 12:11 PM
If it's not difficult it wouldn't really be worth it, right?

I wouldn't mind it being easy. Bring it on!

Khazarkhum
07-13-2008, 04:13 PM
If it's not difficult it wouldn't really be worth it, right?

Oh, I'm not so sure about that. It's very easy to get a nice, cold beer. Are you really going to say a beer isn't worthwhile? :e2drunk:

Marian Perera
07-13-2008, 04:44 PM
I'm beginning to feel like there is a writers catch-22, in effect, at least in America. You have to get an agent in order to get published; you have to get published in order to get an agent.

I know several writers here who got good agents without being published before. So did I, though admittedly, that took me nine years from the time I first started writing novels <-- no AW at the time, made some newbie mistakes, getting better.

Oh, and it was my sixth novel which got the offer of representation. You've got two more to go to reach this. :)

Claudia Gray
07-13-2008, 05:37 PM
I was unpubbed when I got my agent, as was everyone I know who ultimately got an agent and became published. Any agent who is going around saying he/she will only handle previously published people is not somebody's who is actively looking for new clients, I'd think. And there are agents who definitely are seeking clients.

Sargentodiaz
07-13-2008, 07:01 PM
As I recommend AW on other forums, I'll recommend Query Tracker to you. Go though the Agent Listing and you'll see who wants what genres and you can link to their websites or other areas to see their credentials. Even better, you can use their data base to keep track of your queries.

regdog
07-13-2008, 07:10 PM
I don't think having an agent or being published "deems" you a writer. If you write, represented, published, or not you ARE a writer.

I think one of the problems making it so hard for writers to get an agent is the amount of books being written by pseudo-celebrities. The idea that because you are sort of kind of famous with the IQ of a houseplant qualifies you to write a book is silly and in my opinion making it harder for unknown authors with talent to be read.

Example-Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears mother writes a book on good parenting. One daughter is ordered to drug rehab and loses custody of her children and the other has a baby at 16. Sounds like their mother is WELL qualified to instruct others on how to parent.

:Soapbox:

maestrowork
07-13-2008, 07:15 PM
I don't think having an agent or being published "deems" you a writer. If you write, represented, published, or not you ARE a writer.

I think one of the problems making it so hard for writers to get an agent is the amount of books being written by pseudo-celebrities. The idea that because you are sort of kind of famous with the IQ of a houseplant qualifies you to write a book is silly and in my opinion making it harder for unknown authors with talent to be read.

Example-Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears mother writes a book on good parenting. One daughter is ordered to drug rehab and loses custody of her children and the other has a baby at 16. Sounds like their mother is WELL qualified to instruct others on how to parent.

:Soapbox:



Actually celebrity-penned books constitute a very small portion of books published every year, especially if you consider fiction only.

Seriously, it's something that unpublished writers want to use as an excuse -- the publishing world is against me! They only want named authors! The fact is unknown writers and first-time authors get representation and published every day.

The main problem that makes it hard for writers to get published or representation is that they don't know how to write a good book that has market potential -- that many people will want to read. They don't understand the craft. It has nothing to do with what "everyone else is doing."

IceCreamEmpress
07-14-2008, 02:03 AM
Every writer was a first-time writer once. Yes, there are celebrity writers, but they're a tiny fraction of the market. Go to the "Sunshine Cafe" thread and you'll see success stories from first-time writers out the wazoo.

Clair Dickson
07-14-2008, 02:51 AM
Having short story publishing credits only shows that you can write short stories. Which is not BAD, but it does not mean that you can carry that same ability through to writing a WHOLE novel! (There are quite a few short story writers who never can write a solid novel.)

Plenty of agents take new authors. If they're NOT requesting partials or fulls from you, it may be because of your query. You can help that by sending along 3-5 sample pages (unless specifically directed not to). Many agents will read sample pages if the query isn't an automatic NO.

The key then, is to make sure your query has everything it's suppose to AND to make sure your first three to five pages grab the agent with strong writing and plot right from the get-go. Make them upset that, when they get to end of the sample, they don't have more to read!

If your novel isn't exciting and gripping (or similar appropriate phrases) from page one and in the query/ synopsis, then that's a whole seperate issue. Try a beta here or elsewhere. Give them first couple pages and the query explanation of your story-- do THEY want to keep reading?

Now, I could be wrong-- I've only got two partials in purgatory (for THREE WHOLE WEEKS! and five rejections so far.)

Lainey Bancroft
07-14-2008, 02:54 AM
"If someone says it can't be done, it usually means they don't know how to do it."
Yeah, straight out of the fortune cookie I got with my Chinese take-out last night.

Smart cookie!

mirrorkisses
07-14-2008, 05:04 AM
In Joe Heller's Catch-22 a pilot thinks he is crazy and wants to go home but can't because you have to be crazy to go home and if you're crazy you wouldn't have the sanity to request going home, or want to, catch-22.

I'm beginning to feel like there is a writers catch-22, in effect, at least in America. You have to get an agent in order to get published; you have to get published in order to get an agent. This is an oversimplification of course, however --- personally, I have been writing for 30-plus years have been published in 3 dozen, or more, publications and also, for the past maybe 2-3 years, several Internet publications, but this all seems very minor and trivial when I consider I can't find an agent who will even read a manuscript ...? As far as (big---book) publishers go, refer to above catch-22. So, then the question becomes why and am I really a writer?

I began writing poetry, then short stories and have completed four novels.

Does this make me a writer? Is it because I had a short story published in The Maryland Review and not the New Yorker or AIM Magazine, etc. and not Esquire, etc. that agents and/or publishers (one would be enough) are not flocking to my door. I have had (small) publishers request more of my writing and have been published more than once in several of these (small) publications. I guess the word small could be interchanged with the word insignificant as far as many (big, or should it be just bigger) publishers are concerned and, as far as agents are concerned, you got it, catch-22.

Writing is a very lonely profession and you can go crazy, as many writers have, so maybe I'm just going crazy, ah, there it is, I am going crazy, this letter is a bad sign then too, I can feel it. It's starting to make me feel almost as bad as when I write a query letter, I hate writing query letters; who likes getting rejected?

Wait a second, my wife has just come into my study and told me that I should stop writing this letter and stop writing query letters also, get back to writing stories and editing those I have already written, ah, but she is so much smarter than I am and so I'd better listen to her ... ah, she has also just suggested to me a way out of my predicament she has suggested I get a literary agent to ... ah ... but she is not a writer, my wife, ... catch-22.


Keith

I don't understand where people have gotten this idea that you need to be published to get an agent, otherwise, you're SOL. Seriously, where has this idea come from??

You are a writer. It's a pretty broad term, and just like with artist, practically anyone can label themselves as so, but you have been published. So you actually have the right to call yourself a writer. Although I'm not sure why it matters, anyway. I think you should be happy with your small accomplishments.

Agents are not afraid of new authors. They're afraid of crappy writers. There are a lot of crappy writers out there, but there are a lot of new authors published every year. I think if you're really having a problem, maybe novels aren't the avenue for you. Maybe you're a better short story writer. I cant write short stories at all. I'm a novel writer.

Maybe you should try going to a conference, if you've never been to one. I met with two agents who requested partials from me, even though I'm unpublished. It shows that you can get chances without having previous work.

mirrorkisses
07-14-2008, 05:11 AM
I was unpubbed when I got my agent, as was everyone I know who ultimately got an agent and became published. Any agent who is going around saying he/she will only handle previously published people is not somebody's who is actively looking for new clients, I'd think. And there are agents who definitely are seeking clients.

Yeah, only TWO agents that I've looked up out of the list of twelve I've made so far don't take unsolicited queries. Those are good odds.

Clair Dickson
07-14-2008, 06:16 AM
Yeah, only TWO agents that I've looked up out of the list of twelve I've made so far don't take unsolicited queries. Those are good odds.

And that doesn't necessarily mean the agents don't take new writers! I was contacted by an agent who is listed as not taking unsolicited manuscripts. He thought I had a novel written (heh, not quite) and liked the character/ premise I'd been using in my short stories. He currently has a partial of my novel now that I've written it. And, in the novel-writing world, I'm considered a new writer.

blacbird
07-14-2008, 06:33 AM
I don't understand where people have gotten this idea that you need to be published to get an agent, otherwise, you're SOL. Seriously, where has this idea come from??

Personal experience.

caw

maestrowork
07-14-2008, 07:38 AM
And that doesn't necessarily mean the agents don't take new writers! I was contacted by an agent who is listed as not taking unsolicited manuscripts. He thought I had a novel written (heh, not quite) and liked the character/ premise I'd been using in my short stories. He currently has a partial of my novel now that I've written it. And, in the novel-writing world, I'm considered a new writer.

Yip. What does "unsolicited manuscripts" have to do with "unpublished" writers anyway? All you need is a query -- and when the agent requests the material after reading your query, you're now "solicited." That's all it means.

mirrorkisses
07-14-2008, 07:42 AM
Yip. What does "unsolicited manuscripts" have to do with "unpublished" writers anyway? All you need is a query -- and when the agent requests the material after reading your query, you're now "solicited." That's all it means.

Well, unsolicited queries aren't accepted by these two agents. So they've got to somehow know about you and ask for your work.

mirrorkisses
07-14-2008, 07:45 AM
And if you can't meet either of those criteria, your work (and your chances) just plain suck. Speaking from personal experience.

caw

Well, no shit if you have a crappy query or manuscript no one wants to read further. No offense here, but you keep saying "personal experience," but far more people are encouraging this guy not to be so bleak about his prospects in publishing.

maestrowork
07-14-2008, 07:48 AM
Well, unsolicited queries aren't accepted by these two agents. So they've got to somehow know about you and ask for your work.

