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A true story about getting published

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  #31  
Old 09-11-2015, 12:24 PM
Binx B
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But the agent supposedly said, "Unfortunately, you are not a very nice person and this shines through in your book." He didn't say anything about the cover letter.

So what if Phillip Roth's agent or publisher read the manuscript of Portnoy's Complaint and thought, this author must not be a very nice guy based in the unlikability of the protagonist.

Or J.D. Salinger or Bret Easton Ellis or Nabokov or even Dostoevsky?

So IF this was true, the other possibility is he wasn't a very astute agent. Agents put their pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us. How many times have you heard about agents or publishers who pass on highly successful novels?

Maybe the agent just whiffed, and the author was just too sensitive to the feedback. Anything is possible, that is if the story isn't apocryphal to begin with.


Last edited by Binx B; 09-11-2015 at 12:27 PM..
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  #32  
Old 09-11-2015, 12:47 PM
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To be specific, Marc's recollection of the story states that the author states that the agent stated ...

Last edited by poirot; 09-11-2015 at 12:50 PM.. Reason: changing emphasis
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  #33  
Old 09-11-2015, 12:53 PM
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So at best, we're talking about second and third hand information. Otherwise, there was no mention of the cover letter.

The more I think about it, this "true story" just keeps getting weaker and weaker; and it's not something I'm going to spend any more time considering.
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  #34  
Old 09-13-2015, 10:28 AM
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[QUOTE=poirot;706942]Once upon a time I would have said what I recalled Binx saying about valuing the quality of the writing. Not anymore. I want my work time to be reasonably enjoyable, and working with a difficult person does not meet that criteria. Given an inbox full of unsolicited manuscripts, I'd rather work with ten reasonable authors than one difficult one, no matter how brilliant or how much money he/she might bring in if published.


************************************************** **

Let me see if I have this right; According to your statement if J.K. Rowling was a total prima donna bitch to work with you wouldn't waste your time with her?

It sounds to me as though the supposed agent that told the writer he was such an asshole, yet his writing was outstanding, he couldn't see his way to publishing his work might have pissed away a small fortune.

Honestly this is not how it works in the business world. Not at all.

The world is full of talented assholes that have a viable commodity to offer the business sector. The smart business person takes advantage of those commodities without letting their personal opinions cloud their business judgment. They know they don't have to like them or fuck them or take long vacations with them. Just cash in and buy some top shelf hooch. It will help.

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Last edited by Gaines; 09-13-2015 at 10:40 AM..
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  #35  
Old 09-13-2015, 11:19 AM
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Reality check, folks.

Unsolicited manuscripts don't come with a label saying, "This is going to be a multi-million dollar best seller".

Unsolicited manuscripts are accepted by small publishers, not Scholastic.

Those small publishers sell the rights to Scholastic, or whoever.

Harry Potter sold for, if I recall correctly, a mere $100,000. So that publisher didn't make multi-millions.

So each unsolicited manuscript is a crap shoot. Do I spend my time fighting a jerk who doesn't want to take any advice on how to turn a potentially great book into one (instead of the decent book it currently is), or work with a reasonable author turning a decent book into a good book? I'll take the reasonable author.

And it is the author's own opinion that the book was great. Is that really accurate? Who knows?

I won't be defending my position on selecting which authors I'd represent any more. I think it beating a dead horse. You all are free to do as you please. If you want to become agents and represent difficult authors, go for it. I won't be working beside you, that's all.


Getting back to the question of how much author personality is visible in a book ...
I discussed this thread with fellow writers and one pointed out something I hadn't considered. It's not just the villain and how he or she is portrayed. It is all the characters, including victims. That's probably more telling than the villain.
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  #36  
Old 09-13-2015, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by poirot View Post
I won't be defending my position on selecting which authors I'd represent any more.
I won't either, because I'm not an agent.
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  #37  
Old 09-13-2015, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Binx B View Post
I won't either, because I'm not an agent.
Last I checked, no one asked you to. I responded to Gaines, not you.
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  #38  
Old 09-13-2015, 12:26 PM
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Oh, sorry about that.

But if you do ever end up working beside me, I keep granola bars in my desk drawer, and you're welcome to have one.
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  #39  
Old 09-13-2015, 12:43 PM
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I keep Scotch in mine.

I'd have to think about sharing.
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  #40  
Old 09-13-2015, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Gaines View Post
Let me see if I have this right; According to your statement if J.K. Rowling was a total prima donna bitch to work with you wouldn't waste your time with her?

It sounds to me as though the supposed agent that told the writer he was such an asshole, yet his writing was outstanding, he couldn't see his way to publishing his work might have pissed away a small fortune.
I think you're beside the point here. My interpretation was that a novel can be of excellent literary quality, but still totally unsaleable, because of character-traits of the author 'coloring' the content of the story, e.g. an extremely pessimistic worldview, exaggerated arrogance, a complete disdain for the reader, ... and more likely a combination of those. Don't we all know some people who are very good at something, anything, but we don't want too close, because they are just not nice persons? I can believe this can transcendent personal contact and influence the reception of the work of a writer.
And before you do so, please don't start enumerating successful authors with a pessimistic worldview, (e.g. Baudelaire), exuberant arrogance (e.g. Bret Easton Ellis) or disdainful to their audience (e.g. James Joyce), I know them, too. I don't say it always works this way, still I feel it is not impossible.
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  #41  
Old 09-13-2015, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Marc Haertjens View Post
I think you're beside the point here.
It's all beside the point as far as I'm concerned.

