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writerterri
02-23-2007, 11:41 PM
I see people all the time on TV with no writing skills get a book published. It's usually a true story. They just decided to write it down and send it to a publisher and it gets published. How did they get around the no writing skills part? Was it a really good story and the editor revised it?

I saw a story on a woman who pan handled on the internet to pay 13 grand off in bills and she got it, wrote a book and got it published. They never said she was a writer or had any writing skills. She just wrote the book and sent it in and got it published. Who did the editing? Who did the revisions after the first draft?

And to top it all off there's talk of a movie.

How!!!

Don't you have to send in an completely polished ms with no mistakes?

Ol' Fashioned Girl
02-23-2007, 11:45 PM
Ladies and gentlemen of AW:

I have a few tiny bills I need to pay off... ::Insert panhandling Smiley::

Toothpaste
02-23-2007, 11:46 PM
Ghost writers.

MidnightMuse
02-23-2007, 11:48 PM
Yeah, nowadays someone farts, it lands on the news, next thing you know there's a movie deal in the works and the hard back is due out in Spring.


I get gas, no one cares.

Shadow_Ferret
02-23-2007, 11:54 PM
As toothpaste said, in most cases they use a ghost writer.

But who knows? Maybe some of them were just talented enough to pull off an autobiography. I mean who determined they had no writing skills? Was it in their bio up on IMDB? Great actor, no writing skills.

Maybe they had the skills but just never saw any reason to pursue that as a career. I mean this isn't the greatest paying gig unless you're Steven King or JK Rowling.



By the way midnight, I care. Because we've run out of air freshener.

MidnightMuse
02-24-2007, 12:01 AM
sorry

Azure Skye
02-24-2007, 12:20 AM
I wonder sometimes, ya know. I mean, when I hear how some actors are just spotted on the street I wonder if it's true or if it's just a catchy story. Really? You found her working at a cheese shop? I don't believe it. The same with writers who just suddenly sit down one day and write a book. They either have a hidden talent or they're lying about their qualifications. Or it could be a ghostwriter. Either way, I'm skeptical. It's an oft repeated story and I doubt it's true.

Did any of that make sense? I have a really bad headache and I'm not sure how coherent I am.
:e2hammer: :e2thud:

Azure Skye
02-24-2007, 12:20 AM
Yeah, nowadays someone farts, it lands on the news, next thing you know there's a movie deal in the works and the hard back is due out in Spring.


I get gas, no one cares.

I care. But don't light a match. Please.

benbradley
02-24-2007, 12:42 AM
As toothpaste said, in most cases they use a ghost writer.
So how do they find/use/pay a ghostwriter? Do professional ghostwriters work "on spec?" (work on the book for a percentage of sales, instead of a fixed payment)

What does it take to be a ghostwriter? I (IMHO) have a good command of English grammar, spelling and word usage. Would I have to work well with quirky people?

MidnightMuse
02-24-2007, 12:48 AM
Would I have to work well with quirky people?

Well heck, you hang around here, don't you?


:D

writerterri
02-24-2007, 01:15 AM
So how do they find/use/pay a ghostwriter? Do professional ghostwriters work "on spec?" (work on the book for a percentage of sales, instead of a fixed payment)

What does it take to be a ghostwriter? I (IMHO) have a good command of English grammar, spelling and word usage. Would I have to work well with quirky people?


She was a young girl about 24 had an office job or something and wrote a book. I enlisted a ghostwriter once, he said about 10 grand to write it for me. I nearly choked.

She never mentioned she was a writer. Madona's a published writer. But she has money.

writerterri
02-24-2007, 01:18 AM
I wonder sometimes, ya know. I mean, when I hear how some actors are just spotted on the street I wonder if it's true or if it's just a catchy story. Really? You found her working at a cheese shop? I don't believe it. The same with writers who just suddenly sit down one day and write a book. They either have a hidden talent or they're lying about their qualifications. Or it could be a ghostwriter. Either way, I'm skeptical. It's an oft repeated story and I doubt it's true.

Did any of that make sense? I have a really bad headache and I'm not sure how coherent I am.
:e2hammer: :e2thud:

Yea, it made sense to me.

Another lady on tv made up a true story and got it published. First book. Probably won't write another one. She was busted by the child's real parents for the story she took credit for. And she was an older woman. What'd she do, hide her talent until one she wrote a book and got it published?

Toothpaste
02-24-2007, 01:20 AM
Actors really are just discovered. My friend went in to be an extra, and because the director thought he reminded him of himself, gave him the lead. There's one more doctor lost to the world of showbiz (and I am totally jealous as I have been working on this acting thing since I was like 11, bastard).

