1. Dryriver
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    Dryriver New Member

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    The Politics of a Novel, and its Chances of being Published?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Dryriver, Apr 5, 2012.

    The novel I am currently trying to write has something of a "lefty-liberal" political slant to it. The protagonist of the story is a lefty-liberal character, who is trapped in a not-so-lefty-liberal story world/environment.

    Could the politics of my novel undermine its chances of being published?

    Are there publishers with a right-wing political bent, who'd dismiss a novel from the outset, because of its left-ish politics?

    Do publishers have such a thing as "political preferences" they look for in a novel? (Of course they won't have something like that "officially", but I'm talking about the "real world" of publishing here)?

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  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Senior Member Contributor

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    To best answer your question, go to the bookstores and libraries around you and search the shelves for novels similar to those you're hoping to write/get published. If there are stories with left-leaning protagonists, those would be the publishers you would target once your novel is completed. If you find an agent willing to represent the novel, he or she would know which editors within the houses would be most open to such a piece.

    If you want to research further, examine publishers of those novels you find with left-leaning characters, and see if they publish anything with right-leaning characters.

    Much of the decision focuse would be on the publisher's percieved audience and if the publisher thinks it can earn a profit from a novel under consideration.

    In the end, if it's a well-written and engaging story, the odds of it finding a publisher are certainly increased. I say this because there is a lot of good writing out there that doesn't find a home with major publishing houses, or even with smaller publishers.
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Supporter Contributor

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    excellent advice from terry... mine is to follow it!
  4. JackElliott
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    JackElliott New Member

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    Probably.

    That is the consequence of having an opinion.
  5. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    This is an excellent thread. Any fad--and politics is one of those things--influences the success and marketability of a story.

    Stories about the cold war and spies were big in the 1950s and '60s. Now spec-ops soldiers sell.

    I have to consider this in my story. My overall plot point is "out of style" now.

    As far as pitching lefty-liberal stories, come do market research in Madison, Wisconsin. You'll sink or swim. Either the lefties here will love you for fawning all over them, or just correct your mistakes on ideology in some communist manifesto and run you out of town.
  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    The only advice I'd add to TWErvin's above is to make sure that your novel is a novel and not just preaching (or a literary fig leaf for preaching). If you have a point to make, let your story do it by leading your readers to your conclusion. Preaching, even if it is via your characters' dialogue, will quickly become insufferable, whether from the left or the right. Also, make sure your story is a good and interesting one (irrespective of the politics) and, most important, don't twist plot points just to suit your political aim.

    Good luck.
  7. Dryriver
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    Dryriver New Member

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    I don't preach in the novel at all. Neither do the characters. Its the story's innate mechanics and events that make it a narrative with a "left" bend at the end of the day.

    I've already thought about that. I let the story flow as it needs to flow. I kind of let it "do its own thing" and don't interfere with that flow, if you like.

    Hopefully, the end result will be interesting, thought porovoking and sattisfying at the same time.

    There's still a long way to go (perhaps a year) until that end result is reached.
  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Then it sounds to me as if you are well on your way. Good luck with it.
  9. aimeekath
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    aimeekath New Member

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    I suppose that finding a publisher that works with similar 'lefty' novels to yours would work. I'm writing a novel with rebellious themes, but I'm hoping that its chances of being published aren't affected because I've set it in a different society to the one in which we currently live. I took the idea from Chaucer - In the Wife of Bath's Tale, she states that it is a land of faries. Because it is in a different time or place, Chaucer doesn't get penalised for his controvercial themes.

    Good luck :)
  10. Mike Cornelison
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    Mike Cornelison New Member

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    If you did a poll, I think you'd find the publishing world is a lot more left-leaning than the world at large, so you have that going for you. Also, from my experience, it's the lefties who are much more likely to harbor a grudge against someone simply because they may hold a different view than theirs. Right-wingers generally wouldn't hold it against you if you happen to have a different world view than theirs and would be much more likely to look at the merits of the story on it's own and narrow it down to one simple question, can this book make me a buck?
  11. Boriol
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    Boriol New Member

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    I actively try to avoid even symbolizing or hinting at modern politics because if I write liberal, conservatives won't read the book, and if I write conservative, liberals won't read the book. Sadly, democrats and republicans tend to see their opponents as "less human" than them, "incapable of logical thought." There was an article on it, but I don't think I'm allowed to post links. The gist of it was that some researches asked left-winged students to read a story about a right-leaning guy suffering from cold and hunger in the mountains. They couldn't sympathize with him. But when that guy was liberal, they could. Same thing the other way around. Right-leaning students could sympathize with a republican, but not a democrat.

