A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Rock Stars and Writers

Writers are a part of the entertainment industry. Maybe this has escaped many of you, but it’s a fact that you might as well get used to. As a writer, you are in direct competition with music, video games, movies, the internet (although not as much) sports, etc.

So let’s start thinking like a rock and roll band.

Rock bands begin in basements, garages, dorm rooms, wherever, anyplace that can tolerate their noise. They get together, perfect their sound, cut a CD, and look for someone to either agent them or record them. Does this sound familiar so far? To be successful, a band must be original and have a different sound—familiar—huh-huh?? I’m sure you’ve heard this before—different—original.

There is lots of competition in the music industry, so you have to have an image along with a different and original sound. After you find a record deal, you have to either promote yourself by going on tour, hire someone to promote you, or both.

How many rock bands make it in the music business? How many writers make it in the publishing business? Are you seeing the similarities?

Now that we’ve gotten past that—hopefully, we’ve gotten past that. If not, pay closer attention. Let’s take a close look at publishing. Some wiseass said to me the other day, “Well, I don’t understand. Look at all the junk out there in the bookstores. My book is better than any of those books.” This may well be true. But do you know why there is so much junk in the bookstores, so many horrible reads. It’s because of volume. Bookstores will shelve junk just to give the appearance that they have a huge selection of titles available.

“Nahhh,” you say. “They can’t do that because it would cost them too much to stock all those books if they aren’t going to sell them.”

Okay writers, here is comes. The first gem you can take home with you on our little adventure into understanding this screwed up industry that you want so badly to be a part of. Bookstores can return 100% of their books back to the publisher and get their money back. Have you ever heard of an industry in which the buyer of a product for sale can return their stock if it doesn’t sell. Damaged goods you can understand somewhat, but stuff that doesn’t sell is allowed to be returned with a 100%, money back, guarantee. This is why bookstores can stock junk.

I’ll take a short digression here as to why bookstores won’t stock POD titles. You guessed it—no return policy, plus one other small thing—price. Are you getting the picture now?

My god, ten minutes with Sammy and you’re already selling why it’s so tough to get published today. Plus that extra gem—why I don’t want to POD publish my book.

Next—rock star celebrity. Why is it that Daniel Steel can produce stinker books and still sell thousand—no millions of them? For the same reason the Rolling Stones are still around and selling millions of CDs. CELEBRITY NAME RECOGNITION.

Why is it that CD music lovers will risk being killed in rush hour traffic to buy the newest CD from their favorite musician? Isn’t it the same reason readers stood in line at midnight a few months ago to buy the latest Harry Potter? Isn’t it celebrity name recognition that drives folks to do dumb things? Was the CD better than some unknown’s music? Is Harry Potter better than other writers who are struggling to make it? Probably not on both counts. Then why? If you can answer that question and bottle it, you can make a million.

Publishers and record producers are in business to make money. Why else would they be in business, right? Now ask yourself this, “Can a publisher make more money from a celebrity or some unknown?” There you go. Your answer number two as why it’s so difficult to get published. You, my writer friends, are in competition not only with other forms of entertainment, but also with celebrity writers. And you say to yourself, this is simple stuff. Hell! Everyone knows this stuff.

Do they? Then why do they ask stupid questions?

Okay. Now it’s time for a test?

Name a huge American owned multi-national corporation that makes movies, publishes books, owns a piece of major television, produces CDs, DVDs, and other digital media. Probably does much more too but this should be enough to get you started. When you have the answer, you will begin to see the light. Oh, and they also own another thing that they acquired but is losing them money because of what happened a few years ago.
Writers are a part of the entertainment industry. Maybe this has escaped many of you, but it’s a fact that you might as well get used to. As a writer, you are in direct competition with music, video games, movies, the internet (although not as much) sports, etc.

So let’s start thinking like a rock and roll band.

Rock bands begin in basements, garages, dorm rooms, wherever, anyplace that can tolerate their noise. They get together, perfect their sound, cut a CD, and look for someone to either agent them or record them. Does this sound familiar so far? To be successful, a band must be original and have a different sound—familiar—huh-huh?? I’m sure you’ve heard this before—different—original.