I think some of those writers can probably write, and the rest have ghost writers. It isn't fair, but luckily there is still room for the rest of us!

engmajor2005
02-24-2007, 02:10 AM
I get fucstrated as well (yes, I know: that's a portamanteau of "f*cking frustrated"). At the risk of sounding like a third grader, it simply isn't fair. Real writers bust their ass getting a manuscript done and get rejected *whining* because it won't sell. Bill Clinton, Madonna, Britney Spears, and the like sit down and write (write meaning "hire a ghost writer") a book, and they don't even have to query agents. They just say their name. Or, a book comes out that is so-so but offers plenty of artificial shock value (re: The Da Vinci Code) and now the author can mint their own money.

But look for the silver lining. Crap sells. Even if your manuscript is horrid (and if you're a poster here, it's probably not) it will sell...eventually.

Why? Because as a whole, consumers aren't keen on quality. They just want pure escapism. Not that there's anything wrong with pure escapism mind you, so long as it's done well. Sadly, most of it's not done well; it's just marketed right.

Sean D. Schaffer
02-24-2007, 02:17 AM
I get gas, no one cares.


What does fueling up your car have to do with all this?


On a more serious note, I would say basically the same thing Toothpaste said. Ghost Writers, pure and simple. I think Jenna has ghostwritten for a couple people, if I'm not mistaken. I guess it's a fairly common practice.

thethinker42
02-24-2007, 02:51 AM
I get gas, no one cares.

I care.

I just wanted you to know that.






Mostly because I want to know when to leave the room...

EngineerTiger
02-24-2007, 03:05 AM
Uh, accountants with no taste who buy the gimmick? Sorry if some still thing "good writing" means anything, but from newspapers to books, there are a lot of things published today that aren't well written at all. Some even make it to the best seller lists.

I'm not being bitter or cynical but am just making an observation. Quality writing is not the key right now. Compelling or cutsie stories (true or not), gimmicks that will get that quick flash from the public are the things that seem to appeal. This is one reason I think Ebooks, in the next ten years, may be the key for what I call the "bread and butter" writers. The writers who just create lovely, solid stories that can't catch the attention of the agents and editors who have to answer to their own accounting offices. The sort of books that came out in dozens every year in the early and mid-20th centuries. You know, the ones you can still find in the library under "general fiction" or on dusty shelves in the used book stores.

Have any of you read Warwick Deeping, James Hilton or Neville Shute? Beautiful, crafted stories of ordinary people but not show stoppers, not the latest "gotcha". I've often wondered if these fine story tellers could even get an agent to request a partial these days.

JennaGlatzer
02-24-2007, 03:25 AM
Don't you have to send in an completely polished ms with no mistakes?

No.

Okay, a few quick responses...

Nonfiction is typically sold based on a book proposal, not an entire manuscript.

In the case of stories that end up on the news and such, sometimes even a proposal isn't necessary-- sometimes the publisher will contact the person and say, "We want to publish your story."

I'll tell you how I usually work as a ghostwriter.

There are a few agents and editors who know me well and refer clients to me often. They rep people who are not necessarily writers, but are celebrities or experts in some area. So, for example...

1. An agent read a front page article in the NY Times about bullying, and he liked the quotes from a guy who called himself the "Bully Coach." The agent contacted him and asked if he had thought about writing a book about bullying. The man was interested, but not really a writer-- so they worked on a draft of a book proposal, then hired me to finish the proposal and be the ghostwriter if/when the book sold. I was paid a fee for the proposal, and we had a contract that stipulated what I would be paid from the future advance and royalties. This is a leap of faith because they don't know what kind of advance and royalties they'll get at that point, so they're making the assumption that it'll be high enough to cover my fees and leave something for the expert and the agent.

2. In other cases, I'm brought in after the proposal has already sold and they know what kind of deal they have. The agent and expert have muddled through the proposal together, or hired a writer just to do a proposal, and sold it on that basis. The publisher generally knows they're going to use a ghostwriter-- or, in one particular case, the experts didn't think they needed a ghostwriter, but the editor insisted they did (and recommended me). She liked the subject matter and the idea of the book very much based on the proposal they turned in, but the writing was not professional. So she made them an offer contingent on their hiring a ghostwriter. Then they know that they have an advance of, say, $50,000, and can negotiate with me to figure out what's fair for both parties. (In some cases, I get a flat fee only; in others, I share in the royalties. In some cases, I get a cover credit, and in others, I don't.)

3. In other cases, I'm hired to write the proposal with an *option* to write the book itself, if we can agree on terms to be decided later (depending on what kind of deal the agent can get for the book).

In most cases, the $$ is not coming out of the expert/celeb's pocket, except possibly for the book proposal. They get paid by the publisher, then cut me a check for my percentage of that money. In a couple of cases, I'm listed and treated as a co-writer, and the publisher just sends us split checks (sending me my portion, and the expert/celeb his/her portion, usually through the agent).

