1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Publishing Fears/Thoughts

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Philip Overby, Mar 5, 2011.

  1. I wouldn't say that the majority of people who work in the publishing industry are incapable of writing a novel.

    I'd think it, but I wouldn't say it.
     
  2. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    2,011
    329
    83
    I would only refrain from saying it if the sense of "incapable" being used were the moral one–that is, I would say that they are not incapable of perpetrating a novel. And I suppose that they would be no less capable of generating the requisite physical form of a novel than the celebrated Infinite Monkeys of Stratford-just-off-Avon, so that objection can be removed as well.

    But writing one…? ;)

    Seriously, though: I'm with Kevin on this one… as I developed in some detail a couple months back in some thread or other. Most deficiencies can be overcome by perseverance and a will to learn; any that remain afterward can generally be taken care of by a decent copy editor. Barring organic brain damage, the only people who "can't" learn are the ones that believe they don't have anything to learn. And those people will indeed be incapable of writing a novel–regardless of whether or not they possess any (putative) innate talent.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  3. I probably should have chosen my words more carefully. Especially with you around to slap me down.:p Of course most people can write a novel - all that's required is discipline. Perpetrating art on an unsuspecting public, however, is a whole different kettle of frogs.

    Indeed, learning isn't the problem. There are writing workshops around the world which are busily engaged in teaching people how to write. The majority of those who attend such workshops will never write anything worth reading though. Why is that? I'd suggest it's because while theory can be taught, the 'innate talent' you so deride cannot (I'm not one of those who believe that simply writing about your cat makes you creative, at least not in any meaningful sense). Still, we've crossed swords regarding this topic elsewhere so I won't bother you further with my obviously antiquated views. I just thought your reply deserved a response as I tend to lose track of posts. I blame age, lack of sobriety, and the voices in my head which too often distract me.:)

    [edit: Bloody hell, Ravana, choose an avatar already even if it's one of the default options - I feel like I'm in Legoland.]
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2011
  4. kiercoria99

    kiercoria99 Dreamer

    20
    0
    1
    I'm finding the query letter difficult to create. I'm not afraid of the rejection so much as sending out queries and synopses that don't reflect my novel as I hope. Is there a thread or section that deals with critiquing queries and synopses?
     
  5. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    2,011
    329
    83
    Hee hee. Happier now? (You realize, of course, that you almost got one involving Legos.… ;) )
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  6. Elder the Dwarf

    Elder the Dwarf Maester

    617
    29
    28
    I've just started writing, but those four sentences couldn't describe me better.
     
  7. Elder the Dwarf

    Elder the Dwarf Maester

    617
    29
    28
    Gotta stop you there. I understand what you're trying to say, but those might not be the best examples, depending on what you consider to be "well". I could paint every day for the rest of my life and never even be a halfway competent artist, and I know for a fact that 85 percent of the people I know couldn't play baseball well if they hit two thousand balls a day for their entire lives (some of them have come close to that).

    Also, to the talent thing, I can't swallow that at all. I can honestly say that I am, if not the single laziest, then in the top ten laziest people I know. With that being said (and usually I'm very self-deprecating so please don't take this to be me being a cocky... tool. I don't know what else I'm allowed to say on this forum) I test well above average and (in my own opinion) am above average athletically (wow I didn't come off well writing that, did I?) So if talent is not "real" for lack of a better word, how is that possible?
     
  8. I'll agree that there's some level of genetics involved. ;) If you're born with above average intelligence, you will have an easier time tackling certain pursuits. Likewise, if genes favor you with good reflexes (higher fast twitch muscle counts), or a body type which stays in shape more easily, you might have a better than average response to some athletics.

    But there's something to be said for hard work, too.

    Genes can give someone an ability to pick up skills more rapidly; but they don't give the skills themselves (at least not in almost all cases). Trying not to sound equally cocky here - I was lazy through school, mostly because I was bored to tears. I was an auto-didact, did most of my learning on my own, and needed very little attention to school work to test very well. On the flip side, I was *never* talented physically (decent body shape, really poor early athletic focus). Despite that, I worked at martial arts hard enough for long enough to own one of the best schools in my state, very well known for the quality of instruction (something to do with having NOT been a natural, I think), eventually won a batch of medals from assorted nationals, and went on later to teach combatives courses to the US Army infantry.

    Hard work trumps genetics.

