Thursday, August 23, 2007

As Good As it Gets?

An anonymous blogger left the following comment on a recent post. You can see the comments section for my reply, but I wonder what you all think of this angry little rant:

"The publishing world is as good as it can be. There are already more books published each year than the market can really support, with publishing houses taking chances on new authors who will probably lose the company a lot of money and never earn back their modest advance. There are already more people employed whose sole purpose is to read manuscripts all day than the market can support. Ever wonder why most lit jobs pay so shitty? Because they hire 2 people to do the job of 1 person, and it's STILL a hard industry to break into because there are 6 people vying for those 2 jobs that could be done by 1 person. So I'd really like to know what you think needs to be done to make it better, besides publishing you specifically. Because, believe me, the cream always rises to the top - if someone goes so long with nothing but rejection, there's always a good reason, a fundamental flaw in their writing. You need tp step back and see what the common thread in all your rejections is - I'd be happy to point it out for you if you can't figure it out yourself, because it's fairly obvious from what you've posted to your blog thus far. But really, you're such a ball of negative energy, nothing short of getting published will appease you. Over on her blog, The Rejecter hit it on the head when she said that no rejection letter will ever be met with anything that isn't whining, no matter how nicely phrased it is. People like you make it such a no-win situation, no wonder most eds are switching to form letters - why bother trying to write a nice, constructive rejection letter when it will be met with the same sour bitterness that a "Fuck you, no way!" would have been. Might as well save your time and energy. "

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

The first thing that comes to mind is a name: John Kennedy Toole. The second thing is an old adage: One of the first signs of insanity is the absence of a sense of humour.

Anonymous said...

Publishing is an industry with deeply ingrained pre-Marxist values, working on a nineteenth century economic model. This is why it's so neurotically, constantly gasping about its fears of dying. What's more, publishing fancies itself an aristocratic sort of industry, which is why it's set up so you practically have to be independetly wealthy to be able to afford to work your first job in publishing and why it's true that so many entry-level editorial jobs end up in the hands of bratty trust-fund girls and boys that went to prep school and have references. No, you don't find too many rebels in publishing. The status quo is the veritable fuel that drives it. And publishing is a vain joke instead of the vital train of ideas and innovation that it should be.

Which is why, when I hear someone saying that publishing is as good as it gets right now, I have to laugh. Furthermore, the cream most certainly does not always rise to the top. It may rise to the top serendipitously, if it happens to be good for business. But most of what gets published is, simply put, what's good for the bottom line. No hoohs or hahs about it. Publishing is a greedy business that's almost completely divorced itself of its intellectual, progressive roots.

So don't flatter yourself, angry editor, that you're part of some heroic concern where noble editors work for pennies just to make sure they can bring great writing to the light of day. The truth is much more sanguine, boring, philistine.

Writer, Rejected said...

My original comments to this post were as follows:

Angry Lady Anonymous! Hello, there! I hope you don't work in publishing, but somehow I suspect you do, since you are willing to tell me what's wrong with my novel without ever having read it. :-)

"The publishing world is as good as it can be." = You depress me.

"So I'd really like to know what you think needs to be done to make it better, besides publishing you specifically." = Re-read this blog.

"Because, believe me, the cream always rises to the top - if someone goes so long with nothing but rejection, there's always a good reason, a fundamental flaw in their writing." = Specifically re-read the blog entry entitled "More Publishing Crimes" or "Excuses, Excuses" for a refresher.

"But really, you're such a ball of negative energy, nothing short of getting published will appease you." = You misunderstand me.

"Fuck you, no way!" = At least that's honest.

Anyway, listen. Don't take this site so seriously. I hate to see you getting all worked up. I just wanted to air some of my dirty little secret rejections. And in a way you're right, I'm just another jerk-off wasting some time while I rewrite my novel (I hope I came up with the same answer you did about what was wrong with my novel.)

Victoria Masters said...

