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View Full Version : Do books ever get rejected for being too smart?



Night_Writer
05-07-2015, 06:31 AM
Somehow I doubt that I'd ever have this problem myself, but I was wondering about it anyway. Do agents and publishers ever turn down books because they are afraid that these books might go over the heads of the audience? Do novels show up that are so packed with profound philosophy and perceptive statements on the human condition that it actually turns off the pros in the publishing world? Would they be afraid of not being able to sell such books? I guess what this boils down to is, Does the publishing industry ever underestimate the audience?


It would be a shame if books were turned down for this reason, because books are supposed to be THE place for smart stuff.

quicklime
05-07-2015, 06:52 AM
I doubt a book is rejected as "too smart." Note this isn't coming from a crotch-scratching, overall-wearing hillbilly, I am a crotch-scratching denim-wearing PhD biologist. That said, "too smart" is bullshit. Stephen Hawkins wrote a fucking best-seller.

There ARE books written too dense, with too many asides and info-dumps, etc. to match their target audience, and there are plenty of them. But saying they were "too smart" is inaccurate, just as saying a $200K rocket-car was rejected for being "too efficient." If you fail to match your market (or the publisher's idea of it) you can be rejected, but that isn't a matter of "too smart" so much as not meeting certain genre standards, etc......you write Harlequin Romance or pulp horror with an advanced English college-level reading level, you'll alienate a shit-ton of your audience. Because they don't have that reading level. But I would say if anything that isn't you writing too smart, it is an author writing too dumb--write what you feel compelled to write, but if you simply won't match your market, that isn't too smart at all.

You can write beyond your market, but that seems to be an issue on the author, failing to meet their market, so I have difficulty calling that "too smart".....it would be your fuckup for making something your target audience does not want, and the bottom line is this: written work, if you intend to chase commercial success, IS a commodity--you either provide what the customer wants, or you do not, but to lament the customer not buying what you have if it isn't what they're looking for is silly at best, no matter if you're selling shoes or lobster or thrillers.

rwm4768
05-07-2015, 07:28 AM
I'm sure they do. By writing a book that requires a high reading comprehension level, you're cutting a whole lot of people out of your audience. And this isn't just people who can't understand the "smart" book. There are many highly intelligent people who choose to read books that aren't quite as "smart" because they're challenged intellectually in other ways.

Agents and publishers have to make decisions based on what they think will sell. If they think your book lends itself to a small audience, they might seek out something that's more accessible for the average reader.

Putputt
05-07-2015, 07:33 AM
When I interned at a publishing house, there was a particular book which one of the editors was very passionate about. He'd talk about how smart it was, how deep and insightful etc. He asked the other editors in the house to read it too, to get support before taking it to acquisitions, but ultimately, not enough people fell in love with it and marketing said no. Their complaint was that the subject matter was too narrow for it to be profitable for them to publish. They also said that the book was written in such a way that it would just go over most people's heads.

I don't think the book was "too smart" to be published. I don't think "too smart" would be the appropriate way to describe it. "Too smart" implies that your audience is too stupid to get it, that the book is somehow too good for the general public. It's an umbrella term that doesn't do justice to the context. In that particular instance, the book was "smart", but it was also written in a not-very-accessible way and focused on too narrow a subject matter to appeal to a large enough audience. Unfortunately for the author, that means it's hard for the publisher to justify sinking money into something they're not confident would earn them a profit.

So I don't think being profound is a problem. Being profound in a way which alienates your reader...THAT's a problem.

Helix
05-07-2015, 07:34 AM
I'm sure some books -- perhaps lots of books -- get rejected for incoherence.

Roxxsmom
05-07-2015, 07:58 AM
Too smart? As in thought provoking? Probably not, though some genres are supposed to be lighter and less serious than others.

There are plenty of very deep, thought provoking novels out there, and some become bestsellers. But if a highbrow novel is written in such a way that it doesn't come across as an interesting story about interesting people doing interesting things, then it might have trouble finding a market.

And non fiction has to be accessible too. If you've written a book about, say, evolution, and the only people who can understand it are people with doctorates in biology (weirdos like me and Quicklime who can say words like "organism" without embarrassment), you won't have a very large audience. But if the book discusses complex biological concepts in a way that can reach people without such a specialized background (like Stephen Jay Gould used to do or Neil Shubin did more recently), then it might sell very well.