There is lots of competition in the music industry, so you have to have an image along with a different and original sound. After you find a record deal, you have to either promote yourself by going on tour, hire someone to promote you, or both.

How many rock bands make it in the music business? How many writers make it in the publishing business? Are you seeing the similarities?

Now that we’ve gotten past that—hopefully, we’ve gotten past that. If not, pay closer attention. Let’s take a close look at publishing. Some wiseass said to me the other day, “Well, I don’t understand. Look at all the junk out there in the bookstores. My book is better than any of those books.” This may well be true. But do you know why there is so much junk in the bookstores, so many horrible reads. It’s because of volume. Bookstores will shelve junk just to give the appearance that they have a huge selection of titles available.

“Nahhh,” you say. “They can’t do that because it would cost them too much to stock all those books if they aren’t going to sell them.”

Okay writers, here is comes. The first gem you can take home with you on our little adventure into understanding this screwed up industry that you want so badly to be a part of. Bookstores can return 100% of their books back to the publisher and get their money back. Have you ever heard of an industry in which the buyer of a product for sale can return their stock if it doesn’t sell. Damaged goods you can understand somewhat, but stuff that doesn’t sell is allowed to be returned with a 100%, money back, guarantee. This is why bookstores can stock junk.

I’ll take a short digression here as to why bookstores won’t stock POD titles. You guessed it—no return policy, plus one other small thing—price. Are you getting the picture now?

My god, ten minutes with Sammy and you’re already selling why it’s so tough to get published today. Plus that extra gem—why I don’t want to POD publish my book.

Next—rock star celebrity. Why is it that Daniel Steel can produce stinker books and still sell thousand—no millions of them? For the same reason the Rolling Stones are still around and selling millions of CDs. CELEBRITY NAME RECOGNITION.

Why is it that CD music lovers will risk being killed in rush hour traffic to buy the newest CD from their favorite musician? Isn’t it the same reason readers stood in line at midnight a few months ago to buy the latest Harry Potter? Isn’t it celebrity name recognition that drives folks to do dumb things? Was the CD better than some unknown’s music? Is Harry Potter better than other writers who are struggling to make it? Probably not on both counts. Then why? If you can answer that question and bottle it, you can make a million.

Publishers and record producers are in business to make money. Why else would they be in business, right? Now ask yourself this, “Can a publisher make more money from a celebrity or some unknown?” There you go. Your answer number two as why it’s so difficult to get published. You, my writer friends, are in competition not only with other forms of entertainment, but also with celebrity writers. And you say to yourself, this is simple stuff. Hell! Everyone knows this stuff.

Do they? Then why do they ask stupid questions?

Okay. Now it’s time for a test?

Name a huge American owned multi-national corporation that makes movies, publishes books, owns a piece of major television, produces CDs, DVDs, and other digital media. Probably does much more too but this should be enough to get you started. When you have the answer, you will begin to see the light. Oh, and they also own another thing that they acquired but is losing them money because of what happened a few years ago.

6 Comments:

  • At 11:09 AM, Blogger Fran said…

    You probably mean Time-Warner...I think.

     
  • At 9:12 AM, Blogger Bernita said…

    Do I detect a deliberate campaign to discourage all first-time writers to submit anything anywhere?

     
  • At 12:46 PM, Blogger SammyK said…

    Sorry Fran:

    Yes you're right--Time Warner. They do movies, Time magazine, television, did do music until recently, own AOL, and publish books among other things.

     
  • At 12:58 PM, Blogger SammyK said…

    To answer your question Bernita, no. I do not discourage writers, first time or any writers from doing anything. I only discourage wannabees--I wannabe rich, I wannabe famous, I wannabe a celebrity and I don't wanna work at any of the above. To become a NOVELIST takes many years of study and just because a writer wants to be ain't gonna make it happen. Every one can write. It's something you learn early in life. Not everyone can be a novelist, nor should they be. There is an ingredient usually let out in that vast distance between writer and novelist and that ingredient is talent. Sorry, not every has that special gift. Just as not everyone can be a concert pianist, not everyone can be a novelist.

     
  • At 6:28 AM, Blogger Bernita said…

    Thank you.
    Not guilty.

     
  • At 12:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

Post a Comment

<< Home