Thanks for the clarification. Yes, there are agents like that and there are agents who don't accept new clients as well. But out of all the top agents I've queried, only a very few refuse unsolicited queries or go by recommendation only. It's certainly not the majority.

mirrorkisses
07-14-2008, 07:50 AM
Thanks for the clarification. Yes, there are agents like that and there are agents who don't accept new clients as well. But out of all the top agents I've queried, only a very few refuse unsolicited queries or go by recommendation only. It's certainly not the majority.

Totally agree.

Keith
07-18-2008, 06:18 AM
I see where this thread I started has many various and assorted opinions, as well it should, for this is one thing that, I think, helps make a person a writer.
Maestrowork, I would like to say to you that I am not a new writer, I'm an old one. I was first published in 1979, in The Phoenix Magazine, and since then too many times to name. Maybe, too many times for my own good, many of my stories are now littered throughout the Internet, all published for little or nothing and why should a publisher pay for something that he can get for free, anyway? I have written 150-plus short stories and could make several books of them. As far as novels go, a novel is simply a long short story, as a poem is a short short story; they all must tell a story and I have written my share of them. By the way, that first published story, in 1979, was "Liberty City," a 75 page story concerning the black ghetto in Miami, of the same name.

As far as my query goes I am more than sure that many others could see an example of it and tear it to shreds and explain to me why I am not getting requests for my work but if a literary agent can't even understand that a writer's talent shouldn't (have to depend) lie in his ability to "sell his work" and can't even read a few chapters of the work then what kind of a literary agent is he anyway? I have read a few threads on AW in the past concerning agents fielding questions from writers and I must say, something is terribly wrong when the writers treat the agent, who, after all, depends upon the writers work to make a living, do they not? as if the agent could miraculously get their work, i.e "anything HE represents" published and the real problem I have with that is that it may very well be true, the old saying that its who you know, not who you are or what you can produce. I have read all the suggestions and advice and must say that I believe that Jamie Ford, inadvertently, hit the nail on the head when he said that "agents want a book that they THINK will SELL" and I should have said that the catch-22 is (still) in effect for this reason. Publishers want books that will sell, editors want a guarantee, when there are no guarantees, and so they rely upon agents---and a whole new profession is born---until it appears that the catch-22 boils down to that age-old question of money. Yes, if you have enough money you can "buy" a publisher or publishing company, or literary agent, who will "guarantee" the publisher of a book "that will sell."

And, who are these agents, anyway, that they got a few hours to spend chatting it up with writers, why ain't they out "selling" their clients' manuscripts? This is, of course, only a retorical question for those with agents.

Funny thing though, 'cause I believe that if agents and publishers would have demanded that "guarantee" of theirs 50 years ago then a very good novel, now a classic, would never have been published, you guessed it, "Catch-22."

Peace,

Keith

Marian Perera
07-18-2008, 11:14 AM
...but if a literary agent can't even understand that a writer's talent shouldn't (have to depend) lie in his ability to "sell his work" and can't even read a few chapters of the work then what kind of a literary agent is he anyway?

Is it really necessary to read a few chapters of each manuscript before making a decision? With some books (http://girlondemand.blogspot.com/2006/07/opening-paragraphs-of-recent-pods-that.html), the opening paragraph may be enough. And who are these agents, anyway, that they got a few hours to spend reading all these chapters from submissions, why ain't they out "selling" their clients' manuscripts?

Prozyan
07-18-2008, 12:08 PM
As far as novels go, a novel is simply a long short story, as a poem is a short short story; they all must tell a story and I have written my share of them.


This is very much akin to saying a skyscraper is simply a really big house. In truth, the word "simply" doesn't belong, because it is anything but simple. Just because someone can design and build a home doesn't necessarily mean that could design and build a skyscraper.

I also went to your website (which I realize hasn't been updated in a while) and browsed the two pieces of work I could - Semper Fi and Peace on Earth. Both went into pretty big info dumps within the first couple of paragraphs. That is usually a turnoff for agents and, with respect, might be the reason you are having trouble.

Best of luck to you.

maestrowork
07-18-2008, 05:40 PM
Keep going and persevere. That's all I have to say. The fact still remains: new authors are being published every day. Griping about agents is not going to make anything better.

Keith
07-19-2008, 05:02 AM
Well, you see, here's the catch-22 thing that you (everyone) keep missing. It is not the agent I am griping about and I realize that NEW writers are being published that is not the catch-22; it is who these new writers are and how it is that they became published. It is the system itself that I am griping about. The system that publishes absolute Garbage, with a capital G, only for one reason; money. C'mon man, someone, some entity, newspaper, magazine, whatever, just paid 2 million bucks for Angelina Jolie's kids' pictures, doesn't that tell you something? I do not need an agent to tell me, or anyone else, whether my writing is good or bad, I know it myself and if I don't then I have been wasting many many years doing it. I write the truth, many times absolute, harsh truth, and I don't think agents or book publishers can actually see it, or want to see it. They live, because of the system they operate under, in a world insulated from the reality of everyday people and so when they see that reality on the printed page they don't recognize it and therefore don't believe it or think it will sell. The most common complaint I have received from the very few agents and/or editors/publishers over the years that actually read something I have sent them is that they do not believe my work is reality and this concerning work that I not only know is true but many times it is through first-hand knowledge that I know it.

Well, I must amend the above, I just sent a short story to a paying-Internet magazine. The title of the story was "Bad Medicine" and it concerned America's terrible health care and I received the first ever rejection letter in my life where the publisher informed me that she and her co-editors were all medical professionals or ex-medical professionals and that they rejected my story because they thought it to be true; as apparently they wanted scary, dark fiction with a lot of blood or something, whereas the reality of people dying , as they do in Bad Medicine, through the sheer and total incompetence and insanity of the capitalistic corporations that call themselves hospitals was not (scary) enough.

Anyway, it is the system I am warring against not those within the system because they are mere pawns, even though they are unaware of this fact themselves, within it, and anyway there brother Maestrowork, if I can't gripe we are all in big trouble, are we not?

Regards & Peace

Keith

maestrowork
07-19-2008, 05:08 AM
It is a business. So I don't know why it's a bad thing if it's driven by money. Sure, art is important, but to me, this is called a publishing BUSINESS for a reason. Editors, typesetters, cover artists, agents, secretaries, authors, etc. all need to eat. So if you've written an important book but someone with publishing experience determines that it won't sell -- meaning no one is going to read it -- then, how is it going to benefit anyone except the author himself?

As an actress friend of mine said: What good is my art if no one's going to see it?

I still don't understand why you called it "catch-22" -- to me, catch-22 is a paradox. But because the fact that it's a "money driven business"... how does it make it a paradox? Maybe I'm a bit dumb. I just don't get it.



I do not need an agent to tell me, or anyone else, whether my writing is good or bad, I know it myself and if I don't then I have been wasting many many years doing it.

The problem is, everyone thinks that way. Writers think their works are the best things since sliced bread, even if they actually stink to high heavens. So without a third party to judge the quality, how can we have quality control? Who is to decide which ms. to produce?

We may disagree with the quality control as arbitrary, and not all publishers and agents are created equal, but still, I don't see any way out. There will always be someone making that decision. Ultimately, it's the publishers who are going to put down the money to produce and market and distribute the books. And yes, that all takes money. So they have the right to make the decisions they way they see fit, and most often it's a BUSINESS decision since, well, it is a business. If people want to buy garbage (it's a matter of taste, by the way), then they'll produce garbage. It's about supply and demand. If no one buys, publishers will go out of business and all this talk about "art" is moot.

And sure enough, there are great books being published, too. And many are first-time authors (e.g. I am eagerly awaiting Jamie Ford's debut novel).

Unless the author self-publishes (then he's the one who's making the decisions for himself and puts up the dough).

Marian Perera
07-19-2008, 05:31 AM
It is the system itself that I am griping about. The system that publishes absolute Garbage, with a capital G, only for one reason; money.

And? Is there something wrong with making money?

So the system publishes what you consider to be garbage (I say that because taste is subjective) because there's money in it. I think the system also publishes some great books, also because there's money in them, so I don't see how this is a catch-22.


I write the truth, many times absolute, harsh truth, and I don't think agents or book publishers can actually see it, or want to see it.

Perhaps you should consider self-publishing or vanity publishing then. Otherwise it seems counter-productive to cast your pearls before swine.

IceCreamEmpress
07-19-2008, 05:42 AM
It is the system itself that I am griping about. The system that publishes absolute Garbage, with a capital G, only for one reason; money.

Okay, then. The publishing industry has always--ALWAYS, from the time there has been a "publishing industry" in the English-speaking world--published lots of ephemeral and pot-boiler work created with an eye to big sales.

Your complaining about it isn't going to change it.

It's like you're entering a plate of cookies in a pie competition and getting angry that you're not in the winners circle. Yes, cookies are delicious, but the only people making the finals in a pie competition are the people who are turning out PIE.

virtue_summer
07-19-2008, 08:37 AM
If you hate the publishing industry and you don't care what others think of you or your writing, then why don't you self-publish? Or continue to get published by the small presses you mentioned? Why is it important to you to be published by a big publishing company when you hate them, and to be represented by a literary agent when you dislike them as well? The truth is that you're the one seeking publication. You're the one marching onto their turf, and so if you want respect you should show respect. This means following the rules and writing the best query letter you can. As for agents needing writers, this is true. They need writers. But that doesn't necessarily mean they need you. The fact is that they have more than enough queries coming in. One more or less isn't likely to make a huge difference. Really, I can't judge your writing because I haven't read it, but it seems to me like if you want to get an agent and be published by a big publishing company, you might need to change your attitude.

payitforward
07-19-2008, 11:20 AM
Quoted from Maestro: "So if you've written an important but someone with publishing experience determines that it won't sell -- meaning no one is going to read it -- then, how is it going to benefit anyone except the author himself? The problem is, everyone thinks that way. Writers think their works are the best things since sliced bread, even if they actually stink to high heaven. So without a third party to judge the quality, how can we have quality control? Who is to decide which ms. to produce?
There will always be someone making that decision. Ultimately, it's the publishers who are going to put down the money to produce and market and distribute the books. And yes, that all takes money. So they have the right to make the decisions they way they see fit, and most often it's a BUSINESS decision since, well, it is a business."

