A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Monday, November 28, 2005

How Sammy Dares

I'm in the mood to rant...and so I will! Mondays after a holiday are hell.

I had a writer berate me the other day, after I’d rejected her, that she had invested a year writing her novel, so how dare I call it a piece of crap? HOW DARE I?!? Let me shout so all of you can finally understand how I DARE. Writing, dear wannabes, is merely a hobby until you finally get someone to invest their money in publishing your crap. Until then I, being a PAID professional, can DARE tell you to FUCK OFF and get away with it.

Case in point: A golfer is just a golfer—a duffer, if you will—until he is good enough to turn pro and, even then, that golfer is still not considered a real pro until he places in the money in competition with his peers. Okay, I hear you. It’s unfair that Sammy compares golfing, a sport, with writing, an art. Okay, wri-tahs, let’s use dancing as an example--that is if you agree that dancing is an art form. How long does a person need to fork over hard cash for training before she starts making money at dancing—days, months, years? Probably years, right? If ever? Even then, after years of practice, how many dancers become prima ballerinas? Maybe one in a million…maybe.

So you decided you want to be a writer. Most wannabes of the variety of which I speak decided in their 40’s because it seems all wannabes get that gleam in their eye about this age. With no novelist training, you picked up your pencil and began. In most cases, most of you who receive rejection from me had no coaching, no schooling, no practice—no fucking anything. You sit your ass behind a computer keyboard and have the nerve to suddenly declare yourself a professional writer.

There’s miles and miles between whacking a ball and being a professional baseball player, and there's miles and miles between dumping ink on a page and being a writer. It takes talent, first of all, and years of practice, persistence, performance, and being pissed upon. You don’t just dash off ninety thousand words and declare yourself a professional novelist. So don’t tell me, “How could I dare?” Who are you? Your job is to know who YOU are and YOUR standing in a profession YOU hope to aspire to. As far as I’m concerned, until you are professionally published and have readers flocking to bookstores panting for your next novel, you are a fucking wannabe.

God, I hate the holidays!

2 Comments:

  • At 3:38 AM, Anonymous Naomi Gluckstein said…

    Wow, that's a rant! While I (struggling, unprofessional, as yet, writer) would never dare to disagree, I'd like to relate my personal experience. I went to a writers' convention in 2000, an editor asked me to send in my manuscript (requested submission)which of course I did. This was in August 2000. I know publishers and agents get hundreds of manuscripts and that there is a natural time lag for the response, however, I believe that almost 4 years of waiting is pushing it a bit. loads of emails, letters and phonecalls later, (on an annual basis) they didn't quite admit having lost the manuscript, but they asked me to send it in again. I did, another six months and wow, they liked it, the editor was going to share it with colleagues, and (sigh of despair) nothing for another six months. Finally the big rejection, despite, quote: well drawn characters; excellent dialogue, fast moving, good plotting. Ho hum. What was wrong with it, er, well, I had two heros and two heroines... major and minor. Perhaps it was guilt, but they asked to see my second manuscript - not quite so long to wait this time, only 18 months. Then the famous email: good dialogue, well drawn characters but pace a bit slow. And that was it. I have no beef with their right to reject something they or you don't like, but feel I have every right to be thoroughly pissed off at the time lags!!! Ah well, back to drawing board, back to looking for agent, editor, and toning up the good old manuscripts. So endeth my response to your rant.

     
  • At 6:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great rant! Keep it up!

     

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