Smart writing with thought provoking themes does not mean writing unnecessarily long, convoluted sentences or using large words just for the sake of using large words.

jjdebenedictis
05-07-2015, 07:59 AM
Literary fiction tends to not sell very well compared to genre fiction, but it wins more lucrative awards and can have more dependable backlist sales, at least for the more lauded books.

So literary fiction could fit your definition for books that are "too smart" for the majority of book buyers. However, it still gets published and those books make money.

It's absolutely possible that a book could be so cerebral that its market would be too tiny for a publisher to make a profit in, and they would choose not to publish that book. However, that's the same reason why they don't publish utterly stupid books -- there's not a big enough market for utterly stupid books.

DancingMaenid
05-07-2015, 08:13 AM
I think this is probably an issue mainly if the book doesn't seem like it's written in such a way that it would be comprehensible or enjoyable for the intended audience. Books can be profound or intelligent in multiple ways. Ideas can be expressed in multiple ways. Making a book accessible for the target audience doesn't have to mean dumbing it down, I don't think.

For example, I have not actually read it, personally, but my understanding is that The Giver deals with some pretty major themes of freedom of though and good vs. evil. And it's a book intended for MG/YA audiences.

Night_Writer
05-07-2015, 02:03 PM
Too smart? As in thought provoking?

Yes, that's what I meant. The kind of book I had in mind (I was thinking primarily of fiction) was the type that makes people think, that makes them use their brain muscles. Does the pub industry feel that enough people are willing to do the thinking work, or do they feel that readers would rather just sit back and be entertained with something light?

The light stuff no doubt makes more money, at least in the short run. So I was concerned that the thought-provoking novels could get passed over for light, entertainment fiction. That's my question. And my fear.

Filigree
05-07-2015, 02:21 PM
As has been said upthread, you have to find the right market. Umberto Eco gets published - but not as a category romance writer. Every genre seems to have its threshold of difficulty, beyond which a majority of its readers just don't want to tread.

It's not a matter of 'too smart' or 'too stupid', either.

gingerwoman
05-07-2015, 02:48 PM
I think this comes under things writers probably shouldn't worry about. A kind agent might recommend the author try another agent who specialized in literary fiction.

I'm thinking such a book, assuming it is of high quality only gets turned down if the author isn't "smart" enough to do their research on who buys the kind of book they've written.

Muppster
05-07-2015, 02:52 PM
Yes, that's what I meant. The kind of book I had in mind (I was thinking primarily of fiction) was the type that makes people think, that makes them use their brain muscles. Does the pub industry feel that enough people are willing to do the thinking work, or do they feel that readers would rather just sit back and be entertained with something light?

Part of 'being smart' is being able to communicate that insight effectively. Feinman was particularly good at making very complex/interesting things accessible to non-experts.

I would say the problem is not a book is 'too smart', but that it's not smart enough to make that insight interesting/relevant/accessible to people not already hooked…ie a general audience, not a maddeningly academic one.

shadowwalker
05-07-2015, 04:58 PM
Yes, that's what I meant. The kind of book I had in mind (I was thinking primarily of fiction) was the type that makes people think, that makes them use their brain muscles. Does the pub industry feel that enough people are willing to do the thinking work, or do they feel that readers would rather just sit back and be entertained with something light?

The light stuff no doubt makes more money, at least in the short run. So I was concerned that the thought-provoking novels could get passed over for light, entertainment fiction. That's my question. And my fear.

There are two types of readers - those who want light entertainment and those who want thought-provoking depth. Amazingly, they often share the same body...

Jamesaritchie
05-07-2015, 06:09 PM
Somehow I doubt that I'd ever have this problem myself, but I was wondering about it anyway. Do agents and publishers ever turn down books because they are afraid that these books might go over the heads of the audience? Do novels show up that are so packed with profound philosophy and perceptive statements on the human condition that it actually turns off the pros in the publishing world? Would they be afraid of not being able to sell such books? I guess what this boils down to is, Does the publishing industry ever underestimate the audience?


It would be a shame if books were turned down for this reason, because books are supposed to be THE place for smart stuff.

Novels are supposed to be about good story and good characters. This doesn't mean they can't be "smart". A great many are, but story and character sell books.

