A vast public collection of real-life rejection
That is annoying. None of the fiction writers I know have ever written a "book proposal" -- they just write books. You send queries to agents, and then you send the agent the book.The agent takes care of selling it to editors.And that "not ready" stuff is BS. The number one reason is they don't like the writing. Closely followed by Unsellable Idea and Creepy-Sounding Writer.
Rachelle's revealing words are "blockbuster bestseller." It's what she wants and it's what I can't give her. What I can give her she has no interest in.She's one of the many people in publishing that I have absolutely nothing in common with and no respect for.My advice: Hold to your standards, and if you wind up a "failure," so be it.
The only advice worth following in that post is in the comment from Katy Mckenna: why not build an audience first, if you're not getting anywhere with publication?Sure, it's nice to think "Hey, a publisher thought I was good enough to print a bunch of copies of my book!", but that's not the only way to get read nor the only way to make money (if that's your goal.)Everybody says there's not a lot of money in publishing if you're not a big name author (and there can only be so many of them, right?) So what do you honestly lose by giving away some stories or even a novel for free? If you become an internet phenomenon, you might just have agents end up approaching you (just make sure you check up their bona fides and don't get suckered in by a deal that's too good to be true.)Of course, publishers aren't likely to touch something from an unknown author that's been previously distributed... but if you take advantage of things like the "tip jar" (a donation button from Paypal/Amazon) and/or sensible banner advertisements, you just might make more money in the long run on your "free" work than you would have if it was your first published book.You just have to be smart about it. If you slap your work up for free download, some people will download it but they'll have to consciously come back to your page to donate to you. If you make it a paid download, who's going to take a chance when they've never heard of you? If you put it in a webpage that's all one big page (assuming novel-length book), people will find the length intimidating. Put it up in a blog, with one chapter per post. This way, people can literally bookmark where they are if they want to come back to it, and you get constant ad exposures, and your donation button's always there in the sidebar.The best part? You can use a POD service like lulu.com to sell the same book that you gave away for free. If people liked it, some of them will buy it. They'll want a copy that's legitimately theirs. They'll want one they can trade with friends. They'll want one they can take in the bathroom. Don't believe people will pay to buy something they read for free? Look at webcomics. They all do it.I swear to God, with the internet making things cheaper and easier to do for yourself all the time, there's less and less reasons for writers to even play the publishers' games. Some want agents, some don't. Some agents apparently want proposals even if you have a finished manuscript! Who can tell what piddling little reason will disqualify you from somebody's interest?
For the record... not that anybody cares... I don't want blockbuster bestsellers. I want good books. I love great books and great writing more than (almost) anything else in life.If only you could see my inbox everyday, you would know I'm telling the absolute truth that most queries get rejected because the writer isn't ready. A few people are brilliant right out of the box. Many more are brilliant on their fourth or fifth novel... or on the tenth or eleventh draft of their first novel. It takes work, practice, and persistence to get it right.But all too often, what shows up in my inbox is a first draft that no other human being on the planet has read. I'm telling the truth when I say "the person just isn't ready." Sorry folks, but if you've never had a critique, never shared your work and gotten feedback, never even taken the time to go back and edit and correct obvious spelling errors and typos... well, whether or not you want to admit it, you're just not ready.And if that's not you, if you happen to be a writer who is submitting good work, then there's no reason to get your pants in a wad about what I said... because you're one of the ones who ARE ready.Seriously, I wish I understood this vitriol aimed at me. (Someboy explain it to me?) I write blog posts every single day with the sole intent of helping writers -- my favorite people in the world, by the way. Sorry if you find it annoying. I'm simply reflecting the truth of what I see.
Well, this is certainly entertaining reading. Having spent more than 19 years in the publishing world (okay, let's just round it up to 20 to account for the gray in my beard) and having seen more than a few books cross my desk (some with and some without accompanying proposals), I'll have to side with the the "Annoying Blog Quote of the Day" winner on this one. Most manuscripts I've read are...okay, what's a nice word to describe this? Hmm...I'll go with "crap" but in case you think I'm riding some literary high horse here, that description is appropriate for much of my own work, too (including this comment). Rachelle may be overly kind when she uses the phrase "...the person simply isn't ready," but her point is well-taken. Some of the crappy books might actually be good books waiting to happen. The really good books - the rare exceptions of exceptional writing - find a way. But the books that are not quite there (or nowhere near there) will always get pushed to the bottom of the pile. Whether or not a writer can turn "not ready" crap into publishable gold is dependent on a variety of factors beyond pure talent, not the least of which is a genuine interest in doing whatever is necessary to "be ready." I think sites like Rachelle's that offer sage advice on what it takes to "be ready", not only in terms of the writing itself, but with regards to the realities and vagaries of the industry, are invaluable to writers who don't want to be perpetually shuffled to the bottom of the pile.(Of course, I could just be gunning for an "annoying blog comment" award with my words. You be the judge.)