I agree with you Maestro. As a college writing professor, so often, my students combat me with how I judge their work, how a colleague of mine they took for another class gave them an A on their writing while I gave them a B-. Part of it is the nature of writer and audience. Is the manuscript doing its job and reaching its audience? In the classroom, I am the ultimate judge of whether it does or doesn't. And of course, the agent and the publisher are the go-betweens of the writer and the audience. And it's a very diverse mass audience, all wanting different levels of "good reading." Quite a gamble for them to take on us newbies (I just got an agent last week---after hundreds of rejections and years of trying).

With the whole submission process, I usually ask the same question of myself that I do of my students--is it the audience that's not seeing my great work, or is it that I haven't produced it yet?

After a few months on the AW and some freakin' excellent beta readers (parametric, you're a goddess!), I turned my novel into something amazing that I didn't even dream it could become. And of course, I just kept plodding along though the rejections--that's part of what makes this such a beautiful, wonderful community of true writers. We have all written draft upon draft, honestly (at times brutally) edited each others' work, cheered each other on, celebrated the accomplishments of our peeps who land that agent or book deal, or heck, are just getting started on that second WIP.

And it's a community like this, that quite simply, makes it all worth while :)

Toothpaste
07-19-2008, 07:50 PM
Keith - "it is who these new writers are and how it is that they became published. It is the system itself that I am griping about. The system that publishes absolute Garbage"

Uh . . . are any of you other recently first time published authors out there as offended as I am with being told our work is garbage?

Keith - I'm glad you write the truth, sorry you don't get published, think you have a few misconceptions about the industry, but you seem to enjoy reveling in them, so who am I to spoil your fun. But please don't insult me or the other authors on the board simply because we don't write the same stuff as you. Kind of petty, don't you think?

willietheshakes
07-19-2008, 09:30 PM
Uh . . . are any of you other recently first time published authors out there as offended as I am with being told our work is garbage?


Nah. I stopped taking him seriously when he went into full-on rant mode about Garbage and money and how he didn't need anyone to tell him he was good. Figured if he wasn't looking for readers, I might as well respect his wishes.

But thanks for the dudgeon on my behalf!

maestrowork
07-19-2008, 09:33 PM
Uh . . . are any of you other recently first time published authors out there as offended as I am with being told our work is garbage?

I'm not offended. Granted, Keith hasn't read my book yet (hint hint) and he may very well think my novel is garbage. And that's fine. It's a matter of taste. But I am troubled by the generalization.

And yes, there's always self-publishing if one is so disenchanted by the publishing business. Complaining about it is not going to change anything.

Keith
07-20-2008, 03:22 AM
Dialogue, great, what writer doesn't like dialogue? And dialogue that shows you, or I, may see the other's light.(p.o.v.)
Maestrowork,
R.L. Stevenson once said that the price we pay for money is paid in liberty; the same could be said about fame. And to Toothpaste; how can you think I insulted you personally, or your work, when I don't know you or your work. And, how, therefore, could I know if you write the same "stuff" as I do? Brother, I apologize to you, or anyone else, if you take anything I say personally but the fact that the garbage that I refer to is published in the first place must tell you something about the system which publishes it. Do I wish to see my work published? Of course, but, do I think if a major publisher gave me a large advance and front of the bookstore space it would make me a better person or writer? No way and if I were honest I probably know it would do the opposite. Money corrupts and so does fame. The space where a book is placed in a store is bought by the publisher, the media is bought by the publisher, who, by the way, may already own it. And, tell me, does anyone of you actually believe that anyone can tell what, book, will sell, or how many? About 6 months ago, I was doing a book signing, I published a book with PA, thinking I could USE them, instead of the usual way around, the bookstore, B&N in Ft. Lauderdale actually bought 15 copies of my book 'Miami Rock'; turns out that they had 14 other authors also and provided 15 copies for every writer there; it was a special signing for all books dealing with, or set in Miami, which is the only reason, I soon realized, that I was contacted and asked to do it. Anyway, to the point, I introduced myself to the writer sitting next to me who introduced himself to me telling me he was not the writer but a publicist for so-and-so who had had a travel book published by a major publisher, Random House I believe, and when I asked why she needed a publicist he said everything turned on sales and marketing and publicity. How, I ask, do you get a publicist? Of course, you know the answer, money. I sold 5 books that day, she sold one, a local cop sold the most, 14. What does that mean other than that the local cop had friends who bought his book? I don't know, do you? The 15 copies of Miami Rock, that B&N purchased from PA, eventually all sold and what does that say, if anything? No other bookstore carries that book, it is a pod, and as everyone knows is grossly overpriced, but what if Miami Rock traded places, publishers, with the travel book and was stocked in all the bookstores and got front space in the store, does anyone know the answer of whether it would sell or not? of course not. I have another book that I published through Lulu, only because it was being published on the Internet and the owner of the website claimed he had more claim to the rights to the book, because I let him publish it, than I did and so I quickly bought an ISBN, to which he gave in, and once you buy an ISBN your book, automatically, goes global as a pod, and this book is not selling very good either so does that mean it is inferior to a book published by a major publisher? Or that it would sell or not if the sales and marketing and publicity (money) was in evidence?

But, this is the catch-22 that I refer to and it should not be taken personally by anyone when I say that the system has stacked the deck towards, you guessed it. Look, Maestrowork, a paradox is something that seems to be contrary to common sense but may be true. A catch-22 is an order, usually government-mandated that goes against all sanity but that you cannot escape from, alive. Joseph Heller's catch-22 was in WWII, today in Iraq they have catch-22's everywhere you turn, guys serving three and four tours, soldiers getting electrocuted to death by shoddy electricians who work for Halliburton, gee, I wonder how KBR got all the work in Iraq?

The only way out is to alter the system so that at least some publishers, can afford to not let money rule the day, everyday. As far as publishing being a business and everyone must get paid goes, the book with the greatest sales record, no it's not Harry Potter, is the Holy Bible. Now then, who were the authors of this work? Did they get paid? Did they have literary agents representing them? I don't write for the money and would like to think the same about any fame that goes with it and I can take great refuge and solace knowing that of all the books published and all the money it took to publish them that the best selling of them all was written primarily about the greatest human being who ever lived, and, by the way, also the poorest human being who ever lived.

Peace,

Keith

BenPanced
07-20-2008, 03:41 AM
I do not need an agent to tell me, or anyone else, whether my writing is good or bad, I know it myself and if I don't then I have been wasting many many years doing it. I write the truth, many times absolute, harsh truth, and I don't think agents or book publishers can actually see it, or want to see it. They live, because of the system they operate under, in a world insulated from the reality of everyday people and so when they see that reality on the printed page they don't recognize it and therefore don't believe it or think it will sell.

Do I wish to see my work published? Of course, but, do I think if a major publisher gave me a large advance and front of the bookstore space it would make me a better person or writer? No way and if I were honest I probably know it would do the opposite. Money corrupts and so does fame.
Then if it's going to corrupt you and change you for the worse as a person, give up. Don't get published by one of the major houses. You'll obviously be saving yourself from a lifetime of hell and keeping your soul pure to produce Real Art. Keep publishing this "truth" you claim to write through Lulu. It's obviously the business's fault you aren't getting published; you deserve it because everything you write is perfect and untainted and all your words are gold and dammit, you refuse to play The Game by "their" rules, especially since "they" are only out to destroy us by throwing money and fame in our direction (even if we write utter garbage). Ghod forbid they want to support us and our work by selling it to the general public; "they" are only looking out for themselves when "they" accept our manuscripts and sell them to publishing houses, after all. To hell with Real Art and The Truth! Damn commerce to hell and back! As long as an agent can make a buck, that's all that matters!
</sarcasm>

maestrowork
07-20-2008, 04:02 AM
You will only get corrupt if you want to get corrupt.

Blame it on the publishers and readers who just want to pay you money to read your stories? How about blame it on your own moral weakness instead? I hardly think JK Rowling is corrupt now that she's richer than Queen Elizabeth...

JeanneTGC
07-20-2008, 04:02 AM
About 6 months ago, I was doing a book signing, I published a book with PA, thinking I could USE them, instead of the usual way around, the bookstore, B&N in Ft. Lauderdale actually bought 15 copies of my book 'Miami Rock'; turns out that they had 14 other authors also and provided 15 copies for every writer there; it was a special signing for all books dealing with, or set in Miami, which is the only reason, I soon realized, that I was contacted and asked to do it.
Keith
<bolding mine>

Ahhhhh...it's all clearing up for me now.

*wink, wink, nudge, nudge* say no more, say no more ;)

maestrowork
07-20-2008, 04:04 AM
Ah, PA. Never mind.

Marian Perera
07-20-2008, 04:08 AM
I tried reading the Block Paragraph of Doom but it just rambled on and on with no end in sight. Thanks for summarizing, guys.

roseangel
07-20-2008, 04:45 AM
D
I published a book with PA,

Keith


Suddenly, it all makes sense.

Keith
07-20-2008, 06:47 AM
Ah, tiz a pity really, a shame and I had such hope for many of you. But, you see you have missed the whole dialogue, the whole point of catch-22. A writer should be able to say writing the novel is the hard part, as I could and did, 30 years ago and not, as I must today, writing it is the easy part, selling it, getting it published, ah, that is the hard part, the time-consumer. We all have only so much time to do things and I can see that I am wasting some of mine here, which I hate to do and so I will depart but leave you all with one, just 1, example, which may enlighten you a bit, though I tend to think you will, once again, pull bits of it out and make your totally intelligent and well-thought-out comments to one another. So, here you are:

John Kennedy Toole was a writer, an educated writer, a man who wished and desired to be a writer and worked hard at it and he wrote "A Confederacy of Dunces." He sent it to a large publishing house and the editor informed him that he must change some things and then later, that it was not worthy of publication. Toole became extremely discouraged and eventually committed suicide. His mother, realizing how passionate he was about the story, continued to submit it to publishers and other writers and it was eventually published, 11 years after his death, and it sold over 1.5 million copies and won the Pulitzer Prize, posthumously. Toole had written another book entitled The Neon Bible, which he himself thought to be amateurish, considering he had written it when he was 16, however, catch-22, due to the newfound interest in John Kennedy Toole, after all, he had won the Pulitzer, it was published, in 1989.


