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Animosity Towards Publishers and Editors? (1 Viewer)

Robert Donnell

Senior Member
I have been accused of having animosity towards Publishers and Editors. True sort of.

I have spent several years talking to writers, learning the business side of it and I have heard a lot of horror stories about Publishers and Editors. Now to be fair I do not know if that is 99% of the time or 1%, but I dislike having anyone who can veto me being able to eat and live indoors.

This is not animosity just a statement of fact. These people are headed to the trash heap of history, and I say good riddance to bad rubbish! Whatever the future holds for writers Corporate Publishers and Editors will not be there. Just as newspapers are a very fast declining industry so are printed books. Thanks to the magic of print on demand, books will be around for some time yet but the publishing of books will not.

If there is anything useful that Corporate Publishers and Editors do I am sure either the writers themselves or some other person will step up to the plate and do it. I had to do my own cover art, the horror, the horror!

Reality is changing the world of writing, correction technology is changing writing.

Do I have animosity towards Publishers and Editors? I would if I thought of them at all. I don't spend much time thinking of buggy whip makers or do-do birds either.
 

Fin

A Retired Nobody
WF Veterans
What traditional publishers do is a lot more than just cover art. I disagree with publishers going out of business. I think they'll just transition into the e-book world, and still beat out the sales of the self-published. Book store companies will be going out of business left and right of course, but publishers will remain. I think your thoughts of what publishing companies do is wrong. They do so much more than print the book.

If I see an e-book, or a tradional book with something like the Penguin logo or the HarperCollins logo on it, I'd definitely buy that over the majority of self published things. Simply because those logos tell me that there's a pretty good chance I'll enjoy it. The thing is, tradional publishers have one thing a lot of writers who self-publish don't. Standards. When I see a self-published book, from what I've experienced, the majority of them have been terrible and not worth reading past the first page. Higher quality books with higher quality authors usually come from publishing companies. It's difficult to get published that way for a reason. Yes, great books can be declined, and horrible books can be accepted. But honestly, a lot of the self-published people who swear their work is amazing and that the editors are complete idiots for declining their manuscripts, aren't very good writers.

So yes, I think you have animosity towards them.

You saying that it's a statement of fact does not make it so. It simply means that the only fact there is that it's your opinion.

But I would like to hear actual reasons you have for disliking editors and publishers.

As it stands, self-publishing lacks a lot of respect it needs to succeed. Even as printed books die out, traditional publishing will still probably prevail, simply because they have a respectable name attached to them.
 

Kyle R

WF Veterans
Jeff Gerke (decades of experience in the editing and publishing industry) says it best, so I'll simply type it up for you to read.

I think the hatred towards editors results from a lack of knowledge of what editors (have to) do. It's not an easy job. Often times, it's a thankless one.

Anywho, without further ado, I'll let Mr. Gerke take it away. Since this is from a published book, I'm only going to post excerpts (also, since I'm typing them up by hand, I'll keep them brief, though I'll try to capture the main ideas):

---

I'm going to take you inside the mind of an acquisitions editor. It's a frightening place, I assure you. And yet your novel's first fifty pages will most likely have to pass through such a mind if your book is to ever get published. So it is a dark cave we must explore.

Most authors on the "pre-published" side of publishing companies tend to see them as faceless blocs, mysterious monoliths inside which arcane processes are brought to bear on books, resulting in sometimes brilliant, sometimes baffling, publishing decisions. A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

The reality is that the publishing companies are just like any other kind of company. They're filled with people pretty much like you who make more or less the same decisions you would make if you were in their place. The key isn't to decrypt some kind of alien thought process, but to simply understand what factors are weighing on the mind of the person looking at your (pages).

Before an acquisitions editor gets to your first (pages)--before, indeed, she gets to your proposal at all--she is thinking about many other things.

First, she's incredibly busy, and has most likely not been allocated any extra time in which she is allowed to go off into a corner and read through the stack of proposals and manuscripts sent to her by agents or amassed through other means. The so-called slush pile. And yet she knows she must find new novels to fill the open slots in her upcoming release schedule, and she knows she has to find good new novels, both to help the company succeed in the future and to secure her own position in the publishing house. Editors at publishing companies tend to come and go as quickly as football coahces with losing teams. So she knows she has to score a few touchdowns for the team, and that involves finding good new books.

