Is It Just Me or Are New Writers These Days Extremely Impatient?

Hi All,

 

(This is long but I hope you find it interesting.)

 

Since this is one of my few writing boards where you can actually talk about writing and not just gossiping, LOL, I would like to address this.

 

Is it just me or are new writers wo are coming out these days way more impatient when it comes to seeking publication?

I ask this because more and more I see folks quitting and going to self-publishing after a small percentage of rejections. They seem to refuse to believe something might be wrong with their work, or they don't wanna go through the process of making it better. They don't wanna write queries or a synopsis (I guess don't wanna be bothered), and let's just say, some give all types of excuses.

 

The most recent is, "It's so hard for a new writer to get published". Look previously published authors have just a hard time these days trying to get new deals believe me. So we can't say it's just that someone is "new". Please. I don't believe that. Besides it's easier for pubs to build a NEW writer than to keep an audience involved in one that's been around sometimes. Especially if that's a midlist writer which is what 95% of most published writers are.

 

I also see more and more newbies asking, "When do you give up? How many rejections does it take before you know you need to give up?" I can't help someone with that frame of mind. If you're only worrying about how long you're gonna try to get published for or only concerned with a time frame, you aren't writing for the right reasons. I also hear the, "I wanna be published by "this age"." Yeah, well that doesn't matter. You can't determine how long it's gonna take unless you self-publish or something.

 

When people ask me how long it takes and they say they are quitting after 10-40 rejections, I laugh. That is NOTHING. Most published writers, we don't count past rejections of "how many". We do it in terms of YEARS because that's how long it takes if you are willing to put in the time. For me, it was about 4-5 years for me to get my first book deal. I was rejected by agents like they were allergic to me! And, I started in 1999 looking for agents and it was more difficult because NO ONE was taking email queries, it was only paper so it got expensive believe me. I can't tell you how many of them damn SASE's I got back, LOL. Enough to fill my dresser drawers. And after the first two years of getting them dang things back, I stopped reading most of them. My mind was programmed and I knew what they said already. You just started going by size of the package. Anything thin was a rejection. Also, most folks don't know this but a lot of agents will call you if they want to represent you. So getting something back anyway is most times a sign you're rejected.

 

Clearing throat, when you DID get something back! That's why I don't like to hear folks whining about sending in emails and not hearing back. It's nothing compared to all the money you spend to mail off tons of submissions and stand around in a slow post office, then what happens? YES! You still sometimes never heard from the people! And you had to buy a million of them 55 cent stamps and each submission included two! And those big envelopes weren't cheap either! LOL!

 

Also back then, the agents DID NOT offer any input at all! If you were rejected you were just lost. You didn't know if something was really wrong with the work, or not. You just had to keep learning (on your own) and hopefully your writing and storytelling got better with time. So with each batch of queries, you should regroup and get better. But that doesn't mean you gonna get publication or an agent, but you should be getting better if you are focusing on making your work up to standard.

 

You didn't have these agents blogs and half of these writing sites you got now either! Hell I'm jealous of that! We didn't have that at all! LOL! The net wasn't that popular in the early 2000's as it is now. Agents now will give you tips online, through their blogs, you can connect with beta reaers online, etc. When I started I was a youngster, and we didn't have all these groups you got now back in 1999 and the early 2000's. If you ask me, new writers got a much bigger advantage because they can feed off these blogs and get a taste of the agent's and editor's personality.

 

When I was querying, less than 50%  agents were even ONLINE. No, I had to go out and buy them damn Writers Market books  (at close to 40 dollars!), or dig around at the library and copy names down for hours, and read through 1000 pages and send off paper queries because even if an agent had a website (which most did not), they still didn't want you to send queries through email. EXPENSIVE. Now that's what really peeves you off when you get rejected. Back then you put in tons of more work just to get your submissions ready! Now you push a button and wait. That's it. You know how long it takes to wait for people to go through paper submissions? Like a short stint at prison!  Writers get quicker rejections these days too. Six months isn't nothing! Back then, the average feedback time was a year or more. Your only option was to wait, pray and write another novel in that time and hope you didn't go insane in the process.