    You said that you "know for a fact that 85 percent of the people I know couldn't play baseball well if they hit two thousand balls a day for their entire lives". I suspect you'd be wrong - IF they were being taught to do so, training in an effective manner. With many skills, it's not enough to practice hard - you need to practice hard in the right way. The writer who writes every single day, without fail, but never reads anything to learn technique, or never has a master critique that technique, may well never earn great skill. Practice doesn't make perfect - perfect practice makes perfect. All that doing something the wrong way daily does for you is reinforce bad habits and poor craftsmanship.
     
  9. Elder the Dwarf

    Elder the Dwarf Maester

    617
    29
    28
    I don't know. I agree with everything you said and I was exaggerating but I think baseball specifically is a game that requires a lot of natural ability. It depends what your definition of being good is but I know a lot of people who have played all of their lives and struggle to even throw a strike or hit the ball out o the infield. Hand eye coordination, like speed, is a skill that can only be improved to a point, most of it is natural ability. On the flip side, I know some people that just picked up a bat last year and could make most high school teams because of their natural athletic ability. It is not as natural of a sport as basketball but it still requires a lot of natural ability. Hard work pays off but genetics determines to what extent your work helps.

    I'm going to stop now as this isn't a sports forum and I get way off topic when it comes to sports.
     
  10. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

    628
    227
    43
    I guess that depends on how you define best-selling. :) I've had all five of my books on Amazon's Best Seller's Lists for Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Action and Adventure, Men's Adventure, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Lists. This goes for both kindle and books bestsellers (which list both paper and ebooks). I held spots 1 - 5 on Historical Fantasy threre was never a time that at least 3 of my books weren't on multiple of the lists for about a year and a half. I sold 70,000 copies most of which occurred from Nov-2010 to Sep 2011 (when they were removed from the market). But no, I've yet to make the NYT or USA lists...the closest I got to Amazon Top 100 was 102.

    My best advice...is that you need to take some time to do some serious introspection and decide if this is REALLY what you want. The one thing I can promise you is that it only gets harder from where you are now. Each time you think you've made it there is a new moutain to climb and it's not for the faint of heart. You have to want it...with every bone of your body...and fight for it even when you know it is hopeless...because it will look hopeless on many occassions and you'll have a million reasons to quit. If you can't give 200% you'll probably spend a good bit of your time doing something that you'll eventually walk away from. We each only have a limited amount of time so spend it wisely. Now that being said...if you write for pure enjoyment and you don't care if you ever get published then I want to encourage you with unbriddled enthusiasm.

    That may not be the answer you were looking for but you asked so I thought I should give you my honest opinion.

    Yes this is still true, though unsolicited gets very little mindshare even when it is allowed so I would not suggest going after a major fantasy publisher without an agent.

    Small press is a viable alternative - my wife runs one and the authors there are doing very well...and of course don't totally rule out self-publishing especially if your stuff is really "quirkly" and may have a very niche audience.
     
  11. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

    628
    227
    43
    I'm going to respectfully disagree. Publishers use agents to separate the wheat from the chaff and unsolicited manuscripts ar read by very junior people and get very little attention. I would venture to say your chances of getting plucked from the unsolicited pile is very slim...and if you can't get a reputable agent interested then the work may not be strong enough to begin with. Even those that have agents sometimes can't be published so getting one is no guarantee of success. To say any agent that takes on an "unknown" is either not good or unscrupolous is IMHO not based on fact. Agent's need clients...if your work is good, and they think they can sell it, it doesn't matter if you are unknown.

    Both agents and publishers make their "submission requirements" very clear. And each one is different. Some want just a letter, some want an outlines, others want a ceratin amount of pages...I don't think any will ask for the whole thing to start with. But in any case the important thing is not to follow TOO THE LETTER what their requirements are. If they say they want 30 pages you stop EXACTLY at 30 pages. If they say they want your name in the upper right then you put it in the upper right. Many times this is a test to see if you took the time to do your research and if you don't follow their mandate then they figured you didn't take the time so they won't spend the time. People reading slush piles need to process huge amounts of submissions with very little time between - they look for reasons to reject you so it's important to play by their rules.

    A good agent will have a personal relationship with the editor they submit a work to. They already know that the piece will be "to their liking" and in that situation there is no higher-priority slush pile. Their job is to build enthusism in the piece with the editor so that they can sell it to the other people in the company (management, marketing, sales).

    I've not hard of any of these practices, but that doesn't mean they don't exist - carefully reading your contract applies no matter where it comes from - big press or small press alike.

    I agree there are many options now so consider your goals and align with them.

    Agree.