And by "good" I don't necessarily mean well written or literarily remarkable. I mean good in terms of sales.

She's learned the hard way that she's not to be looking for Faulkners or Steinbecks or Forsters, but Benjamins. Cash cows. Books that will sell lots of copies and save the company for another six months.

Now, our heroine knows all this, but she still loves a great story and still values the work of a skill wordsmith. So she resolves to find the best-written novels she can that will possibly turn a profit.

The person looking at your first fift pages is stressed, unsure about her own job security, overworked, burdened with the need to read proposals but allocated no time to do so, and trying to find novels that are both wonderfully written and financially viable.

Literary agents are looking for many of the same things that acquisitions editors look for, though their slush pile is much, much larger and of much poorer quality. The typical agent is open to anyone who can send him an e-mail, whereas the acquisitions editor at a large house is mostly shielded from this.

Mainly, an agent is looking for what projects could potentially be big sales hits.

You just need to understand that publishing is a business.

(Now our acquisitions editor is) trying to get through one hundred (proposals) in a hurry. Yours is number sixty-two, and sh'es getting a little numb in the brain. She's found a couple of proposals that look interesting, and she's set these aside to contact the agents and request the full manuscripts.

Now she opens your and starts reading. She's hoping it will be fantastic, but in her experience she knows the odds are against it.

---

So there's a brief glimpse into the job of an editor (and, to some extent, an agent). Take it for what you will. If you're interested in reading more of the book that excerpt was taken from, it's "The First Fifty Pages" by Jeff Gerke.
 

Fin

A Retired Nobody
WF Veterans
To add on to what Kyle said, check this blog post out. It's been posted somewhere on these forums before, but I don't recall by who. Anyway, here: I am your editor.
 
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Tiamat

Patron
You may say it's simply a statement of fact, but it certainly comes across as animosity. You strike me as someone who doesn't handle rejection well.

But hey, if you'd rather not to jump through the hoops of the publishing industry and would prefer, instead, to self-publish and do everything from drafting to promoting on your own, I wish you all the best. I figure the odds of being a self-published success are about as slim as they are for those of us who continue to do things via publishing houses. I'd say the biggest difference is that I don't have to pay out of pocket to get rejected.

Good luck to you, sir.
 

Robert Donnell

Senior Member
Kyle, actually I have read that somewhere or heard a remarkably similar story. But that really illustrates the problem rather well it is Corporate Mediocrity. The point is that good books are rejected, bad books are published. I can not think of a better description of the problem.

“Well you don’t understand.” Oh I understand, I just don’t have any desire to play their little reindeer games. I have enough problems, trying to please an Editor who just does not give a damn, is a problem that I neither want nor have.

Tiamat, There are two possibilities one it might be a one in ten thousand shot of getting a big contract with a big publishing house but look at the other side I have self published and sold at least one book, for money. However small a success that is, it is a success and it is my own. I wrote a book that I would like to read myself, I really doubt that it would have much appeal to the masses but I think a real Science Fiction/Fantasy fan would love to read it. The answer may be niche markets.
 

shadowwalker

WF Veterans
The point is that good books are rejected, bad books are published.

Many more good books get published than bad books, but hey, show me any system that's perfect. With self-publishing they all get published - and that's an improvement why?

Show me a self-publisher who doesn't jump on the "Big Bad Trade Publisher" bandwagon and you'll show me a self-publisher that might be worth reading.
 

Chaeronia

Senior Member
Do I have animosity towards Publishers and Editors? I would if I thought of them at all. I don't spend much time thinking of buggy whip makers or do-do birds either.

If there's one thing that comes across loud and clear in your thread concerned with publishers and editors, it's the shoulder-shrugging lack of thought you supply to the issue of publishers and editors.

I await your nonchalant, uncaring, paradoxically detailed musings on whip makers and do-do birds with interest.
 
B

Baron

Many more good books get published than bad books, but hey, show me any system that's perfect. With self-publishing they all get published - and that's an improvement why?

