There has been ANOTHER plagiarism scandal, but not the one you're thinking of. We'll get to that, but first:
“I object to publishers: the one service they have done me is to teach me to do without them. They combine commercial rascality with artistic touchiness and pettiness, without being either good business men or fine judges of literature. All that is necessary in the production of a book is an author and a bookseller, without any intermediate parasite.”*
Ah publishers. Writers follow the rituals of conquest, ever hopeful that they’ll woo and win the right one, and form a binding relationship that will enable them to give birth to their baby, their book. But you probably have about even odds winning the lottery as you do finding a good publisher.
At least, that’s how it feels some days. What’s brought this on, you ask? A rejection letter.
Yes, a rejection letter from a publisher just arrived, and this one’s a keeper. I stopped reading when the man killed the girl. We’re not interested in publishing this sort of story.
Good to know they read the first two pages.
WHY THE HELL would you even take murder mysteries when you don’t want to publish a story that has someone getting killed in it? (No, the ‘murder’ isn’t graphic.) I corresponded with the publisher directly before I submitted. They’d had a full synopsis and sample, which included the murder, btw. I was given an invitation to submit the entire manuscript.
I’m not the only one who’s seen this before. “Not what we’re looking for” being the standard meaningless rejection.
Ever consider helping people figure out what it is you are looking for? Maybe save everyone some time, and postage, cluttering desks with manuscripts that are guaranteed no-no’s?
My theory on this is that a lot of publishers want the best of both worlds. I could put link after link up of sites that are vague at best in describing what they want to represent, but I’d likely get trouble, and we’ve all seen them anyway. They have the stuff in mind they’re usually after, but if they should catch the scent on the breeze of what people will be looking for 12-18 months down the road, they might jump at something that fits the bill, even if it isn’t their usual fare. So they don’t explicitly rule anything out.
Then I see people complaining about the endless flood of submissions that they’d never consider in a million years. But what’s a writer to do? You turn to the writer’s market books and they have general entries like, “Looking for mystery, suspense, thriller, romance. No Erotica.”
Why not be more specific? Why not say, “We only want cozies”? I mean, give a writer a clue! Just say, “We take mysteries, but not ones with dead bodies.” Right, gotcha. Note to self: Do not submit Echoes and Dust…
I can laugh about this. For one thing, I corresponded with this publisher – the one that sent the rejection letter - back in February and told them I had other offers. Ultimately, they wished me well, saying they hadn’t had a chance to review the ms at that point, and it was pulled from consideration.
Clearly, not everyone relays the messages.
This is frustrating for writers. Oh, people won’t comment, because perception of being a shit-disturber isn’t a good thing. But it isn’t that I want to cause trouble, I’d actually like to spare everyone grief. I mean, wouldn’t we actually like to be able to hone in on the right agent/publisher for our work right away? And if more agents/publishers had updated websites with a very clear submission guidelines list that states their area of representation, wouldn’t that be in everyone’s best interests?
No doubt, this guy who was so offended by the murder in E&D probably cursed a blue streak over me wasting his time submitting the book.
When really, I’m the one entitled to be angry, considering I went through the querying process and the invitation came after a sample chapter was sent with a full synopsis. The person who read that should have known this wasn’t what they were after and said so instead of wasting my money.
I think this is why it’s hard for writers not to get cynical. You can reference all the books, the websites, follow the querying process, and still be given the run-around.
When I started dealing with offers, I was still interested in getting an agent. And all this time, I’ve heard again and again from writers and Miss Snark that when a writer gets a deal offered, the agent’s ears perk up.
This hasn’t been my experience. I didn’t have that much ‘in the wind’ at the time that offers started coming in, but I didn’t find the fact that there was other interest in my work helped much. “I know I’ve had your work for four months but I haven’t read it yet.” That was about standard. It would have been one thing if they’d said, “I’ve been reading it and it’s not for me.” Okay then, fair enough. One wanted me to wait another month so they could read the manuscript. After you’ve had it for how long?
The thing was, I really wanted to find a decent agent. I’d gladly hand over a cut of what I’m getting to have guidance. It’s like paying for someone to be your friend, for starters. Seriously, it’s paying someone to handle all the rights still available to be sold, and having someone guide you through the landmines of the publishing world.
And, knowing me, likely bind my hands so I can’t say stupid things on blogs.
I think a good agent is worth their weight in gold and I’ve heard it said that finding a good agent is harder than finding true love. I got lucky once, I’m still waiting to get lucky again. Maybe I should’ve tried something really unconventional and taken out an ad...
Right, now for THE LATEST PUBLISHING SCANDAL
This is where I say, “I told you so.”
In the nicest possible way, of course.
I have ranted about people posting their works-in-progress on the web for some time, and have often been told to be quiet.
But I still maintain that if people are willing to plagiarize written works by living authors, then how much more likely that people will try to steal what’s been written by someone unknown?
And it’s so easy to copy and paste…
Even if you publish something online and then take it down later, you can still find it through cached pages. You have to know what you’re doing to make sure you aren’t leaving a trace, but in the mean time, how do you know for certain that someone hasn’t come on and copied your whole story?
Now the media have picked up on the disturbing trends, and believe me, if routine things like blog posts are being pilfered, then please, exercise caution with your writing. You writers have invested your blood, sweat, tears and hard work in your manuscripts and short stories.
Sure, you might be able to prove your case in a court of law, but think of the expense incurred and the time invested while your work isn’t being published by you, because you were the victim of plagiarism.
Please. Do not risk it.
And if you missed it yesterday…
Don’t forget to check out JB Thompson’s interview with me, and see my big glasses.
A Joke, from Forrest
A man goes to the doctor. He says, "Doc, you gotta check my leg. Something's wrong. Just put your ear up to my thigh, you'll hear it!"
The doctor cautiously placed his ear to the man's thigh only to hear, "Gimme 20 bucks, I really need 20 bucks."
"I've never seen or heard anything like this before, how long has this been going on?" asked the doctor.
"That's nothing Doc. Put your ear to my knee."
The doctor put his ear to the man's knee and heard it say, "Man, I really need 10 dollars, just lend me 10 bucks!!"
"Sir," said the dumbfounded Doctor, "I really don't know what to tell you. I've never encountered anything like this before."
"Wait Doc, that's not it. There's more, just put your ear up to my ankle," the man urged.
The doctor did as the man said and heard the ankle plead, "Please, I just need 5 dollars. Lend me 5 bucks if you will."
"I have no idea what to tell you," the doctor said. "There's nothing about it in my books," he said.
"However, I can make a well educated guess though. Based on life experience I can tell you that your leg seems to be broke in three places."
*Quote from George Bernard Shaw.