A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Book of Literary Revelations

Oh God, this is too funny! Just call me Timely Sammy! Have you heard? The publishing industry is going down the tubes…really fast. Oh wait, have I said that before? Maybe I might have. No matter. Sammy, yet again, has hit the nail in the coffin right on its pwetty wittle head.

God, I hate chick-lit.

But first a word about those lousy-ass writahs who set themselves up as goo-roos and watch puppies (yes, you’ve been downgraded—not since Condoleeza Rice and that pesky 9/11 oversight has a watchdog fucked up so badly) and the wannabe minions who praise them and keep them in power (and, of course, the same pathetic wanna-wannas whom I always bitch about): WHOOPS! Yes, the word is WHOOPS! That’s what you all should be saying right now. Just like I’ve said before, while all you hacknits are rolling around mired in the quicksand of your own soul-sucking desperation, distracted by ego-boosting muck-raking and mutual warm and feely sharing sessions, real publishing is going on right under your noses, and you have completely missed it.

I don’t see any watch puppies shredding major publishers or editors, and rarely do they say anything about anyone in NYC or LA, where we now have the new HollyWORD crowd firmly entrenched because NOBODY was paying attention (or was hoping for a movie deal for themselves). No, the focus is always on bullshit: PublishAmerica and fees and manuscript turn-around times and finding the best agent because your work is so bloody wonderful, and yak, yak, yak. Nobody paid attention to the fact Judith Regan moved operations to LA in CA to make more mon-AY. Nobody has noticed that movie rights sell before the actual book is even printed. And a hundred other clues I have dropped over the last year. Hmmm, I wonder why that is?

Anyway, perhaps you haven’t heard the newest news. Too busy revising that manuscript you’ve been nursing for twenty-some years, I bet. HA! Surely, you have seen this bullshit about Kaavya Viswanaathan, a budding chick-lit writer who was paid too much money by Little Brown for a book that contained at least forty passages “allegedly” unconsciously lifted from the girly author’s favorite author? Well, I have. EVERYONE is talking about this shit. Some of them, like me, are laughing. Others are livid. Others just sigh and figure, what the hell, this is publishing, isn’t it? Yeah, this is publishing, alright.

I got this letter from Anonymous, and I thought I would post it, with A’s permission, of course. Don’t want to get sued…HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Anyway, this nutcracker needs to vent more than I do. I am not sure whether he/she/it is a writer, agent, or editor, but I have a clue. I think you will, too.

Read on…

Damn! Fuck! Damn! How is this possible? How is this stupid ridiculousness even possible? I work my ass off for years—years! I still have nothing to show for it. I’m a good, no, fantastic, writer, dammit! This is not fair. Not fair. Not fair! Not fair!

I know lots of good writers out there struggling, and some snotty brat gets handed $500,000 for a teen chick-lit? For God’s sake, haven’t we had enough of the “fish out of water” one trick pony yet? YET? How can a major publishing house give that much money to a kid in high school, then expect anything but what they got? She has no life experience. She hasn’t even had time to write that much, meaning that she hasn’t had enough time to write her way into her own voice. THAT’S why she lifted passages. Who are these stupid people? Why would anyone pay that much fucking money for a teen chick-lit? Why? Why? WHY!?!

I am sure by now, Sammy, that you can see that I am upset. Mad as hell, as a matter of fact. What are publishers thinking? There is no book or books worth that much money, and to pay it to a kid—I reiterate, what did they expect? I know what they expected. They expected that the snots in NYC would rally around this new budding talent because she is ethnic, goes to Harvard (how important!), she’s a “prodigy,” and chick-lit sells. Holy God, man, do these people have their heads completely up their asses? The whole multi-cultural thing has been out since everyone discovered being of a certain ethnicity or sexual orientation doesn’t mean you can write worth a damn. That’s right! There are born writers, and God doesn’t dole out the talent based on something as stupid as race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Just because you are born into a group doesn’t mean you represent that group, and any time publishers want to stop pretending that certain writers are good just because it gives their stable diversity, that would be fine by me.

Don’t get me started on the college thing, either. The world is run by Yale and Harvard men and women—you can’t get away from them. No poor idiot from Local City Tech will ever amount to anything, not because the education was lacking, but the college doesn’t have the prestige that Y and H have. How is this fair? Kids who go to Harvard don’t need $500,000 dollars for a two-book deal! It’s the kids in the little dink towns that won’t make it otherwise who deserve that kind of “incentive.” Has the world gone crazy?

Let’s not forget talent. Yes, you have to have talent. I mean special talent. That’s what everyone has told me. You have to have something extra. I refuse to believe that a 19-year-old has that something extra. If she did, she wouldn’t be writing chick-lit. Now, if she had written a literary masterpiece, then she would be worth it. Otherwise, the publisher was just trying to get buzz by overpaying a freelancer. Happens all the time in this dirty business, but usually there is something that will guarantee a print run selling out. Wait, isn’t that supposed to be that this is chick-lit for teens? Have you read the synopsis for this POS? It sounds pretty damn stupid to me, and this is what the geniuses at LB paid all that money for. This is not going to sell that much. Or maybe it will now that it has publicity. Before now, all it had behind it was the bookstores pushing it on customers. Yeah, that’s how this all works. Bookstores use some crappy formula to come up with what they think the buyer wants, and then they force the publishers into finding it, even though the customers, say, like young girls who read for fun, don’t want that miserable tripe that keeps getting shoved at them

I have a niece who is desperate for reading material. She skipped to the adult books a long time ago, because, let’s face it, books written for kids her age are those like Opal. A super dumb or super brainy girl thrown out of her element and trying to survive even though it is such a challenge. Wah wah wah, how exciting. Yawn. Publishers, that boat has sailed. It is not funny or interesting anymore. It’s been done about three thousand times. Done, I tell you!

This case is just another example, like George Bush’s presidency, where somehow a whole bunch of deluded people get together and decide to invest a lot of money in something that they believe for whatever reason is going to make a huge profit. Usually these little projects are based on the belief that people want to be smothered with the same inane, trivial and mindless crap over and over again. But it is not true. NONE OF IT IS TRUE! Writers everywhere should be up in arms. They should go on strike. Until publishers figure out what consumers really want, they can go to hell. I am not sending out another word until someone sits down and explains what these “professionals” in your screwed up industry thought they were doing.

Sammy, I just needed to vent, but if you want to post this, go ahead. It’s not like I get paid for my writing anyway.

Eat me,

Poor A. But I guess I feel sorrier for the folks who finally, after being beat over the head with indisputable facts in these ridiculous cases over the last several months, are realizing that editors and publishers have given into the greed and decided to start using wannabes in worse ways than any scammer agent or vanity press or whatever PublishAmerica is, and, of course, greedy wannabes are falling for it. Who wouldn’t? When someone from a house as established as LB agrees to buy your book for too much money, it seems like a dream come true. However, there is a mystery here. Somehow, a book that lifted passages from another novel got published, and no one, not the book packager, the editor, the publisher or the writer, seems to know how that happened. But it’s like in any investigation into any “incident”—there is always a witness, someone who knows something. In this case, I know something: I know that, yet again, those who think this industry was built for them and their dreams of literary glory have brought it to its ruin. There is no going back now.



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