She posed an interesting question last week. She asked the following (I’m paraphrasing): With the ease of self-publishing, should everyone who’s been rejected by mainstream publishing go ahead and self-publish? Here’s a portion of her post:
“Other than when I say, “It’s not my cup of tea;” when I don’t finish a book what are the reasons?
“Probably the reason I give most often and one that has a multitude of underlying causes is that it is hard to read. This can mean that it is boring, poorly written, an ugly or depressing story. It can also mean it is a story wherein nothing happens; it has no plot.
“What do I mean by poorly written? Aside from technical aspects of writing, I mean what I term expository writing. This is when a writer tells me what the character is thinking, saying, and doing instead of showing me. Of course, the entire book cannot be dialogue (then it would be a script) but needs a balance between narration and dialogue. Invariably, and I mean invariably, the books I find with this imbalance are self or vanity published with an occasional independent publisher.
“I am not saying that all self or indy published books are written this way. There are many well-written indy or self-published books and in the e-book age more good writers are self-publishing. But, I have never reviewed a big house published book written this way. A good editor can make or break a book.
“Strangely, I never hear this discussed. Is it a taboo to tell someone they need to write more dialogue? Sometimes good work gets rejected. Sometimes something I don’t enjoy gets published. But, if rejection slips arrive, The first thing I would do if I wrote fiction, instead of running to the computer to self-publish, would be to look at this aspect of a book.
“I applaud anyone who puts his or her work out-it’s like running naked in a parade. But if you do decide to write and show it then please, please look at this in your writing.
“Then the next thing I can say is that the dialogue is either too much, hard to follow (who said that?) or just off. I find newer writers tend to write men speaking with each other like pre-teen boys playing war with or without GI Joes. It’s like a less polite “nudge-nudge, wink-wink.”
“There are other things that bug me just as much. What about you? What do you you find hard to read? What makes a book unworthy ofyour time?
“Please note these are the thoughts of a morning, solely my opinion.”
I thought about Stephanie’s morning thoughts. She makes a very valid point, several actually. Many indie authors have not only rejected mainstream publishing (often with good reason), but they’ve rejected good writing in the hopes of making a quick buck. And sometimes they do, make a quick buck, I mean. It’s also possible they either don’t know what good writing is or don’t care; they just want to be published. Anybody can put words on a piece of paper or use a word processor. That’s not the definition of dedication to your craft and getting published doesn’t necessarily indicate talent.
I believe writing a good story not only requires at least a modicum of talent, it takes practice. Let me repeat that, writing a good story not only requires at least a modicum of talent, it takes practice. It also requires a willingness to look hard at your own creation and edit – either on your own or together with a decent editor. I agree with Stephanie, a good editor can make or break a book.
My experience differs from Stephanie’s in that I’ve read numerous books released by mainstream publishers that were either poorly conceived, poorly written, poorly edited, or all three. Indie authors haven’t cornered the market on bad books, that’s for damn sure.
I’d also like to discuss rejection letters. Many people mistakenly assume authors who submit work for consideration generally receive actual rejection letters. Those days are long gone. More often, a rejection letter takes the form of no response from either a publisher or a literary agent. In other words, if you don’t hear from me in X amount of time, or in, say, forever, go ahead and assume you’ve been rejected.
It’s been years since I’ve received a real rejection letter, one that actually explains why a work has been rejected, and even those I can count on three fingers. Typically, an author receives (if he or she receives anything at all) a form letter consisting of one sentence – This work does not meet our needs at this time, signed – The Agency or The Publisher. Often, there is no letter head on the half sheet of paper folded into the SASE, and no return address so the author doesn’t have a clue who’s rejecting the work, unless the author sent out a single query. Of course with email queries, no news is bad news. If you’re lucky, you might receive that one all-encompassing sentence in a form email.
Okay, just my thoughts. Stephanie never fails to make some interesting points. Here’s the original post.