Monday, May 17, 2010

What Works For One May Not Be Right For Someone Else

You have heard me say this time and time again. The business of publishing is VERY subjective. I honestly think that is one of the exciting, although very frustrating aspects of this business. This weekend I attended the WisRWA conference and found several cases where this idea was in ful view.

CASE 1 - I sat on a panel with Victoria Curran of Harlequin on Saturday. During that time, we were doing cold reads of several of the writers manuscripts. There were several times when stories I liked were far from something that Victoria liked, and visa versa. We could have argued all day over this but in the end, it was simply a matter of what worked for her didn't work for me.

CASE 2 - I met with several writers during their pitch sessions who had stories that were on requests from other agents, but I had to pass on the project. The other agents saw something I didn't.

CASE 3 - I read a project from one writer and thought the story sounded more like a general fiction story that the women's fiction she was pitching it as. Come to find out, another agent recommeded she call it women's fiction. I disagreed.

Now where am I going to with this? In the end, I am not sure there is a winner in any of these cases. It is simply a matter of perspective, point of view and personal opinion. No one person is right. Let's review those cases...

In Case 1 does it mean that since Victoria is an editor and I just sell the books to her, that she is more correct than I am? Since she actually does the producing of the books, does it mean a writer should take her side in this case? Not necessarily. She is looking at it from her position as someone who selects books for Harlequin. It could simply mean your story is not right for that line.

In Case 2 does it mean that if I pass on a project I am wrong and the other person is right because they took the story? I have mentioned this one before but sometimes, people will take manuscripts from everyone. Sometimes that reading of a manuscript reveals something we didn't hear in a pitch. Sometimes there is another agent in the agency that would like it. Who knows.

In Case 3 does this writer reject my opinion on where her story fits simply because the other agent owns a bigger agency and has a bigger name? Again, not necessarily. Maybe the other agent doesn't specialize in that genre. Maybe the other agent just didn't hear the same pitch.

I think what I want to leave you with is two things:
  1. This business is subjective so don't give up. Keep trying and see what comes of it.
  2. But sometimes the answer that we don't want to hear might actually be the right one.

More this week about: writing process, what to expect from Greyhaus in June and thoughts on the conference season.


1 comment:

  1. Sounds like there are some great and informative posts coming up :)

    Thanks for another thought-provoking post!