My experience is also that a manuscript the writer thinks is packed with profound philosophy and perceptive statements is probably packed with preaching and clichéd statements that make editors roll their eyes and look for a better book. No one wants preached at, and while truly perceptive statements are good, and sought after, they're also incredibly rare.

The publishing industry does not underestimate readers intelligence, but too many writers certainly overestimate their own.

At any rate, agents and editors turn down novels because they have poor story and poor characters. A novel always need great story and great characters. If it has these, it will sell. If it doesn't have these, it shouldn't sell. If all you want is smart, go grab a philosophy book. . .which may also contain zero wisdom, and very few signs of intelligence.

Amadan
05-07-2015, 06:36 PM
Yes, that's what I meant. The kind of book I had in mind (I was thinking primarily of fiction) was the type that makes people think, that makes them use their brain muscles. Does the pub industry feel that enough people are willing to do the thinking work, or do they feel that readers would rather just sit back and be entertained with something light?

The light stuff no doubt makes more money, at least in the short run. So I was concerned that the thought-provoking novels could get passed over for light, entertainment fiction. That's my question. And my fear.


There are tons of thought-provoking novels, and some of them even become best-sellers.

I'd tend to be a bit cynical about someone who thinks their novel isn't getting published because it's "too smart."

lianna williamson
05-07-2015, 06:57 PM
My experience is also that a manuscript the writer thinks is packed with profound philosophy and perceptive statements is probably packed with preaching and clichéd statements that make editors roll their eyes and look for a better book. No one wants preached at, and while truly perceptive statements are good, and sought after, they're also incredibly rare.

The publishing industry does not underestimate readers intelligence, but too many writers certainly overestimate their own.


Ha! You just described my MFA program. I agree with your assessment!

Dreity
05-07-2015, 07:22 PM
I think a cultist of Cthulhu once tried to get a book packed with that level of profound truth published. A few interns were lost to insanity, but a team of savvy editors recognized what was going down and was able to stop the madness from spreading further.

Thank gods for gatekeepers.

Putputt
05-07-2015, 07:48 PM
Yes, that's what I meant. The kind of book I had in mind (I was thinking primarily of fiction) was the type that makes people think, that makes them use their brain muscles. Does the pub industry feel that enough people are willing to do the thinking work, or do they feel that readers would rather just sit back and be entertained with something light?

The light stuff no doubt makes more money, at least in the short run. So I was concerned that the thought-provoking novels could get passed over for light, entertainment fiction. That's my question. And my fear.

With the bolded...the publishing house I interned at published about 10 books a year. 2 out of those 10 would be "big" books, as in the ones they'd give huge advances for and work their asses off to market. Out of those 2, one would be a very commercial, highly entertaining book, and the other would be a thought-provoking one (what the editor described as "the prize-winning one"). So to answer your question, I think publishers definitely feel that thought-provoking books are lucrative, how else would you explain the number of thought-provoking books out there?

Chances are, your book isn't too smart to be published. I have interned for a publisher, I have interned for an agent, and out of the dozens of MSs I have seen go through their offices, not one has been rejected for being "too smart". Some have been rejected for "trying to be too smart", some have been rejected for having a condescending tone, and more have been rejected for having writing so verbose it alienates many readers. So be as profound as you want, but remember too that getting your meaning across is on you. Thoughts like "Oh dear, my book might be too smart for everyone because they'd obviously much rather binge on trash" are not only untrue, they're probably really self-defeating. It's basically just another excuse to keep yourself from working on what actually is keeping your book from being publishable.

kkbe
05-07-2015, 07:58 PM
With the bolded...the publishing house I interned at published about 10 books a year. . .
Just have to jump here real quick to thank you, Putster, for sharing your experiences/what you've learned. You do that all the time. I know you've helped a lot of people, me included. Thank you so, so much for doing that.

<3

And now, back to your originally scheduled programming.

:)

Myrealana
05-07-2015, 08:18 PM
I'm sure some rejections have said a book was "too smart" but I suspect the reason would be more correctly stated as being "too pretentious."

Tazlima
05-07-2015, 08:56 PM
The only person I could imagine attributing a rejection to the writing being "too smart" is a writer with a big ego and hurt feelings. "They just don't appreciate my genius. Obviously the work went right over their heads."

