How Did This **** Get Published?

Ever ask yourself this question when you’re flipping through bookstores? I work in a library and I find myself asking this all the time. It’s not joke. I wonder how half the book in our library got published when I’m struggling to find an agent.

  • some genres sell better than others

Like romance or Jame Patterson, some books are generic sells. Romance sells, even the cheesiest, overdone, freakishly happy-ending-ever books. They are guaranteed to sell X amount because they’ve always sold X amount. And James Patterson is, well, James Patterson. (Some of his books are included in the list of books I’ve returned to the shelf after a few pages. Shocking, I know.)

  • New author = new risk

If you’re shopping for a new book and you’ve got $20 to spend, which book would you gravitate toward? The author that you’ve read, that you are familiar with, whose work you know you enjoy, or the new author you’ve never heard of before with a shiny new book that will take all of your hard earned $20?

That is one reason why new authors have difficulty breaking into the publishing world on their own. That’s another reason why known authors endorse new authors by adding a “blurb” to the front cover or back cover. They name carries weight with readers. New authors are a risk.

  • competition

There is so much competition in the publishing world today that it’s hard to believe. Just check out all the title on Amazon under “fantasy.” I know – that’s where my book lives. It is next to impossible to stand out among the literal ocean of books. An agent that represents fantasy feels the same way. The market is flooded with vampires and dystopias; they want fresh and new.

(Not that there is anything wrong with vampires and dystopias, but there are a lot of them. Trends follow best-sellers and after something hits it big, copy-cats riding the trend wave explode into action. Think of it this way: have you ever seen a movie trailer for something and not a month later see that exact movie concept from another director? I think of “Ants” and “A Bug’s Life.” Or the vampire fad. Or the zombie fad. What do you bring new to the table?)

I’ve gotten off topic. The **** on bookshelves. I’ve put back a number of poorly written traditionally published books. Some break all the rules I’ve been told about, such as heavy exposition, revealing the bad guy in the first chapter, telling EVERYTHING, shoddy dialog, poor character, and even more. How can these poorly written books get published and mine (which I think is better) gets the ‘delete’ key?

It feels unfair and wrong and bias. It is two of those things. Agents and publishers are biased to what they represent. It is unfair that James Patterson gets special attention and gets by with writing terrible dialog and cheap character development when writers who are trying hard to write well are pushed to the side.

  • persistence

A key ingredient is to stay persistent. If you keep querying agents one is bound to ask for more. Work on your craft. Better your skills. Burn rejection letters (or delete emails).

*I do not dislike James Patterson. He has many finely written books. Some are not so well written. He is a well known writer and easy to pick on. I envy his success.

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