But, no, professional ghostwriters don't work on spec except in very rare instances (I might do a proposal on spec if I know darn well it's going to sell for big bucks, and if I have a contract with the expert/celeb stating that I am to be the writer for the book, with minimum fees outlined in the contract).

Darn. Gotta run. I'll try to check back later and finish my thoughts.

Tiger
02-24-2007, 03:34 AM
I care. But don't light a match. Please.

My goodness, it's dark in here... [boom]

eldragon
02-24-2007, 04:03 AM
I read the book about the lady who drove up alot of credit card debt and had a website to have people pay it off for her. She was a TV producer in NYC. She had an IVY league education and writing the book probably wasn't that difficult for her.

She had a spending addiction. The book was semi-interesting, but I didn't feel sorry for her at all. First : she came from a middle class family and flat out shopped at Barney's too much. I'm talking Manola Blahnik shoes and Burberry coats. And then, she had strangers pay off her credit cards.

Boo.

eldragon
02-24-2007, 04:05 AM
Oh, and this lady probably had some pretty good sources in the publishing industry to get her book published. She was a producer for the Jenny Jones talk show, I'm sure she knew someone.

eldragon
02-24-2007, 04:20 AM
Bill Clinton, Madonna, Britney Spears, and the like sit down and write (write meaning "hire a ghost writer") a book, and they don't even have to query agents. They just say their name. Or, a book comes out that is so-so but offers plenty of artificial shock value (re: The Da Vinci Code) and now the author can mint their own money.

Bill Clinton isn't a great example of someone who just sat down and wrote a book without good reason. He was a two-term US president, for starters. And, super intelligent. He is a word fanatic, btw. Many people do not know that Clinton is a crossword puzzle addict. Our presidents should be able to sit down and write books, right? Of course, reading them would be nice, too, but don't. get. me. started.


And Madonna is college educated, and supposedly a very bright woman. Sure, she is hogging up more than her share of fame and fortune, but she's qualified to write a book.

Britney and Paris Hilton are excellent examples of dildos who should not write books.

tela
02-24-2007, 04:32 AM
The Bachelorette is a writer now too. She wrote a book on how to be happy with out a man, or something like that.

Tela

calamity
02-24-2007, 04:45 AM
Usually ghostwriters do a decent job--not always, but if the book is HORRIBLE, don't assume it's a ghostwriter. Could've just been such bad prose that even a good editor couldn't save it.

I don't feel sore that bad writers get their books published if they're famous or whatever. It just inspires me to write better because I'm not famous and the writing does count.

pianoman5
02-24-2007, 07:18 AM
It's just one more proof of the old maxim, 'Story trumps all.'

Readers want, and therefore publishers buy, interesting stories, no matter how they are originally written. Whether they're about ordinary Joes (or Joelenes) to whom something extraordinary has happened, or 'celebrities' whom an unhealthy proportion of the population seems to care about these days (for often unaccountable reasons), there's a ready market for them. And if the subjects are barely literate, so what? There's no shortage of writing/editorial talent available for hire who can craft the rough clay into something that resembles an acceptable dinner service, if not always the finest porcelain.

It's the same in the popular music industry. Not many bands are proficient in music theory and notation, for instance, but as long as they can pump out great songs that people want to buy, there's plenty of skilled help available in the form of arrangers/producers/session musicians who can polish up their basic efforts into something better.

Which readers want good stories? Every one of them.

Which readers want good writing? Most of them.

Which readers care more about good writing than exceptional stories? Not many. Most want both.

Which readers care about who actually put the right words together in the right sequence for the finished product? None, except for writers.

I'd advise any writer against harbouring even the slightest feeling of envy. It's very corrosive, and counter-productive. Far better to divert that emotional energy into conceiving and executing a cracker of a story that no agent or acquisitions editor can resist. If you do that, I can guarantee that minor transgressions in submission format and imperfect use of the subjunctive will not stand in the way of your being published.

Akuma
02-24-2007, 08:16 AM
Am I the only one who thinks being called a Ghost Writer might be mysterious and cool and, dare I say, even suave. . .?

Toothpaste
02-24-2007, 07:51 PM
I totally get where people are coming from here, but to say that all published books out there are bad (someone earlier said that and then explained that's why he/she preferred ebooks and then went on to conclude that "The writers who just create lovely, solid stories that can't catch the attention of the agents and editors who have to answer to their own accounting offices.") is a little insulting to the people here who have been, are going to be, published. There are bad books. There are good books. There are the standard "let's make us some money" books, and also the projects that an editor just falls in love with.

I don't mean to get all angry, it's just I have low self esteem enough without people telling me that the reason I am being published is because it's a quick way to make money and I don't tell nice stories. I know that wasn't the intention of that post, but how can it not be slightly if you say all published books suck?