 

Wow how things have changed right?

 

And look ad the options now!  We didn't have epublishing!  If they did, it wasn't popular enough for folks to mention or no one understood what the heck it was. We didn't have all these genre-related small presses (had a few but not half as many as there are now.). Didn't have even a lot of those POD outfits that aid you in self-publishing.

 

What was really different was that back then, it wouldn't have mattered because you HAD to be published by a house (big house mainly) that got your books on shelves or you wouldn't sell one copy. Talk about tight competition to get a deal when every writer's only options was to focus on the same six pubs!  You had to be on shelves, no doubt about it. Amazon wasn't what it is now. Probably less than 10% book buyers back then knew what Amazon was. Ninety percent book buyers bought books from stores so if you got a publishing deal back then and your books weren't on shelves, you were SOL.  I started with a small traditional press with limited distribution but still got books on shelves in big cities. From there I built a resume, gained an audience and got the deal a few years later with one of the big boys.

 

And then realized after two books with the big boys, I don't like the big boys that much. Thank god there are more choices now for all writers! You don't have to go with the big boys to be successful, believe me. Those days are gone.

 

I think most of today's new writers are impatient. People don't wanna work for something these days. I put in the work and got the rewards because it was owed to me for what I went through. I wanted this and I got it. You got to want it and work. I question how much some folks want it when all they do is complain and whine about 40 rejections. Forty? Really? I probably had forty in ONE week. And I'll tell you I was submitting different books. I wasn't only submitting one. When one didn't do it, I wrote another, another, and another. But I didn't quit. Never thought of quitting.

 

It's easier for new writers now. Hands down! There's tons of ways to get your books out there. Also, being stocked in stores these days doesn't mean much of nothing because most folks are buying online anyway.

 

What made me wanna addres this was this guy who said he was quitting and self-publishing after 40 rejections. You're not even started yet at 40 rejections! Wait until you get over one hundred a year for over four years then complain!  He's not the only one whining. The worse I heard was this lady quitting after 10. Ten? You kidding me, ten? I also notice none of these newbies who jump to wanna quit seem to wanna do any extra work on their manuscripts. I guess these are the folks who type up something, go through it once with a red pen (thinking they've edited), and then gets surprised when they're not getting deals thrown at them.

 

I'll just say this. If published writers, past and present had the attitude some of these newbies do now, no one would be published.

 

It's the "want all for nothing" attitude. You gotta pay your dues and put in the work. However time that takes. And yes, you still might not land a "dream" deal, but if you can write, you'll get a decent deal somewhere. You just gotta stick at it. Might be with a  small house or epublishing. But least you got options. What options you got if you quit?

 

I still got some years until I reach 40, so I'm still on the younger side. A lot of newbies are way older than me, and impatient. You think folks at that age would understand, it's not gonna be easy. Publishing has always been hard, but when I look back at what I had to do, heck it looks good to me now. If I'd had these options newbies had now, it would have been a blessing, believe me.

 

I think they should embrace it and take advantage, not complain. See the things you've got and realize how hard it's been for others and look at the doors that are opened to you now. The newbies now, lot of them don't have the skin I have. They wouldn't have lasted with how you used to do stuff.

 

I never whined, believe me. I cried a few times, LOL! But I never whined and I never complained.

 

Best Wishes!

http://www.stacy-deanne.net

 

 

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Joe Konrath thinks this attitude is an example of Stockholm Syndrome. "Thank you, Sir, may I have another?"

I've had two agents but no sales to the big publishers and so I've put up a couple ebooks on my own. They've earned some very solid reviews (the vast majority five-star reviews on Amazon) and I've sold over 3,000 copies in recent months with no marketing budget and very little marketing effort. I've been contacted by a Hollywood film company regarding film rights. Don't see a downside here.