Show me a self-publisher who doesn't jump on the "Big Bad Trade Publisher" bandwagon and you'll show me a self-publisher that might be worth reading.
I agree with you. I like the autonomy of self publishing but there is no vetting system on what gets published. The mainstream publishers provide a standard and it's just tough on those who can't meet it. Sure, good books get rejected but the bottom line is they won't invest in something they don't think will sell.
 

garza

Senior Member
Robert Donnell - You are talking bad about the people I have depended on, learned from, and befriended over more than half a century. My two best teachers were the editors of the two local newspapers who started publishing my stories back in '54. The cheques from the publishers you want to see go out of business have paid the rent and bought the groceries all these years. Yes, the world is changing, and a new system is evolving, but we will not know for a while all the details of how that system is going to work.

The truth is, the old system was never perfect, but it kept a lot of us from ever having to go out and look for a job. I, for one, hate to see it go.
 

Sam

General
Patron
Many more good books get published than bad books, but hey, show me any system that's perfect. With self-publishing they all get published - and that's an improvement why?

Show me a self-publisher who doesn't jump on the "Big Bad Trade Publisher" bandwagon and you'll show me a self-publisher that might be worth reading.

I don't hate traditional publishers and I self-published. I sold approximately 400 copies. Considering that the average traditionally published book sells 800 in its entire lifetime, I think I did all right.

I did it because every author, whether they desire to be traditionally published or not, should self-publish at least one book in their lifetime. It gives you an insight into what happens with the big publishers.

As for the OP: I believe you have been somewhat misled. I've met and spoken with several published authors and have only once heard of a 'horror story', as you put it. The truth is, there will always be one company who doesn't meet the expectations of a client. It may be the case that those clients in turn engage in hyperbole when they speak to fellow authors. One bad experience thus earns a company a bad reputation for life.

Whether you choose self-publishing, or venture down the tortuous road that is traditional-publishing, you are bound to run into problems sooner or later.
 
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Robert Donnell

Senior Member
Sam W, Wow! 800 is that all? As of this morning I am at 2 for money and 137 freebies at AmazonKDP that is not bad for one week on the market, the freebies period will end soon and past that point it is 70% gravy. Now I have to push the book

Garza, I understand that some authors did okay under the old system, good for you. But today in 2012 I see no reason to invest that much time and energy into the old system when it has zero future.

For those of you who think that I am an idiot, you may be right but if I hit the magical 800 mark without a publisher then I will be ahead of the game.

For you timid souls who have yet to publish a single book for money, I challange you to do as well as I. If you think that you are better than me, prove it!
 
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Sam

General
Patron
Some people aren't ready to publish a book yet. It took me seven novels and five-and-half years of constant reading and writing to produce a novel I felt was worthy of being published, whether self or otherwise. Other people may not even be interested in publishing, and write simply for a hobby or because they love to express themselves in words.

I think you have a misconception about publishing. If you can sell 800 books, more power to you. Note that in my earlier post I said the 'average' traditionally published book sells 800 copies. If you want your sales to be average, aim for 800. You'll break even on your investment, as well as make a little profit which will go towards the printing of your next book or another print-run of the same novel. To be truly successful as a self-publisher, however, you need to know your market as well as the publishers that you seemingly hate know it. You need to understand niche markets, advertising, publicising, pricing, editing, cover art, layout, fonts, headings, and a wealth of other things.

The problem with self-publishers is they are under the illusion that writing the book is all they need to do. I wrote a 200,000-word novel last year. I'm old-school in that I always have two spaces after every full-stop. When you realise the pages you stand to save by narrowing this to one, not to mention the pages you can save by changing fonts and hyphenating at the end of lines, you will realise that you've wasted money unnecessarily. Structure, line-spacing, and margins/gutters are all extremely important tools that you need to have a working knowledge of.

By all means self-publish. Just know what you're getting into beforehand.
 

Robert Donnell

Senior Member
Actually my novel was gorgeous but I had to butcher it for Kindle. It was lovingly illustrated, the models were women I served with in Iraq and/or art I did myself, ever word was worried over for 9 years. I don’t care if some critic does not like it, it was my best effort!

If some of your best work ended up in a trash can, I grieve for you.
 
B

Baron

You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of self published authors who have achieved the measure of success that can be gained through the major publishers. The fact is that the traditional publishing houses will be around for a while because they provide a bench mark for people who don't want to plough through the dung heap of unsolicited works that are self published to find those few rare gems.
 

garza

Senior Member
Robert - Countless numbers of writers have done very well under the old system. I'm in no way unique. Many more will continue to do well. Your statement that editors 'don't give a damn' is way off the mark. Every editor I've ever worked with cared very much and did all they could to help me and others. They are not there to lock the gate. They are there to keep the gate open for good writers and to help each writer improve his or her craft.