EngineerTiger
02-24-2007, 08:46 PM
Whoa, hold on there. I didn't say I preferred ebooks nor was I slamming those who work at their craft and try to follow all the rules about query letters, agents, etc. Far from it since I am a practitioner of that path myself. Nor did I say that all published books are bad. There are some fine books out there and some great new talent getting through the morass so they are getting the attention they deserve. Also, money has nothing to do with it. If you want to make money as a writer, for heavens sake stay away from books. Very few authors, even the half-way successful ones, earn enough to live on their craft. The only writers who make a steady income are those of us who are employed full-time in that capacity (proposal writers, technical writers, etc.). Yet again, this proves the lack of perfection in writing as communication. Interpretation and personal experience always color what we read so keep that in mind when you read what are very subjective posts. So, I apologize if anyone thought I was criticizing their efforts or their dreams.

However, there is a tendency on this forum to paint the "all you have to do is work at your craft and an agent and publisher will eventually pick it up. If you don't succeed the first time, keep at it and eventually your work will be polished enough that someone will take it." In storybooks, that is usually the case. In real life, I'm sorry, that is not true. Hard work and learning the craft of writing doesn't always translate into success. This is a very subjective business. Publishers are in the business to make money. They have to answer to accounting offices, shareholders, etc. This means they have to select books that they think will be purchased by readers. No matter how hard you work at writing, or how much you want that magic agent to match you with the special editor who publishes all your favorite authors, it is not going to happen for the majority of hopeful writers. There are a lot fewer houses than there used to be (corporate mergers wiped out a bunch in the 80's and 90's) so that agents have fewer options. Books are often pulled after a few weeks. I know. I worked in a book store for quite a few years. The concept that a book gets to sit on the back shelf for months is incorrect, especially in genre. I stripped enough covers from science fiction and fantasy paperbacks that we had had for only 2 or 3 months in the store to know this. The greatest shock to me was when we were told to remainder a James Michener three weeks after we received it. Why? Major author but he didn't hit the bestseller lists so wham. Pull it. A few months later, that book reappeared to be put out on the bargain book table. Which brings up a second point. Even if you get that first book published, you have not arrived and it is no guarantee that the second one will ever see the light of day. It is an ongoing process. You are only as good as your last work. It is not an easy way to make a living and it can be a very lonely one. It takes time to set words to page, even with the handy-dandy PC that makes it easier. The PC is a fantastic tool but it is only a tool. It can't write the story for you. You still have to devote the time to it.

I referenced ebooks since I think those may be a way for writers who are not creating the next bestseller, but are simply solid storytellers, to at least get their books out there. Ebooks are a very new concept and it is difficult to know what impact they will have eventually on publishing. For those who scoff at them, I would point you to the music industry and the impact of downloading to IPODS has had on that industry. We have several generations now that are accustomed to finding everything on the internet or downloading to a device. Will books in stores go away? Probably not but I suspect in less than 10 years, there will be a hefty market for the downloadables and it is that market that the unspectacular writers may find their salvation. All that needs to be done is to come up with a customer-friendly device. We're not there yet but the big boys like Sony are now playing around with the idea. Once they come up with just the right model that suits the gimmick-loving populace, we may see the next evolution in book publishing. Just as 100 years ago the writers of genre (science fiction, westerns, romance, mystery) found their way in the penny press that eventually led to paperbacks.

Luck has always played a huge role in getting your work published. It's even worse now because there are a lot more people completing their stories (due to the arrival of the PC) and far fewer publishers buying them. I was not trying to slam or criticize anyone. I was merely pointing out that blood, sweat, and tears is not the only factor involved. Yes, there are some fine things being printed today but there is a lot of garbage too. Good writers are being ignored and passed over since it comes down to a numbers game. Adequate and so-so writers are being published because they know someone, they have a dynamite concept that someone feels overshadows their lack of technical skill, or they just lucked out and hit the right agent/editor on the right day.

All writers can learn on these forums. All writers must be encouraged to at least try. But try to balance the advice given so that false expectations can be minimized.

CheshireCat
02-25-2007, 02:15 AM
Not disagreeing with everything you said, but --


Whoa, hold on there. I didn't say I preferred ebooks nor was I slamming those who work at their craft and try to follow all the rules about query letters, agents, etc. Far from it since I am a practitioner of that path myself. Nor did I say that all published books are bad. There are some fine books out there and some great new talent getting through the morass so they are getting the attention they deserve. Also, money has nothing to do with it. If you want to make money as a writer, for heavens sake stay away from books. Very few authors, even the half-way successful ones, earn enough to live on their craft.

I hear this "very few writers make a living" statement thrown about, and it bothers me because it's a deceptive statement. Yes, a small percentage of the writers publishing or printing books are able to make a living at it, but if you take out all the vanity-published and self-published and POD authors, the percentage goes up. I belong to several writers groups, and probably know personally a couple hundred writers who make enough writing novels to support themselves -- and in some cases their families -- by writing alone. Most write commercial genre fiction and, yes, many of them have to write more than one book a year to earn good money, but they are undoubtedly successful.