    I agree with the do your research...but also think there is little chance you'll get any "name recognition" as that guy. You would have to do somethign REALLY REALLY bad for anyone to remember you...they process literally thousands of submissions and they are forgotten as soon as the next one is read.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
    Dreamhand likes this.
  12. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

    628
    227
    43
    I usually find myself agreeing with Kevin but going to respectfully disagree this time. I think you CAN always improve your writing. In other words you can gain skill. Practice does make perfect and the more you do it...the more you study others...and attempt to learn from past mistakes...will make you a more "skillfull" writer than you were say 10 years ago.

    But "talent" is an innate ability that you either have or don't. The ability to invent ideas from nothingness can't be taught. You either do it naturally or you never will. I'm also a painter so I possess both of those innate abilities but I'll never be able to play baseball well enough for someone to pay me to do that for a living. No matter how hard I try or how much I might want to.
     
  13. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

    628
    227
    43
    I think what you are there are actually three ingredients.
    1. Skill - which you are in control to improve if you work at it.
    2. Talent - which you either have upon birth or at a minimum are set at a very young age and won't change overtime
    3. Perseverence - which is that you'll never stop until you reach your goal.

    Of the three I think #3 is probably the most important as if you give up it's game over. If you have all 3 then I think there is no doubt that you will "make it". If you have #1 or #2 and #3 your chances are pretty good. So in that respect Kevin is right in his optimistic belief that anyone who tries hard enough CAN succeed (i.e. you can get there with #1 and #3) but will your writing be exceptional? Will it stand the test of time? Only if you manage to get published and have #2 - at least that is my cents worth.
     
  14. Elder the Dwarf

    Elder the Dwarf Maester

    617
    29
    28
    It depends both on what your goal is and what you are talking about. If you are a writer and your goal is to get published, you are probably right. If, however, you play basketball and your goal is to get in to the nba, you are wrong. There are thousands of very talented 5'8" guys that work their asses off to play basketball. The lucky ones end up in a d II school and are never heard about. It all depends on what your definition of successful is.
     
  15. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

    628
    227
    43
    Good point, I define success as "being able to make a living from your writing"
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2011
  16. FictionQuest

    FictionQuest Scribe

    36
    3
    8
    This is an excellent discussion, but I can't help wondering what became of Phil the Drill. He started the thread back in March. Are there any updates? Did he find the courage do get his work out there? How does the story end?
     
  17. Elder the Dwarf

    Elder the Dwarf Maester

    617
    29
    28
    I like that definition for writers too, though some people probably have different opinions, as success is a very personal term. And, with writing, I think I agree with your earlier statements about work ethic and skill. My only real point was that there are some areas in life where a little hard work, or a lot for that matter, is not enough to get you by. As depressing as that might be, it is true.
     
  18. writeshiek33

    writeshiek33 Sage

    331
    29
    28
    i am publishing through a very small new company and paying for everything but on the flip side i get 100% royalties i know this sounds like a scam but with the folks that started the publishing company so far they been open and truthful so far
     
  19. writeshiek33

    writeshiek33 Sage

    331
    29
    28
    yes we who can create those ideas it is true but the real skill is developing them into something readable
     
  20. Most of the current research doesn't support the existence of innate talent, beyond the obvious: things like people who have specific genetic dispositions having a marginal edge in one thing or another.

    We talk about talent all the time, but the science doesn't support it. Right now, anyway; this time next year, the opinions might have swung back the other way, for all I know. ;)

    But here's my take on something important, something critical, something ABSOLUTELY crucial to every writer.

    Michael said that "The ability to invent ideas from nothingness can't be taught."

    I agree completely.

    It's not taught.

    It's HUMAN.

    No human being is without this ability. Ever.

    We might not use it much. We might not practice is, and therefore it might grow rusty and tired from disuse. But we all have it. We all have the innate, inherent ability to invent ideas from nothingness. Every human being does this, from the time they are a small child and on into death. We do it when we play. We do it when we write, or draw. We do it when we dream about the people we love. We do it when we wonder about what death means, and what comes afterward. We do it when we imagine the most wondrous, amazing things - and when we imagine the most simple and mundane.

    We create ideas from nothingness with every breath, with every blink, with every night's dream, with every curious thought.

    The ability to create ideas from nothingness is fundamental to being human. Central to being sentient. An inseparable part of what we are.

    And yes, there's no science behind any of that. ;) It's my belief - that the true beauty of humanity lies in our ability to dream something that isn't true - but perhaps could be. My belief that this power is something that we can each hone, and nurture, and grow, and build upon.

    Not some of us.

    All of us.

    Maybe it's silly. But it feels true to me.
     
Loading...

Share This Page