Publishing Too Open?

Frustrated writers like to rail against the injustices of the publishing industry. I’ve been known to vent a little here and there myself, although I stop far short of calling publishers a mafia. But there are many out there who, through much gnashing of teeth and beating of breast, lament that their novel is being rejected without even being given a chance. Some people who go so far as to equate being rejected with having their First Amendment rights trampled.

On the other hand, Tim Clare in The Guardian argues that “the truth is a disproportionate number of publishers are wide-eyed idealists with a frightening propensity for chucking good money after bad. As much as agents and editors may feign a cool professional insouciance, most dream of stumbling across The Next Big Thing and securing their place in industry history. While veteran authors languish in the mid-list doldrums, jammy first-timers rake in vast advances on the promise of long and lucrative careers, which frequently fail to materialise. Publishers act with one eye on posterity, leaving their accountants with ulcers the size of kumquats, and the UK book market saturated with newcomers brawling over a limited readership.”

I recently spoke to a couple of American agents who voiced similar opinions. They both said that it’s easier to sell the unknown author, on potential, than the known author who has a solid, if unspectacular, record. Perhaps the publishing industry should take a look at the NBA for examples of drafting based on potential. For every one Kobe Bryant or Kevin Garnett drafted out of high school, there’s a kid like Kwame Brown who fails to live up to expectations. But every single summer, NBA executives are seduced by some high school player’s potential. Oh well, that’s another discussion for another time.

In the meantime, check out Clare’s article about how the publishing industry is too open to newcomers. And they can shut the doors, right after I sell my riveting legal thriller where my cat fights for his life and valiantly struggles to share his story of overcoming the odds when I forgot to feed him one night. Part memoir, part self-help, part novel, this book is engrossing, uplifting, revealing, heart-warming, and packed with suspense, my first novel is sure to be a hit.

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