Friday, April 14, 2017

The Grim Situation In Publishing - We Need A Hard Reset

Over this last several days, I have been playing catch up and reading a ton of new submissions. What I have seen is very alarming, and I do believe, it is an issue that is not just happening here at Greyhaus, but across the entire industry. The market is full of a lot of people writing stuff, but not a lot of people who are true authors. OK, maybe that is a bit harsh. What I am simply saying is that there are a ton of people out there writing novels but not really understanding anything about the business, about publishing, about marketing, or even about how to craft a quality story. What this
industry really needs is a hard reset to get things back in order.

Please understand, I do know there are some great authors out there, but right now, that number is dwarfed by the number of people who really are lacking the skills to make it in this business. Don't get me wrong. I do believe these people have great intentions and want to do well, but without the skills, they will not likely find great success. What is worse, however, is that they will do what so many are currently doing, and try to do this on their own, either through self-publishing, or creating their own publishing company. The end result is that it becomes harder and harder for readers to truly find good books.

Reading through submissions it becomes clear that this is not just a random idea. As I said, I was seeing this over the last several days in large numbers. For example I saw authors who believe:

  • Novels can be 30,000 words or even 500,000 words.
  • Agents will accept every genre even though submission guidelines say otherwise
  • It is OK for YA novels to be written in the style of Fifty Shades of Grey
  • Grammar skills are not necessary since the computer will supposedly fix everything
I also have seen an increasing number of people who clearly miss doing market research to know where their book fits in the world. I have seen guys who submit a thriller war novel to me saying this would work for Harlequin Intrigue. I have seen people submit memoirs and saying that since they changed the names of some of the characters, the story is now fiction. 

But it gets worse. Authors email me from my website asking questions such as "How do I submit to Greyhaus?" or "What does Greyhaus represent?" The disturbing fact is that those guidelines are right there on the website. What is even more frustrating are the authors who use the form submission I have on the website to submit a non-fiction self-help book and then clicking a category such as Contemporary Romance. OK, so maybe some of these people are missing some literacy skills, but I do believe that the majority simply are believing that if they just get a project to an agent, it will be accepted. 

I do believe this problem does not just revolve around the authors. The publishers out there just taking everything, and yes, this is primarily the self-publishing sites, are not helping matters much. It seems that the only thing that matters is to see an income from anyone who just puts things on their website. The problem is the market now has a ton of books that really had not business being published. No, this is not to say that because the story doesn't fit the mold of what "the established publishers want." This is really an issue that these stories are far from ready to be put out to the public. 

I do believe this is a problem that can be fixed. It will take, as I said in the beginning, a hard reset. The industry as a whole needs to take some more time educating future authors on all of the essentials of publishing. We need to return to the basics and teach people how to write (let's face it, this is not being done in the education system that much). We have to push to bring more professionalism back into the publishing industry. Writing organizations need to push harder at their conferences and in their journals to increase education, to teach workshops in craft more than marketing. Writing contests need to admit that it is OK to set a minimum standard before advancing projects to final rounds. And yes, it would be OK to say that no novel in the historical category this year earned enough points to advance so an award will not be given out. 

Publishing can be saved, but we need to push for it. 

1 comment:

  1. I love your rant! The world in general has gotten confusing. (My rant!)

    Your statement: "What I am simply saying is that there are a ton of people out there writing novels but not really understanding anything about the business, about publishing, about marketing, or even about how to craft a quality story."

    Here is my question: I know you must have gone over these points a dozen times by now, but if you have a moment, would you mind giving a refresher; a concise list of what 10 (less or more - your choice) are the most important things a would-be author "needs" to learn in order to become a successful author? Something to be put on a poster and hung over the writing desk. You're absolutely right. We all need focus. Thank-you!!!