Saturday, 5 May 2012

More Emperor's New Clothes

The more I think and discuss the state of publishing right now, the more I am growing to believe that writers have been brainwashed.

Right now traditional publishers require us to go through agents. Agents have read it all and seen it all. They are bored. Titillate them with something like Jane Austen and the Zombies and they jump. Give them a literary novel by an unknown and they might well yawn.

I didn't realise exactly how too much reading can spoil your appreciation of a story. I have suddenly found myself 'read out'. I have been reading a book a day for years and there really is very little new in the way of plots. What wakes me up is a well written 3D character, an unusual setting and the writer's unique voice. This means I judge writing more harshly than a reader who is not 'read out'.

If I do this how much more will an agent or publisher's editor do so?

Readers don't mind another thriller about a serial killer. I've had to review too many. Readers don't worry about head hopping POV changes. Writers and agents frown upon them. Readers don't mind all sorts of things which agents do care about and tell us about how dreadful they are on their websites, in their tweets and blogs.

Perhaps we writers should call the agents' bluff. Perhaps, if we are desperate to be published traditionally, we should produce pastiches of famous, out of copyright novels with something weird tacked on. 'Christmas Carol with Aliens' or 'David Copperfield, Robot'?

Or perhaps it makes sense to go the self publishing route? Readers are out there reading some appallingly written, self published novels with relish. They just like a good story.

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