Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: The Atlantic

Should Rejection by a Publisher Be Praised ?


Traditional Publishing demands an author find an agent (some strangely lucky folk avoid this)—said agent to deal with various publishers and secure a contract for the author’s work.

Needless to say (?) — Traditional Publishing rejects more authors than they publish

This fact may be the primary driver of Self-Publishing.

However, of those lucky few who do (finally, after many, multiple rejections) get selected to make money for the Publishers, there are a sub-set who have a strange mental ability—RejectionPraise—claiming that an author’s worth can be directly correlated to how often they’ve been rejected.

So…

Is the author in the image doing a victory scream or are they experiencing RejectionRage?

The Atlantic magazine has an article called Writers Shouldn’t Romanticize Rejection.

That article has this sentence:

“Time and time again, the literary establishment seizes on the story of a writer who meets inordinate obstacles, including financial struggles, crippling self-doubt, and rejection across the board, only to finally achieve the recognition and success they deserve.”

Just a bit later, the article says:

“This arc is the literary equivalent of the American Dream, but like the Dream itself, the romantic narrative hides a more sinister one.”

And, that sentence is swiftly followed by:

“Focusing on how individual artists should persist in the face of rejection obscures how the system is set up to reward only a chosen few, often in a fundamentally unmeritocratic way.”

“…how the system is set up to reward only a chosen few…”

Naturally, Traditional Publishing is a Business and how various organizations within it are set up depends on how much money is being made.

The truly weird thing is that there are other organizations dedicated to accepting all authors, paying them all a decent royalty, and still making money for the founders

The Atlantic article goes on to treat, in detail, how writers of color are rejected disproportionately more often—it’s worth a thorough read

If you want a weirdly mixed-bag of opinions about rejection, check out the Aerogramme Writers’ Studio article, 12 Famous Writers on Literary Rejection.

In 2011, Joe Konrath wrote the article, The List, A Story of Rejection.

He begins with:

“…I garnered more than 500 rejections before getting published.”

Then he relates how his book, The List, was rejected by Ballantine Books, Penguin Putnam, Simon & Schuster, Talk Miramax Books, Doubleday, Little, Brown and Company, Hyperion, New American Library, HarperCollins Publishers, Bantam Dell Publishing Group, William Morrow, Warner Books, Pocket Books, and St. Martin’s Press.

By the way, if you go to the full article, you can read all those rejections

Joe goes on to say:

“In April of 2009, I self-published The List.”

Which is followed by an extremely enlightening sentence:

“As of this writing, December 26, 2011, The List has earned me over $100,000.”

I’m hearing an echo from that article from The Atlantic—“…how the system is set up to reward only a chosen few…”

That “system” is still making scads of money; but, so are thousands of self-published authors who never suffered from rejection

However, before anyone thinks that Self-Publishing is a magic road to a self-sufficient writing career, my post, What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies?, should be carefully studied………
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Can Creative Writing Survive Our Digital Obsessions?


I use a Kindle.

I also still read physical books.

Sometimes they feel like different activities but, usually, as I fall into the words and sentences, I forget to notice whether I’m holding a book or a digital device.

Yet, there are folks who absolutely love one way of reading and heartily damn the other

And, there are many people working hard to take reading further from its traditional environs.

At least, with a Kindle, the words and sentences still add up to an enchantment with creative writing.

A week ago, in the post, A Mild “Rant” About An Extremely Serious Situation, I shared a link to an article about the Head of HarperCollins UK talking about taking storytelling back from digital rivals. Here’s some of what I said:

“You might think the boss wants a war with rivals over traditionally published books.

“Nope, this man’s war is ‘going beyond ebooks to apps, games and video’.

“Nothing about the quality of books or the importance of the author as creative producer—merely a move to make more money

I usually try to stay just this side of spilling my biased guts on this blog but there are times I feel, if I don’t speak out, I’ll burst

The Atlantic recently had an article called This Video Game Could Revolutionize Publishing—and Reading.

Here’s a quote from that article:

“When the Best Books of 2013 are listed, the most important may not make the cut. That’s because the most exciting literary innovation of the year is not a book at all, but a video game for iPad and iPhone.”

O.K., they say it’s not a book but also imply it should be on a best books list

A video game pretending it’s a book?

Another quote:

Device 6 is a metaphysical thriller in which the world is made almost entirely from words. Playing it is like reading a book—except, in this book, the words veer off in unexpected directions, rather than progressing in orderly fashion down the page. When Anna, the game’s protagonist, turns a corner in the narrative, the text does too, swerving off to one side at a right angle, forcing the player to rotate the screen.”

Hmmm…

I have to admit that, when I’m writing, the words in my head sometimes do things like that; but, I have this obsession about taming their antics before I put them into my computer

I also use mind maps when I’m in the initial stages of the writing process; yet, again, I straighten them out later in the process.

