Publishing Industry gets phished. At least they didn't take the bait.

Full story here.

It makes you wonder how much great stuff is being passed over.

I had a sobering epiphany the other day when reading a site for an organization of composers. It said that new talent is needed and should be encouraged in an artistic profession in which it is believed that, if your work was ever widely known, you would probably be dead. I was aware of this conceptually, but for some reason that statement really made it sink in.

Long live the Arts.

Back in the 80s some wiseass in Hollywood retitled the script to Casablanca and sent it in to a whole bunch of producers. Most of them didn’t recognize it; most of that group didn’t like it.

All it really says is that publishers send form rejection slips. Writers know that; we get 'em all the time.

A recent blog post:

Just because the response was nice and vaguely positive doesn’t mean it wasn’t a form letter.

The flip side is art critics who are shown canvases with splatters of paint by children or animals and declare them abstracts by talented painters.

Besides, were the initial opinions of P&P all positive?

Speaking of splatters of paint, I rented the documentary Who the fsck is Jackson Pollock? not long ago, and it had some doozies of the artsy-fartsy upper echelon.

They didn’t actually read the manuscripts before rejecting them. Like Cookies said, there must be any number of great works, sitting in slush piles at publishers’ offices around the world.

How did they decide it seemed original and interesting if they didn’t read it?

The quote from the site:

“Thank you for your recent letter and chapters from your book ‘First Impressions’. It seems like a really original and interesting read.”

It’s just a form letter.

Here’s a sampling of some of the form rejection letters I’ve received:

"Unfortunately, while your project sounds interesting, it does not meet the criteria we are looking for right now. "

“Unfortunately, I don’t think we are the right team to work with you on this project, despite its merits.”

“Although your project sounds interesting, we unfortunately do not feel it is right for us at this time.”

Here’s what a personal rejection sounds like (from an editor, via my agent):

“I like it very much…but ultimately I didn’t find the world itself new/different enough for a really kickass urban fantasy, so it didn’t seem quite right for [us]. Has she got anything else under her belt I might see?”

This sting operation is balls.

Why would a publisher spend time crafting a response to a plagiarized manuscript, when they can just slap their default rejection letter on it and send it back? There is no evidence that the readers failed to recognize the chapter, only that it was rejected.

Absolutely 100% right.

The form rejections don’t mean a thing. If the reader recognizes the story, it’s going to be rejected, and there’s no reason to write anything about it. From the editor’s point of view, this may be some kind of nutcase who thinks he can put one over on you, and there’s no point in writing a personal note about it and possibly raise issues. Send a form rejection and don’t waste any more time when you could be reading publishable manuscripts.

The entire exercise is based on the false assumption that an editor would write a personal rejection on a work he recognizes and plagiarized. But editors don’t work that way; the one who wrote back is unusual.

Uhhh . . . .no. All manuscripts in the slushpile are eventually read by someone.

But anyone who has ever read slush will tell you – it’s crap. The general rule is 10% is laughably bad and 80% is just plain mediocre – uninteresting characters, recycled plots, weak grammar, cliched use of language, etc. The last 10% is publishable, but may not fit into their needs, or is just not irresistable. Only that last 10% get personal notes.

Now there are certainly some good books in the slush piles, and that’s why publishers still have them (though many are eliminating them, prefering to work through agents; the ease of writing a manuscript on computers seems to have increased the amount or slush). Anything in the slushpile is read by someone.

But readers have no obligation to read the entire manuscript. If it shows nothing in the first chapter (or less), then there’s no reason to read any more. This is not unreasonable: as a reader, if you don’t like the first chapter of a book, you’re not likely to read more of it. And remember, that book you thought was terrible was better than 90% of the slushpile.

I know one first reader who said he could tell if a book was publishable by reading ten pages – that’s enough to get a feel for whether an author knows what he’s doing. (Note that “publishable” does not mean “published” – it merely indicates that the author shows the basic level of writing skills.)

If this sounds unfair, remember one thing: every fiction author you ever read has managed to survive it. Many beginning authors want the bar lowered to accept them instead of working on their writing so that they can clear the bar.

And don’t worry about “masterpieces” languishing in slush piles. Authors aren’t restricted to one submission per book. Enough crap finds its way in to print to ensure that any great work will eventually do likewise.