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Momento Mori
01-03-2008, 05:24 PM
An article in today's Times on last night's Costa book awards turned into yet another piece about how publishing doesn't work and how "publishers seem to be getting something badly wrong".

To be fair, the journalist does promote smaller publishing houses (Tindal Street Press gets a good mention, mainly because one of the winners is one of their authors), who've been picking up books that have failed to attract the attention of 'bigger' houses and they do have a tiny side-column with advice from Jonathan Lloyd of Curtis Brown and Ion Trewin of Weidenfeld & Nicholson about the querying process. However, what really got my blood up was that the main article trots out the following 'statistic':


Of 200,000 books sold last year, 190,000 sold fewer than 3,500 copies. More damning still, of 85,933 new books published, as many as 58,325 sold an average of just 18 copies

This completely fails to distinguish how many of those books were vanity or self-published, or break down the figures sold by the big houses like Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster etc who must be getting something right given that they're still in business and pushing new authors.

What makes this so infuriating is that the focus of the article is on Catherine O'Flynn who won the Costa First Novel award for "What Was Lost" but who had been rejected by 20 agents and publishers before being taken on by Tindal Street. As a struggling, would-be UK author I think it's great to see someone who's had knockbacks but gone on to be a success and good on her for keeping at it. But for the journalist who wrote this piece to then turn it into a "See - this just goes to show how broken publishing is in the UK!" is only going to add fuel to shady POD and vanity presses who misrepresent what publishing involves to people. The journalist even brings out a reference to last year's news story about the 'author' who sent the opening chapters to Pride and Prejudice as a test to demonstrate how "broken" publishing is.

Gah. I know I shouldn't let this get to me, but it's just the kind of sloppy journalism that really gets my gander up. There's a link to the news story below if anyone wants to check it out.

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article3123455.ece

seun
01-03-2008, 05:40 PM
I just read the same story on the Daily Mail's site. I now have the urge to bully immigrants and single mothers. :D

jenngreenleaf
01-03-2008, 05:52 PM
I just read the same story on the Daily Mail's site. I now have the urge to bully immigrants and single mothers. :DEep! :scared:*runs away*

swvaughn
01-03-2008, 06:37 PM
Wow, man. Twenty whole rejections.

*sigh*

How did she ever cope?

Birol
01-03-2008, 06:47 PM
There was another article that came out on January 1st that talked about easy it is to get published these days. I referenced it on my blog.

SpookyWriter
01-03-2008, 06:59 PM
There was another article that came out on January 1st that talked about easy it is to get published these days. I referenced it on my blog.Is that an invitation to visit your blog. :D

Momento Mori
01-03-2008, 07:12 PM
Seun:
I now have the urge to bully immigrants and single mothers

Heh. But what are your views on Princess Diana? Was she done for by Prince Philip, in the underpass, with the stun gun?


swvaughn:
Twenty whole rejections.

*sigh*

How did she ever cope?

Ouch. Fair point. In the greater scheme of things, it's not a mountain.


Birol:
There was another article that came out on January 1st that talked about easy it is to get published these days. I referenced it on my blog.

Talk about your shameless self-promotion ... :D

MM

jenngreenleaf
01-03-2008, 07:17 PM
There was another article that came out on January 1st that talked about easy it is to get published these days. I referenced it on my blog.I read that same article and linked to your blog . . .

Birol
01-03-2008, 07:37 PM
More like laziness not wanting to link again. Here you go (http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D8TT8CFG0.htm).

IceCreamEmpress
01-03-2008, 08:07 PM
I just read the same story on the Daily Mail's site. I now have the urge to bully immigrants and single mothers. :D

Read the Sun instead. Then, if you feel impelled to post topless pictures of yourself...

seun
01-03-2008, 11:17 PM
Read the Sun instead. Then, if you feel impelled to post topless pictures of yourself...

Well, if you really want to see this skinny rack I call my chest...

swvaughn
01-03-2008, 11:22 PM
There was another article that came out on January 1st that talked about easy it is to get published these days. I referenced it on my blog.

Ahem. You forgot the sarcastic smilie to go along with this post.

:D

swvaughn
01-03-2008, 11:24 PM
Ouch. Fair point. In the greater scheme of things, it's not a mountain.

LOL. Wasn't trying to sting the lady. I'm actually quite happy for her. I was only sayin'...

*counts 238 rejections*

Some gals have all the luck. :)

Polenth
01-04-2008, 07:05 AM
LOL. Wasn't trying to sting the lady. I'm actually quite happy for her. I was only sayin'...

*counts 238 rejections*

Some gals have all the luck. :)

The article also quotes John Creasey, who got 743 rejections. At least you've still got a way to go till that many.

Don Allen
01-04-2008, 07:14 AM
You know what gets me? How many books all of us have said or posted at one time or another were just crap, yet got published. Those numbers confirm what a lot of us have been saying, whoever chooses the books to be published in whatever house they work for, dosen't have a clue about either - what is good- or- what the public wants...
Very frustrating....... very.

