Thursday, August 31, 2006

And A Subjective One At That!

STATUS: Reading client material like mad! I want both projects done and out to the authors by 5 p.m. on Friday and then the weekend, here I come.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART by Bonnie Tyler

Publishing is a business and a subjective one at that.

As I was reminded of that yet again just several weeks ago.

I gave a talk to a local community of writers about queries. Not unlike what I did on the blog, I showed some of my client queries and talked about what got my attention, why I asked for sample pages, and to where the project sold etc.

One attendee raised his hand and expressed his opinion, quite pointedly, that he found one of my client’s queries to be unexceptional and generic and he didn’t understand why any editor would be interested in that project.

I have my moments and I did have to stringently resist the urge to say, “and that is why you currently remain unpublished and my client is not” but I didn’t because his comment points out something that I’m always trying to remind writers who read my blog.

Publishing is totally subjective. Agenting is totally subjective. So much of this business is based on one person’s opinion and getting a manuscript into the hands of those we, as agents, know will share that taste and opinion.

It’s an odd business model if you think about it.

So, yes, this biz is subjective. A query that floats one agent’s boat might not even make a little dent in the hull of another agent’s boat.

But I also want to convey a warning. Was this attendee’s perspective shaped in any way by frustration that others weren’t recognizing the value of his work? And yet, what he sees has a generic project is getting the coveted publishing spot? Is green-eyed jealousy in any way limiting you from learning what needs to be learned to get your stuff published?

Because the query wasn’t generic and I really tried to point out, outside of the plot elements that may or may not float a reader’s boat, why it worked. Why it would work on other agents besides me and why this project did, indeed, sell—therefore implying that others saw the value (as in dollar signs that the book could sell to a wider audience than we two).

What I’m saying is to not let your vulnerable artist side interfere with what you need to know to be a savvy writing professional.