Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Subjective Nature Of Publishing

Over the last several days, I have been reading submissions and sending letters back to authors. One of the comments I find myself saying is that the story just did not work for me. As an agent who likes to provide some sort of feedback to authors when I pass on their story, this is probably the hardest to write. I know that all of you love to know "what you can fix" to make your story better and this type of letter does not help.

And yet, this is the nature of the publishing business. We may talk about sales, marketability, and numbers, in the end, this is a subjective business.

Let me explain it to you this way and it might make more sense. I am sure we have all faced this before. All of your friends have just read a book and totally love it. They go on and on about it so you decide to pick it up to experience the same excitement...

And that excitement is not there.

You read it and keep asking yourself, "Why did they like it? I didn't see what was so great about it."

In cases like this, there might not be anything to fix at all. The story just did not resonate with me as an agent or editor. And yes, this is tough.

For authors, while this type of response is not what you want, it is actually a positive response on several levels. First, you know that theoretically, the story is fine, but it was just a matter of sending it to the wrong person. The story still has life in it. And, on a second level, you can now start to determine "who" is right for your voice.

I have said this a lot here on the blog. Your story does not fit with everyone. Your voice is unique just like the publishers' and agents' voices are.

Remember also, you want someone who is crazy about your story. Just getting someone to "sell" your book is not going to work out for you the way you want.

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