Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday Question Emporium

How frustrated should I be that I couldn't place my book with an agent or publisher but now that I've published it as an e-book on Amazon it gets reviews like, "One of the best mystery books I've read"? Should I feel more or less frustrated than I feel already?

Don't feel frustrated.
Be glad there are ways to get your book in front of clearly discerning readers and away from the obviously taste-free agents and publishers of this world, who wake up in the morning with one goal in mind: thwarting your creative genius.

Ok, shark snarl aside, you're looking at apples and asking why the orange vendor didn't buy in bulk.

My job is not to find good books. My job is to find books I can  place at a large publishing house for wads of cash. I pass on very good books every single day maybe even yours.

The market is a fickle beast, and publishers and editors go through phases of what they want to buy just like everyone else.  There are lots of VERY good books that I can't sell.  I usually pass on them with a reminder to query other agents. Maybe it's me. Maybe another agent can sell it.  But when agents rally round the bar and exchange war stories, one  common topic is what we're having a hard time selling.

If you're writing books  people like to read, more power to you.  Continue to work to develop your craft and build your audience.  The best way to show us how wrong we were to say no is to spell it out in hundred dollar bills. Satisfying too.


Anonymous said...

I love that you said, "There are lots of VERY good books that I can't sell."

Not that I've been around long enough to feel like a SME, but I do feel like I've heard something similar multiple times..., sometimes good books don't sell. (I'd like to think of mine in this way)

But, now, this post prompts a question so I'll be sending you an email. :)

Terri Lynn Coop said...

To quote Jeffery Deaver (I have this on a pillow,) "It's a business."

Why is the item at a trade show priced at $100 despite my pleas and promises of chocolate and scotch purchased by someone else right before closing for $45?

The answer is "business," with a side order of luck and timing.


Colin Smith said...

"My job is not to find good book."

What is a "good book"? Would I be correct in defining a "good book" as one you love and want to see published? Have you ever offered representation for a book you loathed, but thought you could sell? (Perhaps that's a question for a future Emporium!)

From what I gather, this is a subjective business, and I think that's what gives writers comfort. It's not that agents have a standard formula for what makes a good book, and request based on what fits the formula. It's a matter of taste. And sometimes agent-publisher-public taste lines up. And sometimes it doesn't.

I say it gives us comfort, because we know a rejection is not always an indication that our work isn't good. It might just be that a certain agent/publisher didn't like it, or loved it but didn't think s/he couldn't sell it. That's all.

Madseasongirl said...

This is both comforting and a little scary. This is a business and of course it should always be treated like one, but at the same time, writing a book is very personal.

That rejection doesn't sting as much because it doesn't necessarily mean your work sucks. But oh, does it still sting. To spend months, maybe even years dolling it up only to find out it has nowhere to go. Ouch.

Yeah you can self-publish, maybe find a small press who will welcome your baby with open arms. Most of us, we take a deep breath and dive into our next project, fingers crossed, rabbit's foot in pocket, and that battered old friend by Strunk and White.

But Ms. Sharkalicious has the right of it, and this business has very little room for frustration.
Most of us would have ulcers and very unattractive comb overs.

J.A. Kazimer said...

Great answer, Janet. I think a lot of writers don't understand that you do not sell every book you take on. Just like every book that gets published doesn't get the same marketing push.

A good review doesn't equal a bestselling book. I wish it did.

french sojourn said...

Terri Lynn Coop;

"I have this on a pillow"

You slay me.

Augustina Peach said...

As you say, I am very glad there are now avenues for getting my work to the public, avenues that are more open and affordable than they were even just a few years ago. I've learned not to take it personally that agents aren't interested in my book - they are in this to make a living, after all, not to pave MY way to easy success. After years of trying to get an agent and hearing plenty of "this looks good, but it's not for us," I'm taking steps to publish the book myself (in November - Yippee!). Am I bitter? No. Was I frustrated through those years? Sure. But everything I learned from the process of trying to be traditionally published has made me work harder and has made the book better. I'm really grateful to you, Janet. It was your encouraging response to my Chum Bucket entry that helped me believe the book was "good enough" to carry on - even though I got three more rejections afterward. I truly appreciate you and the other agents like you who are so generous with advice, even for people like me who will never make a dime for you.

Anonymous said...

"My job is not to find good books. My job is to find books I can place at a large publishing house for wads of cash. I pass on very good books every single day maybe even yours."

This should probably be somewhere in the header of every agent's website.