Sunday, 19 April 2009

When Good Enough Isn't Good Enough

It's been quiet round here just recently, mainly because I have been focussing on edits on my latest wip so that my agent can begin submitting [Wow! lots of passive voice] to publishers. The first three magical chapters which make or break an introduction have been polished to a fine shine, or until the gilt has started to come off, I'm not sure which!

Submitting queries and receiving rejections, or even a response at all, is a stressful time for any writer. Several authors on my critique group are in the throes of submissions, and they have reported back recently that rejections from agencies and publishers are being accompanied by glowing tributes to the storyline and style, finishing with,
'Your writing is eminently publishable, but in this current climate we are unable at this time to offer you etc etc.' or words to that effect.

Is that an encouraging response, or not?

It used to be accepted that a rejection meant your work needed more work, and if you received a few tips on how to improve, so much the better. You could then apply what was necessary and try again. It appears that in these precarious times you can be every bit good enough to be published, but there's no place for you right now on the world's bookshelves.

So where does that leave new authors? Are established writers receiving these comments too? If so what do they do with them? If an agent or publishers says your work is good, do you shelve it until the trends change, or continue to improve? And where do you stop? There is such a thing as over editing - well I think so anyway.

I cannot 'not' write though, so my next wip is taking shape as the bubble beneath the skin has stared to erupt as new ideas emerge. Perhaps that one will interest a publisher enough to produce it - what am I saying, negative attitude or what, my agent hasn't even submitted the novel yet!


N. Gemini Sasson said...

Hi Anita,

Some tough questions and only time will tell the answer. But like water trying to force itself through a crack in a dam, eventually the number of talented new authors looking for readers (and hopefully the number of readers looking for something fresh and worthwhile) will create new avenues for publication. In time, I think it will all sort itself out, but whether the traditional publishing routes will open back up as the economy rebounds or if they will stay restricted and new options open up, remains to be seen.

IOW, I wish I'd tried my hand at writing ten or twenty years sooner. This is sure not an easy time to try to break into the business!


Anita Davison said...

Thanks Gemi - I submitted Duking Days I to a major publisher - before I had put it through a critique group and the acqusitions editor, who is a well known name in the publishing world, wrote and told me that if I had written it ten years ago, he would have published it immediately as it was exactly the sort of thing in demand - then.

His encouragement was what made me join two critique groups. Perhaps, I had been published then, it would have been a fluke because I didn't know enough. Knowing me, I would have been too arrogant to bother learning either.

I have tried much harder with my two Victorian novels, and just maybe, if I get a chance, these will be worth publishing - or not!

Anne Gilbert said...

Anita, you trare hardly alone. My writing partner is writing a sort of literary fantasy based on her memories of her home town(a small town in the "dry" eastern 2/3 of My Fair State), and she's submitted to various agents and essentially gotten rejected several times. One local publishing outfit she tried to submit to, kept her dangling and dangling for a while, then when she inquired,she found out they weren't taking any more manuscripts! I'm in a similar position to yours, and hers,because (a)my book is a "hybrid" genre,and (b), nobody seems to be publishing anything like it at the moment. But I persist anyway, because I think the story is there, and, with work,I think itw will be publushable. Everyone who has read it so far(and there are a number of them who know what they're doing) thinks it's a good story, and they like it. This is veyr supportive and encouraging. So I'll just pass some of that encouraggment on,and tell you, "hang in there". And I will await your great breakthrough with pleasure.
Anne G

Jen Black said...

The recession probably makes publishers hang fire, but agents need to keep their commissions coming in, I would have thought. Maybe a good time to get an agent?