This Week's Topic:
How far would you go to get published? We writers can form quite an attachment to our characters and stories. But we also know publishing is a business, and sometimes to make it in said business--to really build a career from it--we have to bend a bit. How far would you go to break into the publishing world?
|(Image via YA Highway)|
Being willing to work with an agent on revisions seems like a no-brainer. If you belong to a writing group, if you have beta readers, if you solicit feedback on your novel from ANYONE, then it only makes sense to be willing to take feedback from the person who's going to try to help turn your manuscript into a real live book.
But beyond that, it seems that it can be so challenging to get a novel past the editor's gates that one must be open to their revisions. The following chart and blog post shared with me by Phoebe North opened my eyes regarding how the process of getting a manuscript accepted by an editor works. (WARNING: Do not follow the links if you are having an especially discouraging writing day).
Nobody can expect to be a special snowflake and write in a bubble of purity that rejects any input from an agent or editor. If you want to be an independent agent, then the route of e-publishing is open. For some, like Elle Lothlorien, this route is working really well. But if you want to go the conventional route, then you have to be flexible.
Of course, there are situations where an author might be asked to make revisions that fundamentally alter something about the book that's truly important to him or her. If you're in that situation, I suppose you have to weigh how important it is to you to publish the manuscript in any form, versus sticking to your vision. I may be a potential artistic sell-out, but I know that if I were in that position, I would make the fundamental alterations.
You know the cliche about your book being like your baby? I think that being unwilling to alter your book is like having a child and confining him to the house for his entire life, so that he won't be contaminated by outside influences. At a certain point, a book becomes a joint endeavor, much like raising a child. If everything goes well, the kid goes off to kindergarten. Of course, you're not going to let your child go to a kindergarten where the teachers abuse him. If the manuscript changes suggested feel completely wrong, then I suppose you might have to withdraw it. But if it's a normal kindergarten, and a normal revision situation, then you have to let them go out into the world without controlling every step.
All that being said, I think some of the "bases" presented here might not be helpful in getting you published. In terms of jumping on a trend bandwagon, it's not going to work if it doesn't result in a good book. If you told me that the next big YA thing was Harlequin-style romances, I doubt I could write one, because I'm not really interested in that genre. I've read a few, and enjoyed them for what they are, but I don't have any stories that I want to tell in that vein. It's hard enough to get a novel published that you've invested your heart and soul into. If you can't put that kind of passion into a manuscript, I doubt that it would be successful, even it's the hot new genre or trend.
One of the hardest things for me to accept as I've been querying my first novel and learning more about the publishing world is how subjective and market driven it is. It's a bitter pill, but pretending it's not there won't make it go away.