Last week, I talked about the long road to publication for THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE,which came out this month to some terrific reviews (including a starred review from Kirkus and a rave from Publishers Weekly).  Here are s0me of the rejections the book got over the years. I’ve edited out the names of the companies and editors.

"The manuscript was a lot of fun — definitely a good read and a fresh angle. We seriously considered it since it is so unique, but ultimately we have to pass since we are moving away from mysteries and thrillers…"

"I am going to have to pass on an offer at this time. We must be extremely selective with the titles we bring on."

"Thanks so much for the extended look at THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE. You know I hold Lee in the highest regard and I thought he treated this mystery with great humor and enthusiasm. Though I think the conception is novel, in the end I just thought that the plot development moved a little too slowly for us to be really able to break this out commercially. Furthermore,  though I think Harvey Mapes is a great protagonist, I just didn’t think the ‘fish out of water’ conception would play out successfully in a very crowded and competitive market."

"This story is well-written and entertaining; however, the tone is not quite right for our list and overall it would be very difficult to publish."

"This is going to be a pass for me. Though I thought the writing was strongly readable and mildly humorous, the protagonist likeable and the overall delivery well structured, I’m afraid the overall storyline wasn’t strong or original enough for me."

"I agree it is an unusual crime story. Unfortunately, we find the market is glutted with crime fiction right now and the market is not kind these days. Simply put, I did not find this manuscript special enough to warrant an offer."

"Lee Goldberg is a great writer but I’m afraid I didn’t respond to the first person voice the way I would have liked in order to confidently take it on for my list here and be its advocate."

"Lee has a good sense of humor and a great grasp of the down-and-out detective genre. I found the story here entertaining, and though it’s not perfect, I asked the publisher to read it. He was not as enamored of it as I was and I lost the battle of wills."

"It’s a lot of fun and very professionally done, but I just don’t see it for my list. I’m sorry, because I liked Harvey. I loved the wit, I admired the use of the L.A. setting. This is one of the better PI novels I’ve ever read."

"I’m familiar with Lee’s work and while this is as entertaining as
everything he’s done, I’m afraid it isn’t the direction that my list is

"Goldberg is a very witty writer, and I enjoyed deciphering his pop
culture references. I also thought it was very interesting the way he
dealt with the conventions of the traditional detective story in a new
way. Unfortunately, I had some real difficulty establishing a different
mystery writer here who has a similar style. I’m sorry but I have to

"It’s a very entertaining read. Harvey is truly a lovable loser and
his development into maybe-not-quite-such-a-loser is surprisingly
convincing. However, I think this project is a little too straight
forward commercially to sit comfortably on our list."

"Given the author’s credentials, I really wanted to fall in love with
this novel. As it turned out, I merely liked it. Intermittently."

"Goldberg writes with real flair, and the premise has potential.
That said, I found the protaganist very hard to like which, of course,
is a real problem in a book."

"His humorous style isn’t right for us. We like procedurals set
abroad, otherwise a mystery has to be a mainstream novel for us to take
it on."

"Goldberg is a talented author with a good voice. However, the
characterizations are predictable and that was enough to ruin the book
for me."

"Goldberg is unquestionably a funny writer, and his protagonist is
likeable and winning. However, as much as I enjoyed the read,I’m not
convinced this book can work in a mystery field that’s already so
crowded with similar series."

"Harvey Mapes is certainly likeable and smart and the dialogue is
sharp. But I think sassy capers like this are extraordinarily difficult
to make headway with at the moment. The only chance they have, I
reckon, is if they contain an element that either no one else has
thought of or no one else has described as well. I don’t see either
element here so I am going to pass."

"He is a very funny writer and a talented storyteller. Ultimately,
the concept doesn’t seem strong to stand out in a crowded mystery

109 thoughts on “Rejection”

  1. Lee,
    Very helpful to us aspiring unpublished writers…good to see that even the pros get these kind of rejections. I’m enjoying Iron-On and don’t want it to end. Keep up the good work.

  2. Ah, Lee. You should know better by now. As I’ve told people, a rejection really just means that on that given day, that given editor did not respond to that specific manuscript. No judgement of quality or anything else. Of course, if they had said, “Lee couldn’t write his way out of a paper bag with a blow torch and a pair of scissors,” they might have been looking for something else in your writing.

  3. I feel better hearing / reading this, as that I myself haven’t gotten rejection letters that are similiar – thanks for sharing this from your book’s journey.
    But they’re wrong to pass on it, of course, the book is worth publishing and they should have published it.

  4. Rejection letters are like newscasts. Even if they have nothing to say, they have to say something.
    So the only part I think you can take literally is “no.”

  5. Thanks for posting the rejection letters. Aside from publishers rejecting the manuscript as not fitting in with their lists (managing their customers’ expectations), the others show an inability to judge whether a ms. will be a success. A good ms. from a published writer with a professional agent still took 2 years and numerous rejections to get published.
    How can the poor souls with only their ego to tell them whether their ms. is good resist the POD lure? The only thing to rationally keep them from POD is the knowledge that the publishers still control the distribution. You can break through that if you’re willing to become your own publisher, but of course the skill-set for that job is very different and takes away from the job of producing the material.
    Something’s got to give somewhere. I don’t know what yet.

  6. Something’s got to give somewhere. I don’t know what yet.

    I don’t see why some thing has to give. It’s life, my friend. Breaking in is hard in any industry or creative field. You have to pay your dues. You have to demonstrate your skills. You have to exhibit some talent. You have to be tough. Only the most skilled, talented and lucky will succeed. This is true whether you want to be a fashion designer, chef, writer, actor, race car driver, software designer, home builder, newspaper reporter etc. There is always going to be competition for job. There are always going to be obstacles to overcome. And there will always be gatekeepers every step of the way (whether it’s agents, editors, head-hunters, personnel directors etc), a weeding out process that will reject some people and accept others. I don’t see why publishing should be different.

  7. Something definitely does not have to give. If anything, the large publishers should be cutting back the number of books they publish significantly. There are far too many books published each year, way more than the marketplace can support.
    Everyone would be better off if the houses were to hone their lines down to a more elite group of books and then actually publish (and promote) them, rather than simply printing books and flooding the market with product, hoping that one of them will somehow break through.

  8. I don’t see what paying your dues has to do with this. Sounds like you already paid your dues. And you apparently wrote a great novel that received great reviews. The problem is your novel didn’t meet certain arbitrary notions of what’s marketable.
    Wasn’t Harry Potter rejected by 20 publishers before it finally got accepted for a relatively small sum? And didn’t Bantam pay over seven figures for a novel called “Retribution” which only sold 20,000 copies? It’s a pretty good sign that the gatekeepers don’t know what they’re doing.
    If anything, your post is a good argument in favor of self-publishing and self-marketing. It certainly didn’t hurt a book like Eragon, which was originally self-published.

  9. I am reminded that Margaret Mitchell’s great novel, Gone With the Wind, was rejected over 30 times (if I remember correctly). The editorial selection of novels has changed less than modern authors want to admit. Gone With the Wind was not only a best-seller and a great film, but also won a Pulitzer Prize. Think of all those editors who turned it down. How would you like to be one of those editors who turned down Gone With the Wind?
    Like Lee, Ms Mitchell kept on submitting, knew she had written something excellent, and continued to place her story before editors. She knew that in the subjective world of book selection she needed to find the right house and editor. And her triumph lives on. Lee’s continuing submissions of a novel he believed in reveal the heart and soul of a fine professional.

