Re: RARA-AVIS: Are unpublished novels best left unpublished? YES!

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 16 May 2007

At 05:11 PM 16/05/2007, Allan Guthrie wrote:

>My experience is that there's a lot of truth in what Dave Zeltserman
>said in his very succinct post. A lot of exceptionally good novels
>are getting passed on, and the lack of 'platform' -- previously a
>term only applied to non-fiction -- is becoming an increasingly
>popular reason for rejection.
>That's by no means across the board, but I do hear it a lot.
>As Kevin says, "publishers are in business to sell books, and they
>always were." No argument there. But what I've observed since
>becoming a literary agent is that many publishers are looking for a
>much more certain and immediate return on their investment than
>perhaps was once the case. Literary agents are increasingly turning
>to non-fiction to make a buck. You can sell on an outline and sample
>chapters, there's more of it being bought, and the money's generally
>about twice what you'd get for fiction. So why wouldn't you? Of
>course by doing so it then becomes harder for new writers to find
>agents, and without an agent it's very difficult to find a publisher.

It strikes me that book publishing was among the first medium to feel the effects of mass communications being splintered into specialty markets now be served as a consequence of technological change. The concept of "good" is subjective, but industrial-era mass communications required and built a consensus about what it meant. The less competition there was, the easier this was done. Big publishers have to work a lot harder now, and are less and less certain about what will meet the challenge. They're more inclined to follow the market, willing to lower the common denominator to achieve it, than to try to get the market to come to their idea of what's
"good." On the other hand, our subjective notions of what's good are more easily met by small publishers targeting niche markets. It takes fewer than ten critics to make a book a critical success. But while technology has made it easier to print small quantities at relatively cheap prices, it's still tough to make a profit that way.

Actually makes me feel sorry for literary agents.

Best, Kerry

------------------------------------------------------ Literary events Calendar (South Ont.) The evil men do lives after them

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 16 May 2007 EDT