Archive for November, 2017

Hard time for publishers and authors

November 27, 2017

Let there be no doubt about it, a writer’s worth in the marketplace is quickly diminishing. Google, Amazon and other giants of the free media age have created a feeding frenzy that’s eating away at an author’s ability to gain just compensation for their work, and larger publishers have moved to a greater emphasis on current best sellers and celebrities.

Smaller publishers are trying to fill the breach and CopWorld Press is in that mix. We want to find and publish law enforcement authors in this increasingly difficult environment, but that doesn’t mean we have lower standards, just a willingness to work with and help authors who have the goods. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to approach any publisher. What follows is a true-life example of exactly the wrong way to do it.

I recently met with an author who’d submitted a manuscript for consideration because we live in the same town and I wanted to help her along her journey. The tag line on the email with her attached manuscript had included the title and the words “a fiction novel.”  I asked her to define a novel. She had no idea that, by definition, it is fiction. She went on to say that she was somewhat confused because her story was partly made up and partly true, and, therefore, the term novel might not apply.

I spent about 40 minutes with her, during which time she twice upbraided me for not having taken the time to read beyond the prologue and initial chapter. I responded that one problem with her manuscript is the too lengthy chapters but gave her an opportunity to provide a verbal synopsis. She did so, without including anything approaching a plot. I asked her what genre her book is. When she acknowledged that she had no idea, I told her that my brief read and her synopsis indicated that it’s a police procedural. When I defined the term at her request, she declared that I was wrong.

I provided a brief history of my four decade journey as a writer, mostly focusing on the lows, and she assured me that her story depicted a female’s experiences in law enforcement which should give her an edge. I agreed that it’s important to get more police books out from the female perspective but went on to tell her some of the many weaknesses her manuscript displayed, including misspellings, tense changes and poor syntax. I urged her to read several police procedurals and books on writing whose titles I provided and recommended that she carefully consider my feedback. Part of that feedback was that the road leading to the professional writing level is a long and arduous one that requires research and a willingness to learn from mistakes. She responded by reminding me that she’d had a couple female friends read her book who “really loved it”– but she would consider my point of view too.

As I stood to leave, I resisted the temptation to expand on or reiterate some of her writing’s failings, instead simply saying something very close to–Just remember, I’m a professional writer and a publisher and they’re not. She responded by assuring me that she intended to pursue other opportunities?

As I descended the few steps to the street, I wondered which aphorism was more applicable, the one from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount to not “cast pearls before swine” or the one that guarantees that no good deed goes unpunished….”

 

 

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