(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.
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")?