I have to say something kind in Rachelle's defense. She took a huge risk on me for my first and second novel. I was terribly unknown. No platform. Two nonfiction books under my belt, but no published fiction. And the subject of my books was pretty difficult (childhood sexual abuse). But, the writing and the story captured her (thankfully). And she acquired it. That certainly proves she is looking for great writing. If you want to have an agent, or be published traditionally, you must-must-must stun an editor or agent with amazing writing. And that's hard work. Hearing you're not ready isn't a bad thing. It's simply feedback. Use it wisely and improve. I honestly believe terrific writing will find its way to publication. Keep at it.Mary DeMuthwww.wannabepublished.blogspot.comwww.marydemuth.com
OOO, I just read my comment and it sounds a little stuck up. I didn't mean to imply I'm some sort of literary genius. But I did work very hard. Everything I submitted had been well critiqued, and gone over lots of times.
Rachelle: Our pants are perpetually in a wad, a crippling side effect of rejection overexposure, I fear. Therefore, you mustn't take this blog seriously. Now I feel a little bad that I said your opinion annoyed me...but I would like you to know that I didn't mean you annoy me, just your opinion. And perhaps you might understand that it is a bit annoying to hear that the majority of rejections are based on the subjective opinion that the writer isn't ready. (BTW, do you think we don't know how hard it is to write something good? Do you think we don't break our backs revising and re-revising and re-re-re-revising?) Actually, here at LROD we have built a whole case on the fact that most rejections are based on book business sucking and we believe in our hearts that good manuscripts are daily, maybe hourly, passed up due to the almighty dollar and the losing proposition of the printed word. Then you come along and push the blame back on us, which frankly is a little disheartening.But anyway you should continue in your good-deed blogging way to help the hapless writers of the world become more ready, though wouldn't it be great if someone came along and helped us, the writers who are ready, whose books are good? But that is unlikely, so we will just have to continue to be irked and wadded. But let's all just agree to disagree, shall we? No reason we can't all be bloggy friends.
Mary: Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I think it would be kind of fun to start the rumor right here and now that you are a literary genius, but I understand that you are of a humble nature, so I won't press you on the point. Congrats on your publishing successes.
writer, rejected, wrote:"though wouldn't it be great if someone came along and helped us, the writers who are ready, whose books are good? But that is unlikely, so we will just have to continue to be irked and wadded."Actually, this is the best discription of Rachelle I could imagine. She took a chance one me (now that I am ready) and just got me a two book deal. So I am just guessing the so-called sad state of publishing may not entirely rest at Rachelle's feet.Anyone who reads Rachelle's blog knows that there in no one who sits in the corner of good writing like she does.
Enough already with the "Winners" coming over here to "Praise Their Agent." Okay, we get it. She chose you and not us. We are "The Rejected." Remember? Have a little "Compassion" when you come around these parts with your "Two Book Deals."
Yes, enough of that. This is not a Winner's Party. We Are Here To Mourn And Gripe. If you come here, put on your Sad Face (or at least a Wry, Dejected Face), okay?There are from what I can tell at least four regular mice here at LROD (including me) with good work (yes, good) that remains unpublished, despite our best efforts to get somebody's attention. Not ready? I have a wall of rejections and the dates go back to the Clinton years. We've all got our sob stories. One of us (not me) has been trying for years with his novel. I think it's brilliant, and agree that it's unlike any novel out there. It's an absolute tour de force, but the happy agents won't have it. Two-dollar words and other things the book business doesn't like.Pull up a chair, Rachelle and Winning Authors, stay a while. We've got some rejections to show you...maybe you can tell us how almost not-quite ready we are...
If somebody's got a great novel that won't get published because the publishing industry doesn't recognize its value, I don't know why they bother with the industry at all. If the book did get published, the author would have to do the vast majority of the work to promote it, anyway... might as well self-publish and cut out a couple dozen layers of middlemen. Put it up on the web somewhere so that people can find it and read it, and sell hard copies through print on demand. Oh, but of course that doesn't carry the cachet of being "really" published... except, of course, anybody who's received their share of rejection letters knows how random and subjective it is. "I'm not the right agent for you...", "This book isn't right for us"... "This isn't the right time to bring this to market"...The way I see it, taking the do-it-yourself approach is like deciding to make something of yourself instead of playing the lottery every week.
In fairness to Rachelle, she didn't say specifically that YOUR books weren't ready for prime time...just that the majority of those authors who deliver manuscripts to her virtual desk aren't. So, LROD writers, assuming you are as wise in the world of words as you are snarky and sarcastic in the ways of rejection, the (rarely invoked, but sometimes just as true) opposite of Rachelle's theorem must apply to you. Perhaps the Publishing World is simply not ready to embrace your brilliance. Of course if this is the case, then what's all this whining about rejection? Isn't every one of those "Sorry, you're not right for us" letters yet another piece of evidence to support the inveterate truth of your literary greatness?
Brilliance? Did we say we were brilliant? Oh, no, no, no. You misunderstand. We are not claiming literary greatness. We just think that at the very least we are good enough to pbulished.
Also, we like to whine....it's what we do.
Ah, I must have mis-read the "I think it's brilliant" comment above. (Insert knowing wink here. I'm not really picking on you, just having my own sort of fun.)Since I haven't read your manuscripts I don't know how good they are...but I will grant you high marks for your whining ability. And if someday Al Gore finds a way to convert whining into fuel, you'll soon have enough money to start your own publishing house.Hey, it could happen.
Whining into fuel; now that's brilliant!
sour sour sour soursour SOUR grapesmaybe you are all unpublished for a REASON.
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