An aspect of writing talent is understanding how people respond to characters. Yes, it's possible that someone is so tone deaf to that basic idea they could write a technically brilliant novel, but it might be one where readers can't relate to the characters or their circumstances in any way.

Hey, guess what? That's called bad writing. And what happens? Agents and publishers will reject it. Is this a revelation? I don't think so. So what if an agent wants to add some half-ass, armchair psychoanalysis to it?

The "reality check" is, this shouldn't matter to a talented writer who isn't a jerk or a sociopath. And on top of that, trying to second guess how real agents operate based on this particular concern or they MIGHT react to some manuscript you haven't read or that may or may not have ever existed seems pretty pointless.

Last edited by Binx B; 09-14-2015 at 04:36 AM..
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  #42  
Old 09-14-2015, 03:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Marc Haertjens View Post
My interpretation was that a novel can be of excellent literary quality, but still totally unsaleable, because of character-traits of the author 'coloring' the content of the story, e.g. an extremely pessimistic worldview, exaggerated arrogance, a complete disdain for the reader, ...
i woud have thought that the latter half of that would mean that the novel probably isnt of excellent literary quality unless your opinion of literary quality is putting some nice words in and getting them in the right order!
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  #43  
Old 09-14-2015, 04:52 AM
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I think there's kind of a Godwin's law for writing arguments. Instead of Hitler, it's Harry Potter.
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  #44  
Old 09-22-2015, 12:43 AM
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Be good or be good at it.
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  #45  
Old 09-22-2015, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by calligraphy View Post
Be good or be good at it.
Words to stay out of prison by.
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Mr. Ed said I should use his signature, since he's not anymore. In honor of his good friend Nok, here it is: "As far as smoking a cigar," she said, "I'd not know where to start or how to start." "It's simple," said I, "You light one end and chew on the other and hope to meet in the middle."
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  #46  
Old 11-14-2015, 11:00 AM
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I must be schizoid because I write quaint heartwarming stuff and truly disturbing nutjob stuff and fall-off-your-chair funny stuff. The writing has little to do with the writer, I think. I also think that editor was a fool to pass up a 'brilliant' writer (as many editors are) and miss out on an opportunity to make MONEY; the editor should have told the 'brilliant' writer how to revise so they could both make MONEY.
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  #47  
Old 02-07-2016, 05:15 PM
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if you're a pussyfussay, everyone can notice and doesn't care for your books.

Originally Posted by calligraphy View Post
Be good or be good at it.
erm, calligraphy? do you know what that phrase indicates?

Originally Posted by Prodigalson View Post
Words to stay out of prison by.

everybody loves ray....sss of odd sunshine!

Originally Posted by Prodigalson View Post
I keep Scotch in mine.

I'd have to think about sharing.
^ha

Originally Posted by Binx B View Post
I think there's kind of a Lord Rawling's law for writing arguments. Instead of Hitler, it's Harry Potter.
wat's the connection? from my pov, i have no clue.

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  #48  
Old 02-15-2016, 07:43 AM
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Icon3 Quite but not

just might add (not purely relative to the OP's):

"It's really like getting laid: if you're not in the mood, or healthy enough, it simply won't happen the way you intended to".

The state of body and mind affects the outcome, and can put a nasty stamp on your writing. I find sometimes parts (or even all) of my writing to be not quite "there". Those I simply delete or rewrite; as they plainly reek from all sorts of bad things. But, I can't delete them all... The first World struggle is real.

cheers!
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  #49  
Old 02-15-2016, 08:40 AM
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sometimes, it's called a query letter.

also, the cover? letter....
Originally Posted by poirot View Post
Every manuscript also comes with a cover letter. Or should.

No. It wasn't, if it actually happened, just the manuscript.
Originally Posted by Binx B View Post
But the agent supposedly said, "Unfortunately, you are not a very nice person and this shines through in your book." He didn't say anything about the cover letter.

So what if Phillip Roth's agent or publisher read the manuscript of Portnoy's Complaint and thought, this author must not be a very nice guy based in the unlikability of the protagonist.

Or J.D. Salinger or Bret Easton Ellis or Nabokov or even Dostoevsky?

So IF this was true, the other possibility is he wasn't a very astute agent. Agents put their pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us. How many times have you heard about agents or publishers who pass on highly successful novels?

Maybe the agent just whiffed, and the author was just too sensitive to the feedback. Anything is possible, that is if the story isn't apocryphal to begin with.
Originally Posted by Binx B View Post
So at best, we're talking about second and third hand information. Otherwise, there was no mention of the cover letter.

The more I think about it, this "true story" just keeps getting weaker and weaker; and it's not something I'm going to spend any more time considering.
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