Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Will Everyone Slow Down! Please!

For those of you who have talked to me at conferences in the past, you know that I am someone who loves to have a book in my hand. Sure, I know we have moved to a digital age, and yes, I do read submissions on my iPad, but when it comes to actual reading, I am someone who loves the feel of a book! But for me, the move to digital has presented a new concern that I believe needs to be addressed. Writers and publishers seem to be obsessed with speed!

As an agent, I am now seeing so many projects come across my desk that are really bad! Are these stories that can be fixed? Most likely, but the authors needed to take the time to really work through their writing to put the best they can out there for editors and agents. They all seem to be rushing. Maybe there is a belief that if they don't get that story out to the editor or agent hours after they type the words THE END, they will never be published.

And this isn't just with submissions. I don't know how many times I am downloading books to read (and yes, this is where the digital element comes into play) where the premise of the books sounds amazing, but, within the first few pages, it is clear this book seriously needed editing.

I have a couple of authors at Greyhaus who ventured into the "digital market" with traditional publishers. These were not cases of self-publishing. They were working with larger publishers and their digital lines. Again, we saw the same "rush" approach. Stories were submitted for editorial feedback and comments really didn't come in until a few weeks before the publication date. Although in these cases, the authors had enough support systems with critique partners and my help to get them through it, the process was still rushed.

I guess I am thinking this way because several of my authors, who are working on the traditional side of things, are in the middle of revisions right now. This is a gorgeous waltz to watch them (and yes I get to dance too) discussions with their editors. They submit material, their editor provides feedback, they discuss it further, they talk on the phone to discuss issues... I think you get the idea. The goal is to produce the best dang story out there for the readers.

I really don't care if authors want to self-publish, write entirely digital, or write for traditional publishers. I just want to see us return to that approach of quality control before putting the products out there for the readers.

Maybe part of the reason we are seeing a decline in sales for books is not so much the reasons we have heard: digital vs. traditional; the rise of self-publishing; the decline of traditional bookstores; El Nino... and so forth. Maybe we are seeing the writing quit reading because the quality is not there. And note, this is not an issue of "publishers not open to new concept". I am strictly talking about the time it takes to write a great story.

Just something to think about.

1 comment:

  1. As always, a refreshing insight. I have friends who self-publish because they are in a hurry to sell their books. They know poor writers who make more sales than they do because of being savvy about marketing. I'm considered a bit naive for wanting the quality of the writing to come first. (Luckily, I'm in two great writing groups who have high standards and give honest feedback.)