Submission - inclusion of swear words

Article: 'Genre Fiction Radiates From A Literary Centre.'

Book Review: Steven Petite, Huff-Po: Genre Fiction v Literary Fiction

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Geoff

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Aug 24, 2014
Kent
I just about to submit the first three chapters and synopsis of my newly completed novel, however the first chapter contains a number of four letter swear words. The inclusion of these four letter words certainly isn't gratuitous, but I am not sure if should just use a XXXX format instead. Obviously the XXXX would be restored to the original word if the novel were ever published, but should I include them as they stand in my submission? Any advice gratefully welcomed!
 
There’s no general rule/principle. Do you know who you are submitting to? Individuals will vary as to their preferences. Check them out, if you can, individually. Hopefully, most of my compatriots are quite broad minded :)

One thing I wouldn’t do is to insert XXXXs. Worst of both worlds.
 
Thanks for the advice Peter, much appreciated! I haven't got a specific agent in mind, I am still in research mode at the moment.
 
My client Mal Peet has a new book coming out in November. There’s intense profanity in the first page or two, which is highly effective (and funny). However, swearing has got to work in context – nothing looks so inept as a misfired expletive :)
 
If it's an adult novel, I really can't see the problem - even a staid writer like Ruth Rendell included a couple of four letter words in her most recent Wexford novel. If it's YA, it's a different matter...
 
Profanity is part of speech, so if you will be pitching to normal adults, you are fine, but remember that sites like "Clean Reads" and some very judgmental librarians might not want your work, nor will the overlay self-righteous. But I say... F___ 'em anyway.
 
That's where I smile, so far most of the profanities in mines are in Gaidhlig ;) ... most but not all lol. Though I think I would not hide profanities from a submission. They are obviously meant to be there, so it should be presented as you want it read xx
 
Thank goodness for all of the above. I've got a conversation in Chap 2 between two police officers about a man who'd got himself stuck on a tap. Light stuff, shortly followed by the discovery of a dead body in an unaesthetic, though not graphically described condition. The tap story is disguised but true, I had it from a GP friend. The dead body sadly, is also disguised but true. It's bound to put some people off, but it is as it is.
 
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No comment. LOL!! I haven't published a book yet without swear words in it. But then, I write erotic romance. It's kind of expected there will be four-letter words in them. :)
 
I don't think you should hide the swear words, you're submitting to an adult and as long as it's not a kids book it's all part of the rich tapestry of human speech
 
That reminds me of a rejection I got recently from a publisher who said they wouldn't accept profanity and that if I'd like to revise, they'd review it again. Can you really imagine a tough-guy Alaskan commercial fisherman saying, "deary deary me"? LOL. Actually, the submission guidelines just said they didn't want erotica!
 
That's really strange, Sue - I would have thought not accepting profanity would be front and centre on submission guidelines :confused:

I think if I felt the need to censor any text for submission to a publisher or agent, I'd have to question whether I should be submitting that MS to that person/company.
 
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Article: 'Genre Fiction Radiates From A Literary Centre.'

Book Review: Steven Petite, Huff-Po: Genre Fiction v Literary Fiction

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