1. foxanthony
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    foxanthony Member

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    Publishers are desperate for fantasy writers

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by foxanthony, Jul 23, 2011.

    In trying to find some decent fantasy to read, I've come to the conclusion that publishers and book sellers are desperate for fantasy writers.

    I believe publishers are taking poorly written first novels by unknown writers and setting editors on them to do nearly complete rewrites. Then in their succeeding works they will rewrite only the first chapters.

    My evidence for this are:

    Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey. A really fun book, but every dozen or so pages I would see a sentence that got by the editors and would set alarms ringing that maybe the writer wasn't very good. In his follow up novel, the first chapter was passable. The second was bad, it looked like a first draft by a very young writer. I couldn't read any further.

    Kraken by China Mieville. Over and over, I have seen references to China as a shining star of this generation's fantasy writers. The first chapter of Kraken was really nice. I got excited, it seemed to be the work of a real professional. A page and a half into the second chapter I was completely lost. The writing was nearly incomprehensible. I recall a sentence with five commas, and it wasn't a list.

    That the booksellers are desperate is evidenced by:

    Harlequin getting away with publishing books in the fantasy genre. Their "fantasy" novels are romance novels in fantasy settings and should be categorized as romance not fantasy. Call it a fantasy sub-genre of romance, but call it romance first. If book sellers weren't so desperate for fantasy titles they would refuse these books and Harlequin would have to publish them, rightfully, as romance.
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't agree. Particularly with respect to Mieville, who is a very good writer. Kraken is written the way it is on purpose. Parts an almost a sort of homage to Lovecraft and that style of writing, which makes sense given the subject matter. The problem with saying something like that is "incomprehensible" is that this is often more a commentary on the reader than the writer.

    I assure you there are multitude of would-be writers submitting fantasy to publishers, the vast majority of them to see only rejection after rejection. I suspect the publishers are swamped with it as compared to many other genres.

    There is a lot of good fantasy being published right now.
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Steerpike is correct. There isn't a lack of fantasy writers out there writing and submitting their work (directly or through agents) for publication--from aspiring first time authors, to mid-list veterans and best-selling authors.

    Romance novels are one of the genres showing the most growth over the past decade or so. Combining fantasy and romance, moving them around is likely a marketing effort to garner even more readership (and for bookstores to sell more books).
     
  4. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    OP, try to get a one of these major publishing houses to publish your fanstasy novel. You might rethink your title sentence then.

    Like others have said, the sad truth is, fantasy is probably the genre with the greatest influx of unpubished writers trying to sell their work. Publishers are inundated. You might not agree with what the editors have deemed worthy, but they've made a business out of it.
     
  5. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    And generally publishers know what sells, so while the fantasy books out there might or might not be the greatest, perhaps its what a lot of fantasy fans like reading anyways, so it makes the best profit.
     
  6. foxanthony
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    foxanthony Member

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    So you think the good fantasy writers are being ignored? No, I think anyone with decent chops and a good story can gain an audience.

    Except for Neil Gaiman, I don't think there are any decent living fantasy writers, the market is wide open.
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You need to read a lot more within the genre.
     
  8. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I might get a bit of hate for this but I'm not impressed with Neil Gaiman. I find him really overrated.
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You probably will :)

    I like Gaiman quite a lot, as a rule, but there are fantasy writers who are as good or better. Gaiman points out some of them from time to time, notably Gene Wolfe, who is an excellent writer. The only way to not know who the really good fantasy writers are is to not read much fantasy (or, I suppose, to only read the wrong ones).
     
  10. foxanthony
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    foxanthony Member

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    I haven't had a chance to read George R. R. Martin, but what else is there? I'll stand by what I said about China. I won't read trash of any genre, I did that when I was a kid.

    Give me authors that fit on this list:

    Roger Zelazny
    Neil Gaiman
    Robert Silverberg
    Harlan Ellison
    Orson Scott Card (his fantasy work, obviously)


    I'm talking literary quality here, not just stuff you like. I like Terry Pratchett a lot, but he doesn't make the list. I also like old KISS records, but I'm not putting them on any best of list either.
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    That's a very good list (except for Silverberg). Gene Wolfe, as I mentioned above, definitely is in the same caliber, if not above. Others that come to mind, not stylistically but in terms of being excellent writers, George Martin, Guy Gavriel Kay, Steven Brust, Charles deLint, Caitlin Kiernan (another one Gaiman seems to like; I'm hit or miss with her), Tim Powers, Steven Erikson, Joe Abercrombie, James Blaylock, Robert Holdstock (he died in 2009 I think). That's off the top of my head. I could come up with a number more if I go look at my shelves.

    Of those, Wolfe is definitely in the "literary" category. Powers and Holdstock, deLint, Kiernan, and Kay fit as well. As for Martin, Brust, Abercrombie, and Erikson, they just write really good stuff. Not sure I'd elevate it to the level of "literary," depending on what you mean by that, but excellent nonetheless. If you count Silverberg, Ellison, and Card as "literary," then these all count.
     
  12. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Don't you mean they have too much fantasy writers? I mean, it's not a bad thing. Fantasy is a pretty common genre nowadays. It's just the very few that are good out of a good number of non-published fantasy writers
     
  13. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    While I think you're correct, Foxanthony, in that any writer who can write an excellent tale can gain an audience, there are more than a few decent living fantasy authors. Of course decent varies from reader to reader.

    Steven Brust
    Steven R. Donaldson
    Michael Moorcock
    Orson Scott Card
    Terry Brooks
    Barbara Hambly

    to name a few. Have I enjoyed all of their works? No. But I've really enjoyed some of them.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Ah, can't believe I forgot Moorcock! Just read a short story of his in a 2010 anthology by Gaiman and Sarrantino.

    Donaldson is good too.
     
  15. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I forgot to list Harry Turtledove. I just met and talked with him a bit at ConCarolinas 2011 in June. Thus, it's easy to overlook an author.
     
  16. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Foxanthony, I see by your profile that you're 45 years old. Happy birthday, by the way!

    But, re: your comment on China Mieville. I'm surprised that you're complaining about a sentence with five commas. Ever try reading the later work of Henry James? Using a lot of commas does not mean you're a bad writer. It may just mean that you're an adult writer who isn't writing for kids or teens. I've never read any Mieville, but I have often written sentences myself that contain more than five commas, as well as colons, parentheses, ellipses, and on and on through just about the entire punctuation guidebook. It's normal. Many, if not most, writers do it.
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There is also T. W. Ervin II, author of Flank Hawk.

    :)
     
  18. LostInFiction
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    LostInFiction Senior Member

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    I spent a couple of hours last night researching potential agents and publishers to send a fantasy manuscript to and although I found a fair few options I noticed plenty of fiction agents specified 'no fantasy'. Whether that means they are inundated or just not into that genre I'm not sure.
     

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