After merely a few hours, I have already removed my book and account from autonomy.com. Within minutes of creating my account I was immediately spammed by tons of people wanting to create a reciprocal relationship where I would read and comment on their book and they would do the same to me. Not even 30 minutes had passed before I had a relatively glowing review hit my book.
Although the spamming was annoying, it was, admittedly, quite exciting. Here I was, just signing up for the new service and I was already receiving actual thoughts on my work. Or so I thought.
Being under the impression that this was a site for writers who were looking for critique on their writing, as I had hoped it was so I could get some ideas on how to better my work, I dived in, reading the books I had promised to read for a return on my investment and writing my thoughts on the little bits I had time to read. Some were grateful for the thoughts, stating they realized they still needed work.
However, as soon as I wrote my critique on the book written by the man who had given me such a glowing review, my glowing review was changed to a, well, not very happy review. It was not a critique, it was just a hastily written note, letting me know he wasn’t happy that I had the audacity to write something critical of his work.
After seeing this, I decided to dig deeper. On books, such as the one written by this gentlemen, which were atrociously written, there was nothing but loving messages about everything these books had going on. There was no critique, merely literary reach-arounds. This was not a critique site, this was an attempt at a popularity contest, assuming that whoever could get the most happy comments would be the winner of life.
I could definitely play the game and get my book toward the top of the list and possibly reviewed. I refuse to play like that.
I get it. The publishing market is not currently owned by the authors. I believe with the increasing usage of digital readers, ebook sales rising, we will begin to see that shift soon, but for right now, it’s just not the case. So, if you want to be a writer, you want to do whatever you can to get seen. And in the case of this site, the promise is that your book will be reviewed by some sort of brass at HarperCollins. That’s more than enough to get excited for. But, if your book sucks, it sucks. It won’t make a difference when it gets to them.
I keep seeing this thread going on within publishing circles, this constant need for ego stroking, which then allows an author to reach the next step in the process. I’m all for giving praise when it’s warranted. There are many cases right now where they just aren’t.
Such has been the case with my involvement in the querying process. Many agents expect you to include some message about why you chose them. Since these are not people you can really know much about personally, or even professionally, outside of what books they have sold in the past. That information can even be difficult to find.
So, it becomes another stroke of the ego, when you tell these agents why you think their awesome, followed up with why you’re awesome . . . I sometimes wonder, when reading all these notes about how to get your book sold, how much of it actually comes down to the writing itself.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not in any way trying to state that I don’t deserve the rejections I have been receiving. I have so little ability to separate myself from my own writing that I can’t honestly tell you whether it’s brilliant, or crap. I can tell you it’s better than my previous work. . . that’s about it.
And I’m also not saying that the case I’m laying out here is going on within the publishing industry at large, but it goes on enough that people who want to tell you how to query an agent or a publisher put a very strong emphasis.
As such, I never put anything on the agent-stroking or self-promotion side. I don’t generally think it’s worthwhile. On the agent side, I don’t know most of the authors these people represent. and the ones I do know either have absolutely nothing to do with my style of book, or, are in my opinion, just not all that great and therefore not someone I want to compare myself to.
On the side of self-aggrandizing. . . well, what’s there to promote. I regularly write on two minimally visited blogs and I’ve written a whole host of stuff no one’s ever seen before. Not really all the exciting. . . just sounds like someone trying to prop themselves up.
I try to be honest I’m a nobody, they should see me as a nobody.
Problem with being a nobody is that nobody reads the books of a nobody. That’s not entirely true, but I believe the focus is more on the larger dollar signs than they are on developing an author nowadays. so, anyways . . convincing someone to try to sell your book when you’ve got nothing going for yourself already, understandably difficult.
In other words, there are very few reasons to believe that anyone would consider me a worthwhile choice in representing. And if they were to take a look at either of my blogs, I fear I may come off as somewhat of a wingnut. . . that’s one of the problems with attempting to be honest nowadays. . . and talking about religion.
Now, the question I’m sure anyone reading this now must be asking is what this has to do with anything. Why am I sitting in my living room in the dark at almost midnight deciding to write on a blog that has no need for another article.
I guess because I figured I should catch the moment of revelation. You see, I want to be published, not self-published, but published. It’s a dream of mine.
But I can’t play the games. I’m not one to state my love for something that I don’t believe deserves it. And that’s where part of my problem comes in. I’ve been so focused on just finding agents to send things out to that I haven’t been looking for the right agent, the agent that I would choose, if this was actually a writer’s market. I’ve spent so much of my time just spamming the literary world, that I don’t even know much about these folks in the situations they actually come back with a request for pages.
The last few queries I’ve sent out, however, have been different. In fact, the agent that I have pages out with right now, well, she seemed perfect for me. She’s not some big-time agent (at least from what I can find), she has interest in the specific genre the book falls into, and it would appear that the agency she works for has had at least a modicum of success selling similar titles.
Am I concerned about the few things I found when digging deeper? Sure, slightly. But I’m not sure how concerned I should be. The publishing industry has a lot of weird stuff going on right now, especially off in the fringes. Some groups have taken advantage of that fact, others face speculation because they appear to be putting themselves in the situation where they have the opportunity to fall in that trap.
Maybe she’s the former, I’m hoping she’s the latter.
But she’s also not the end all of this process. In doing my minimal research today (was busy) to determine next steps, I was quickly able to find many agents who fit with my style much closer. In digging into the agents I have already received rejections on, I found that they were much more interested in things like romance novels, than they are on actual YA books, as stated in their ‘wants’.
In other words, I’ve been doing it wrong.
But here’s the real revelation that occurred. I want to sell my book and have the opportunity to write full time, but in actuality, I just want to write. I know i’ve made this realization in the past, but I feel the need to highlight it further here, especially for the sake of keeping an accurate account of the history of my writing.
I have so many things I want to write. Between Buddy Hero and The Agora files alone, I have another 5 books figured out. Outside of that, I’ve got the early synopsis and main plot of another 4 books. My head has yet another 5-7 books rolling around in there trying to figure out the hook. On top of that, I’ve got a couple of video series I’m working on, a few experimental writing opportunities available, and much more. I’ve got so much to write, whether or not I ever sell a single book to someone outside of my facebook friends (which includes my entire family).
I’m stuck writing either way. And that’s where the depression’s been hitting. I’ve been feeling this crisis because I just don’t know if I should continue writing, considering all the rejection it brings. But I just can’t quit, I won’t quit I wasn’t popular in grade school either, but once I made it to high school, that all changed quickly, just needed the right friends.
I’m going to do this right. The literary world was one of the last bastions of class in the entertainment options of the U.S. It’s quickly losing that place, as everyone’s trying their hardest to get their piece of the increasingly small margin of customers who read. When books like the Twilight series become such a phenomena that everyone’s looking for the next YA romance novel (albeit, vampires aren’t cool to submit about any more), you have to realize that the quality of our requirements in a book is decreasing quickly.
Luckily the success of The Hunger Games shows us that there’s still some chance. The good books need to get back on the shelves. I shouldn’t be seeing faces of celebrities as I walk into the book store, I shouldn’t see half naked men and women sitting under moonlight as they do whatever they’re doing on those romance novel covers. No, we need to start seeing the real writers again, the ones that relied on their talent, not their gimmicks.
There might not be any space on that bookshelf for me, but that’s sure as hell not going to keep me from trying.
And now I’m falling asleep at the keyboard, so I’m logging off.
I hope you all have a great day. Tomorrow is when I focus on the merits of being an author. . . I hope.