  10. I see this:
    >the others show an inability to judge >whether a ms. will be a success.
    And this:
    >The problem is your novel didn’t meet >certain arbitrary notions of what’s >marketable.
    And have to wonder what people expect from editors these days. Folks, editors get paid, basically, to judge the marketablility of a manuscript – from a pro or an amateur writer – and what that manuscript will mean in terms of revenue for the publishing house they are employed by.
    Do they make mistakes? You betcha. Do they sometimes look at the NY Times bestseller list and scratch their heads and wonder how that book they rejected wound up at number 8 with a bullet? Every single week. But the bottom line is that they still have to make a judgement. It’s not personal. It’s not an attack. It’s an opinion. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong.
    That’s the name of the game, folks. As Lee noted, “Only the most skilled, talented and lucky will succeed.” Don’t like it? Well, then I’d suggest you are probably in the wrong field.

  11. Thanks, Lee. Publishing those letters provides motivation for those of us who are not yet published.
    I often get discouraged, and wonder if I’m wasting my time submitting my ms.
    But then I remember reading that “Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance” was rejected 150+ times.

  12. Hey, I realize that editors are people. They make mistakes, like everyone else. I know it’s not personal.
    But that doesn’t mean that their word is final. That doesn’t mean I have to put my manuscript in a drawer just because an editor says so. That doesn’t mean I have to say “maybe I’m in the wrong field” because I don’t agree with an editor’s judgment.
    In this age of technology, it’s possible to make and publish and market your own book. Obviously, you have to be GOOD at it to succeed. But it has worked for some people. And not just Eragon either.
    But for whatever reason, some people like to argue that there is a stigma attached to doing this. Is there a stigma to starting your own business because 90% of start-ups ultimately fail? Give me a break.

  13. “Is there a stigma to starting your own business because 90% of start-ups ultimately fail?”
    There is in publishing where 99.99999% fail. No one will ever see your book done with “technoligy.” Write another saleable book.

  14. Where do you get that 99.9999% number from? And how does that number change when you have a well-written manuscript that was once represented by an agent?
    The only thing I know is that you have a 100% chance of failure if you give up and keep the manuscript in your desk drawer.

  15. You don’t have to give up when you put the book in a drawer. You could simply write another book. If that one hits, you have another virgin manuscript at hand. If it really is good, and not just another learning exercise, you can publish it professionally then.
    I’d rather spend my time writing, not learning how to typeset. I realize that others have different priorities.

  16. Who says its well-written? You? The agent who gave up on it? What have they said about it lately? The figure comes from counting the number of self-published books that have sold more than 500 copies to others besides the author.

  17. Roddy: You’ll hear lots of people saying “can’t do,” “can’t succeed,” etc., even though they know nothing about you. Be true to yourself. If you have talent and drive, go for it, wherever “it” takes you.

  18. Eh, it’s easy to make a big deal out of a rejection and the fact that editors aren’t perfect. They hardly have to be! The editors that rejected GONE WITH THE WIND may well have accepted some other classic — indeed, they likely picked a few, given the years they had in the biz back then. They also may have rejected some forgotten stinker of a book that ended someone else’s career.
    A single “big” book being turned down by some editor or even by a whole lot of editors doesn’t mean much. If you pick enough winners, the ones that got away don’t count. If you pick enough losers, the big hit won’t matter that much either.
    And it’s also worth remembering that bestsellers aren’t always destined to be. What the house does with an ms plays a role. It’s easy to imagine an alternative universe where Editor #19 did acquire GONE WITH THE WIND and it flopped due to poor handling, a crappy cover, the book being announced at the wrong time of year, etc.
    Individual titles are no way for an editor to keep score. Only the long haul counts.
    As far as self-publishing, it’s worth noting that 80% of small businesses fail even when those businesses are founded by people who know what they’re doing. Self-pubbing is a chockful of people who have never designed a cover, copy edited a manuscript, produced an interior, priced a book, written a press release, sold anything to anyone, or who have any experience at all with the many tasks that are involved in publishing. When real editors and publishers fumble so often, what chance do they have? Slim and none, clearly.
    Most first novels aren’t. Every writer I know has at least one turd deservedly exiled to a drawer somewhere. The value of a first novel is in making mistakes in private. Let your first published novel be your second or fourth written, then you have a chance to make thousands rather than lose thousands self-pubbing.

  19. If Vince Flynn had followed your advice, he wouldn’t be the bestselling writer he is today.
    He self-published his first novel, which got the attention of Pocket Books.
    The guy who wrote Bridges of Madison County also self-published the book initially.

  20. Your logic is faulty and, sadly, all too common among aspiring writers.
    I wouldn’t recommend pumping your paycheck into a progressive jackpot slot machine at Circus Circus…even though someone once won a million dollars in a casino. The same is true for self-publishing your novel.
    Yes, there are a few novelists who self-published their books, sold thousands of copies, and then attracted the attention of a major publisher. Those are the very, very rare exceptions. And, sadly, those very very rare exceptions motivate thousands of aspiring authors to throw away their money on self-publishing.

  21. Lee, if the only thing I cared about were the odds of success, then I wouldn’t get into writing/publishing in the first place. I think the odds of getting published by a major publisher these days are pretty astronomical. So it’s a slot machine no matter how you do it.
    Besides, it’s wrong to focus on the odds of success, because your odds are going to vary dramatically, depending on your skill and talent. If you write an exceptionally good novel, it will probably sell, whether it’s self-published or not.
    Most self-published books fail because they’re badly written. They don’t fail merely because they are self-published.
    If I can sell 1,000 copies of my self-published book, then I think that’s an impressive statistic to show to a future publisher.

  22. To be honest, I don’t think selling 1000 copies of a self-published novel would mean anything to a publisher. If anything, the stigma of being self-published would work against the book.
    Really, publishers are just looking for reasonably well-written books that they can sell. The odds definitely are NOT astronomically against it. Unfortunately.
    See that other thread (maybe someone can look for it and link it up) to read my comprehensive take on self-publishing. Assuming you’re interested.

  23. THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY was never self-published.
    A dissertation was written on the book’s production and reception and explains the process Waller and his agent went through.
    I’m not familiar with Vince Flynn self-pubbing either, though I don’t know for a fact that he did not. However, his website bio is silent on the subject, and most of the hits I’m seeing that do make the claim also make other inaccurate claims about who originally self-published (Waller and Grisham are frequently cited, though neither of them ever self-published, for example.)
    1000 copies of a self-pubbed book may impress a publisher, however, it likely won’t impress a publisher all that much more than the ms itself would have.

  24. A correction: I did find an earlier version of the Flynn bio where he discusses self-publishing. A couple interesting bits:
    1. He raised tens of thousands of dollars to do so, with the help of three investors. That’s a far cry than handing off an ms to or paying for iUniverse services.
    2. He was a professional salesman.
    Certainly, people with intense sales experience to retailers (as opposed to working retail) and with tens of thousands of bucks have a better chance of some level of success in self-publishing. However, there are plenty of folks with even these pedigrees who never get to the bestseller lists, and it wasn’t Flynn’s self-pubbing that put him on the lists, it was him ENDING his self-pubbing and accepting a commercial deal that made such a thing possible.
    It’s not the sort of thing one can systematize.
    PS: Ironically, what encouraged Flynn to self-pub was the aprocryphal tale that Grisham had.