The only writers who make a steady income are those of us who are employed full-time in that capacity (proposal writers, technical writers, etc.).

Using a phrase like "the only" is virtually guaranteed to get you an argument. I've made a very nice living for a couple of decades now writing only novels, and I have plenty of friends who are also successful and prosperous, some even wealthy. Some novelists are going to be able to make a good living writing novels. Some are not. Your mileage will undoubtedly vary.


Yet again, this proves the lack of perfection in writing as communication. Interpretation and personal experience always color what we read so keep that in mind when you read what are very subjective posts. So, I apologize if anyone thought I was criticizing their efforts or their dreams.

However, there is a tendency on this forum to paint the "all you have to do is work at your craft and an agent and publisher will eventually pick it up. If you don't succeed the first time, keep at it and eventually your work will be polished enough that someone will take it." In storybooks, that is usually the case. In real life, I'm sorry, that is not true.


True enough. Many aspiring writers are simply not good enough to publish. Some will sell a book, even two, but never be able to get a solid career going. Some will write good stuff, but unable to get it published, for whatever reason. And plenty of those who fail to get published, or fail to build a sustainable career, are going to be bitter and angry about it.


Hard work and learning the craft of writing doesn't always translate into success. This is a very subjective business. Publishers are in the business to make money. They have to answer to accounting offices, shareholders, etc. This means they have to select books that they think will be purchased by readers.

Also true enough. Publishers are risking their money every time they buy an unknown, first-time author, and it is quite difficult to get a toe in the door. And even if you do sell that first book, it usually gets dumped into a market awash with so many titles the odds are stacked against yours getting any unusual attention or even a decent share of the book-buying dollars.


No matter how hard you work at writing, or how much you want that magic agent to match you with the special editor who publishes all your favorite authors, it is not going to happen for the majority of hopeful writers. There are a lot fewer houses than there used to be (corporate mergers wiped out a bunch in the 80's and 90's) so that agents have fewer options. Books are often pulled after a few weeks. I know. I worked in a book store for quite a few years. The concept that a book gets to sit on the back shelf for months is incorrect, especially in genre. I stripped enough covers from science fiction and fantasy paperbacks that we had had for only 2 or 3 months in the store to know this. The greatest shock to me was when we were told to remainder a James Michener three weeks after we received it. Why? Major author but he didn't hit the bestseller lists so wham. Pull it. A few months later, that book reappeared to be put out on the bargain book table. Which brings up a second point.

Also true enough. Competition is tough, and you're not only competing with other books in the store, but other leisure time activities as well, such as movies, TV, video games, and so on.


Even if you get that first book published, you have not arrived and it is no guarantee that the second one will ever see the light of day. It is an ongoing process. You are only as good as your last work. It is not an easy way to make a living and it can be a very lonely one. It takes time to set words to page, even with the handy-dandy PC that makes it easier. The PC is a fantastic tool but it is only a tool. It can't write the story for you. You still have to devote the time to it.

No, it certainly isn't an easy way to make a living. It takes enormous time, effort, dedication, and the patience of a saint, actually. It also requires, I believe, a pig-headed determination to keep going no matter how many times you get knocked off your hooves. Which you will be. Publishing is not a business for wimps.


I referenced ebooks since I think those may be a way for writers who are not creating the next bestseller, but are simply solid storytellers, to at least get their books out there. Ebooks are a very new concept and it is difficult to know what impact they will have eventually on publishing. For those who scoff at them, I would point you to the music industry and the impact of downloading to IPODS has had on that industry. We have several generations now that are accustomed to finding everything on the internet or downloading to a device. Will books in stores go away? Probably not but I suspect in less than 10 years, there will be a hefty market for the downloadables and it is that market that the unspectacular writers may find their salvation. All that needs to be done is to come up with a customer-friendly device. We're not there yet but the big boys like Sony are now playing around with the idea. Once they come up with just the right model that suits the gimmick-loving populace, we may see the next evolution in book publishing. Just as 100 years ago the writers of genre (science fiction, westerns, romance, mystery) found their way in the penny press that eventually led to paperbacks.

Ten years ago, all the excited talk was about e-books and how they were going to change publishing. But what most people don't get is that publishing, unlike the other forms of entertainment, is incredibly slow to embrace new technology, and that readers like books. The book is a simple, efficient, difficult-to-improve-upon mechanism for getting the story into the hands of readers. Are there other mediums, sure. But readers like to read, they like to read in the bathtub and on the beach, and any electronic gadget is a lot more trouble than a paperback you can throw in your purse or backpack and forget about for a few days, until you're ready to read it.