It's sort of like when I was bullied as a child and my mother tried to comfort me by insisting that the bullies were "just jealous" of my brains and/or beauty (yeah right, Mom).

RightHoJeeves
05-07-2015, 09:52 PM
I think a "smart" book is more likely to be rejected if it fails to deal with the "smart" bits in a compelling manner.

gettingby
05-07-2015, 10:10 PM
Literary fiction tends to not sell very well compared to genre fiction, but it wins more lucrative awards and can have more dependable backlist sales, at least for the more lauded books.

So literary fiction could fit your definition for books that are "too smart" for the majority of book buyers. However, it still gets published and those books make money.

It's absolutely possible that a book could be so cerebral that its market would be too tiny for a publisher to make a profit in, and they would choose not to publish that book. However, that's the same reason why they don't publish utterly stupid books -- there's not a big enough market for utterly stupid books.

I don't think it's fair to say literary fiction doesn't sell as well as genre fiction. That is simply not true. If it were, many books would not continue to have additional print runs and additions. There will always be a marketplace for literary fiction. Also, these books are not necessarily too smart. Even dense books about literary theory continue to sell and be published by mainstream publishers.

gettingby
05-07-2015, 10:30 PM
Yes, that's what I meant. The kind of book I had in mind (I was thinking primarily of fiction) was the type that makes people think, that makes them use their brain muscles. Does the pub industry feel that enough people are willing to do the thinking work, or do they feel that readers would rather just sit back and be entertained with something light?

The light stuff no doubt makes more money, at least in the short run. So I was concerned that the thought-provoking novels could get passed over for light, entertainment fiction. That's my question. And my fear.

Are you reading the kind of books you want to write and publish? You should be. It is important to know what is out there that is similar to what you are trying to do.

I think I am still confused about exactly what you are trying to do because there are many, many smart books that sell. I don't see why a "smart" book would be passed over if it is good. But your question does raise questions for me about your reading habits. I'm not saying anything is wrong with reading lighter stories, but you should be reading books like the ones you want to publish. If you can't find such books, you are either not looking in the right places or, perhaps, what you want to do might be harder to sell.

I think you are being smart to look into this. It's not a bad thing at all to try and figure out how marketable your book will be, but don't get discouraged by thinking something you do may be "too smart" (still not quite sure what you mean exactly) because I know my own reading taste probably could fall into this category. People do like smart books.

gettingby
05-07-2015, 10:38 PM
There are tons of thought-provoking novels, and some of them even become best-sellers.

I'd tend to be a bit cynical about someone who thinks their novel isn't getting published because it's "too smart."

Good point. I write literary fiction, but I would never think it is "too smart" to be published. When I think about books that are labeled "too smart" it makes me think of Balzac. And he published and made a great contribution to literature.

Samsonet
05-07-2015, 11:47 PM
Hey, Twilight inspired hundreds --if not thousands-- of essays on modern relationships, what is Okay and Not Okay, and what teenage girls supposedly want in a book or a man. Even fluff can be thought-provoking or even really deep if looked at in a certain way.

The important thing was people had read it and could discuss it easily.

Jrubas
05-08-2015, 01:02 AM
I've never had that problem (which actually kind of bums me out), but I've had an editor admit that I'm a better writer than him, but reject me because he felt my story was too commonplace. I also had one tell me in TWO seprate emails that they loved my story, that it was supremely well-written, blah-blah-blah...and then reject me.

Sigh.

Ravioli
05-08-2015, 01:53 AM
My grandfather's sure did...

Fruitbat
05-08-2015, 04:31 AM
I think there are definitely sub-genres that are more in demand and a better bet than others for a sale, and also somewhat formulaic or predictable, if that's what you mean.

Otherwise, when something is rejected, we often don't know why and sometimes writers do come up with theories that toot their own horns a little too much, lol. Their novel was too deep for the major publishers, who only want cookie cutter drivel for all the peasants out there. Or the editors didn't have the guts to take a risk on something so cutting edge. Etcetera, but the theme being that the author was not rejected for not being good enough, but actually rejected for being too good, according to the author. I figure the usual reason is it just didn't wow the agent or editor enough to invest in. I've read so many unpublished (and published too, come to think of it) novels like that, where there wasn't really any big thing wrong with them but there wasn't anything about them that stood out above every other novel out there, either.