  25. Last summer I had a chance to hear two editors from Tor Books speak. One of the things they said about picking up self-pubbed books was that, while high sales figures (they cited 1,500, iirc) would catch their attention, they knew those sales would be subtracted from the books they would be able to move. After all, your mom, your cousins, your co-workers, the gang at the AA meeting, the pizza delivery guy already have their copies.
    Selling a bunch of copies of your self-pubbed novel has a downside, too.

  26. First rights are already gone and wasted. That’s a drawback for publishers. It’s easier for people like these to believe Internet urban legends than do the work require to get published.

  27. Nick, thanks for the clarification on Waller. The reality, however, is that Vince Flynn was initially self-published and was able to build on this to his current bestselling career. So self-publishing is simply not the career-ending stigma that some people like to claim.
    Although Grisham did not self-publish his first book, he was published by a very small press and he bought over a thousand copies of the book himself. He sold many of those books out of the trunk of his car. Not too much of a difference between that and being self-published, in my view.
    If I sell 1000+ copies of my book, that’s more than my friends and family are buying the book. It means that the book has a quality that appeals to people. I think publishers would take a closer look at a book with those sales figures.
    Plus, there are a lot of people who are supportive of self-publishing who would like to read a self-published book if it’s good.

  28. Although Grisham did not self-publish his first book, he was published by a very small press and he bought over a thousand copies of the book himself. He sold many of those books out of the trunk of his car. Not too much of a difference between that and being self-published, in my view.
    There’s a significant difference, all across the board. I was published by a small press and sold a few cases of my own book and I can tell you just some of the differences:
    1. Advances: earning thousands as step one rather than spending tens of thousands. Yes, even very small presses, if they’re printing thousands of copies of hardcovers, do offer advances.
    2. Investment: The very small publisher pays a copy editor $20 an hour to copy edit the book, the cover artist and designer a grand or two, and pays the printer ten grand or more, depending on print run, page count, and cost. Because they already know copy editors, cover artists and designers, and printers, they can get professional work at professional rates, it’s very hard to do that otherwise. (That’s why Flynn borrowed twenty grand from three people to self-publish!)
    3. Book costs. When Grisham “bought” his own copies, he’s bought them at a substantial discount, and that’s likely after getting a couple of cases free from the publisher in the first place. Sure, the books would have been in his hand for even more cheaply, per unit price, if he had self-pubbed, but that would have been after spending thousands to get the book to the printer in the first place.
    4. Tax liability: unsold inventory is a taxable asset! If you want five thousand copies of a book in your basement, you’d better save up for when tax time comes, as you will be slammed, even if you didn’t sell more than a handful.
    It’s not at all unusual, in fact, for people published by small presses to buy many copies of their own book to handsell, especially if the small press in question doesn’t have a lot of chain bookstore penetration. This was even more true in the days. A very very few of them end up becoming bestselling authors. It’s not a technique that is systemitizable. If it were, there wouldn’t even be second-tier paperback houses like Dorchester and Kensington out there; everyone would just be a bestseller!

  29. Would you really want to go into a field in which you can only think of one person who was successful? How is the success of a single individual relevant to you anyway? You might as well start a software company since that Bill Gates feller did so well.
    As if that weren’t enough, you should consider that the reason Vince Flynn was a success was not because he published his first novel himself. It’s because he was subsequently picked up by a major NY publisher and went on to become a bestseller.
    Seems to me it would be a helluva lot easier to skip the first step and just sell your ms to a real publisher to start with. If it’s good enough to sell 5000 copies out of your garage, it’s good enough to sell 50,000 with a publisher behind it.

  30. I hesitate to dip my foot in this river again . . . but I want to make one tentative point. I totally and completely agree that self-publishing is a waste of time for all but a random few special cases (Jack Klugman’s autobiography for one) –
    But the notion that if a book is well written it will eventually get published by someone, someday – I don’t quite buy that, I do believe and think that there are good books without a home. I’ve witnessed other writers fall by the wayside with books publishers saying things very similiar to the rejection letters Lee posted. They like it, great writing, not for them.
    Sure, it takes tenacity and I completely agree with Harry, that it shouldn’t all go into one book or one project, put it down and write the next one, I agree with that. But I think that luck plays a big part of it, too. That’s sort of what makes folks uncomfortable, don’t you think? Going into SP, wrong as it is, gives one a sense of doing something rather than waiting for westerns (which were out) to come back in vogue as a genre.
    I don’t have a novel, (not yet) I’m not stumping anything – I think some of the debate goes on the fallability of the publishing industry – I think some good books get overlooked, I’ve seen it, and so my question is, how could this situation be rectified?
    With screenplays, as you know, if a good script that folks love but no one wants to buy is lying fallow, we can shoot an independently, (in a way, like SP) get it into a festival and pick up a distributer.
    Couldn’t there be some sort of indie-festival for books like that?
    I’m just spitballing – I know that there is a HUGE amount of badly written novels out there and that people that take money for publishing them are doing wrong (the Fringe Festival in nyc essentially does the same thing with plays and it’s one reason I do not support it) I just emphasize with the writers who can write well, have written a book but get rejection after rejection after rejection. Other than an intern maybe catching on in the slushpile and hammering away, what else can we do to draw attention to good work that doesn’t yet have that attention?
    I’m rambling. Cut me off, Paul.

  31. I don’t know that Grisham “bought” his copies. They could have given them to him for promotional purposes. This another urban legend thing people like Roddy here depend on. Nothing they think is ever really true. The fact that Flynn succeeded is despite self-publishing not because of it.

  32. With screenplays, as you know, if a good script that folks love but no one wants to buy is lying fallow, we can shoot an independently, (in a way, like SP) get it into a festival and pick up a distributer.
    Couldn’t there be some sort of indie-festival for books like that?

    That’s the independent press. The distributor performs the editorial gatekeeper function with feature films, strikes the release prints and arranges for screens, etc. In the same way, a small or independent press acquires the book, produces the copies, works to get books in the hands of stores, libraries, and individual readers, etc.
    The analog to “self publishing” isn’t “independent film and music” but “making a flash animation or song on your Mac and sticking it up on the Web.”

  33. So self-publishing is simply not the career-ending stigma that some people like to claim.
    It’s not the smart career-building move that some people like to claim, either. Frankly, the best thing a rejected writer can do is take all the time and energy they would have spent self-publishing and write another, better book.
    I think some good books get overlooked, I’ve seen it, and so my question is, how could this situation be rectified?
    Does it need to be? I’m not convinced it does. Walk into your local Borders and look around. Is your first thought: “Man! If only I had more books to choose from!”
    A(n anonymous) literary agent’s take on the question

  34. Good books, Harry. Not just “books” but good books. So yes, it would be cool for there to be more good books and less novels by James Patterson in Borders.
    And I’d like to believe that someone who’s written a good book and written it well will not, eventually, be overlooked. Right now, I’m not convinced.

  35. And you probably never will be because there always will be people who get get left out despite their best efforts. The reasons are numerous: Lack of decent representation; similar works; lack of space in a crowded marketplace and on and on. Just because you don’t happen to like Patterson doesn’t mean he doesn’t belong where he does. People buy his books.
    I’d take wild guess here that I wouldn’t consider the same books “good” as you would. Taste and incompetent or unsalaable writing is not the same thing.

