Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Cream Also Rises

The first rant published at BookAngst 101 (see my previous post) came from an unpublished writer whose complaint was that he can't get any reaction to his submissions to editors beyond form rejection letters. The reponse from Mad Max was, I'm sad to say, typical of the mindset of most editors and agents. I had two comments to Max's response to this writer.

I think you're being way too hard on this writer, and you fell back on spouting the same old boilerplate I've heard a gabillion times till I want to puke. The cream rises to the top, blah blah. If you're not getting published you're not trying hard enough, or the right way or you're just no damn good. He complains that form letters don't offer any meaningful feedback and your response is get an agent, they read submissions. From my experience, agents pretty much think alike and agents and editors share the same mindset. After all, they're all swimming in the same water.

Agents respond in two ways. If they like what you've sent, they'll call you. If not, you get a form rejection. I don't think this writer wants what you call "feel good correspondence." He wants some information so he can engage in course correction.

Yes, the world is lousy with literary agents, and most of them are lousy. I once spoke with James Parish, a writer who's been writing books about movies for over twenty years, and he opined that most of the agents he's encountered shouldn't have been in the business.

POD-DY MOUTH just ran an interview with a editor of fifteen years' experience currently at an imprint of Random House. Here's a clip from the interview.

Girl: Bonus question: True or false-"If you have a brilliant manuscript, your book will find a home/get published."

Editor One: Tremendously false, and though many of my peers feel it is a rather recent phenomenon, I believe it was never true. I would estimate that there are thousands of excellent books that have been lost in the ether for a whole host of reasons. What scares me more is the opposite is true: that if you have a bad book, it does not mean you will not get published. This industry is very arbitrary. My own imprint is guilty of this.


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