- Sep 25, 2014
They are lazy. They only want sure things. Now, they want writers who will actively not only write, but help them sell the books.
Video from Michael Levin
Video from Michael Levin
A quick look through your shelves will decide whether white or cream is the best. The glance at mine revealed cream as the winner. I self-published my first novel (with cream paper) after being fed up with trying to find an agent/publisher. I had a couple of near misses with agents... my favorite being: "If this is your first attempt at writing fiction you should be immensely proud. No one would expect you to get it completely right the first time. There's so much potential here to build on." So I rewrote and rewrote and took (expensive) advice from The Literary Consultancy and re-wrote. However, the impression I got from talking to agents is that no publisher wants to touch a self-published novel except if they have been huge runaway financial successes. But sod it! If all else fails I'll certainly re-try self-publishing. I did learn though, that you cannot rely on friends and family to buy your work (my own and only brother hasn't bothered to buy/read it).Indeed. Just because it's disheartening, resilience was always required, anyway, and the mythic lemmings ain't flinging themselves off anything vertiginous just because of a literary weather forecast. Or let's hope not
Interesting that, about the ISBN. This fellow in the vid is saying if you sell enough, self published, your book will get noticed by trad publishers, and that's a way in. But don't choose white paper for printing if you're self publishing. Uh uh. No, no. It has to be cream. So I read in a book called How To Read A Novel, which is actually a history of 'the novel', and of publishing, but things may have changed since this book was published, and someone tell me if that's BS.
You make some good points. I'd like to add that even back in the 80's, (bear in mind my father died in 89 - remember the article of his I posted a while back, 35 years in publishing) dad was already very disillusioned with mainstream publishing because even then, it was starting to be run by accountants. Ideas were less and less important, so was literary skill.While I agree that Michael Levin blows his own trumpet too much and that he certainly isn't giving an impartial view of publishing, he also makes some good points from his status as an insider. I increasingly agree with his viewpoint that literary agents and junior publishing executives aren't so much 'gatekeepers', who should be respected as they are gifted arbiters of taste, but that they're more uncommunicative lumps of granite who block the door.
I've sometimes wondered who I'm writing for—not so much my readers—more, who initially casts their eyes over my query package, including a sample of my manuscript. Given that the publishing industry is dominated by white women, according to a recent survey, I've even found myself tailoring my plotlines and cast of characters to appeal to a younger demographic (not that I was previously aiming for older readers).
I read Michael Levin's articles on books in the Books Are My Babies section of the free download I May Be Wrong But I Doubt It available on his website. He makes some good points, including an observation about how writing really long books is less popular. I noticed in the last round of submissions I made, that several literary agencies and publishers actually specified that the manuscript should be no longer than 60,000 or 70,000 words. For ages, 80,000 words has been the expected length of a crime novel. It's all a symptom of increasingly limited attention spans, I guess, where instant gratification is preferable to hard work. I've previously railed against novellas being called novels, as it's inaccurate and vaguely insulting to the intelligence, but the way of the world is for the shorter form. Also, readers don't appear to care about the truth of what's written or who actually wrote it—which is where Michael Levin's ghostwriting service comes in.
Totally agree. As for technology... how many times do I mutter, "just because we can, doesn't mean we should."I read a book called The Punch Escrow a while ago which was amazing until the 3/4 mark, then it fell apart. He needed an editor - someone NOT directly compensated by him - someone whose interests were the bigger picture rather than what he - the author - may have wanted or what was easiest.
It is great that we have options because it used to be so difficult to get published. But something I’ve started to consider - Shouldn’t it be difficult for authors to get published? Not all of us deserve to be in print and things worth having are worth working for. I think books need midwives and it used to be if you picked up a book from a particular publisher you could be assured of a certain quality. This is less true than its ever been.
I also read a book this month that brought in 27k for the author. It fell apart after the first few chapters and had so many typos there were sentences which devolved into gibberish.
Stephen Colbert says, “It’s funny because nothing matters” when observing instances where people behave stupidly when acting otherwise would have taken no additional effort - just a degree of attention to the quality of what you’re doing in the world. While HE is funny - nothing about what he’s observing usually is.
Which is how I feel about an excess of typos in something one is asking people to pay for. Also - think it’s tragic that a great sci-fi novel is a lot less than it could have been if the author had someone who said, “We won’t publish this until you change the ending.”
I think we’re past the point in our evolution where every innovation is an improvement. I honestly think we would benefit from just saying no to technology sometimes. Or, maybe I’m just getting old.