  36. Self-publishing HELPED Vince Flynn’s career. It’s not an urban legend. Here is what he says on his official website:
    “By the spring of 1996, Flynn had undergone a typical initiation into New York’s publishing world – rejection, rejection, rejection. He lost patience, returned to St. Paul, finished his book, and, with the help of three investors, he self-published. Using his training as a salesman from Kraft to launch and sell Term Limits, the author drove to twenty bookstores in the Twin Cities. Flynn’s labor of love paid off: Term Limits immediately became a local #1 Minneapolis/St. Paul bestseller and drew the attention of a top New York publisher.”
    So it worked for Flynn. Doesn’t mean that it will work for me, but I think it will if I write something of quality and penetrate some local markets.

  37. All that quote proves, Roddy, is that Flynn spent a few tens of thousands of dollars to write his query letter.
    “Rejection, rejection, rejection” as noted above, doesn’t mean anything.

  38. “with the help of three investors” Like him you’ll need monetary help. Without copies in hand you can’t beg your way onto local shelves. Then ypu’ll be in line with all the Publishamericans out there: standing in the begging line with copies of your oen book, already paid for by you.
    That’s not the way publishing works. Or should.

  39. If you write something of quality that consumers want to buy, you can sell the book to a publisher who will do most of that work for you. They’ll even pay you, instead of you paying someone. Wouldn’t that be preferable?
    Granted, publishing is an f-ed up business that has more than its share of problems. I fail to see how it’s an improvement, though, to strike out and do it all on your own.
    Here’s that previous thread, by the way, that I referenced earlier, in case you’re interested.

  40. I understand that there are certain economic differences between being published by a small press (a la Grisham) and self-publishing.
    But when it comes to the actual marketing of the book, I see no real difference. Grisham’s first publisher spent zero dollars on promotion. Many newspapers wouldn’t even review the book.
    So Grisham had to go to bookstores and convince them to carry the book. He had to sell copies of the book out of his car. He had to rely on a network of family and friends. Sound familiar?
    And keep in mind that Grisham’s book was turned down by all the major publishers. Most people consider A Time to Kill to be a classic now. And it sold like crazy once it re-released. It became a hit movie.
    Shows you how much the “literary gatekeepers” know.
    And yet authors are supposed to bow down to these editors/marketers and conform our work to their flawed judgment? Not me.
    I suspect if Grisham was starting out today, he would have self-published A Time to Kill.

  41. Just to clarify, I haven’t completely made up my mind yet on whether I want to self-publish myself.
    But I think I do have an advantage because I’m willing to invest maybe 10-15K on promotion. I have the money. That should give me a leg up, I think. Of course, the question is how to spend that money wisely.
    But it’s admittedly a large investment and I don’t want the money to go down the drain. So I’m still thinking.
    I do appreciate the constructive advice/criticism I’ve received on this website. I don’t want to sound ungrateful.

  42. Roddy, I appreciate the fact that you’re interested in learning. I definitely suggest you read the comment I wrote near the bottom of that other thread. If I may immodestly say so, I think there is some important information in it to consider.
    Something else to keep in mind: Think of how far your 10 grand will go if you spend it in support of a book published by Random House, rather than Roddy’s Books.

  43. “It became a hit movie.” Yes, after his second book The Firm sold to a real publisher on its own merit and obtained a movie deal as part of the package, or close to it, so this had nothing to do with the history of Time To Kill.
    Your logic continues to be clouded by blindness and misinformation lacking correct chronology and context. Based on these argumentation flaws there’s a good chance all of your writing is so flawed and hence not worth anything to a real publisher. It may not, but this record is all we have to go here along with the history of self-publishing advocates in general. So far you’re right on track.
    If these folks have a hard time with the traditional system behind them, how do you think you’ll do on your own?
    Publish and Perish

  44. Marky, it’s possible to disagree with someone without insulting them. Being rude doesn’t make your arguments more powerful. If anything, it makes people dismiss you out of hand, even those who might otherwise agree with you.

  45. It may or may not. Perhaps you didn’t read that David. I think he’s probably already received this information from agents. Flawed logic is flawed logic. Saying so is not rude it’s reality. This is the same logic path they all use and all have the same sort of thing in their books.

  46. marky48, the only point that I’m making is that A TIME TO KILL was a good novel. It was good enough to sell millions of copies. It was good enough to be the basis for a hit movie. Some people consider it Grisham’s best novel. Despite this fact, it was rejected by the NY publishing establishment.
    Another example is KJA Wishnia. He got so frustrated with the publishing process that he self-published his first novel. It was eventually nominated for an Edgar.
    Lee’s book was also rejected by the publishing establishment. He released it on a small press, and it’s getting rave reviews. Good luck finding it at a non-specialty bookstore though.
    Meanwhile, Patricia Cornwell, who got paid $8 million for her latest Scarpetta mystery, isn’t even making it available for reviews. It’s apparently that bad. I think James Patterson makes at least $30 million a year for poorly written books that he doesn’t even write.
    So I don’t understand the “flawed logic” of what I’m saying. It’s possible to write a good (even great) book and have it rejected by the publishing establishment. They’d rather release five books by Patterson a year than take a chance on a new author.
    And I’m not interested in leaving that kind of book in my desk drawer. What kind of advice is that?
    I’m not delusional — I’m not saying that self-publishing is easy. But if I really believe in something I’ve written, it may be the only option.

  47. Which was my point, why can’t we find a non-SP solution for well-written books whose stories (like Lee was told) didn’t quite fit into most, if not all, publishing house’s marketing scheme?
    Why can’t there be a way to ensure well written books, no matter what the story, find a home?
    Why can’t there be a Sundance festival for undiscovered independent novels?
    I’m not saying that would be easier, just that there are obvious flaws now and let’s try to find a way to make it work better, instead of arguing about SP.

  48. My to the point question is this: What did the agents tell you about your book and how many rejections do you have? About this___much.
    Why have you given up? Nit-picking successful authors will only get you so far. The point you don’t seem to grasp is Grisham wrote a second book that was successful and the first only in retrospect to that later success. That’s the take home lesson in this.
    As one who printed two of these dogs, not novels, for hardly anything out of my pocket, I fail to see how spending a lot of money to hand peddle them out of my pickup would be a better path.
    Odds are against you.

  49. Roddy, what makes you think the promotional budget for Grisham’s first small press novel was “zero”?
    Why on Earth would they even publish a few thousand hardcovers and not spend a dime marketing or promoting the book? And since that edition of the book did sell 5000 copies in hardcover, I’d be amazed if what you were saying were true. A fair number of large publishers have difficulty selling 5000 copies of their hardcovers, especially when it comes to debut fiction.
    And given that he sold it, where do you get the claim that it was rejected by the “publishing establishment”! It sold, it did quite well (5000 hcs sold is quite well; it sounds like the whole print run sold out), and then it was picked up and reissued as a mass market paperback.
    That sort of thing happens all the time. It isn’t even unusual for a small press hardcover to become a major press paperback; I personally know half a dozen people who have sold novels that way. (Brian Keene, Tim Lebbon, Jeff VanderMeer, K. J. Bishop, Tom Picirrilli, and J. R. Knight come immediately to mind.)
    So given that, WHY, other than the fact that YOU want to self-publish, do you think Grisham would rather have spent $10K back in 1989 rather than earning $10K? “I’m sure some famous person magically agrees with me” isn’t a coherent position. It is flawed logic. As is the claim that publishers would rather publish a Patterson than “take a chance” on a new author. The sheer number of new authors that debut each year, in both major presses and in the independent press, puts the lie to that claim.
    Which was my point, why can’t we find a non-SP solution for well-written books whose stories (like Lee was told) didn’t quite fit into most, if not all, publishing house’s marketing scheme?
    The independent press is that solution. The fact that we’re talking about Lee’s published book as opposed to an ms in a drawer is sufficient evidence of that, Joshua.

