Author Topic: Anybody else feel the same?  (Read 3109 times)

Offline writestuff56

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Anybody else feel the same?
« on: March 18, 2011, 02:12:41 PM »
This is probably going to sound bad. BUT....I just have to comment.

In recent weeks, I've purchased three new books in the genre I'm writing. In the bookstore, I read the back flap, skimmed the first two pages, saw that the authors had at least 3 or more books out there. But during my road trip the other day as I had plenty of time sitting in the passenger seat, I could NOT get past the first two chapters of any of them. Total duds. And I WANTED them to be good, cause I had a long drive ahead, I had spent lots of time roaming the bookstore, and I had already paid for them---and wasn't exactly eager to have to go BACK to the bookstore, return them, then hunt around for other books to use my store credit on.

So.... for the rest of the five hour drive, I flipped through magazines for entertainment instead---and thought about my own manuscript. Honestly, (and I know I'm partial because it's mine) but seriously.... whenever I read my first few chapters, they keep me hooked so much more than any of those books. What did the agents of those authors whose books I tried-and-couldn't-even-gag-down see in their writing that they're not seeing in my queries/submissions?? So annoying!

Does anyone else feel the same?


Offline bodwen

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Re: Anybody else feel the same?
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2011, 02:28:30 PM »
Yep.  I think we all do.

Established writers get to rest on their laurels.  They don't always get the time to polish their work up until it glows since they are working tight deadlines mixed in with their promotional duties, so their editors aren't so strict about rookie things like POV and show/tell. 

The publishers don't mind because they've already built up a following  -- or they've fallen into the dreaded midlist. At that point the publisher has lost interest and doesn't mind if they just phone it in for the duration of the contract.


Offline Kimmy

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Re: Anybody else feel the same?
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2011, 04:33:42 PM »
Writestuff, would you be willing to share the genre you are reading in? I wonder because if its YA, which I love to read and also write, I would be curious to know which titles you didnt like. I just posted in the book section about 4 I read this week on vacation. If you dont want to post, you can send me a PM. Or not, whichever you are comfortable with! But I must also agree, I have read several books recently that to me, are poorly written or boring or dont draw me in or whatever and feel that my betas have much stronger books and so do i! For mine, at least I hope so... :huh:
Kimmy :)

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Offline Jim W

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Re: Anybody else feel the same?
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2011, 02:00:53 PM »
This happens a lot as you deepen your reading in a genre.  I think it's pretty natural.

It does annoy when you work and slave and get everything right, and then you read some bit of garbage with plot holes, character problems, sloppy writing and awful dialogue.  Sometimes lightning strikes and a bad book gets through all the hoops.

I believe this observation is a natural part of being a writer.  The more you write, edit, revise and polish, the more critical you get of other people's work.  Some authors do things I would absolutely not, under no circumstances, ever do in my work.  I remember when I started catching myself changing someone else's sentences while I was reading.  Or the book with fifteen tense shifts in the first two pages that I wanted to pitch across the room.  When it's a whole string of deep problems, like faulty character logic or a plot point that doesn't quite connect, it's downright demoralizing.  How in the heck did this get published, when my work can't get past the full request stage with agents?  To be fair, I've found a lot of them could be interpretted as having "voice," although why the heck anyone would want to read it is beyond me.  Just because it's different doesn't mean it's any good.  (But sometimes, that's why it got picked up.)

And there's also another nasty side to this:  Lots of very successful, very popular bestselling writers aren't very good.  Lots of midlisters are.  There are award-winning, successful literary novels that I can't stand.  Yes, some bad books get published.  But there's bad, and then there's bad

But there's a way to put a positive spin on this.  If that piece of trash got published, then maybe there aren't nearly as many top shelf projects out there as we're led to believe.  We can only control our own writing, our own work.  We just have to be ready when we get our chance.


Offline tradergirl

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Re: Anybody else feel the same?
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2011, 04:37:50 PM »
I so hear you, but you have to find a way to let it go.  The flow of published books is a river, not a static pool.  And so the decision to publish any particular one happens at a moment in time, and is reflective of what else is selling well at that particular moment, and what else is on offer to the editor.

The same thing used to bother me terribly.  But eventually I came to understand that it just didn't matter whether my own material was just as good or better written than some of (but God, not all) of the things in the bookstore.  It didn't matter, because editors' decision matrices are in constant flux.  I had to show up with the right book at the right moment--and nobody can be sure of making that happen.  There's a ton of luck involved, and often we're just on the wrong side of it.

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Offline mickip

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Re: Anybody else feel the same?
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2011, 03:26:33 AM »
writestuff56 - maybe Kindle is the answer.  You can browse Amazon for hours in the comfort of your home and look for a book to download and only pay .99 cents for it. 