But is it possible? I guess I'll have to say I don't know.

Night_Writer
05-08-2015, 05:06 AM
Oh boy, lots of responses! Thanks everybody for your input. Very very interesting. I do want to say though, that I do not consider myself one of those authors with a book that is too smart to be published, lol. That's why I said that I didn't think I would have this problem myself. I am certain that none of my works are so overflowing with wisdom and wit and intelligence and profundity that it would wipe me out of the common market.

I was mainly just wondering how the industry works, and was asking the question out of curiosity. Some people here said that the smart book needs to find its market. Well, I'd guess that's true of any book. It's just that the thinking person's book is going to have a smaller market. Which means less money. That's why I was wondering about all this. We know that money is the bottom line. So how much does it determine what gets published?

Samsonet
05-08-2015, 06:04 AM
Oh boy, lots of responses! Thanks everybody for your input. Very very interesting. I do want to say though, that I do not consider myself one of those authors with a book that is too smart to be published, lol. That's why I said that I didn't think I would have this problem myself. I am certain that none of my works are so overflowing with wisdom and wit and intelligence and profundity that it would wipe me out of the common market.

I was mainly just wondering how the industry works, and was asking the question out of curiosity. Some people here said that the smart book needs to find its market. Well, I'd guess that's true of any book. It's just that the thinking person's book is going to have a smaller market. Which means less money. That's why I was wondering about all this. We know that money is the bottom line. So how much does it determine what gets published?

Oh, completely and not at all. I mean, publishers make very little money as it is, so they've got to pick wisely -- but at the same time, self-publishing is still an option.

(Tell me if I'm crossing the RYFW line here: ) when I was younger, a couple years ago, I used to spend a lot of time reading the blogs of people who talked about how their work was groundbreaking and new, and Traditional Publishers were too old-fashioned to understand genius, etc., etc. Little!Me found them hilarious, especially when I read their books and the stories were just like the "fluff books" the authors claimed to hate.

Since then I've learned that you really can't judge a person by the cover of the books they're reading. Like I said above, a lot of "thinking people" read Twilight -- but that doesn't mean that they didn't also read The Life of Pi, the Luminaries, or other Very Serious Books. And while it sometimes feels like all the really important literature was published a century ago, that's just because we don't have the benefit of history to see which of today's books are the "influential novels of our time".

quicklime
05-08-2015, 07:24 AM
Oh boy, lots of responses! Thanks everybody for your input. Very very interesting. I do want to say though, that I do not consider myself one of those authors with a book that is too smart to be published, lol. That's why I said that I didn't think I would have this problem myself. I am certain that none of my works are so overflowing with wisdom and wit and intelligence and profundity that it would wipe me out of the common market.

I was mainly just wondering how the industry works, and was asking the question out of curiosity. Some people here said that the smart book needs to find its market. Well, I'd guess that's true of any book. It's just that the thinking person's book is going to have a smaller market. Which means less money. That's why I was wondering about all this. We know that money is the bottom line. So how much does it determine what gets published?

re: the bold...yes and no. Crichton does a fair bit of research, and many other authors do even more....many authors who sell well. There are many variables at play, and, I suppose, some depends on your definition of "smart person's book," but I think you're still not entirely getting it:

Smart does not automatically equal dense, and dense does not automatically equal smart.

you can write yourself out of audience, in many possible ways, but again, Hawking has a best seller. (Does he have more than one?) The dude isn't dumb, and didn't write his book at a third-grade level. But folks wanted to learn. Clancy got folks from the CIA who insisted on a couple "chats" with him after The Hunt for Red October, according to stories. He wrote a book so smart they wanted to know how a civilian knew so much about caterpillar drives and nuclear subs. That book sold millions and millions.


A book can be almost infinitely smart and still sell. A smart book, however, can fail to communicate its smart ideas well enough to establish a readership. But there's the problem....you seem to want to hear a book can be so smart it doesn't sell, and I would argue it is less an issue of intellect than accessibility/writing.

Roxxsmom
05-08-2015, 07:31 AM
I think this comes under things writers probably shouldn't worry about. A kind agent might recommend the author try another agent who specialized in literary fiction.

I'm thinking such a book, assuming it is of high quality only gets turned down if the author isn't "smart" enough to do their research on who buys the kind of book they've written.