  50. David, I read your comment about self-publishing. It was certainly well written. But I don’t think you say anything I haven’t already heard before.
    You list the following negatives:
    (1)SP will cost you money rather than make you money;
    (2) the book will likely not be up to the standard of traditionally published books, either in form or content;
    (3) most people will never have the opportunity to see your book as it probably won’t be in stores;
    (4) your book will almost surely not be reviewed, other than by internet sites if you’re lucky; and
    (5) your book will not, in most people’s eyes, earn you the status of published author.
    My responses are:
    (1) Whether I make money or not depends on how the book sells. If I aggressively market and sell the book, I can turn a profit.
    (2) Whether my book is up to the standard of traditionally published books is up to me. I certainly have the money to invest in a decent graphic design for the front cover. And I know my book is well written.
    (3) I see self-published books in smaller bookstores and even some chains like Barnes and Noble. It’s all a matter of how you sell it. Just ask Vince Flynn.
    (4) I know my book won’t get reviewed. Most books, I believe, don’t get reviewed. But if a book is good, word-of-mouth will sell it. And I will try to get blurbs from prominent people, etc.
    (5) Who cares what other people think? Besides if I sell more than 5000 copies of my book, I believe that makes me a bigger seller than 90% of the “published writers” out there.
    Still, I understand your points and appreciate your input.

  51. Nick,
    As for my comments about Grisham, here is what he had to say:
    “When A Time to Kill was published, it was an unknown author, unknown book, unknown publisher. There was no money for promotion, so I tried to sell the book myself. And I went to a lot of book stores in the Memphis, mid-South area and a lot of them had no time, you know? They didn’t want a new author, especially one with a publisher they’d never heard of. But there were a handful who opened their doors and said, “Sure, come in. We’ll try to sell some books, and we’ll have a party, and we’ll invite all of our customers.”

  52. Nick wrote –
    “The independent press is that solution. The fact that we’re talking about Lee’s published book as opposed to an ms in a drawer is sufficient evidence of that, Joshua.”
    Actually Nick, I used Lee’s rejections as a sample but that’s because we are on his site and he started the thread with them – I also mentioned that I know other authors who have written good books that haven’t found a home (in fact, I even pointed folks to a site that features a chapter a week of one good book) including a friend of mine, who has had his first novel published independently and cannot find a home for his second.
    I think that there are good books going unnoticed – SP and VP are obviously not a good answer, but neither do I think independents filling that need, either, not completely.
    It seems that your postion is that everything is fine, no need to change anything? Is that true?
    All I’m asking is, how can we do things better?

  53. You sound hopelessly optimistic, Roddy, but I wish you luck all the same. If your book is that good, though, I would still recommend trying the tried and true route before sinking 10 or 20 grand of your own money in a Quixotic quest.

  54. I still didn’t hear a rejection count and from whom. I read a lot of big “Ifs” all of which usually go against the author. Also no comment on the experience I have with this perilous endeavor. I understand you don’t want to dwell on the negative. It was my fault and won’t happen to you. Yes, heard it before.
    As for my reasoning on Grisham which you continue to ignore and misinterpret see the publishing lawyer.
    Urban Legend

  55. Roddy:
    I seriously doubt Grisham is speaking literally when he says that there was “no” money for promotion, Roddy. Most promotion is invisible to an author anyway, as a small publisher spends most of its time marketing to the trade by creating catalogs, working the phones to alk to regional buyers, attending trade shows contracting with one or more independent distributors, etc. He’s obviously confabulating a bit.
    Listen, it’s clear that this point that you think if you spend $10,000, you’re going to be a bestseller. You’re not. We all can say “You’re not” without a bunch of qualifiers because we’ll be right 99.999% of the time. You may as well go to a business school, point to the three people at the top of the Amway pyramid scheme and say “Sometimes mainstream businesses fil, but look at those three at the top of Amway! I’m gonna be like them.” Well, there are a million broken bodies at the bottom of the Amway pyramid that says you won’t.
    Joshua: I think that there are good books going unnoticed – SP and VP are obviously not a good answer, but neither do I think independents filling that need, either, not completely.

    Not completely for whom? What need is going unfilled? The needs of readers, or of writers, or of someone else, like the publishers, who are certainly in the business of making profit for themselves? These aren’t rhetorical questions, I actually have no idea what you mean.
    It seems that your postion is that everything is fine, no need to change anything? Is that true?
    That’s about as grotesque a misreading as one could possibly ever come up with, Joshua.
    The point is simply this: you ask why there isn’t a publishing analog to Sundance. The response is just as simple: there is, and it’s the independent press.
    And no, the independent press is hardly perfect, but then again, neither is Sundance. More than one counter-Sundance has emerged (Slamdance being the most prominent) because Sundance can’t completely fill whatever need is out there either. And thus, there are many different times of independent presses as well.
    Want to help? Start a press. You’ll likely find, after a while, a certain profit-centered logic will creep into your thinking, and you too will reject some work that could have possibly found an audience, or that something you reject as not-worthwhile will be published by someone else to some fanfare and attention.
    If what you’re asking boils down to “How can we create a perfectly responsive marketplace?” then the answer is simple “We cannot” and if we could, we’d be a lot better off creating that perfectly responsive market for food and water, not for leisure items.

  56. Hey Nick,
    I believe I said that I was speaking specifically of good writers who have good books who cannot find a home for them (I know of a couple, and I pointed out a site for another one in the thread above) – so I specifically stated that’s the need I was speaking of – relative to the difficulty of a established writer like Lee who had a lot of difficulty publishing a well written book – he made it, I know others that haven’t and I’m not sure if they ever will and that frustrates me for them – Now granted, it’s a thread, I’m typing fast, I’m probably not thinking it as closely as if it were a term paper, but I believe I’m being fairly clear – If you didn’t know what I was talking about, I don’t know how to help you –
    And I don’t think I was reading your points grotequely, I mentioned a need for the publishing equivalent of Sundance, you stated independent publishing fills that need. I disagree. So it seems reasonable to state that you feel everything is fine. How it that grotesque?

  57. Nick,
    I’m not taking the position that I can “buy” my way to bestsellerdom for 10K. Don’t distort what I’m saying.
    All I’m saying is that if I have a really good product, and the money and smarts to promote it, I think I can distinguish myself from the rest of the self-publishing pack.
    True, I would rather be published by a small press than self-publish. Just like Lee Goldberg, James Sallis, and some other writers.
    But, in the end, I would end up doing the same thing — buying a bunch of copies and trying to sell them myself. Just like Grisham did.
    So no matter which option I choose, I’m going to be spending my own money to sell/market the book. So I’ve budgeted a decent amount (10-15K) for this purpose. No shame in that.