No publishing house could accept more than a small fraction of the material submitted. You seem to be saying that an editor should accept and a publisher print everything everyone sends them. That can only work when there is no cost to the publisher, and that's why epublishing is catching on. There is so little overhead, per page, that only modest fees are needed to cover the cost. For print-on-demand the printing cost does not exist until the book is sold. Compare that to a press run of ten thousand copies that might sit in a warehouse for years before being recycled because they never sold. I've seen the slush pile in a couple of houses. Unbelievable, and every one of those manuscripts came from someone convinced they had written a best seller.

To get around that slush pile you need two things. You need to have a product that can sell and you need a good agent. The agency system is a good one - a fine-mesh first filter. The experienced and reputable agent submits a manuscript and says, 'This will sell'. There is still the risk it won't sell, but the odds are much better than picking something out of the slush pile and hoping for the best.

As an alternative to a good agent you need someone who won't give up. Confederacy of Dunces illustrates the alternative. But even after the international acceptance that the book is a masterpiece complete with Pulitzer Prize, the plain fact is that Confederacy of Dunces was so far outside the mainstream that its rejection by publisher after publisher is understandable. Simon and Schuster made the initial mistake of assigning an editor, Robert Gottlieb, to work with Toole in a misguided effort to align the book with perceived current tastes of readers. Gottlieb was a good editor with an impossible task. The essential nature of the book needed to be changed to do what he was supposed to do, and when the essential nature of a book is changed, what do you have? Nothing. Gottlieb's edits were later burned by Toole's mother, who went from publisher to publisher trying to find a home for her dead son's book. Whether any agent, no matter how respected, could ever have sold Confederacy of Dunces to a mainstream publisher is doubtful. LSU Press finally accepted it, and the book attracted first a local following, people like me who know New Orleans well, and soon enough by people around the world recognised Toole's genius, though it continues to be classed as a cult classic.

Were the publishers who rejected Confederacy of Dunces right or wrong? One publisher's rep I knew well years ago told me that sure, they wish they had published it, but the fact was they couldn't. It was too big a gamble when there were many good mainstream manuscripts being submitted that had a chance of success. An academic press like LSU Press can afford to take chances that others can't.

Do not cheer the downfall of the major publishing houses. Without them, who would have published the millions of books in our libraries? Think what the world would be like if they had never existed, if the investors had never bought presses and hired staff. Their day may be near its end, but I see no reason to cheer their death.
 

Robert Donnell

Senior Member
[h=2]Garza, I absolutely agree with you 100% but that is in the past, it is different today, it costs Amazon KDP almost noting to publish and sell my book. For those who would make an issue of this I have a few choice words: 50 Shades of Grey, Self published and successful. Yes a big publisher picked it up after it was a successful book, but it's initial success had zero to do with any editor or publisher. Which is my point.

I have run my own business, no it was not a success but I fed myself for a year, lost not a penny, had a good time and learned a lot about business. My decision to self publish was a well reasoned business decision.

If the big publishing houses do not care to do business with me that is their prerogative. Just as it is mine to not do business with them, until such time as I see it in my best interest to do so.[/h]
 

shadowwalker

WF Veterans
[h=2]Garza, I absolutely agree with you 100% but that is in the past, it is different today, it costs Amazon KDP almost noting to publish and sell my book.

So wait - are you saying Amazon is your publisher? Or are they just distributing your self-published book? There's a difference.
 

Kyle R

WF Veterans
I don't think anything less of those who go the self-publishing route. I respect them, because I see it as a harder route to walk down, though one that can reap great benefits.

One of the reasons I am going to pursue the traditional publishing route is I simply don't know much about marketing and sales. I have spent several years learning the craft of fiction, and that's primarily where my interest lies. I don't wish to spend several more years learning how to market and sell my book. I'd prefer to leave that in the hands of a publisher with decades of experience in that field.
 

Robert Donnell

Senior Member
For those who walk down that path toward the Publisher's office, I too respect them, but I see that as less and less lucretive as time goes by.
 
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