Offline longknife

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Re: Anybody else feel the same?
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2011, 11:31:51 AM »
I think you're talking about what has happened to publishing in general. No publishers are about to take on an unknown - unproved author due to the high costs of printing, distribution and publicity. So, they'll make enormous advances to people like Obama, Clinton and others simply from name recognition - and absolutely nothing about quality!
This is especially true in the fiction field. I've noticed that most new fiction best-sellers come from the media world.

So, I think micip is right - spend some time on PubIt! or Kindle and see what's available. At least they have rating systems and reviews. Check out books in your genre that have good ratings and reviews.
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Offline Jim W

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Re: Anybody else feel the same?
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2011, 12:43:21 PM »
Quote
No publishers are about to take on an unknown - unproved author due to the high costs of printing, distribution and publicity. So, they'll make enormous advances to people like Obama, Clinton and others simply from name recognition - and absolutely nothing about quality!
This is especially true in the fiction field. I've noticed that most new fiction best-sellers come from the media world.


Okay, I'm getting onto my soapbox again.  Fair warning.

:soapbox:

I mean this with all due respect, but saying you can't get published without a name or platform just isn't true.  There are lots of bestsellers written by writers.  Not celebrities, just writers.  Sure, the celebrities sell a lot of books.  But there are a lot of fiction writers that have built careers and gotten onto the bestseller lists on the strength of their writing.  Amazingly, every now and then a debut novel lands on the bestseller lists, with a complete unknown as its author (I know, that's shocking!).  But most successful writers build up to the bestseller lists, growing an audience over a number of books.

Lots of books are published (particularly in fiction) by unknown, previously unpublished writers.  I know, because I read them all the time.  I also used to work in libraries, and celebrity and media personalities were a very small segment of the books that crossed my desk.  I think the last book I read by a "media personality" was Wayne Gretzky's autobiography (ghost written, incidentally, by a writer) back in the early 1990s.  I suspect I'm not alone in avoiding the celebrity stuff.  Yes, if you already have a name, you're going to have an easier time selling your manuscript.  It's harder for one of the nameless masses to break in, but it's not impossible.  I'm not saying it's easy.  It takes time, patience, hard work, practice, persistence, and little bit of luck.  But there are in excess of 80,000 titles published a year in North America alone (and that's just books, and my numbers are likely very out of date; the number grows every year).  Only a small number of them are written by celebrities.  And few celebrities write more than one or two.

The attitude that only media personalities can break into publishing or become a bestselling author is a self-defeating one.  It's a lot like the belief that the only way to get an agent is to have sold a book, and the only way to sell a book is to get an agent.  Every time one of us makes a comment like this one on the boards, we make it that much harder for someone just starting down this road.  It's hard to screw up your courage and start querying.  QT has 500 success stories, and very few (if any) were celebrities.  (And being well known on the forums doesn't count. :no:)  So let's banish this belief.  It's not constructive.  This is a hard enough road without borrowing trouble.

Climbing down off my soapbox now.

Offline writestuff56

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Re: Anybody else feel the same?
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2011, 09:07:05 AM »
Thanks to everyone for their responses.

Jim W-- I particularly appreciate your first one. You made a lot of good points about bestsellers and midlisters. And I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who finds myself editing other writers' work as I read. I suppose you're right-- it is a natural part about being a writer. You're more connected to the writing itself, the word choice, the arrangement, the flaws, etc. --as opposed to reading like a regular person just for the enjoyment of the story. (It can sure be distracting sometimes!)

Kimmy--To answer your question, YA was not the genre I was refering to.

Thanks again everybody.

Offline supernaut112

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Re: Anybody else feel the same?
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2011, 02:55:51 AM »
Hello, all. Just wanted to weigh in on this topic (but find myself distracted by all of the animated emoticons).

Of course I feel the same way. Of course. It doesn't help that the last book that I really got excited about reading was from a self-published writer. I was reading her work and wondering how the heck she slipped through the cracks when her writing was so flawless and her plot much more compelling than the published hard copy I have on my nightstand.

When agents and publishers say this is a "subjective" business, they ain't lying. I often think that this is precisely the problem. I'm a freelance writer by trade, and it's anything but subjective. It's market-driven. I write articles that people already want to read. Subjectivity doesn't take into consideration the desires of the demographic. It often seems as though the publishing industry are putting books out there that it thinks readers should like. And a lot of the time, it's falling flat. I've read that only 1:10 books ever recoups the advance. Obviously, there's a problem here. So ... what is it?

If it makes anyone feel better, I've been published in literary journals and major publications. I've been writing for more than twenty years and have made good money at it on the nonfiction side of things. And even I can't get an agent interested! So no, it's not just you. I'm glad that I found this one self-published author. It makes me have hope that there are others like her that I can discover, if I try hard enough.

 :yes:

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