A friend of mine, who has published at least 10 novels in the crime genre, has written a new one.
She was unable to get an agent, (some didn’t even bother to call her back or return her email) despite having been published, so she decided to send it to editors herself. Not cold. Editors she’d met at various conventions, etc.
Here, from an editor at a major house, is the last paragraph of a rejection letter that praised her novel.
“This is a fine piece of work, as you no doubt are painfully aware, but I’m not sure that we could convince the big stores to buy thousands and thousands of copies. And that is my mandate these days.”
It just makes me feel all warm and cozy. And it definitely makes me want to sit down in front of my computer and hit those keys. Not that I intend to write a book that will make those big fat stores buy thousands and thousands of copies. And that’s just the point.
Who is going to publish the books I write…the books that you write? I know the mid-list category for fiction is nonexistent but I didn’t think it was happening in the crime genre.
The editor’s mandate. Discouraging and depressing. I’ve never sold thousands and thousands of copies to the chains. Most of us don’t. We all know who does. Ten, twenty at most. And they’re the people who get major reviews and big time ads. Over and over again.
I know there are quite a few independent publishers and I certainly wouldn’t mind being published by one of them. I’d like it. Still, the idea that unless you can be sure you’ve written a BIG book that will have the BIG stores buying thousands and thousands of copies is, in a word, disgusting.
The stores run publishing now. Not news, I know. And the sales people at the publishing houses help decide who will be published.
Where does a new writer go? How does he/she get an agent? Agents also think about those thousands and thousands of copies. And on and on.
I’ve always believed that a good book would eventually be published. I’ve changed my mind. That won’t happen unless you fulfill an editor’s mandate. And trust me, this isn’t an isolated approach to publishing.
So, what to do? I think there are three choices. Write what you want, anyway, get a job if you don’t have one or retire from the whole thing.
It’s up to you.