What's wrong with allowing readers to be the gate keepers instead of agents and editors? If your work isn't ready it'll become apparent in the marketplace.

What's wrong with allowing readers to be the gate keepers instead of agents and editors? If your work isn't ready it'll become apparent in the marketplace.

Very interesting points, although I am not sure that readers will ever replace editors. 

As for agents, like it or not, the world is becoming less "filtered" every day and the hordes are not simply at the gate, they're over the fence in search of clover.  

But won't agents always have a place as deal-makers (perhaps only after a writer develops a "name")?  

I admit, I haven't read through your whole post, partly because the answer is simple.

New writers haven't really changed. It's just that they never could self-publish without spending a whole lot of money before. Most of them shouldn't, but it's easy so they do.

On the other hand, they are correct that publishing (and more importantly book distribution) has been going in the wrong direction for thirty or forty years. Ever since Thor Power Tools put the power in the hands of the distributors (because it was no longer cost effective to have huge print runs and give a midlist book a chance).

Once upon a time, you COULD work hard and build a career, one book at a time. But there came a point when good authors had to change their names every three or four books, because Barnes and Noble's computerized system would only allow for ordering the number of books which were sold on the last book - fewer than were ordered - which means less availability on each book. If you didn't make a best seller in three books, you were out.

You can say "but Amazon changed that!" but you know what? Amazon didn't stop there. The damage was done by the old distribution system, and it really hasn't got much better, so Amazon changed the whole game.

Now you can actually do what a midlist writer used to do. Write pulp for experience and slowly build an audience through hard work again.

So far I've only put up my non-commercial books up on Kindle, and I'm still sticking to traditional publishing for my mysteries. However, if the big publishers don't get their act together on reasonable pricing and other ebook issues, I am getting more leery of signing away any erights.
I don't have time for this.
When I first started sending queries, I WALKED to the Post Office. Uphill. And back, also uphill. In the rain. And there were bears. Damn kids.


OK, seriously, I think Camille has it pegged. More writers are bailing and taking their chances with self-publishing now because it's a viable option. It used to be people had a chance with slush piles. Now they don't exist, not in the original meaning. I think the publishing landscape has changed much more than have the authors.
Nah, new writers have always been impatient. It's just that without the other options, of Kindle and the self-publishing route, most of them gave up and spent the rest of their lives whining about what a closed circle publishing is.

Everyone can write--at least, most of us should have learned how to in school, to some degree or another. That's where a lot of the impatience comes from, really. They know how to write. They just don't know how to tell a story. They don't know how to use words to their best advantage. Often, they don't think there's a need to learn those things. Everyone can write, right? So it must be easy. They're the folks who used to get weeded out because it wasn't in them to keep learning and keep improving.

That said, some folks self-publish for good reasons, and are good writers, and more power to them. I hope they do well. The ones who self-publish because they don't think they need to do the work will end up cursing not only the publishing houses, but the reading public for their lack of sales, for not recognizing their brilliance. Maybe this is a way for them to weed themselves out. Just let them. They were going to end up there anyway, they're just getting there sooner.

I was looking at epublishers back in the early 2000s. The market was extremely small compared to today, and it was looked at as being no better than self-publishing, but things were wide open, and the chances of getting in looked much higher to me, compared to the rejections I was getting from agents and all. The good epubs have a rejection rate on par with the print houses. I didn't get in with my first submission. Even there, you have to work. But you do have more freedom with genres and crossovers and the like. They take more risks in those areas.

But that, I think, really is the problem. Most people who 'want to write' and 'have a novel in them' don't realize there's more to learning to write than just putting words on paper.
I got my first rejection on a stone tablet.
Me, too. It said, "THOU SHALT NOT WRITE CRAP."
I don't think I'm impatient.

I've show positively Job like patience, especially when I allowed myself to feel sympathy for the folks at a major publishing company. I had waited 3 years for a solid yes/no answer, given up and started preparing to send it to other publisher/agents, then I was asked to give them a second chance with an exclusive submission because their publisher had died with my novel in his in-box, and it had taken them over 2 years to look to see what was in it.