Hell, audio books are just now getting a respectable chunk of book sales, and look how long they've been available. People have begun to use audio books as their way to "read" during long commutes, or when doing laundry or even gardening, thanks to portable CD players. But even something so practical and useful has been slow to catch on. E-books aren't, so far, nearly convenient enough.

Yes, of course we have younger generations growing up with small gadgets that hold their music, with phones that allow them to access email and take pictures, and so on. And, yes, those are the "readers" who will no doubt embrace e-books.

But baby boomers, that huge segment of the population here in the US that has changed virtually every aspect of society through which we've moved, still has another thirty or forty good years ahead of us, and we are readers. We love books.

You can make statistics say anything you like ("There are lies, damned lies, and statistics."), but the truth is that more books are being sold today than ever before, especially as outlets expand into grocery stores and pharmacies and big box stores like Walmart and Sam's. There is a huge readership for books -- plain old paperback and hardcover books -- spending billions every year to support their reading habits.

Something to think about.


Luck has always played a huge role in getting your work published. It's even worse now because there are a lot more people completing their stories (due to the arrival of the PC) and far fewer publishers buying them. I was not trying to slam or criticize anyone. I was merely pointing out that blood, sweat, and tears is not the only factor involved.

No, talent and luck are also factors, as is timing. Right place, right time, all that jazz.


Yes, there are some fine things being printed today but there is a lot of garbage too. Good writers are being ignored and passed over since it comes down to a numbers game. Adequate and so-so writers are being published because they know someone, they have a dynamite concept that someone feels overshadows their lack of technical skill, or they just lucked out and hit the right agent/editor on the right day.

Well, saying "there's a lot of garbage out there" doesn't do much for aspiring writers except give them a self-righteous certainty that lack of skill or talent isn't what's stopping them from being published. And it often is, you know. This notion that "garbage" is being published even though "everybody knows" it's garbage is, well, garbage. For every book you think is bad, I guarantee you'll find people who love it; for every book you think is a classic, a masterpiece, or just damned fine writing, I guarantee you'll find plenty of readers who think it's ... well ... garbage. :)

The point is that reading tastes are subjective. And publishers know that. So they try to have variety even as they also try to satisfy the reading tastes of the readers they know are out there buying books. For the record, most of the commercial genres support publishing so that the occasional unknown or midlist writer actually gets a chance in the marketplace.

So the next time you (not you, specifically, Engineer) slam or criticize the "garbage" out there that's selling in big numbers, stop for just a minute and think about how many new writers might get a shot at the brass ring because that publisher is showing a profit and might just take a chance on an unknown.

That is the way publishing works. There are plenty of writers out there now who should kiss Dan Brown's feet rather than blasting his books. Because he did so phenomenally well, writers who previously couldn't get the time of day for their pseudo-legend-religious stories have since launched their careers as published writers. (Take a look in the bookstores; it's practically a new genre.) Topics that might have seemed too risky a few years ago are being eyed carefully now because, hey, nobody expected Da Vinci Code to do so well.

And so on. A rising tide floats all boats. So pray for that rising tide, and damned well celebrate the huge successes in publishing.

Because they help you too.


All writers can learn on these forums. All writers must be encouraged to at least try. But try to balance the advice given so that false expectations can be minimized.

Yes, and don't whine about the "bad" books being published while your masterpiece languishes. Masterpieces get published, sooner or later. Good books usually do as well. But it takes time and timing, luck and skill, and a wary eye on the constantly-shifting marketplace that is also a necessary tool in the writer's toolbox.

And, oh yeah, it takes the patience of a saint. Don't forget that part.

:Lecture:

writerterri
02-25-2007, 03:02 AM
I read the book about the lady who drove up alot of credit card debt and had a website to have people pay it off for her. She was a TV producer in NYC. She had an IVY league education and writing the book probably wasn't that difficult for her.

She had a spending addiction. The book was semi-interesting, but I didn't feel sorry for her at all. First : she came from a middle class family and flat out shopped at Barney's too much. I'm talking Manola Blahnik shoes and Burberry coats. And then, she had strangers pay off her credit cards.

Boo.

She doesn't have my vote as a writer and the show she was on didn't mention all that about her. It makes more sense to me know how she got the book published.

writerterri
02-25-2007, 03:46 AM
I'd advise any writer against harbouring even the slightest feeling of envy. It's very corrosive, and counter-productive. Far better to divert that emotional energy into conceiving and executing a cracker of a story that no agent or acquisitions editor can resist. If you do that, I can guarantee that minor transgressions in submission format and imperfect use of the subjunctive will not stand in the way of your being published.