Birol
01-04-2008, 08:30 AM
Don, most books that are commercially published are not crap. Publishers are in business to make money. If they were publishing books that people did not want to read, that the reading public did not want, then they would not stay in business. Editors, agents, and publishers are as good at what they do as writers are at writing.

kuwisdelu
01-04-2008, 09:24 AM
I prefer to think that the public is suffering from mass bad-taste and--for some reason--lots of people like crap.

Birol
01-04-2008, 10:26 AM
So, we're really going to do this? Again?

If somehow disparaging readers makes you feel better about your own writing, rather than working to determine what might possible be need to be improved with your own work, go ahead. Shoot yourself in the foot. But don't expect me to back your play.

Because, you know what? Not only am I a writer, I'm also a reader. You know what else? Many of the books that people call "crap," I've enjoyed reading. They've succeeded in making me forget I was only reading a book. They've captured my imagination and pulled me into other worlds. I've lived with the characters, known their fears, their joys, their hopes, their failures, and their triumphs.

I'm an educated individual. Trained to recognize good literature and good writing. By most accounts, I'm an intelligent individual. Yet, my personal bookshelves contain not only the literary greats that I've studied and analyzed, but also many of the books that have been called "crap" and "garbage."

Think about it.

kuwisdelu
01-04-2008, 11:15 AM
So, we're really going to do this? Again?

If somehow disparaging readers makes you feel better about your own writing, rather than working to determine what might possible be need to be improved with your own work, go ahead. Shoot yourself in the foot. But don't expect me to back your play.


Uhh, don't just to conclusions on me. I'm not one of those. There's plenty of great books out there published by the normal means. There's also plenty of bad books out there published by normal means, which in turn pale in comparison to the ocean of terrible books out there self-published by vanity presses.... I intend to edit, polish, improve, and hope to one day be one of those great ones through normal means. Or at least a good one.

So maybe it's just that people have different taste. I happen to think that some people just have bad taste. But I recognize that that's just my opinion.

I still have some stuff on my shelves I've called "crap," too. I just don't have a grand moral dilemna about enjoying "crap" like some people do.

swvaughn
01-04-2008, 05:06 PM
The article also quotes John Creasey, who got 743 rejections. At least you've still got a way to go till that many.

True, dat. :D

I just find it mildly amusing that an article crying foul in the world of publishing spotlights a woman who only had 20 rejections before she found a publisher.

Of course, it could be just me. Probably is. :)

Stacia Kane
01-04-2008, 05:47 PM
I saw that article yesterday, it was a Yahoo UK headline. Groan. None of the rejections that woman got said "This isn't good", they said "Not right for me". Maybe she queried the wrong people. Maybe those agents already had books like it on their list.

Personal taste is personal taste. My husband's English teacher loathed Herman Wouk and used to make fun of him in her classes; Wouk won a Pulitzer and wrote two of my Favorite Books of All Time (The Caine Mutiny and Marjorie Morningstar). If I'd been an agent and he'd queried me I would have signed him; if she'd been an agent and he'd queried her she would have turned him down. So what?

This stuff so irritates me. Everyone involved in that article should know better.

BarbaraKE
01-04-2008, 08:44 PM
However, what really got my blood up was that the main article trots out the following 'statistic':



This completely fails to distinguish how many of those books were vanity or self-published, or break down the figures sold by the big houses like Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster etc who must be getting something right given that they're still in business and pushing new authors.

<snip>

Gah. I know I shouldn't let this get to me, but it's just the kind of sloppy journalism that really gets my gander up.

I agree with you 100%. Assuming the numbers quoted include vanity and self-published books, (which I would, given such high numbers), the statistics given are very misleading. Unfortunately, you see this all the time in newspapers and televisions. They don't usually 'lie' but the numbers are presented in such a way to buttress their argument ('publishing is broken').

tjwriter
01-04-2008, 11:47 PM
Uhh, don't just to conclusions on me. I'm not one of those. There's plenty of great books out there published by the normal means. There's also plenty of bad books out there published by normal means, which in turn pale in comparison to the ocean of terrible books out there self-published by vanity presses.... I intend to edit, polish, improve, and hope to one day be one of those great ones through normal means. Or at least a good one.

So maybe it's just that people have different taste. I happen to think that some people just have bad taste. But I recognize that that's just my opinion.

I still have some stuff on my shelves I've called "crap," too. I just don't have a grand moral dilemna about enjoying "crap" like some people do.

Lori was speaking in general. That the tangent on readers liking crap would keeping on going.

Personal taste is exactly that. It's personal, so it varies from person to person. There are things that get far more votes one way or the other than some, but it's still a matter of taste.

That being said, things like this just make me steam from the ears. I'm going to visit Lori's blog tonight (or early tomorrow) and comment on the article she linked to because I saw her post early this morning, but it's just frustrating to see these type of things.