  58. Sorry, Joshua but it plain and simple is utterly grotesque to read what I’m saying and come to the tentative conclusion that I mean to say that “everything is fine.”
    And so we disagree that the independent press is the Sundance of the written word. So, what is the nature of the disagreement. Why ISN’T the independent press the Sundance of the written word. What substantial, fundamental, differences are there?
    As far as your friends having good books, how am I to know that they’re good? Maybe they aren’t being published because they’re pieces of crap. It’s certainly possible, Joshua, that you can’t tell a good book from a bad book. So it’s totally up in the air, as far as I am concerned, that your friends’ “need” to publish is going unfulfilled.
    Roddy, since all you ever do in your defense of self-publishing is mention bestselling authors whom you think have self-published, and you continually use them as a model of how self-pubbing works, the conclusion that you think self-pubbing + $10,000 will make you a bestseller is hardly a stretch.
    There actually ARE working models for self-publication, notably niche non-fiction, but you have yet to stray from the usual patter associated with the “Self-publish You Way To Millions!” websites and brochures.
    You also seem incapable of the math. Let’s say you did publish with Five Star. You’d get, likely, a $1000 advance and the initial print run would be 500 copies. Remember, Five Star deals with the library market, not the book trade, that’s why its list is generally tyros and the minor works of significant authors, like trunk novels and short story collections, and its print runs generally small.
    Also, since their hardcovers are over $25 for fairly short books, they won’t be getting much chain store penetration anyway. (Yes, that extra ninety-five cents does matter!) Five Star makes money because libraries tend to buy at cover price or very near it, and don’t return books unless they’re hurt. The book trade wants a 55% discount off cover price and 120 day return terms.
    So, let’s say that your book is interesting enough that Five Star gets 250 pre-orders, and now you’re going to buy the rest of the stock. 250. (Five Star will probably reprint at this point; they generally do up to three hardcover reprints and are also experimenting with trade paper releases if over 1000 hardcovers sell — these tpbs are for the trade.)
    Well, you’ll likely be able to buy those 250 book at $12.98 each. Even if you did that (and that would be very silly), you’d be in the hole for $3245, and for what? To valorize your mistaken belief that you can sell the books better than Gale Group could? And if you haven’t sold them by tax time, well then your unsold inventory is going to cost you even more.
    OR, you could take your free case of books (10-30), sell those, or use them to try to whip up some mmpb interest, and let Gale sell the rest. What’s the smart move?

  59. Self pub vs. Commercial publishers
    The talk of all the books NY publishers missed is unconvincing for one big reason: All the books they’ve found. Is the selection process perfect? Of course not! Who would really expect it to be?
    Come on. Honestly. Think about it. Do you really think it’s all that compelling that a book was rejected that later sold well? That became a best seller? It was *bound* to happen. In fact, I’d say it was bound to happen every couple of years, if not more often.
    And so what? Stuff happens. If you have one good book that doesn’t hit, try with another. That first good book isn’t going to turn to dust.
    Anyway, I wish I could find James D. Macdonald’s explanation of “no promotion” from a traditional press and “no promotion” from self-publishers. He makes it pretty clear that they aren’t the same thing. It’s at the same site as the link in this post goes to. If you’re curious, maybe he’ll explain again.
    But really, doesn’t this urge to take matters into your own hands really stem from this:
    And yet authors are supposed to bow down to these editors/marketers and conform our work to their flawed judgment? Not me.
    It’s this unwillingness to accept that others might be knowledgable about their fields. It’s the insistence of pointing out the few errors rather than the many successes. It’s the belief that an amateur can do just as well as a professional. It’s the fear of letting other people judge the quality of your work.
    Anyway, this post has been sitting open on my computer all day. I was called away before I could hit “post.” Good luck to everyone one who writes, no matter what they plan to do with their work.

  60. “It’s certainly possible, Joshua, that you can’t tell a good book from a bad book. ”
    It is possible, though as I pointed a site to a book on the net earlier, as I keep mentioned, so you can see for yourself my taste. Or you can visit my website, where I sometimes talk about work and writing and a bunch of other things, if you’re at all interested in my tastes, likes and dislikes with regard to fiction and more. If that’s what you really want to know, that’s a place to start. My qualitative judgement on my friend’s work is stricly subjective, I admit it, so what? Most qualitative judgments are. It is possible that I cannot tell good writing from bad? Sure. It’s also equally possible that you cannot tell a good book from a bad one. It’s also possibly that you have your shirt on backwards and your underwear on inside out. What does that have to do with anything? Unless you’re saying that, since I cannot tell a good book from a bad one, I would not know if good books truly are being overlooked and therefore they aren’t – all good books find a publishing home and that it is silly for me to say otherwise – I’d ask you if that’s what you’re saying, but I think perhaps it’s not even necessary.
    I simply wanted to know if there was not more that could be done to help good books that have gone unnoticed to find a home. That’s it.
    Since you’re attacking my taste rather than my questions, it may be that we’ve come to place where we are not going to be resolving this with reasonable discussion, so it may be best just to go our separate ways with regard to this discussion.

  61. “good writers who have good books who cannot find a home for them” Says who. Look, you like works that tend to be let’s say “fringy.” We’ve seen that before. Don’t worry, there is always a home for that sort of thing. It could very well be though that these works just aren’t mainstream material.
    The number of books and new author books is staggering. Nevertheless anyone who writes needs their head examined. So good luck is the order of the day. That, hard work and a healthy dose of persistence is what it takes. There are no short-cuts and that’s all self-publishing is in any form.

  62. How bizarre that in one breath you’d claim that taste is subjective and in another say that questioning taste is sufficient cause for you to flounce out of the discussion
    I’ll take that to mean that you simply don’t want to answer my question about the differences between Sundance and the film festival circuit versus the independent press. See, I didn’t attack your taste, I questioned it, and I did tangle with your questions. Basic reading comprehension, incidentally, is required for both computer-mediated discussions AND the development of even subjective taste.
    And I can only guess that the reason you don’t want to answer the question is because it might require you to change your mind, and in these days of subjectivity one needn’t do that, heavens no!
    As far as my being able to tell a good book from a bad one, my most recent book was a Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild nominee (a writercentric and a criticcentric award, respectively), made the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2004, and has sold to two different foreign territories so far.
    And yes, it was rejected a number of times before selling, and was rejected a number of times after selling (to foreign publishers and domestic paperback publishers). The system tends toward the risk-averse, but that’s no proof that it’s somehow broken because you can’t find my latest book in a 7-11 as a $6.99 mass market paperback.
    Publishing isn’t writer-centered; it’s not the task of the industry to find books “a good home.” It’s the task of the industry to make a profit. One way to do this is to publish good books. Another way to do this is to publish awful books. However, not every book need be published. That’s just the way of the world, and calling on the spirit of Sundance (which also rejects many worthy films!) on some blog somewhere won’t change that.