Device 6 is only the latest in the digital “war” against books; though, I’m sure most of the developers aren’t thinking about supplanting books—they’re mostly just being creative and probably trying to make money

Nothing wrong with making money—I recommend it to all aspiring humans—yet, when money drives the creative process, I’m more than fairly certain the project becomes less than truly creative (as in, Creative Writing).

My personal answer to the question in the title of this post—Can Creative Writing Survive Our Digital Obsessions?—is, “Absloutely!“.

Yet

I’m concerned about the folks younger than me

How hard will it be for their offspring to re-discover the magic of surrendering their minds to the creativity of another person and coming away from the experience refreshed and more than likely a bit wiser?

We shall see

Now, I lay before you evidence of the attempt to highjack creative writing, to interfere with the reader’s ability to create their own mental and emotional interpretation of the written word


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Take Back Those Words !


Have you ever read something and wished the author hadn’t published it?

Have you ever published something and wished you could wipe it off the face of the earth?

Certainly, writers (of worth) take back many of their words during edits and revisions—sometimes, of course, restoring them, then, removing them, then, perhaps, trashing the whole lot

I just read an article in The Atlantic by Maria KonnikovaWhen Authors Disown Their Work, Should Readers Care?

It’s not about the normal disowning a writer does as they’re creating, it’s about finished work that the author judges harshly.

She discusses, primarily, incidents of radical disowning by W. H. Auden, Virgil, Nathaniel Hawthorne,Thomas Hardy, and James Joyce, though other authors are mentioned.

Naturally, as Maria indicates, if a writer commits their work to digital form, it could be impossible to get rid of it

The most compelling issue in the article, for me, is whether readers should respect an author’s feelings about words they want to call back—whether authors should rank higher than readers in judgements of literary worth.

Does a writer’s work really “belong” to the reader after publication?

Should readers respect the judgement by an author that a post-publication revision is the “official”, “definitive” version?

Should authors feel defeated, even if readers love their work, because what was published becomes something they want to disown?

At the risk of your not reading the whole article—brilliantly written—I’ll quote a substantial portion of Maria’s opinion:

“At the end, we can embrace and love whatever we want of an author’s work. But we also can’t ignore a writer’s express wish just because we don’t happen to agree with it. Instead, we can use that wish to enrich our understanding of the disinherited words, by doing our best to understand their history and the reason why their author chose to cast them aside as unworthy. We can, in other words, give authors the same consideration we’d want if we ourselves come to decide that something in our past no longer suits our present selves: the freedom to rethink and reconsider, to take back and reframe as we mature and as our understanding of the world changes. And we don’t even have to unwrite history to do that.”

Do, please, read the full article

And, do share your thoughts and feelings in the Comments.
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Who Tells You What To Read?


“Nobody tells me what to read. I make my own decisions.”

Sure, so do I, but how do I know about the books so I can choose from the selection?

Of course, the traditional production of books has agents, editors, and marketing folks making decisions before you get a selection of books from which to choose.

And now, there are also self-published authors being enabled to add to the possible choices

So, who “helps” you decide what to read?

Friends?

Bookstore clerks?

WebSite writers?

Social Media?

Just you, prowling the swiftly-vanishing bookstores?

How about Amazon?

And, how about Amazon eliminating the agents, editors, and marketing folks?

In a recent article in the The New York Times, Amazon Signs Up Authors, Writing Publishers Out of Deal, we have this:

“’Everyone’s afraid of Amazon’, said Richard Curtis, a longtime agent who is also an e-book publisher. ‘If you’re a bookstore, Amazon has been in competition with you for some time. If you’re a publisher, one day you wake up and Amazon is competing with you too. And if you’re an agent, Amazon may be stealing your lunch because it is offering authors the opportunity to publish directly and cut you out.'”

From Dystel & Goderich, a literary agency, in their article, Moneyball, Amazon and the end of publishing as we know it, we have:

“In this week’s death watch, the publishing business is going the way of the Edsel.  E-books have won.  Traditional publishers don’t know what to do with themselves or their lists.

“Agents are unnecessary.  Anarchy reigns among authors.   And, oh, yeah, Amazon is getting closer to world domination (tricky bastards).  There is no leadership.  The darkness is encroaching.  The center cannot hold!”

And, in an article from The Atlantic, What Would Happen if Amazon Ruled Publishing?, we have:

“When one company holds the keys to the kingdom for what content consumers can see on its device, it has a lot of power as to what kind of information reaches people. For example, Apple can kill off an app that criticizes Apple. If Amazon consolidates its power in the publishing industry, what would become of a book criticizing Amazon?”

So

Is it going to be Amazon (plus a possible few other, smaller giants) “keeping the gate” between the Author and Reader?

I imagine, even with the outlandish success of ebooks, Amazon would still publish ink on paper Maybe?

What are your thoughts and feelings??
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