Friday, September 14, 2012

Are Writers, Agents, Editors and Bookbuyers Forgetting Something Big In Publishing?

I was just scanning through a stack of blogs yesterday and I really started thinking about this business and that maybe those directly involved with it (the writers, editors, agents, publishers and book buyers) might be missing something. As I looked at many of these articles, they all seemed to be chasing something similar to the Elixer of Life. They all seemed to be hyping up the golden key that would lead them into instant success. There were articles on:
  • How finding an agent was the only way this author found success
  • Self-publishing vs traditional publishing and how
    • self-pub was the only way to success
    • traditional publishing was the only way to success
  • Social media and success in the publishing world
  • Contract negotiations to screw the publishers
  • How to force publishers to change their thinking
  • Insuring great reviews
  • etc., etc., etc.
In other words, every article seemed to focus on strategies, techniques and so forth that would lead to the immediate success of a book. And these blogs are not the only place we hear this. At conferences, we frequently see a ton of writing sessions and  hear a ton of questions dealing with:
  • guarentee successful techniqes of pitching
  • creating a platform for your books
  • the right time to pitch to editors and agents
  • crafting the perfect first line, first three chapters, synopsis, query....
I think you get the idea.

But, here is the one thing I believe many are missing. It all comes back to the answer the editors and agents give when asked what we are looking for in a submission.

"We want a great book that is well written with great characters and a plot that sucks us in."


I found it interesting but I think this proves the point pretty quickly. Yesterday, on the Writers Digest website, they were asking people about the great opening lines that hooks the reader. Now, for many writers, they will gravitate to the implied message of "writing and crafting that first perfect line." But, in reality, those opening lines were the beginning of GREAT novels...

Every book individuals posted on their "favorite list" did indeed have great starts, but what was interesting is, in the end, it was the book we fell in love with - the characters, the plot, the voice and so forth - not just the opening line.

I honestly think the lesson to be learned here is simple. GREAT writers (many of those on the Writers Digest List) have or are spending their time and energy writing GREAT stories. They are not obsessing over strategies or techniques to find immediate success. They focused their attention when writing those books, on the simple task of writing a damn good story.

This is a simple question that doesn't require and open answer here but think of where you are spending your time. Are you HONESTLY looking at the quality of the book or the way you will make a lot of money on this next "manuscript"?


1 comment:

  1. I agree. My blog doesn't deal with writing techniques or how to improve sales although sometimes with issues that arise in my books. I'm not on facebook or twitter. There is such a volume of books out there I'm not sure all that cyber-shouting even helps much although some on the Kindle boards swear it does. They seem to sell more than I do so there may be something to it. Lucky I have a day job.