Peace,

Keith

JeanneTGC
07-20-2008, 07:03 AM
Ah, tiz a pity really, a shame and I had such hope for many of you. But, you see you have missed the whole dialogue, the whole point of catch-22. A writer should be able to say writing the novel is the hard part, as I could and did, 30 years ago and not, as I must today, writing it is the easy part, selling it, getting it published, ah, that is the hard part, the time-consumer. We all have only so much time to do things and I can see that I am wasting some of mine here, which I hate to do and so I will depart but leave you all with one, just 1, example, which may enlighten you a bit, though I tend to think you will, once again, pull bits of it out and make your totally intelligent and well-thought-out comments to one another. So, here you are:

John Kennedy Toole was a writer, an educated writer, a man who wished and desired to be a writer and worked hard at it and he wrote "A Confederacy of Dunces." He sent it to a large publishing house and the editor informed him that he must change some things and then later, that it was not worthy of publication. Toole became extremely discouraged and eventually committed suicide. His mother, realizing how passionate he was about the story, continued to submit it to publishers and other writers and it was eventually published, 11 years after his death, and it sold over 1.5 million copies and won the Pulitzer Prize, posthumously. Toole had written another book entitled The Neon Bible, which he himself thought to be amateurish, considering he had written it when he was 16, however, catch-22, due to the newfound interest in John Kennedy Toole, after all, he had won the Pulitzer, it was published, in 1989.


Peace,

Keith
I note the entire point of this post was to explain how Toole's mother's perseverence paid off. If Toole had, perhaps, made the requested changes, perhaps he'd have been alive to see his book published.

While someone's suicide is never a good thing or a laughing matter, neither is giving up. Toole did, his mother didn't. Sorry, Keith, I think you just proved the point Maestro's been patiently trying to get across to you -- the system isn't broken.

Marian Perera
07-20-2008, 01:17 PM
Ah, tiz a pity really

'Tis a cryin' shame, wee laddie!


I will depart

Is that a promise?

BenPanced
07-20-2008, 10:16 PM
Ah, tiz a pity really, a shame and I had such hope for many of you. But, you see you have missed the whole dialogue, the whole point of catch-22. A writer should be able to say writing the novel is the hard part, as I could and did, 30 years ago and not, as I must today, writing it is the easy part, selling it, getting it published, ah, that is the hard part, the time-consumer. We all have only so much time to do things and I can see that I am wasting some of mine here, which I hate to do and so I will depart but leave you all with one, just 1, example, which may enlighten you a bit, though I tend to think you will, once again, pull bits of it out and make your totally intelligent and well-thought-out comments to one another. So, here you are:

John Kennedy Toole was a writer, an educated writer, a man who wished and desired to be a writer and worked hard at it and he wrote "A Confederacy of Dunces." He sent it to a large publishing house and the editor informed him that he must change some things and then later, that it was not worthy of publication. Toole became extremely discouraged and eventually committed suicide. His mother, realizing how passionate he was about the story, continued to submit it to publishers and other writers and it was eventually published, 11 years after his death, and it sold over 1.5 million copies and won the Pulitzer Prize, posthumously. Toole had written another book entitled The Neon Bible, which he himself thought to be amateurish, considering he had written it when he was 16, however, catch-22, due to the newfound interest in John Kennedy Toole, after all, he had won the Pulitzer, it was published, in 1989.


Peace,

Keith
No, we got your point. You've been trying to tell us how broken the system is while not offering any alternatives that would work just as well, if not better. We've been telling you without the system, nobody would be published; in fact, I think we're always open to hearing suggestions on how to improve the current publishing system but since you've offered none, what else are we to do but shrug our shoulders and give up listening?

The Neon Bible being published posthumously isn't an example of a catch-22, no matter how you rant and rail and shake your fist defiantly at the heavens. There's no self-defeating circular logic involved along the lines of the novel Catch-22, so try again.

And no matter how many hints you want to drop like so many horse apples, John Kennedy Toole wasn't destroyed by "the system". We can play armchair psychologist all day over it, but nothing you say can convince me otherwise.

Toothpaste
07-20-2008, 10:36 PM
Since I have limited internet, I am late to replying to posts to me. I apologise, don't mean to take this off tangent.

Keith - Actually yes you did insult me. You said everything that is published (especially by big houses) is garbage. Therefore, you are saying what I have written (and what many others on this board have written) is garbage. I doubt you meant the personal affront, you were waxing philosophical from your soap box, but nonetheless - if you follow the logic pattern - you actually did insult me personally. Now, to draw the conclusion that by being insulted I was also offended is a bit of a logical fallacy. You cannot offend me Keith, as I think you are wrong in the conclusions you have been drawing. If I respected your opinions, then maybe I would be upset. But I don't. I'm not saying that within your arguments, you don't have sound points, however, just that your conclusions are off a little bit.

But you were correct in that I have no idea what you write and we may write the same thing. I just got the impression you wrote about the real world, about some unpleasant untruths in society today, adult general fiction (or maybe non-fiction). I do not. But maybe you write middle grade fiction about pirates as well?

Ehem - now back to your regularly scheduled thread.

Keith
07-21-2008, 06:00 AM
Toothpaste,
I never said EVERYTHING published is garbage, find that and stick here somewhere, you're good at that, in fact it appears your brain is only capable of processing negative information, at this point, anyway. As far as garbage being published: Hanna Montana 2 ISBN # 1423451147, author Miley Cyrus, who has just signed a contract to pen her autobiography, for $, she is 15 years old and she is being given millions of dollars to write her life story. And, you see what you are doing? You have already judged my work --- without ever having read a page of it --- a job awaits you when your writing days are over Toothpaste --- you'd make a typically fine literary agent.

BenPanced,
Sorry about your interpretation of The Neon Bible not being a catch-22 and you know what --- you are right --- it's a paradox, but surely you can see how I could mix these two up. And you, too, have judged my work without ever reading a page of it --- saves time doesn't it.

Jeanne TGC,
You have eyes but you do not see; the entire point of the post had nothing to do with Toole's mother; it had to do with the power, the system in those days, the catch-22, of one man's power, and amongst how many others who didn't commit suicide, who knows? Of course, maybe he made many deserving writers also but a system that puts that much power in the hands of any one man, or small group, is not only broken, it doesn't work properly, if at all. Do you think if this editor had known that Toole's book would sell 1.5 million copies he wouldn't have published it? The point was, and is, that if a decision boils down to only: "will it make us money?" the system will not only not be a level playing field it will go downhill and fast, as it has now become, 39 years after Toole committed suicide. And here, today, a 15 year-old child, an actress, is thrown millions of dollars to write her story? and literary agents can't even get past a query letter if it doesn't smell of money?

F.X. Toole, no relation to John, wrote short stories for 40 years and finally had one published in the late nineties, in ZYZZYVA, a small literary publication that publishes only west coast writers, in S.F., CA. Someone liked it enough to ask him if he had anymore and he got six of them published in the year 2000. He was 70 years old. Someone liked one of them enough to show it to Clint Eastwood, a S.F. resident, who liked it enough to make it into a movie, Million-Dollar-Baby. Only thing is, F.X. Toole died in 2002. F.X. had perseverance, yes, but what if??? What if what? There were no catch-22's, there were agents who actually read, they were ... You're writers ... fill in the blanks ... and, as far as there being no catch-22 circle, life is a circle and it continues to go around and around and if it (ever) becomes a day when it actually pays for an agent to actually read the first 30-50 pages of a manuscript before making a decision then, and only then, will we see a new day, a day when the Miley Cyrus' will be forgotten because there were too many other stories that ALSO made money for the publishers and were actually worthy of publication. As far as the system changing, it already has due to the Internet and the fact that anyone can publish their own work, or have it published, if they, or someone they know, in my case it is my son who makes his living in computers, wish to. I don't know how it'll shake out anymore than you or anyone else, I just hope I'll still be around to see it.

Peace,

Keith

Prozyan
07-21-2008, 06:05 AM
You know that you'll get better responses on the PA board? Its full of people who think as you.

roseangel
07-21-2008, 06:17 AM
I'm still not seeing the catch-22.
It would only be a catch-22 if the only way to get published is to have and agent and the only way to get an agent is to be published.
Yet people get published without an agent, and get an agent without being published all the time.
It is not easy at all, but it still happens.
So, the only catch-22 is the one in your mind, not in reality.

geardrops
07-21-2008, 06:21 AM
:popcorn:

BenPanced
07-21-2008, 07:26 AM
Toothpaste,
I never said EVERYTHING published is garbage, find that and stick here somewhere, you're good at that, in fact it appears your brain is only capable of processing negative information, at this point, anyway. As far as garbage being published: Hanna Montana 2 ISBN # 1423451147, author Miley Cyrus, who has just signed a contract to pen her autobiography, for $, she is 15 years old and she is being given millions of dollars to write her life story. And, you see what you are doing? You have already judged my work --- without ever having read a page of it --- a job awaits you when your writing days are over Toothpaste --- you'd make a typically fine literary agent.

BenPanced,
Sorry about your interpretation of The Neon Bible not being a catch-22 and you know what --- you are right --- it's a paradox, but surely you can see how I could mix these two up. And you, too, have judged my work without ever reading a page of it --- saves time doesn't it.
Then put up or shut up. Use the Share Your Work boards here.

Marian Perera
07-21-2008, 09:57 AM
You have already judged my work --- without ever having read a page of it

If it's like your posts here, I can see why you may be getting rejection letters.


