A recent Absolute Write thread entitled “I’ve had it with this B.S.” sparked a good deal of debate over at the forums.
The original poster had no doubt gulped a spoonful of bitter and opted to spew the bad aftertaste onto the rest of the writing community. But lest we all decide to prescribe to his new brand of “genius” and thus shirk any responsibility we have for our own failure let’s look at a few of his points.
“The world is a big place full of wonder and fantastical ideas and they’ve [agents] reduced it to a single cart-full of dung.”- As flattering as that is to writers everywhere I tend to think there’s a lot of great stories/writing out there. Here’s the thing. Readers don’t HAVE to buy a book. They don’t go to the bookstore feeling obligated to purchase. Nobody is watching their back making sure they pick up that hardback copy of Twilight. Readers are consumers and they are purchasing novels because THEY think that the book is a good investment. They want to read it. Bestsellers don’t run around with thousands of screaming fans because someone is holding a gun to their head.
“Those who moan glowingly about their deep understanding of the written word yet don’t seem interested in anything that doesn’t involve vampires, the paranormal, or women’s lib.”- Um, is there anything saying that people who write in the paranormal genre can’t also have a deep understanding of the written word? And besides, that constitutes a corner of the market. Did DaVinci Code fall into one of those categories? How about The Gargoyle? No? Shoot.
“If I’d known that agencies only place submission criteria on their websites to lend themselves an air of credibility then I wouldn’t have wasted my time and resources sending them query letters.”- Yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and say that that’s probably not the purpose of submission guidelines. People get requests (partials and fulls) from the slushpile all the time.
“Believe it or choose not to, but if you are an unpublished writer without connections you’re playing the lottery.”- This was one of his major points and I think he’s just wrong. Writers do get plucked out of the slushpile. And I’ve seen countless writers get progressively more requests from book 1 to book 2 to book 3 until finally they landed an agent. Is that luck? Of course not. The sentiment is an easy way to make yourself feel better though. If it’s just luck then the fact that manuscript could be better…well, that’s not on you, is it? Because if it’s just a lottery than whatever you do, it doesn’t matter.
I don’t know what y’all think. But, to me, that is the most depressing way to go about life ever. And then to later suggest that not seeing your success as luck means you lack humility? Ugh.
So, as a counter argument and to derive something good from the very long and aggravating discussion going on over there, let’s all remember that the harder we work, the more likelier we are to win and be thankful for that. Let’s be open to suggestions, ready for change, and prepared to walk through any doors that do open for us.
To read Jay’s take on the AW thread click here.
Status: I received my 2nd offer of representation today, so I’ve spent a lot of time talking to other writers, seeing what is important to them. I’d like to thank some of the great people over at AW and the BlueBoards for being so open to helping me make the right choice for me. Y’all are awesome.