I give credit to Micheal Offutt for inspiring this week's topic. Why? Because the man's a genius. That's why!
Lately, I've read a lot of letters. Many of them have something in common. Publishing is a very subjective business. Subjective. What is that, exactly? My trusted dandy dictionary has this to say on the ... subject:
Subjective (adj): taking place within the mind and modified by individual bias.
Individual Bias. Those are the key words.
Regardless of genre, when you write a book, you're giving us a story told through something known as your World View. Never mind Nature vs. Nurture. Everyone has a unique perspective of the very same world we share. A single sunset can be described in a million different ways. It makes sense that your presentation might clash with someone's world view. It will. On the flip side, someone will fall head-over-heals for your writing.
Finding the person who will publish you is the fun part.
When it comes to publishing, subjectivity takes on a new meaning. Agents and editors are bombarded every day by submissions. I can't imagine what they and their assistants wade through. Given their circumstances, schedules, and personal lives, they must be subjective. You may have the best novel of the last century in your possession, but if they don't catch the vision of your world view ... that's okay! I'd rather have my work represented by someone who loves my vision and is willing to sit for hours-on-end reading my shlock.
Here's a personal example. My latest novel, Woven. I researched the genre and can safely say there's nothing out there quite like it. But what's out there, right now, is what's selling. That's the job of an agent--find someone new that will sell with the other guys. As an unpublished author, how do I sell something completely untested in the present market? If you have an answer, do tell!
I've had over a dozen readers get back to me. Every one of them loved it. One went as far as to say, "Dude ... you're like, the male Shannon Hale!" Considering we own the Bayern books, that was quite a compliment!
Now, take Rachel Harrie's latest Campaign Challenge. My entry is not among the finalists. I wasn't even a semi-finalist. Am I bitter? No no no no! I helped judge. I read oodles of entries that far surpass mine. Based on who the judge was, they subjected my story and others. To that awesome person's world view, someone else's entry appealed to them more. And kudos to them.
If you check my entry, you'll find well over a hundred comments. Though not perfect and written on the fly, the story was well received. Can I say it? You liked it!
What better reward could I ask for?
That, my friends, is what I consider a healthy attitude about writing. Be patient. Don't fret if your work doesn't mesh with most agents and editors. Someone will catch your vision. You want someone who sees your story the way you do and will make it better. Don't settle for less.
Do you write with hopes of making bank? Winning awards? Having uncountable/adoring fans?
Or do you write simply because you love it?
This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter. We're in this subjective business together. Some of us need to polish our voice. Some of us are on the cusp. Some of us have names on book covers. Not all #1 best sellers are that great. Some of the most amazing books ever never made it to the top 100. It's all subjective.
And that's okay.
Your match is out there. Looking. Waiting.
Show your stuff!
Do you write outside your genre because agents want another? Do you write what you love and stick with it? What authors have others compared you to?
I'm David, and I'm the male Shannon Hale!