Just to put things in perspective re literary fiction:

According to a quick search on querytracker's databases:

There are 403 agents operating in the US who are currently accepting queries who take literary fiction.

There are 322 who take what is broadly categorized as "commercial" fiction.

244 who take suspense/thrillers

There are 164 who take romance (supposedly the most popular genre in terms of sales).

There are 127 who take fantasy.

There are 29 who take contemporary (though I suspect a lot of contemporary is subsumed by commercial).

There are 67 who take general fiction (which might also be subsumed by commercial fiction)

25 take religious/inspirational (though these can also be encompassed in other genres). Still, it's surprising that so few specifically say they take religious/inspirational, since it's my understanding that this is also one of the more commercially viable genres.

So it appears that agents feel that literary is very marketable, and it might even be the most marketable genre. Or at least, more agents listed in this database are willing to consider literary fiction than any other genre/subgenre. Even considering that agents probably come from a sub-population of people who enjoy highbrow and literary fiction, I doubt this would be true if it were impossible to sell.

Jamesaritchie
05-08-2015, 06:38 PM
I don't think it's fair to say literary fiction doesn't sell as well as genre fiction. That is simply not true. If it were, many books would not continue to have additional print runs and additions. There will always be a marketplace for literary fiction. Also, these books are not necessarily too smart. Even dense books about literary theory continue to sell and be published by mainstream publishers.

It is true, for good or bad. The numbers aren't in doubt. Number of print runs is not always indicative of number of sales, but even if it were, genre novels get reprinted over and over and over and over, and usually with far larger printings.

There is a market for literary fiction, but that market is tiny, when compared to the market for genre fiction. Tiny. It's tiny in individual sales of book to book, and tiny compared to number of literary versus number of genre books published each year.

Go down the bestseller list each week and count how many genre novels are on it, versus the number of literary novels.
No matter how you measure it, the numbers aren't even remotely close.

Not that good genre novels aren't as smart, or a good deal smarter, than the average literary novel. I find considerably more "smartness" in good genre fiction. There is no inherent intelligence or truth in a literary novel, and no inherent lack of intelligence or truth in a genre novel.

Bufkus
05-08-2015, 07:26 PM
Sure a lot of agents request literary fiction but I guarantee you they reject 99.9% of those submissions. Unless you're the next Toni Morrison or Junot Diaz, you don't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting your "literary" work published.

gettingby
05-08-2015, 10:11 PM
It is true, for good or bad. The numbers aren't in doubt. Number of print runs is not always indicative of number of sales, but even if it were, genre novels get reprinted over and over and over and over, and usually with far larger printings.

There is a market for literary fiction, but that market is tiny, when compared to the market for genre fiction. Tiny. It's tiny in individual sales of book to book, and tiny compared to number of literary versus number of genre books published each year.

Go down the bestseller list each week and count how many genre novels are on it, versus the number of literary novels.
No matter how you measure it, the numbers aren't even remotely close.

Not that good genre novels aren't as smart, or a good deal smarter, than the average literary novel. I find considerably more "smartness" in good genre fiction. There is no inherent intelligence or truth in a literary novel, and no inherent lack of intelligence or truth in a genre novel.

Maybe you're right. I will admit to not knowing as much about the genre publishing scene as I do about the literary scene. But literary fiction is certainly not on its way out.Either is literary theory. I'm just trying to say that these so-called smart books have a place and can get published whether they be literary or genre.

I am planning to take a course of literary genre fiction. I think it will be interesting to read and discuss works that straddle the line. I am not trying to say that literary fiction is any "smarter." I'm just saying it has a place as does genre. The question was if books can be to "smart," and I don't think that is a typical reason why any book would be rejected.

That being said Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Harding didn't have the easiest time selling his book Tinkers.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/19/books/19harding.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

gettingby
05-08-2015, 10:14 PM
Sure a lot of agents request literary fiction but I guarantee you they reject 99.9% of those submissions. Unless you're the next Toni Morrison or Junot Diaz, you don't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting your "literary" work published.

I would have to strongly disagree. Not impossible at all. New literary fiction is released all the time.

Putputt
05-08-2015, 10:21 PM
Sure a lot of agents request literary fiction but I guarantee you they reject 99.9% of those submissions. Unless you're the next Toni Morrison or Junot Diaz, you don't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting your "literary" work published.