All this time I was under the impression that my ms has to be the finest of writing skills one could produce or it won't be looked at all. My writing mind is always at odd with it's self because I have a learning disorder and the "committee" that's lives in my head tells me lots of untrue stuff and my writing skills and my whole writing process is held back. I should be free to just write my thoughts down and from now on I'm going to just write. I think I have great ideas but I'm also aware that I'm not the greatest writer as far as skills go.

In school I did horrible. I had no idea what was going on because my retention and concentration was almost nothing so I'd day dream. I would come up with stories in my head to entertain myself. It was sort of like watching my own movies. Now I want to write as I watch those movies.

I'm free again!

scarletpeaches
02-25-2007, 04:25 AM
I think I understand where you're coming from, writerterri.

Sort of, "Yes, I have to write, and I don't want to dumb down my own work, but look at all these non-celebs getting book deals and THEY didn't have to go through the writerly 'training' I did - they just got famous and fell into a book contract!"

Higgins
02-25-2007, 04:28 AM
I wonder sometimes, ya know. I mean, when I hear how some actors are just spotted on the street I wonder if it's true or if it's just a catchy story. Really? You found her working at a cheese shop? I don't believe it. The same with writers who just suddenly sit down one day and write a book. They either have a hidden talent or they're lying about their qualifications. Or it could be a ghostwriter. Either way, I'm skeptical. It's an oft repeated story and I doubt it's true.

Did any of that make sense? I have a really bad headache and I'm not sure how coherent I am.
:e2hammer: :e2thud:


Wasn't she working in a soda shoppe? And there, was discovered?

PeeDee
02-25-2007, 04:38 AM
I think I understand where you're coming from, writerterri.

Sort of, "Yes, I have to write, and I don't want to dumb down my own work, but look at all these non-celebs getting book deals and THEY didn't have to go through the writerly 'training' I did - they just got famous and fell into a book contract!"

And when we are all dead and gone, would you rather be remembered for writing what you're writing, or writing what they're spewing?

If I have to choose between my stories and Nicole Richie's novel (yeah...) then it's not a choice at all.

No one will remember them for their books anyway. If they are remembered at all.

scarletpeaches
02-25-2007, 04:41 AM
Oh of course, PeeDee, I'm not disputing what you're saying.

It's one of those things I gripe about for a little while then say, "Nichola. Worry about your own book."

PeeDee
02-25-2007, 04:43 AM
Exactly. :) Congratulations, you're on the right track. Here's your certificate.

scarletpeaches
02-25-2007, 04:48 AM
We're all allowed to notice that which is just not fair, dammit!

Long as it doesn't make us bitter. Yup. We'd totally agree on that.

Sometimes, though, I like to read those self-same yucky books we're discussing so I can feel superior.

Then I get annoyed that I'm not published. Yet.

Then I boot up the laptop and stop navel-gazing and just write.

writerterri
02-25-2007, 11:37 PM
I guess it wouldn't be fair for me to be published beause I didn't work my butt off at in college, but I did do a lot of research and I'm reading a lot of books right now.

I have a ways to go when it comes to writing and I would like to take an english class next year.

James D. Macdonald
02-25-2007, 11:46 PM
Hard work and learning the craft of writing doesn't always translate into success.

True, but compare it to the success rate of laziness and lack-of-craft.

PeeDee
02-25-2007, 11:47 PM
True, but compare it to the success rate of laziness and lack-of-craft.

ANd if you do succeed that way, you sure as hell don't deserve it.

scarletpeaches
02-25-2007, 11:49 PM
I guess it wouldn't be fair for me to be published beause I didn't work my butt off at in college, but I did do a lot of research and I'm reading a lot of books right now.

I have a ways to go when it comes to writing and I would like to take an english class next year.

Hell, I didn't even go to college! What does that say for my chances of publication?

PeeDee
02-25-2007, 11:51 PM
I didn't properly finish college, and yet I seem to be writing and selling okay.

There's no bar exam to be a writer. Which is both a good and a bad thing.

Sean D. Schaffer
02-26-2007, 12:44 AM
I guess it wouldn't be fair for me to be published beause I didn't work my butt off at in college, but I did do a lot of research and I'm reading a lot of books right now.

I have a ways to go when it comes to writing and I would like to take an english class next year.


You've not gone to college? Well, you can't be a writer then! :rolleyes:

That is probably the one thing I hate hearing more than anything else in the world. 'I can't because I don't have the education'. It's one thing to say you're not capable of rocket science because you don't have higher education; it's quite another to say you can't be a published writer for that reason.

Like a couple people pointed out to me in several threads these last few days, don't put yourself down, and stop with this 'uneducated' junk. Listen to the people who really know their stuff, and who are succeeding in the business. Listen to what PeeDee said, for example, who is, if I'm not mistaken, an accomplished writer. If he can do it without properly finishing college, why can't you?

Although I would not consider myself accomplished as of yet, I'm starting a part-time freelance career right now. I've never been to college. What matters here is not that I know everything there is to know; rather, what matters is that I write what I do know.

