24 July 2013

The Fickle Nature of Publishing



I have been trying to get this Steampunk/Historical Fantasy/Fairy-tale Retelling novel published for what seems like forever. It's been though edits, and total rewrites, and of, course, a myriad of rejections. Not terribly many, though it feels like a million. But what struck me this week was that I got two rejections within hours of one another, and the reasons for rejection are so...contrary. 

One publisher said there was so much to love about the book. They gave me a long list of the things they had liked about it in the two months they had it. Ah, that's nice. But then there was a long list of things they didn't like and felt would require too much revision. One stood out. They said the setting seemed like 'window dressing', and they would have liked to see more world building. Huh.

The other publisher said that there was too MUCH detail, and they would liked to have seen details shaved down to concentrate on the plot. That was the SOLE reason they gave for rejection. To be fair, it IS a 99,000 word book. There is probably some room for tightening, but...really? That's all you could find wrong? You couldn't assign an editor to work with that? But, seriously? One wanted more, the other less.

It's enough to make one drink.

It reminded me of the absolute subjective nature of publishing. Even myself, when I'm looking for books to acquire for Palomino. I read a lot of YA speculative fiction, so I know what the market is doing. I kind of look for something that will sell, of course, but mostly I look for manuscripts that I can't put down, that have great voices and that I can't live without. We've all read or heard of books that, well, we think are just awful. That a lot of people think are awful. But somewhere along the line, and editor read the manuscript and thought it was GREAT, then managed to convince other people it was GREAT, and managed to convince the accountants that it would SELL and MAKE MONEY. And then that awful book hits the shelves, and my manuscript is still unpublished.  I mean, it's okay, it's the way publishing is. It's not personal, it's a matter of taste. Of one or two people's taste.

I'm going to go find that drink.


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