--- a job awaits you when your writing days are over Toothpaste --- you'd make a typically fine literary agent.

Take that as a compliment, Toothpaste. If you were an experienced literary agent, I'd query you any day.

Now why is it that Keith, after shaking the metaphorical dust off his metaphorical sandals in his last post (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2570261&postcount=48),


I can see that I am wasting some of mine here, which I hate to do and so I will depart

is still hanging around? Keith, don't you have a book to self-publish or literary agents to burn in effigy or something?

Keith
07-21-2008, 07:16 PM
Look, there is only one thing (point) in all of this. A (literary) work SHOULD be judged on its merit and its MERIT alone. Period. Will that ever happen, I doubt it (not in this life, anyway.)

Peace,

Keith

Marian Perera
07-21-2008, 07:34 PM
Look, there is only one thing (point) in all of this. A (literary) work SHOULD be judged on its merit and its MERIT alone.

And one definition OF merit is whether OR not IT will sell.


Will that ever happen, I doubt it (not in this life, anyway.)

Peace,

Keith

You doubt. We'll write.

Pizza,

Queen of Swords

Prozyan
07-21-2008, 07:35 PM
A (literary) work SHOULD be judged on its merit and its MERIT alone.

Define "merit".

I would say that is how the system works already, personally. Especially in a capitalistic society.

IceCreamEmpress
07-21-2008, 08:00 PM
So, Keith, I'm not getting the point of your rant. You don't want to work with the publishing industry, it seems. It also seems like the publishing industry doesn't want to work with you.

Looks like everybody's happy, then. I'd encourage you to learn the computer skills so that you can do true self-publishing through an outfit like Lulu.com or LightningSource, and then do your own promotion of your work.

BenPanced
07-21-2008, 09:19 PM
And may I trot out this hoary chestnut: Being published is a privledge, not a right. Just because you go to an agent with manuscript in hand and tell them "I wanna be a writer" does not mean they are required to agree with you and hand you a check and a publisher will automatically accept your work.

It's like any other job: you have to go out on interviews, tell them why you're qualified for the position, and show them you are the only one that matters. I own a wetsuit. Doesn't qualify me to be an Admiral in the Royal Navy.

blacbird
07-21-2008, 09:31 PM
You can rant all you want, but the real truth is this: It's not up to the writer to judge the "merit" of the work. It's up to the audience.

caw

JeanneTGC
07-21-2008, 09:57 PM
Jeanne TGC,
You have eyes but you do not see; the entire point of the post had nothing to do with Toole's mother; it had to do with the power, the system in those days, the catch-22, of one man's power, and amongst how many others who didn't commit suicide, who knows? Of course, maybe he made many deserving writers also but a system that puts that much power in the hands of any one man, or small group, is not only broken, it doesn't work properly, if at all. Do you think if this editor had known that Toole's book would sell 1.5 million copies he wouldn't have published it? The point was, and is, that if a decision boils down to only: "will it make us money?" the system will not only not be a level playing field it will go downhill and fast, as it has now become, 39 years after Toole committed suicide. And here, today, a 15 year-old child, an actress, is thrown millions of dollars to write her story? and literary agents can't even get past a query letter if it doesn't smell of money?
Dude...really? "You have eyes but you do not see"? Really? Wow...I'm stunned by the sheer...magnitude of clicheness that is your opening salvo on this one. But, okay, maybe you're just quoting the classics. You know, from classics that got published legitimately.

JKT had no power. He gave up his power when he killed himself. His MOTHER had the power of perseverence. She's the reason, the ONLY reason, his book was published.

Was it good enough to be published? Yes, but there's no way in the world that the publisher didn't edit that baby before it went to print. Oh, and argue that one all you want, but I'm in marketing and I know from hype and spin -- even if they said it was perfect as is, it got edited.

So, again, if JKT had just, oh, I don't know, managed to see past his own infantile belief that his deathless prose could never, ever be improved by a judicious edit, maybe he'd have been pubbed in his lifetime. Maybe if he'd broken down and tried, oh, an agent or another publisher or something he'd have been accepted. Maybe he'd still be having a lifetime. Maybe not. Mental illness makes it hard to guess what would have happened. Maybe he'd have killed himself as soon as his book was a success. Impossible to say.

And irrelevant, also -- JKT's story is actually proof that the system works. It's also proof that people who spend their time lamenting the "system" are usually those too incompentent or stubborn to work within it. We don't call these people "rebels". We call these people "unpublished".

blacbird
07-21-2008, 10:17 PM
We call these people "unpublished".

Along with those like me, whose work is just plain too crappy to get published. Welcome to my world.

caw

Toothpaste
07-21-2008, 10:30 PM
Once more I offer up as evidence: "It is not the agent I am griping about and I realize that NEW writers are being published that is not the catch-22; it is who these new writers are and how it is that they became published. It is the system itself that I am griping about. The system that publishes absolute Garbage, with a capital G, only for one reason; money."


You never said "it is who SOME of these new writers are", no you said "it is who these new writers are" lumping all new writers together. Sorry hon, you might not mean it, but you inadvertently insulted all new writers there.

As to your accusation that I am judging your writing, now who has a thin skin? Where or where did I say you were a bad writer? I defy you point that out to me. All I said is that we wrote different stuff. So unless you are saying I am a brilliant writer (thank you btw then for the compliment) and are insinuating that the opposite of my writing would therefore be bad writing, hence by my stating you and I write different things I am saying you are a bad writer (which just for the record, um, I'm not), I have no idea where this is coming from. Now I did say I disagreed with some of the conclusions you had drawn, but I even said that I agreed with some of the initial points (oh and the comment you made about Miley Cyrus, hon I am there with you - she drives me crazy!). Honestly, you are responding to me in a strangely dramatic and uber offended way. I never meant to offend you, just wanted to point out how you unwittingly insulted many people on this board.

And just for fun, I shall post my three posts in their entirety and you can tell me where I said you were a bad writer or judged your writing:

POST 1:

"It's not easy. That's the plain and simple truth. I might have hit the lucky break with the writing, but my acting career . . .well let's not even go there. Point is, I kind of empathise . . . a lot. But just because it is damn difficult doesn't actually make that catch-22 statement of yours true. As Maestro already said, ask around here, you'll find proof on AW of how false your statement is.

Just because something is really really hard, and just because the business is pretty unfair in some ways (celebrities will always have doors open to them, that we lowly common folk will not), does not mean it is impossible, nor that the industry is out to get us.

You obviously have a lot of passion, and have had things published so you must be doing something right. That must give you some kind of confidence. Maybe it's just your query letter. Post it here in the Share Your Work section, I know Jim will be all too happy to tear it to shreds. He's evil like that. Maybe it's something else. I am in no position to say. I can tell you that of all my author friends, right now, I can't think of a one who had publishing credits before getting an agent. They all still got one.

It's not a catch-22. It really isn't. It's just . . . annoyingly difficult."


POST 2:

"Keith - "it is who these new writers are and how it is that they became published. It is the system itself that I am griping about. The system that publishes absolute Garbage"

Uh . . . are any of you other recently first time published authors out there as offended as I am with being told our work is garbage?

Keith - I'm glad you write the truth, sorry you don't get published, think you have a few misconceptions about the industry, but you seem to enjoy reveling in them, so who am I to spoil your fun. But please don't insult me or the other authors on the board simply because we don't write the same stuff as you. Kind of petty, don't you think?"



POST 3:

"Since I have limited internet, I am late to replying to posts to me. I apologise, don't mean to take this off tangent.

Keith - Actually yes you did insult me. You said everything that is published (especially by big houses) is garbage. Therefore, you are saying what I have written (and what many others on this board have written) is garbage. I doubt you meant the personal affront, you were waxing philosophical from your soap box, but nonetheless - if you follow the logic pattern - you actually did insult me personally. Now, to draw the conclusion that by being insulted I was also offended is a bit of a logical fallacy. You cannot offend me Keith, as I think you are wrong in the conclusions you have been drawing. If I respected your opinions, then maybe I would be upset. But I don't. I'm not saying that within your arguments, you don't have sound points, however, just that your conclusions are off a little bit.

But you were correct in that I have no idea what you write and we may write the same thing. I just got the impression you wrote about the real world, about some unpleasant untruths in society today, adult general fiction (or maybe non-fiction). I do not. But maybe you write middle grade fiction about pirates as well?

Ehem - now back to your regularly scheduled thread."

virtue_summer
07-21-2008, 11:10 PM
Look, there is only one thing (point) in all of this. A (literary) work SHOULD be judged on its merit and its MERIT alone. Period. Will that ever happen, I doubt it (not in this life, anyway.)

Peace,

Keith

This is what book reviewers do, not publishers (judge the artistic merit of a work). Publishing is a business. It is not a charity. There is no reason for a publisher to publish your work just to be nice. They have to lay out money to publish works. Why shouldn't they try to get that money back? They have families to feed and rent to pay just as much as anyone else. And claiming a catch 22 that you've now admitted doesn't exist but was only claimed as a way to garner interest so that you could complain about agents and major publishers not publishing your personal work, does not help your case. The truth is that you've made this really melodramatic argument that doesn't hold much water. You're demanding big agents and publishers expend their time and money on you when you express nothing but disdain for them. Answer this question, please: Why should the publishing industry stop being a business and turn themselves into a charity just for you?

BenPanced
07-21-2008, 11:18 PM
*banninates self from thread*

maestrowork
07-21-2008, 11:23 PM
Look, there is only one thing (point) in all of this. A (literary) work SHOULD be judged on its merit and its MERIT alone. Period. Will that ever happen, I doubt it (not in this life, anyway.)

Peace,

Keith

"Literary" merits are themselves subjective. How can you on one hand say "I don't need anyone else to tell me if I'm good" and then talk about "merits." Who decides if your literary work has merits? Yourself? Then every book written in this damn world would have merits, since the author says so.