Of course they immediately repeated the same stunt of making all their public claims of efficiency total bunk, but this time without the excuse of a death in the family. So I moved on, I'm still looking, still collecting rejections, still getting that stony silence from those who deem me unworthy of an answer, and still working on my next novel.

I have to be patient, because I have no other skills.
It took me 12 years to make the first sale. It was a short story, when I already had 3 complete novels in the series. It took another 5 years to get a 2-novel contract. That's why I've always been way ahead of the publisher. My latest publisher seems to like a book every 6 months. They'll catch up with me, and then what? I need a year for each book.

As for impatience: I used to be very humble about my ability. Winning awards and getting published came as a big surprise. Then I learned about publishers and their ways. I have 7 novels in print and another under contract. Now I'm impatient. I will not be jerked around any more.
I was impatient at first, I think--I had a finished book, I knew it was pretty good, but I couldn't get an agent to read the damn thing, much less represent it. Very frustrating. The few that read even a sample seemed to have goofy reasons for rejecting it; ditto editors once I finally found an agent. What the hell is taking so long, I kept asking. Now the shoe's on the other foot, and my publisher's the one pushing for more/faster, and I'm the one saying "what the hell's you're hurry?" I have to say, I much prefer the second situation to the first. I do think that if you're pretty confident that the book you've written is of publishable quality, it's still wise to hold out, take your lumps in the form of rejections, and give the process some time. In the grand scheme of things my first book went from draft to print relatively quickly (two-and-a-half years, give or take, to find an agent, sell the book, revise, edit and print), but it seemed to take forever. Patience, grasshoppers.
In my five-year tenure as a bookseller, I've now seen thousands of self-pubbed books and their authors. Some are so ignorant about the book biz, they don't realize there's an alternative. They think everyone pays to be published. The vast majority I see, though, think of self-publication as a way to avoid rejection. They often talk about self-pubbing to keep control of their books and because they don't want publishers to make all the money on their books. But then they'll turn around and talk about how they're sure their book will get picked up by a major publisher, which is contradictory. "Picked up" is the phrase I hear all the time. They're convinced that publishers are seeking out and throwing fistfuls of cash at self-pubs, when it's extremely rare for any self-published book to be traditionally published thereafter.

A great many of the self-pubbed books I see have terrible production values. Their authors or the vanity presses they use don't even know that paragraphs are indented. Most of them are double-spaced with block paragraphs. Lots of these people are shocked to discover that bookstores don't pay retail for the books they sell retail. That is, they seem to think we can buy them for cover price and sell them at the same price, and somehow still pay our rent. They get extremely angry when we won't buy cases of their books, or any, and seem to feel that bookstores should be willing to take financial losses for them. I see a high level of narcissism, and often delusion, since many will also insist, when screaming at us, that their books will be Oprah selections.

With that said, I see some well done self-published books, as good as anything else out there. Many are regional nonfiction titles, such as hiking guides. It really makes sense to self-produce those. But I've seen some good self-published fiction, too, and we're happy to shelve all of these.

But the majority of what I see are incompetent and amateurish efforts, whose writers think their books will just flying off the shelves, when there's absolutely no market created for them. When we do take a couple of copies of them, it's on consignment at standard discount, and still they rarely sell.

And those people absolutely have no interest in learning to write. I see them come into my store when someone presents a writing workshop. Really top-notch authors will be giving fabulous advice. But they stay for five minutes, and then leave. A month later, they come in with their own crappy book.

But are these amateurish dolts I see the same as newish writers who are genuinely trying to learn their craft, to become polished professional writers. No, I don't think so. A world of difference.

BTW, the gallery owners I know deal with the same types, untrained people who throw paint at a canvas and think they should immediately be put into galleries, without any interest in really learning to paint. I see it as an unfortunate sign of our times -- the way that 15 minutes of fame played out -- but it doesn't reflect most of the genuine writers, published or unpublished, or artists, that I know.

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