  63. I dunno, Mark – I don’t know that my taste in books is fringy – here are some of my fave reads in the past few months –
    LUCKY & THE LOVELY BONES (both by Alice Sebold)
    I have always loved Kipling’s CAPTAIN’S COURAGEOUS and THE JUNGLE BOOKS – It’s a cliche but CATCHER IN THE RYE always works for me.
    I very much like the genre works of Donald Westlake, Michael Connolly, Harlen Coben and I just recently discovered Lee Child (Guyot blogged about him and I picked up a copy of THE ENEMY, Child rocks) and Larry McMurty, Tess Gerretson and Stephen King. Maybe they’re not all genre writers, but they are all prolific and I follow when I can.
    I admit to really liking the miliitary docudramas of WEB GRIFFEN. That may be a guilty pleasure.
    There are a lot more, but it gives you an idea. The only “fringy” novels I really like are the books by Bukowski and FIGHT CLUB and CHOKE by Palahntuk (though I haven’t really gotten into some of his others) – I see indie books a bit (just got one as a adaptation assignment) and while a lot of them are good, I wouldn’t say my taste runs there. I didn’t even really care for A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS and thought that RUNNING WITH SCISSORS was a good story that was badly written.
    I don’t know exactly how to exactly describe my taste in books, I usually just tell folks what I like and let them decide for themselves. If a friend recommends a book, I’ll read it and give it three chapters to work. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. In that regard, I’m no different from you or anyone else. I love to read books, especially good stories well told.
    A friend just referred me to THE HA-HA and so that will be next on the list.
    Hey, it’s tough to get published, I acknowledge that. It’s tough to accomplish anything worthwhile.

  64. And it’s also tough to get out of a discussion when you should, yet here I go again. . . Nick, hey – you didn’t ask me about the difference between Sundance and indie-publishing, you simply stated that indie-publishing filled that need (no question) and I said I disagreed.
    And you didn’t question my taste, anyone is free to do that, you attacked it – there is a difference, the intention is to put the other on the defensive, not to exchange ideas.
    As for this –
    “Basic reading comprehension, incidentally, is required for both computer-mediated discussions AND the development of even subjective taste.”
    It’s not difficult to divine the intention behind that statement. I respond by observing that you may be projecting, I don’t know. But I was fairly clear, for a talkback thread, and I’m comfortable with what I’ve said when I’ve said it. Nor do I think that there is anything wrong with asking what I’ve asked, which is, is there anything more that can be done to help good books find a worthwhile home? That’s hardly a flameworthy question, yet here we are.
    Hey Nick, I do congratulate you on your book – it’s hard as hell to get published or win awards and for that you do deserve a slap on the back.
    But being published does not mean you can freely insult me (as you have above) or even that you are right and thus, this time for real, I do retire from this discussion before it evolves into another typical flaming net argument. Post away, snarky comments or otherwise, at my back as I walk away – I will not witness.

  65. Are you guys still on this?
    Person opinions about whether a book is good or bad are just that–opinions. Some opinions may be more influencial or learned than others, but no one is always right.

  66. No. Wrong. To be blunt: lie. I asked you this, exactly:
    “Why ISN’T the independent press the Sundance of the written word. What substantial, fundamental, differences are there?”
    Your response to this question was to clutch at your heart like some silent film star and claim to have been attacked. And the essence of this attack was…another question, namely this one:
    “As far as your friends having good books, how am I to know that they’re good?”
    I then added:
    ” Maybe they aren’t being published because they’re pieces of crap. It’s certainly possible, Joshua, that you can’t tell a good book from a bad book. So it’s totally up in the air, as far as I am concerned, that your friends’ “need” to publish is going unfulfilled.”
    Sorry, that’s not an attack. Leaving open the possibility that you may not be able to tell a good book from bad is not an attack.
    However, whining and moaning about such a simple utterance being an attack, and carrying on even after flouncing from the conversation is exactly the sort of passive-aggressive nonsense that people who don’t know what they’re talking about frequently use as a shield when the alternative is a) explaining themselves or b) changing their mind.

  67. Let’s say you did publish with Five Star. You’d get, likely, a $1000 advance and the initial print run would be 500 copies.

    I believe the initial print run of BADGE was 2500 copies, which is still not even half of, say, what St. Martin’s Press would do for a first printing of a hardcover.

  68. Not bad. I knew a few of the Five Star horror titles got 500 unit runs, and some more or less instant reprints. Of course, horror is a much less popular category than mystery.
    They must have high hopes for your book, Lee. Well-placed ones as well!

  69. While all of you spent yesterday arguing about whether anyone can self-publish, I spent the day doing my 9th interview, preparing 200 boxes to send ARCs of Night Laws out to independent book stores, and working on my next novel, Fear Laws.

  70. Good for you, Jim.
    It’s rather sad how a lot of these so-called “debates” turn into personal attacks about whether someone has good taste or not.
    I just wish there was a website somewhere that had some hard facts about the publishing industry. I keep on hearing different things from different people. It’s hard to know who and what to believe these days.

  71. I spent the day doing my 9th interview, preparing 200 boxes to send ARCs of Night Laws out to independent book stores, and working on my next novel, Fear Laws.
    Hmm, all I did was add 1600 words to my next novel (to be published in June 2006 by a publisher who is paying me), put the final touches on a collection I’m editing (to be launched at the World Fantasy Convention next month, by a publisher who is paying me) sold (as in I will be paid) Czech rights to my last novel via my foreign rights agent at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and made arrangements for an interview/photo shoot/publication of a translated short story for the German magazine SPEX, on the occasion of the German release of my last novel.
    No need to box up any ARCs though. That sounds like a job to be done on somebody else’s dime and time.
    And Roddy, Lee’s blog IS one of the websites where you get hard facts avout the publishing industry. You’re just not interested in the facts when they contradict your daydreams.

  72. Nick,
    You know, it’s possible to criticize someone with making it nasty or personal. Maybe you and marky48 should get together and share a bottle of venom. Sounds like there would be plenty to go around.
    That being said, I do appreciate the factual content of your responses.

  73. I spent the day doing my 9th interview, preparing 200 boxes to send ARCs of Night Laws out to independent book stores, and working on my next novel, Fear Laws.
    Sunday I helped host a neighborhood BBQ for 200 people, posted two blog entries, and wrote eight pages of my 7th DIAGNOSIS MURDER novel (which is due in six weeks).
    But Saturday was a heavy work day — I did signings for THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE at three Los Angeles-area bookstores, wrote a chapter of my DM book, confirmed with Bay Area bookstores my signings next weekend, posted a few entries on my blog, and watched three episodes of a TV series in preparation for a meeting with the showrunner next week.
    What’s your point, Jim? It’s good that you’re working so hard sending our arcs of your self-published book and hustling interviews. That doesn’t change the fact that self-publishing/vanity publishing/subsidy publishing is a huge, expensive mistake for aspiring authors and rarely leads to even modest success. It is the publishing equivalent of going to Vegas to win $1 million by pumping $5,000 into a dollar slot machine.

  74. “I just wish there was a website somewhere that had some hard facts about the publishing industry.”
    Yeah the incorrect ones you want to hear.
    Reality is an SOB kids, Lee’s giving you the hard facts. You don’t want it? Then go over to Hansens and box the books he’s paid for. That’s good work for a writer.

  75. “It is the publishing equivalent of going to Vegas to win $1 million by pumping $5,000 into a dollar slot machine.”
    I understand your point–pay money and hope for a big return. And I agree.
    But perhaps blackjack is a better comparison than slots. There’s a difference between hoping for a random win and playing well to improve your advantage.
    Jim isn’t paying money to print 5000 copies and then crossing his fingers. He’s going to actively try to sell those 5000 copies. He’s meeting booksellers, going to conferences, getting out ARCs, learning about marketing and distribution.
    In short, Jim is learning about the game in order to improve his odds at winning.
    His chance of success is slim. But I’m guessing he’ll sell much better than books published through the POD presses like Xlibris, IUniverse, PublishAmerica, etc.
    He may even sell better than some tradionally published books from some well-respected small presses. It all depends on how much he’s willing to work to do so.