People will judge the merits of a literary work however THEY want to judge. And money (thus how many people are WILLING to pay to read the book) is a damn good measurement, if I may say.

What the heck is the point of art if no one sees it?

Please don't continue to delude yourself and talk about merits as an absolute term.

blacbird
07-21-2008, 11:41 PM
What the heck is the point of art if no one sees it?

A thing I wonder about every time I query.

caw

JeanneTGC
07-21-2008, 11:45 PM
Along with those like me, whose work is just plain too crappy to get published. Welcome to my world.

caw
But the difference between you and Keith is that you're not spending time and effort trying to convince anyone that the system is evil and against you.

Your posts are also always much shorter and far more succinct. And oftentimes very funny (intentionally, as opposed to Keith's which, I fear, are dead serious).

Bubastes
07-21-2008, 11:48 PM
I thought the OP sounded familiar:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1697504#post1697504

blacbird
07-21-2008, 11:49 PM
But the difference between you and Keith is that you're not spending time and effort trying to convince anyone that the system is evil and against you.

The system is evil and against me. Problem is, my work sucks, too. That's a bad combination.

caw

JeanneTGC
07-21-2008, 11:56 PM
I thought the OP sounded familiar:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1697504#post1697504
Familiar, and still complaining about something he could have worked on all this time. Shocker.

Marian Perera
07-21-2008, 11:56 PM
Your posts are also always much shorter and far more succinct. And oftentimes very funny (intentionally, as opposed to Keith's which, I fear, are dead serious).

And you say "caw".

What can I say, I like the "caw".

JeanneTGC
07-21-2008, 11:57 PM
The system is evil and against me. Problem is, my work sucks, too. That's a bad combination.

caw
Any man who knows his limitations is well ahead of the game.

Write4U2
07-22-2008, 12:08 AM
Here's the thing; A writer does what he believes is his best writing. He's thrilled with it. He has his own standards, and he has met them.

He takes his baby to an agent and the agent looks at his best work, and thinks, "Uck."

Now, who knows the best standards of the industry? Who has the best experience of reading many manuscripts? Who is the best judge of whether or not his baby meets standards other than his own? Why, the agent, of course.

Listen to these people, sir. They know what they're talking about.

JeanneTGC
07-22-2008, 12:17 AM
Here's the thing; A writer does what he believes is his best writing. He's thrilled with it. He has his own standards, and he has met them.

He takes his baby to an agent and the agent looks at his best work, and thinks, "Uck."

Now, who knows the best standards of the industry? Who has the best experience of reading many manuscripts? Who is the best judge of whether or not his baby meets standards other than his own? Why, the agent, of course.

Listen to these people, sir. They know what they're talking about.
But...wouldn't this mean that Keith's MS might not be the deathless prose he believes it to be?

Stew21
07-22-2008, 12:24 AM
Well if he isn't going to go to the trouble of writing a superb query letter (with the help offered here if he can't do it alone) and sending it to the best fitting agents he can find (checked for legitimacy in Bewares and Background Checks and P&E, or search them out on agentquery or querytracker to make sure he is following their guidelines and submitting what they represent), what does it matter if it is a masterpiece that he has written? It won't be looked at if he doesn't do those things.
The query letter is the accepted tool for initial communication between writers and agents. They can't judge you by what you wrote because they get thousands of queries a year. They don't have time to just read your book. They want to read a query letter first. so that is what you send them. They have a lot of choices to make and the same number of hours in a week as everybody else.
He has made it clear this is not something he wants to do. It doesn't mean the publishing world is broken, it's just overcrowded. You want to be recognized, first learn the rules of engagement, then do it the best you can.
Evil and horrible and too hard it may be, but it is not a catch-22.

maestrowork
07-22-2008, 12:27 AM
I still don't get the "catch-22" reference. I must be really stupid. Someone clue me in, please.

payitforward
07-22-2008, 12:32 AM
"Literary" merits are themselves subjective. How can you on one hand say "I don't need anyone else to tell me if I'm good" and then talk about "merits." Who decides if your literary work has merits? Yourself? Then every book written in this damn world would have merits, since the author says so.

People will judge the merits of a literary work however THEY want to judge. And money (thus how many people are WILLING to pay to read the book) is a damn good measurement, if I may say.

What the heck is the point of art if no one sees it?

Please don't continue to delude yourself and talk about merits as an absolute term.

Maestro, I agree. The merits of "good writing" are by no means absolute. I teach in a spectacular writing program (most of my colleagues have published). Still, many times we differ on what grade we'd give a paper. And of course, that student believes he/she has given us the "best" paper possible. One person sees an aspect of the paper as a strength, to another teacher, it's not enough.

It's that way for ALL levels of writing, from the college level writer to the unpublished, aspiring writer.

Good points.

BenPanced
07-22-2008, 12:39 AM
I still don't get the "catch-22" reference. I must be really stupid. Someone clue me in, please.
You need an agent to get published but if you aren't published, you can't get an agent.

...
...oops...

Unimportant
07-22-2008, 12:42 AM
I think the catch-22 is:
If you want to get published, you have to do at least one thing right. If you can't do at least one thing right, you're not going to get published.

There, that makes it all clear, yes? :-)

JeanneTGC
07-22-2008, 01:43 AM
You need an agent to get published but if you aren't published, you can't get an agent.

...
...oops...
Yes, I really think that was Keith's premise.

What a pity there are so many of us who, daily, prove that this Catch-22 does not, in fact, exist.

Oh, but wait. We're all writing garbage, but not US, not anyone who might take offense, WE'RE not writing garbage, but we are, because we're published or got agents or managed to learn to write a query letter or went to a conference and interacted with an agent and then managed to get our dross onto the shelves while genius -- GENIUS, do you hear me? -- was ignored MERELY because it couldn't be bothered to, you know, follow the very basic and easy rules laid out.

I'm sure there's an evil conspiracy here, somewhere...

willietheshakes
07-22-2008, 02:57 AM
At times like this, it's best, I think, to go back to the genius that is Aaron Sorkin's Sports Night. Insight for every occasion...

Case in point (from The Quality of Mercy at 29K):

Casey McCall: It's a vicious circle.
Dan Rydell: It is.
Casey McCall: It's a neverending circle.
Dan Rydell: Just keeps going round and round.
Casey McCall: Never ends.
Dan Rydell: That's what makes it vicious.
Casey McCall: And a circle.

Keith
07-22-2008, 06:53 AM
Prozyan,
(IF) a Capitalist society defines merit as "will it sell and make us money" then the Holy Bible would never have seen the light of day.

Ben Panced,
Writing is not LIKE any other JOB because if you are, as you are in a job, working for monetary gain, then you will never write anything worthwhile.

Blackbird,
Yes, you are right but what if, as is indeed the case today, the audience never gets a chance to see the work?

Jeanne TGC,
Yes, I am, you may find it scattered throughout the New Testament. It was said by Jesus Christ.

Toothpaste,
At the expense of repeating myself, how can you make a statement that we write different "stuff" if you've never read my work? And, if you continue to insist that I insulted you, consider yourself insulted.

VirtueSummer,
You are missing the point of what I am saying and that is that if, when they actually read a story, their primary goal, and their basis for publishing the work or not publishing it is that it "makes us some money" too many (most) worthy works will NOT see the light of day. The plain fact that many (the majority) of publishers WILL NOT read anything not submitted to them by an agent proves that catch-22 is alive and well, now we are only arguing over numbers. I am a big fan of Upton Sinclair, who published 90 books but the one that stands out and that I shall refer to is "The Jungle." It was published in 1906 and it was a novel, but a novel that Sinclair wrote from personal experience and much research; he worked in a Chicago slaughterhouse and then wrote the story of how unsafe and dangerous it was, many workers died, and even though it was a work of fiction it is because of this work and the ensuing uproar of many of the public, as they believed it, that we now have the food and drug administration and federal food inspection laws. Fancy that, A? Sinclair believed that the capitalist economic pressure on public business, including publishing houses, was harmful to the point of stifling creativity. I happen to agree with him. Sinclair, by the way, had innumerable detractors, due to the fact that he was a Socialist.

Maestrowork,
The marketplace is, and should be, the final judging place, however, if the climate of capitalism overrules the sanity of the publishing industry, then the public will be judging only the Miley Cyrus' of this world because nothing else will be published.

JeanneTGC,
The only thing I've ever been dead serious about is the fact that if George W. Bush's I.Q. was two points higher, he'd be a baloney sandwich.

Write4U2,
The agent never reads it; he doesn't get past the query letter.

IceCreamEmpress
07-22-2008, 07:10 AM
Prozyan,
(IF) a Capitalist society defines merit as "will it sell and make us money" then the Holy Bible would never have seen the light of day.

Capitalism didn't exist when the Bible or any other major religious scripture was written. Nor did it exist when the Bible was translated into English--the reason the most famous English translation of the Bible is called "the King James Version" is because he paid for it himself. Since we are no longer in a feudal society where monarchs can just go tossing the treasury around to writers, that option's off the table.


Writing is not LIKE any other JOB because if you are, as you are in a job, working for monetary gain, then you will never write anything worthwhile.

That's crazy. Shakespeare wrote for money, and so did Dickens, and so did Milton, and so did Samuel Johnson...fill in the blanks. The only writers who didn't write for money were the ones with inherited wealth (Tolstoy, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, and so on) and poets with other full-time jobs (Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Philip Larkin, and so on).

Upton Sinclair, whom you point to as a sterling example below, wrote for money. Writing was his job. He was a professional writer.

If you don't want to be a professional writer, that's cool. But if you do want to be a professional writer, you have to learn how to work professionally, which includes querying and sending out sample chapters and all the stuff you scorn as beneath you.

maestrowork
07-22-2008, 07:21 AM
You need an agent to get published but if you aren't published, you can't get an agent.


Yes, I really think that was Keith's premise.


But we've already disputed that. Then it got to the argument that those that got published were garbage... So what does that have to do with catch-22, anymore? I still don't get it.