That anrgy rant makes me sad- like teachers who complain about "all their horrible little students" and cashiers in stores who complain about "all the G-D customers".

Face it- if you hate being around the people who are the integral part of your job- find a new job. If an editor hates all the writers they have to deal with- maybe it's the wrong career. No writers = no editor jobs!

Anon said...

Well, I can say as a poor person who works in publishing that it really is run mostly by young trust-funders. Rich kids think the job makes them seem like they're doing something important with their lives (and Daddy's money), even if they are working in publicity! It makes it hard for a person who needs a job to keep one and actually get periodic raises, because there is a young rich person waiting to take your job for 30% less than what you are making.

Anonymous said...

Publishing didn't become really, really dreadful until the Germans bought it up. Before that, editors with a passion for literature had some freedom to publish what they wanted, and the industry putted along -- not many people getting rich, but interesting and innovative stuff got published and the market was not totally flooded with shit. Now, more and more often, the money men at the top dictate what the editors do. Soon, all the editors who know how to read will be gone, and the marketers alone will run the industry.

Also, what the above commenters say about trust-funders is 100% correct. They also publish their friends.

The future of good writing is in the small presses. Sadly, there is not a lot of money to be made there. Writers need to get used to the idea that the days of big advances are winding to a close. For all but the handful of blockbusters, of course.

kathryn magendie said...

You know, I'm not a "Big Time" editor, I'm a "small ezine editor" and I freelance edit - and I don't make much money at it at all, same as I don't make much money for my freelance writing; the few stories/essays, and my columns, I am paid for won't pay my mortgage!...and I know when my novel is published, I won't be swimming in the big bucks either, unless I get very very lucky - very lucky.

I do it because I love to read, and I love to write, and I love to help other writers, and I want to be "in this business." That's about it.

If you are in it for the money and glory - then find a way to research before you write to find out what is "marketable" -Personally, I can't write like that; and therefore, it may take me longer to publish than if I wrote up some chick-lit or hen-lit or mystery, horror or whatever (and I'm not putting those genres down--they're just not for me).

Nothing wrong with playing the market and making it a business - I have a friend who does that and is quite successful with four books published in the thriller/horror paperback market.

I write for myself first, and if it fits somewhere, good, if not -then well, I get rejected - I make that choice everytime I sit down with my laptop to create. When I'm writing to please me, I'm damn happy and proud...the shitty part starts when I have to query for publication-but it's all a part of the business. I chose this life. I choose to write what I love at the moment, and not what I have researched to be marketable (and of course, I hope what I am writing WILL turn out to be marketable--I don't write in a vacuum).

I chose this life. I try not to dwell on whining and regrets, but instead, I get out there and send to someone else, and in the meantime, I write the next one and the next thing and write write and write! I'm gifted, I do know that - I know I'm a good writer, and sometimes that has to be enough to get me back at the laptop day after day.

I do appreciate the great comments I've received in my rejections - it's always nice when someone takes the time to say "your writing is professional and confident" even if they say, "but ..." I hate the buts, who wouldn't - however, that's the business and I accept it...

I like the sense of humor here and I like to see what others are saying and what kinds of rejections letters other writers get...curiosity!

That's so pants said...

Hi WR

Re this

'There are already more books published each year than the market can really support, with publishing houses taking chances on new authors who will probably lose the company a lot of money and never earn back their modest advance.'

Can you really see an editorial team sitting around and agreeing, 'We'll lose money, but what the hell, let's take a chance...'

It's a speculative business. Actually publishers are quite lucky because they can pick and choose. THEY need to stop bitching and get on with it, actually.

xxx

Pants

Demian Farnworth said...

"One of the first signs of insanity is the absence of a sense of humour."

Well put.

Jael Paris said...

Just discovered this blog. It's nice to commiserate.

The cream rises to the top? Is that why Paris Hilton is published? I work in a second-hand book store, and we've recycled literal tons of "cream."

HarleeGirl said...

Writer is to agent/editor, as B is to D.