  76. He can work his ass off and still lose his shirt. That’s the MO of these operations to date. What he hasn’t done is acknowledge the opening chapter flaws many have pointed out. That says to me he’s a player who isn’t “open to direction” as we say in the acting biz. The chances for those are slimmer still.

  77. You know, it’s possible to criticize someone with making it nasty or personal.
    There is nothing nasty or personal in my commentary whatsoever; both you and Joshua, as a ego-defense tactic, have simply claimed that there is.
    What’s the content of my last comment that you’re objecting to? You wish for a website with hard facts. Well, your wish has been granted: this is one.
    Why DON’T you think this website counts? Because, as you say “I keep on hearing different things from different people. It’s hard to know who and what to believe these days.”
    Well, what makes it hard? Nothing I can see, other than your need for ego defense. It’s not that difficult to tell the difference between a Halley’s Comet style success like Vince Flynn and the most common result of self-publishing. It’s also not too difficult to read your comments and see gaping contradictions: the publishing industry is awful because it publishes Patterson, yet, it also publishes Flynn, whom you hope to emulate! And of course, they publish Grisham, whom you seem to think has many people calling his work “classic”. As if there were major differences between these three authors. And you ultimately have no principled interest in self-pubbing; you want to do well enough in it to join the the Pattersons et al.
    Your attitude, Roddy, can all be boiled down to one comment you made up above: “And yet authors are supposed to bow down to these editors/marketers and conform our work to their flawed judgment? Not me.”
    The publisher/writer relationship is a business/vendor relationship, not some titantic struggle of wills to which you will never submit, cuz you’re something special. Everything you’ve said here, including your continued responses and demands for some level of respect you think you’re not getting tells me that you think it is.
    Willpower’s great when it comes to jumping off a building. Not too good when it comes to either writing or publishing.

  78. Roddy, if you want a site with real information, follow the “self-pub vs. commercial publisher” link I posted above. After you’ve read that thread, check out the whole message board.
    There’s a section on novel writing and one on self-publishing. The former is more active than the latter, but posting a question in either will get you lots of information. There’s also a forum called Bewares and Background Check (or something similar) where people talk about scammers and clueless agents and publishers.
    Good luck.

  79. Nick: You have a publisher who is paying you. Thus, apparently, you get to personally insult me. Please let me know how much you are being paid. I assume that if I pass you up in money, then I get to insult you. But let me know if I’m wrong. I really don’t know the rules of when I get to look down my nose at someone else. Is there a book somewhere on it?

  80. Hansen, do circle the personal insults you claim Nick made in big red marker, for our benefit. Or at least make an upside-down answer key at the bottom of your posts.

  81. Actually, Jim, you’d both need to be paid more in your capacity as a writer (not as a small publisher) and write better books.
    The first is actually fairly easy. The second, good luck with that!

  82. There are no qualifications or credentials needed to insult Nick, or anyone, of course, but as your rhetorical question was facetious, we know you know that.
    Faking injury and begging for some insult from him—any insult, please!—is likewise free, as you have seen, but it doesn’t always work in eliciting a genuine attack, and it’s embarrassingly masochistic and needy, not to mention tacky.
    I’m sorry no one will insult you. Better luck next time.

  83. No one insulted you, just presented the facts of your situation. Being committed to that course you have no choice but think it will work. It may, but most likely the outcome will be downscaled considerably from the lofty expectations. We’ll be watching the numbers if we can find them.

  84. My good wishes are totally sincere.
    And it’s not that I don’t agree, it’s that I think it’s a troubled path, and that the people who recommend it have faulty maps.
    /bad analogy
    Post a thread on the forums over there. They’re friendly, respectful folks and they run off people who don’t play nice.

  85. Mark, Jim appears to have revised the first chapter. The excerpt that appears on his site is an improvement…but it still needs work. I wonder if he has taken any creative writing courses. If not, he should consider it. I think he would find them not only extremely helpful but very inspiring.

  86. Lee, I wrote two books while I was in school at 49. You know where they went. I went on to get a journalism and science BA at 51. I know for a fact that would help him, because my course work in writing did wonders for my nonfiction.
    I’ve applied all of my recent learning to the writing I’m doing now and remodeled that early work as well. The key is to know what needs work and what is just right. Only experience will do that in my view.
    I just edited my history manuscript for umpteenth time and it just keeps getting better. All I can say is study and read Hemingway for fiction technique. I’m using that study for my current novel.

  87. ((I found this somewhere a long time ago, and keep it handy…..))
    Eight years after his novel “Steps” won the National Book Award, Jerzy Kosinski permitted a young writer to change the name and title of the book, and nothing else, and send the re-typed manuscript to various publishers. Every single publishing house rejected it, including Random House who had published the original and proudly displayed the National Book Award for it.
    Richard Hooker spent seven years writing a humorous war novel based on his experiences as a doctor in Korea. The manuscript was rejected by twenty-one publishers before William Morrow bought the rights to the novel, originally titled “Mobile Army Surgical Hospital”. An editor rechristened the manuscript M*A*S*H*. M*A*S*H* became a runaway best-seller, spawning a blockbuster movie and one of the longest running series in television history.
    Louis L’Amour, possibly the most respected author in the Western genre recieved more than 350 rejections before he made his first sale. As of this date, there are more than 200 million Louis L’Amour books in print.
    British thriller writer John Creasy recieved 774 rejections before his first sale, and went on to author a total of 564 novels, featuring such characters as The Baron, The Toff, and other British “gentlemen heroes”, and often had up to five manuscripts in the works simultaneously. To this day, Creasy is considered one of the pre-eminent writers in the genre.
    Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book “And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street” was rejected by twenty-seven publishers before Vanguard Press “took a chance”. Nothing more needs to be said.
    Margaret Mitchell’s classic “Gone with the Wind” was turned down by more than thirty-seven publishers.
    Mary Higgins Clark was rejected more than forty times before selling her first short story. More than 30 million copies of her books are in print as of today.
    Fifteen publishers and thirty agents turned down John Grisham’s first novel, “A TIme to Kill”. More than 60 million copies of his books are now in print.
    E.T., Home Alone, Forrest Gump, Speed, and Raiders of the Lost Ark were ALL rejected by every major studio in Hollywood.
    Rudyard Kipling recieved a rejection letter from the San Francisco Examiner that said, in part, “Mr. Kipling, it is obvious that you have no grasp of the English Language.”
    Dean Koontz was strongly advised by an English Professor to find “meaningful work”, as he would never succeed as a writer.
    A young film school graduate got the necessary permissions from the estates of the writers, and submitted a word for word line by line copy of the screenplay to CASABLANCA under the play’s original title, “Everybody Comes to Rick’s.” Every studio passed on it, with Warner Brothers (who did the original) making the comment “No FemJep (Hollywood slang for ‘Female in Jeopardy’) ….can’t sell it. Can you toss in a serial killer?” Several agents responded to the prankster with comments like “Too old and archaic”, “Where’s the Kid Action?”, and “Unbelievably stupid; no one acts this way in real life.”


Leave a Comment