Besides, Keith said he had been published before -- but he still couldn't get an agent. So I'm at a loss what the point for this discussion is. Maybe I really am that stupid.

Oh well, I should go back to my writing anyway.

maestrowork
07-22-2008, 07:25 AM
The marketplace is, and should be, the final judging place, however, if the climate of capitalism overrules the sanity of the publishing industry, then the public will be judging only the Miley Cyrus' of this world because nothing else will be published.


Well, thank goodness Miley Cyrus is not the only person getting published these days.

So what is your point again? If this business is so broken, how come Ms. Kress, Mr. Jackson, Ms. Wood, Mr. Ford, Mr. Cooper... (all first-time authors, with big publishers, on AW, just to name a few) are getting published? Oh, never mind, we're all Miley Cyruses...

Carry on.

Prozyan
07-22-2008, 07:43 AM
VirtueSummer,
You are missing the point of what I am saying and that is that if, when they actually read a story, their primary goal, and their basis for publishing the work or not publishing it is that it "makes us some money" too many (most) worthy works will NOT see the light of day.

Bolding is mine. Anyway, name one single "worthy work" that will not see the light of day, aside from the "gold" you have written. Seriously, name one. You are trying to pass assumption off as fact.

Simply because your work hasn't made the cut does not mean that other "worthy works" are being treated the same. You can only speak from personal experience. As you have previously stated that you don't see the point in spending time and effort on creating a great query, I would say your personal experience is lacking and flawed.

By your own admission you refuse to try to better your work and query efforts (and your chances for publication) yet continue to claim that your work isn't being given a fair chance. You know, you are right. Your work isn't being given a fair chance. It is being cheated. But it is being cheated by you and not outside agents/publishers.

Your argument of "soandso book was rejected "x" amount of times or "y" amount of years before being published" doesn't hold water. In the end, the "worthy work" was published. Maybe it was difficult, but hey, that which is easily attained is lightly regarded.

As I've said before, I've read examples of your work (http://www.lulu.com/browse/preview.php?fCID=1142355) and I can honestly say I can see why you can't get it agented. Info dump after info dump, including a 2 1/2 page info dump that starts two paragraphs into the story. If your query letter follows the same pattern, which I assume it does, then there is really no mystery as to why an agent doesn't want to read your material. Agents are incredibly busy (despite your claim they only go for sure-fire hits from people like Miley Cyrus) and have literally hundreds of queries to read per day. If yours doesn't stand out, why should they want to represent it?

If your goal is legitimate publishing, then why do you waste time whining about the system instead of working to improve your craft to the point it is accepted by the system? Despite what PA tells you, not everything deserves to be published. The competition is fierce and all I really hear from your rantings is that your are not up to the challenge.

Scribhneoir
07-22-2008, 07:56 AM
Blackbird,
Yes, you are right but what if, as is indeed the case today, the audience never gets a chance to see the work?

Why should the poor readers be subjected to work that can't pass muster with trained professionals--agents and publishers? I'd hate to have to worry that any book I bought may have bypassed a vetting process that included someone other than the author and his mother. As a reader, I don't yearn for that "chance" at all.



VirtueSummer,
You are missing the point of what I am saying and that is that if, when they actually read a story, their primary goal, and their basis for publishing the work or not publishing it is that it "makes us some money" too many (most) worthy works will NOT see the light of day.

Money is a worthy goal for a publisher. It's how they count readers. If a publisher thinks a book will make money (i.e., attract readers), then why shouldn't it be considered "worthy"? And if a book will not attract readers (i.e., make money), why should the publisher publish it?



Maestrowork,
The marketplace is, and should be, the final judging place, however, if the climate of capitalism overrules the sanity of the publishing industry, then the public will be judging only the Miley Cyrus' of this world because nothing else will be published.

When was the last time you browsed a book store? There's a hell of a lot more in them than celebrity tell-alls. And somehow they and their authors all managed to make it through the crass, capitalistic system.



Write4U2,
The agent never reads it; he doesn't get past the query letter.

Then you need to write a better query letter.

blacbird
07-22-2008, 08:04 AM
A restatement of the catch-22 that is more in line with reality:

If you have an agent, it is much easier to get things published; if you get things published, it is much easier to attract an agent.

That reduces the problem to maybe catch-16 or -17.

Of course, if your work sucks, that is catch-one.

caw

JeanneTGC
07-22-2008, 08:50 AM
Prozyan,
(IF) a Capitalist society defines merit as "will it sell and make us money" then the Holy Bible would never have seen the light of day.
And the only reason it sees the light of day now is that someone PAYS to BUY it. The Bible's been a bestseller for years...hey, look! I swear, there's a mention of Miley Cyrus in it! Look, look!


Ben Panced,
Writing is not LIKE any other JOB because if you are, as you are in a job, working for monetary gain, then you will never write anything worthwhile.
Really? WOW. Guess all those classics should be tossed, huh? And any new Bibles, since they are now printed for monetary gain. I think that leaves us Emily Dickenson. Thankfully, someone published her after she died. For profit, though, so maybe we don't get Em after all.


Blackbird,
Yes, you are right but what if, as is indeed the case today, the audience never gets a chance to see the work?
If it sucks, why would the audience WANT to see it, whatever "it" might be?


Jeanne TGC,
Yes, I am, you may find it scattered throughout the New Testament. It was said by Jesus Christ.
I guess I could only do that because the New Testament is still being published for money and all. But even Jesus knew he had to fashion the message in a way that would be understood by his target audience.


Toothpaste,
At the expense of repeating myself, how can you make a statement that we write different "stuff" if you've never read my work? And, if you continue to insist that I insulted you, consider yourself insulted.
Dude, you went out of your way to insult any writer with a book on the shelves or coming onto the shelves. Then, the moment someone called you on it, you backtracked. But then went on to insult any writer with a book on or coming to the shelves. None of us, hard as we try, can figure out what you're really going for there, other than you really, really, really resent poor little Miley Cyrus.


VirtueSummer,
You are missing the point of what I am saying
No, trust me, we're all desperately searching for said point -- you keep on missing managing to express it...shockingly, this is a writer's job, to express ideas in words that the reader can understand.

and that is that if, when they actually read a story, their primary goal, and their basis for publishing the work or not publishing it is that it "makes us some money" too many (most) worthy works will NOT see the light of day.
No. Capitalism works very well. And, amazingly enough, the Bible is still being published because it makes the publishers money. Because people want to buy it. Because, for whatever reason, they think it's good. Just like any other item for sale in the free world.

The plain fact that many (the majority) of publishers WILL NOT read anything not submitted to them by an agent proves that catch-22 is alive and well, now we are only arguing over numbers.
No. It proves that publishers have already met too many people like you and have learned the hard way, decades if not centuries ago, that they were a lot better off with an educated middle-man handing them books they have a chance of actually wanting to publish.

I am a big fan of Upton Sinclair, who published 90 books but the one that stands out and that I shall refer to is "The Jungle." It was published in 1906 and it was a novel, but a novel that Sinclair wrote from personal experience and much research; he worked in a Chicago slaughterhouse and then wrote the story of how unsafe and dangerous it was, many workers died, and even though it was a work of fiction it is because of this work and the ensuing uproar of many of the public, as they believed it, that we now have the food and drug administration and federal food inspection laws. Fancy that, A? Sinclair believed that the capitalist economic pressure on public business, including publishing houses, was harmful to the point of stifling creativity. I happen to agree with him. Sinclair, by the way, had innumerable detractors, due to the fact that he was a Socialist.
But...but...Sinclair is stil on the shelves, meaning, by your comments, his works are garbage. I direct you to the master of the Socialist put-down, P.J. O'Rourke, for any further comment on this point.


Maestrowork,
The marketplace is, and should be, the final judging place, however, if the climate of capitalism overrules the sanity of the publishing industry, then the public will be judging only the Miley Cyrus' of this world because nothing else will be published.
First off, you can't have it both ways. You can't let the marketplace be the judge and then say that capitalism can't be allowed to influence that market. The two do not compute. And, trust me, the public can be a harsher judge than any agent or publisher could ever hope to be.

Oh, and Ray? As near as I can guess, Keith wrote a fan letter to Miley and she replied that she wasn't interested in showing her agent his book. I don't really understand why the main thrust of all that's evil in the publishing world is now a 15 year old's fault, but, you know, maybe I missed the Miley Manifesto, wherein she decreed that only 15 year old popstars would get publishing contracts. *Must make note to do a Google on this.*


JeanneTGC,
The only thing I've ever been dead serious about is the fact that if George W. Bush's I.Q. was two points higher, he'd be a baloney sandwich.
Bet he can get an agent, though. And a publisher. Oh, and the Presidency of the United States. I'd also bet that, were he told that he had to create a proper query letter and edit his deathless prose, he'd manage to be smart enough to make it so. One doesn't win political office by NOT catering to the demands of the marketplace.


Write4U2,
The agent never reads it; he doesn't get past the query letter.
When said query sucks, too true. Because if you can't write a decent LETTER, good lord, why would you think anyone would believe you could write a decent BOOK?

There's places here to learn how to craft a good query. And how to edit. And find a beta reader, crit partner, etc. AND there's information all over the internet and in the bookstores. Oh, wait. Dash it all, the books IN the bookstores already were proved by you to be garbage, so again, guess you can't use any of them.

Maybe Miley Cyrus will write a how to book for query writing and you can read that.

BenPanced
07-22-2008, 08:53 AM
Ben Panced,
Writing is not LIKE any other JOB because if you are, as you are in a job, working for monetary gain, then you will never write anything worthwhile.
Yeah, and F. Scott Fitzgerald and many more writers during his era went to Hollywood because...why?...why?...anybody?...Bueller?...Buel ler?...THEY WROTE FOR MONEY. They went where the money was for writers. You can't sit there on your high horse and tell me their motives were Pure for The Art.