Wha? How in the world are you getting that??

Lillith1991
05-08-2015, 10:29 PM
Wha? How in the world are you getting that??

Add me to the wtf? parade, because that's some seriously flawed logic.

quicklime
05-08-2015, 11:32 PM
Sure a lot of agents request literary fiction but I guarantee you they reject 99.9% of those submissions. Unless you're the next Toni Morrison or Junot Diaz, you don't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting your "literary" work published.

agents probably do reject say 99% of the litfic queried.

At the same time, they also probably reject other genres in similar percentages; it isn't like they're taking 20% of horror and 43% of YA.

Lots is rejected, that isn't the part anyone is taking exception to, but your suggestion litfic is uniquely harder is....dubious.

Bolero
05-15-2015, 11:36 PM
To me, one of the smartest authors I've read is Terry Pratchett. He manages multiple layers in his books. At one level its a fantasy adventure, at another in places it can be a pastiche/tribute/mick take on classic fantasy books and at another it is satire of modern society and another a very realistically drawn commentary on people and how they interact (not exactly satirically). With puns. I like puns. :D

blacbird
05-16-2015, 04:33 AM
Manuscripts get rejected for a single reason: The agent/editor receiving the story doesn't think it can be sold.

That's it. Full stop. The reason behind that opinion is individual to the agent/editor, and really doesn't matter much for the writer, unless there's feedback from multiple sources agreeing on a reason.

caw

gothicangel
05-17-2015, 04:00 PM
I was just browsing and saw the novel that the film Still Alice was based on. I was a bit reluctant having worked on a Dementia ward a few years back. But then I saw the writer is a neuroscientist, and I'll buy it when I'm back in town this week. The fact that it was written by someone who is 'smart' actually sold it.

Night_Writer
05-18-2015, 01:45 PM
Manuscripts get rejected for a single reason: The agent/editor receiving the story doesn't think it can be sold.Well that sure sums it up in a nutshell!What I was wondering about mainly was, would an agent or publisher feel a book couldn't be sold because it was too cerebral? The more stuff to think about that goes into a book, the smaller the audience is likely to be. But reading the responses on this thread it seems that there's hope for the thinking person's book. I was just curious to see people's opinions on the topic. I guess I'm a little cynical about the publishing industry.

Helix
05-18-2015, 01:53 PM
Well that sure sums it up in a nutshell!What I was wondering about mainly was, would an agent or publisher feel a book couldn't be sold because it was too cerebral? The more stuff to think about that goes into a book, the smaller the audience is likely to be. But reading the responses on this thread it seems that there's hope for the thinking person's book. I was just curious to see people's opinions on the topic. I guess I'm a little cynical about the publishing industry.


Hmmm..."Thinking person's book". That's not so much a book category as a value-judgement about the audience. If I saw a book promoted in that way, I'd have quite firm ideas about it.

quicklime
05-18-2015, 04:36 PM
count me with helix; night_writer, you keep using somewhat loaded terms like "thinking person's book" but there have been brilliant books and books by brilliant people which have been best-sellers. A point which you keep sort of ignoring.

Brilliance and ability to communicate are in no way incompatible. Intelligence and accessibility are not mutually exclusive. Stephen Hawking was on the Best-Seller list. So was the book Guns, Germs, and Steel. As were many, many others.

"smart books" which don't sell are generally an issue of their ability to communicate, the size of the niche they stand to reach, etc., not their relative smartosity.

Amadan
05-18-2015, 04:56 PM
But reading the responses on this thread it seems that there's hope for the thinking person's book.


As opposed to all those other books that get published?

WeaselFire
05-18-2015, 05:15 PM
Do agents and publishers ever turn down books because they are afraid that these books might go over the heads of the audience?

Agents and publishers only turn down books for one reason -- Because they don't think they can sell the book. Doesn't matter why, if they can't sell it, they don't accept it.


Does the publishing industry ever underestimate the audience?

Always. Otherwise someone would have found a really bad writer in grade school to write 50 Shades books on assignment instead of having to pluck it off the internet.

Jeff

Bolero
05-19-2015, 02:23 AM
Mm. To the writer it does matter why....... :)
Learning your book is competent but not suited to the market.
Or learning it is not yet competent (to phrase it optimistically) :)