Like Uncle Jim says constantly, if it works for you, it's right.

blacbird
02-26-2007, 01:06 AM
We're all allowed to notice that which is just not fair, dammit!

Long as it doesn't make us bitter..

Why the qualification?

caw

writerterri
02-26-2007, 02:59 AM
True, but compare it to the success rate of laziness and lack-of-craft.

Uncle Jim posted in my thread! :hooray:


*faints*

writerterri
02-26-2007, 03:03 AM
You've not gone to college? Well, you can't be a writer then! :rolleyes:

That is probably the one thing I hate hearing more than anything else in the world. 'I can't because I don't have the education'. It's one thing to say you're not capable of rocket science because you don't have higher education; it's quite another to say you can't be a published writer for that reason.

Like a couple people pointed out to me in several threads these last few days, don't put yourself down, and stop with this 'uneducated' junk. Listen to the people who really know their stuff, and who are succeeding in the business. Listen to what PeeDee said, for example, who is, if I'm not mistaken, an accomplished writer. If he can do it without properly finishing college, why can't you?

Although I would not consider myself accomplished as of yet, I'm starting a part-time freelance career right now. I've never been to college. What matters here is not that I know everything there is to know; rather, what matters is that I write what I do know.

Like Uncle Jim says constantly, if it works for you, it's right.

I'll admit that I heard my "commitee" snickering as I wrote that. :D You guys are right, what counts is that I'm learning and gleening from my AW family. That counts.

Thanks!

CheshireCat
02-27-2007, 12:14 AM
Hell, I didn't even go to college! What does that say for my chances of publication?


I didn't get a college degree, and I'm doing just fine, thanks.

:)

EngineerTiger
02-27-2007, 02:25 AM
I know several people with multiple college degrees and they can't write their way out of a paper bag. You can't believe how silly some of the MAs look when you hand them back a document covered in red because they can't be bothered to spell correctly or use punctuation as the god of scribes and your 5th grade English teacher intended.

It isn't the degrees that matter. It is the ability to communicate via the written word. So, those without the degrees, learn the rules of grammar and then have fun spinning your many magical tales.

pconsidine
02-27-2007, 02:51 AM
There's one thing that I always tell anyone with dreams of being published -

Get it out of your head that it's a zero-sum game. It's not. Someone else's success or failure only rarely has an effect on yours. If you have written that pristine manuscript with a compelling story, fascinating characters and plenty of interesting twists and turns, then the fact that Madonna just got her umpteenth "Kabbalah For Kids" published won't likely keep you from getting published.

Yes, there are the realities of media marketing to contend with. Someone with a ready-made sales angle is always more likely to get picked up. But in the end, it just doesn't matter. Hundreds upon hundreds of books get published every year. Why shouldn't it be yours? Once you have taken care of all the answers to that question that are within your power to do, that's really all that needs be done.

Just call me Pollyanna.

CheshireCat
02-27-2007, 05:53 AM
There's one thing that I always tell anyone with dreams of being published -

Get it out of your head that it's a zero-sum game. It's not. Someone else's success or failure only rarely has an effect on yours. If you have written that pristine manuscript with a compelling story, fascinating characters and plenty of interesting twists and turns, then the fact that Madonna just got her umpteenth "Kabbalah For Kids" published won't likely keep you from getting published.

Yes, there are the realities of media marketing to contend with. Someone with a ready-made sales angle is always more likely to get picked up. But in the end, it just doesn't matter. Hundreds upon hundreds of books get published every year. Why shouldn't it be yours? Once you have taken care of all the answers to that question that are within your power to do, that's really all that needs be done.

Just call me Pollyanna.

What Polly said.

:)

KAugusto
02-27-2007, 02:59 PM
I'd love to be able to adopt your attitude, Pianoman. But, honestly, I'm frustrated too. Mostly, my ire is directed at celebrity children's book authors. With two small children and work that involves children's lit courses, I think I have a pretty good eye, and I find myself gagging at the quality of books put out by Madonna, Seinfeld, LeeAnn Rimes and every other celebrity who decides "Hey! I'll write a kids book this weekend!" In my humble opinion, John Lithgow is about the only one who can write worth a darn. These books sell because of the celebrity, so publishers want them. (Heck! I read them...though I don't buy them.) But most are really crappy.
Okay...jealousy kills the muse....deep breath....sigh. I'm working on it Pianoman. Really I am... It's just hard to see an artistic endeavor buried by commercialism.

blacbird
02-28-2007, 12:46 AM
Hundreds upon hundreds of books get published every year. Why shouldn't it be yours?

Uhhhh . . . because it sucks?

caw

EngineerTiger
02-28-2007, 03:13 AM
blacbird - what makes you think it sucks? Maybe it just drools a little.