And you know what? Some of them made it. Some of them didn't. Because, like writing novels or short stories, movies are subjective as to what works and what doesn't. Movies can't get made without written scripts. Some stink. Some don't. But somebody has to sit their ass down at a desk and write the damned thing.

If we, the hoi polloi, are so far beneath you, get out of here. Go. We're obviously weighing your greatness down and will only continue to soil the hem of your garment by writing "stuff". It's a shame, really, because we're supposed to be here supporting each other when all you've done is try to cut down our arguments with your weak positions, reminding us over and over and over we just don't get it, and seriously pissing everybody off to no end. Considering what you've given us, there's nothing to get.

I'm seriously done at this point. I'd said earlier I'd self-banninated myself, and this time I mean it. Somebody bring me the wash basin and a towel; my hands need a bit of work.

Sincerely yours,
Miley Cyrus :LilLove:

geardrops
07-22-2008, 09:06 AM
... even Jesus knew he had to fashion the message in a way that would be understood by his target audience.

Win.

Marian Perera
07-22-2008, 01:24 PM
When said query sucks, too true. Because if you can't write a decent LETTER, good lord, why would you think anyone would believe you could write a decent BOOK?

What a catch-22. How mercenary, to judge someone on their query letter! If God submitted a query letter for the Holy Bible, I'll bet even that would be rejected. And why should anyone submit a query letter, when the only true and meaningful judge of a book is the audience and the audience never gets to read the query letter, let alone the book? It's an utter catch-22, and here is a long paragraph about a novel published in 1898 which is supposed to illustrate my point but doesn't.

It's the MERIT of a book which should be considered. The Merit, the Whole Merit and Nothing but the Merit. See what I mean about a catch-22?

To recap : catch-22.

Peas,

Queen of Swords

Old Hack
07-22-2008, 04:23 PM
Prozyan,
(IF) a Capitalist society defines merit as "will it sell and make us money" then the Holy Bible would never have seen the light of day.

The Bible does make money, and quite a lot of it.


Writing is not LIKE any other JOB because if you are, as you are in a job, working for monetary gain, then you will never write anything worthwhile.

Not true: I've written all sorts of non-fic for money and while I'll freely admit that a lot of it was nonsense, a lot of it was good stuff.


The plain fact that many (the majority) of publishers WILL NOT read anything not submitted to them by an agent proves that catch-22 is alive and well, now we are only arguing over numbers.

When I worked as an editor I read every single thing that agents sent to me, and read them in the same week that they arrived. As did the other editors I worked for. It seems to me that you have some serious misconceptions about how publishing works.


The agent never reads it; he doesn't get past the query letter.

Not if it's a bad query letter. If it's a good one, then agents read the letter then ask to see the manuscript. Not only does this system work for all concerned (apart from the writers who are not quite good enough to make the cut, and who complain about how it's broken), it is also a profoundly useful thing for the environment, too. Think of all those heavy manuscripts that don't end up being posted across countries as a result.

CaroGirl
07-22-2008, 04:30 PM
Keith, if you don't like the way the American system works, why don't you try sending your work out in other countries? There's more than one system out there. I'm in Canada and our system is different, although evolving. Here, you don't necessarily need an agent to submit to any publisher, particularly a smaller, alternative press. Is your work small and alternative?

maestrowork
07-22-2008, 04:42 PM
It's not the first time someone complains about how the publishing world is against new and non-celebrity authors, and it won't be the last. And somehow, like we've said over and over again, new authors are published every day.

There's nothing new here.

CaroGirl
07-22-2008, 04:50 PM
There's nothing new here.
Yes, it's the traditional combination of golden word syndrome and delusional paranoid psychosis.

"It's not me; it's them, I tell ya. THEM!"

Mr Flibble
07-22-2008, 05:13 PM
Well this has been an interesting thread. Now while I'm the first one to say that my tastes are sometimes out of fashion, and occassionally I wish publishers wouldn't worry about trends and publish something they wouldn't normally, because bugger the subject/ theme / lack of HEA / the fact it hasn't got bloody vampires in it, it is good.

But wait, now let me get this straight:

If I write a book that people want to read, that gets published because the publishing industry thinks it will sell, then it must be garbage.

BUT, if I write a book that no one wants to read, then it is worthy, and the publishing industry is a conspiracy against worth.

Plus, if I write something worthy but then accept money for it, then it is no longer worthy, but crap. ( I'm not sure how money changing hands changes the quality of written words, but hey)

http://smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/36/36_1_19.gif

That's bollocks.

Or did I miss something?

This rant is because you never get past the query stage? Get off your arse and sweat blood to craft a decent query letter like the rest of us. Writing a query is a different art to writing a novel, BUT it is there to show how well you can write -- which is why a lot don't get past that stage :)

Or would writing a good query be betraying your art?

Sassee
07-22-2008, 05:41 PM
Isn't it great that our failures are never our fault? There is always someone else to blame to make ourselves feel better.

Carry on.

Clair Dickson
07-22-2008, 06:34 PM
Agents are supposed to help publishers by weeding out the books people don't want to read. And most people make a decision very quickly when it comes to books. Usualy by the end of the first page, most folks will know if they want to take the book home or not.

I tried reading it, but my eyes glazed over by the bottom of the first page...

Now maybe other readers like info dumps, but I know I don't. And neither does my hubby. But maybe I'm just not the audience for the book-- I'm only a reader who consumes a variety of everything as well as an English teacher. But maybe we're just not the audience for the book.

maestrowork
07-22-2008, 06:42 PM
It could very well be the book really is worthy of publication, but the author stops submitting and says, "To Hell with it" after the 16th rejections. Maybe it just hasn't found its audience yet. Maybe. Who knows? Maybe.

DeadlyAccurate
07-22-2008, 07:38 PM
I still don't get the "catch-22" reference. I must be really stupid. Someone clue me in, please.

He was just trying to get all the bingo rants onto one card.

Claudia Gray
07-22-2008, 09:26 PM
If only there were a place where writing could be published almost free of charge, to be accessible to millions of potential readers who could then judge its worth. If only there were some sort of -- computer network, maybe -- something that allowed people to communicate through writing without going through the publishing industry -- but that's crazy talk! No such thing exists.

quickWit
07-22-2008, 09:52 PM
*runs through thread with pants on head*

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

MacAllister
07-22-2008, 10:47 PM
I'm giving Keith a week off from posting. Hopefully he will go and read the newbie guide, and come back able to participate in a discussion without hurling thinly-veiled insults and waving the snotty attitude about like a bloody flag.

JeanneTGC
07-23-2008, 01:05 AM
I'm giving Keith a week off from posting. Hopefully he will go and read the newbie guide, and come back able to participate in a discussion without hurling thinly-veiled insults and waving the snotty attitude about like a bloody flag.
Yet another reason why we all love She Who Must Be Obeyed. :D

blacbird
07-23-2008, 08:43 AM
If God submitted a query letter for the Holy Bible, I'll bet even that would be rejected.

God's Query:

Dear (editor's name -- but, of course, I know that):

I offer for your consideration in literary representation the Book.
It is the truth, as represented by the following synopsis/summary.

The world is created. Animals and plants are created. Humans are created. Only they don't work all that well, so I have to fix them. Of the first ones, a brother kills another over gardening vs. ranching. Then I flood the whole place, on account of evildoing, to teach them all a lesson. I choose one group of people as the best, then subject them to all kinds of tribulation, have them forced into slavery, only to escape when I give one the power to part the sea. After that, I give him laws, in the form of stone tablets, to pass on to everyone. But none of it works, so ultimately I have to give them my very own son, as a sacrifice.

Then, if they don't believe, I sentence them all to eternal fire and torment.

The work is complete, and available in electronic form. No SASE is enclosed, as, should you decline to accept, you also will be sentenced to eternal fire and torment. I am available through prayer.

Thank you for your consideration.

God.


caw

Rena Andra
07-23-2008, 08:57 AM
blacbird that was damn near perfect, but you forgot to mention all those begotten...that might push it into romance. Unless of course we note those who were fed the fish, which would in turn put it into fantasy... Oh darn, what about the guy who turned on the mc? That could put us into murder mystery.
I firmly believe genre has pigeonholed some of us into a quandary. Where exactly does it fit, and which editor wants it on what particular day?
RA
(absolutely no insult intended to any groups or factions of any kind, anywhere, real or hypothetical of course)

Marian Perera
07-23-2008, 11:18 AM
blacbird that was damn near perfect, but you forgot to mention all those begotten...that might push it into romance.

If the Song of Solomon doesn't do so first.

Great job, blacbird!

nerds
07-23-2008, 03:27 PM
The bazillions of copies of book X sold by megabestseller Author Y, who may or may not write all that well, are what keep publishing SOLVENT, which in turn makes room for new writers and/or authors of "little" books or literary or poems or history, things with much smaller audiences, and pays for all that paper, ink, staff, press runs, binding, shipping, promotion, time and energy.

The celebrity books, the Grishams, Steeles, Cartlands, Collinses and Browns, keep this business alive for the rest of us. I know I've read obscure (and excellent) literary writers who would never have gotten a press run had the industry not been in good financial shape. Those aspects denigrated by the original poster benefit us as readers and as writers - they allow book publishing to continue to thrive.

Calla Lily
07-23-2008, 03:41 PM
blacbird, that was great. :)

maestrowork
07-23-2008, 09:14 PM
The world is created. Animals and plants are created. Humans are created. Only they don't work all that well, so I have to fix them. Of the first ones, a brother kills another over gardening vs. ranching. Then I flood the whole place, on account of evildoing, to teach them all a lesson. I choose one group of people as the best, then subject them to all kinds of tribulation, have them forced into slavery, only to escape when I give one the power to part the sea. After that, I give him laws, in the form of stone tablets, to pass on to everyone. But none of it works, so ultimately I have to give them my very own son, as a sacrifice.




YOU. STOLE. MY. IDEA.

Go to hell.

;)