    If you're writing left, though, you've probably already acknowledged that you're cutting your readership in half. Therefore, your book has to be good enough that more lefties will buy it than they normally would. As always, make sure the story and characters are interesting. As an independent, I don't care what side I read about as long as the characters and story are good. If there are political themes, I expect them to help drive the story forward in one way or another (preferably not preachy). From what you've said, I see you already do that.

    EDIT: Poster above me, you're right that probably more than 50% of fiction leans left, but republicans are just as likely to get mad about opposing political themes than democrats. Mostly. It all depends on the person.
  12. Mike Cornelison
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    Mike Cornelison New Member

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    It would seem to make sense that both sides are just as given to holding a grudge, there would be a certain balance in believing that ideologies produce an equal amount of ideologues on both sides, but I could give you a lot of examples of how most of the intolerance and most of the people who shamelessly work to try to muzzle the opposition are coming from one side of the spectrum . . . I could, but this is not the forum for it. ;)

    I you have it handy though, please do DM me that link to the article. It sounds like an interesting read.
  13. thecoopertempleclause
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    thecoopertempleclause New Member

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    You can give your characters a political lean without your book itself having one. Although it's probably best to leave overt political messages out of the text though unless it's set in a world which thrives on politics. For instance, I'd suggest against an alien world where one evil side is loaded to the hilt with weapons, want to steal all of the natural resources from the land and will plough over anyone who gets in their way, whereas the good guys are wonderful people attuned with nature just wanting to live their lives without interference.

    That said, that never stopped James Cameron, so who knows.
  14. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    Some of it might depend on how extreme it is, if it’s just left I don’t think it will be an issue. If it is extreme, you might. Granted you do see extreme books being published but they might not be that profitable. Occasionally a pro national socialist book is published, so some of it might be finding the right place.
    In the end I think what the publisher does and should care about is will the book make them money.
  15. Mike Cornelison
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    Mike Cornelison New Member

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    I was reading that saying to myself, sounds just like . . . ah there it is! Zing!
  16. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis magnetismus Contributor

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    I don't agree that you have to leave an overt message out of the book. Many may not like it; I may not like it, in fact. But if that's your primary focus with the novel, the thing that you want to accomplish, then give it a shot. The road is fraught with peril, but that's no reason in and of itself not to try walking it.

    As for which direction the politics of the book leans, I wouldn't worry about it. I agree with the above that publishers tend to swing more to the left, but the shelves are full of materials that include political philosophies from all over the political spectrum. If you tell an amazing story and write it in a wonderful, engaging manner, your political bent is not going to keep it from being published.
  17. Boriol
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    Boriol New Member

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    I should have said this in my first post, but the mention of James Cameron made me remember this:

    Don't portray the opposing political side as a mindless evil. Conservative military official? Pure, selfish evil. Liberal freedom fighter? Pure, selfless good according to James Cameron. Don't do that. Avoiding strawman arguments is difficult, but I'd recommend letting a right-winger read your story through and make suggestions. It'll probably help a lot. I disliked Avatar for a lot of reasons, but a stereotypical, inhuman villain portrayed according to Cameron's view of republicans was definitely one of the top reasons.

    If nothing else, at least convince me that there's a good, rational reason an entire society aside from the protagonist is republican.
  18. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    That movie had nothing going for it except its graphics, and all the characters are painfully stupid. That why avatar sucks. Seriously, you could have taken any idiot out of a ROTC program or a business school and they could have run it better.
  19. CrimsonReaper
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    CrimsonReaper Member

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    Thank you. Publishing houses are not out to publish manifestos. Not unless they can make them money. And that is the point. Do you think they are all out there looking to reshape the human psyche with the next big philisophical text? No. They are businesses, and businesses exist to make money for their sharesholders while providing useful goods/services to the community. The alternative is the "good old days" of artists being the pampered pets of patrons (alliteration...yay) or only getting backed by the government. Let the market decide I say. Now throw another orphan on the fire. It's chilly in here...

    As for political slants to novels, they have them all the time and strawman opponents are nothing new. Many people look for that in fiction. They like seeing a story that champions their ideals while belittling those crazy people that somehow just don't get how stupid they are for daring to think differently. Monsters. Many authors and film makers intentionally write this way. BECAUSE IT WORKS. Say what you want about Avatar. It made money and told a mildly entertaining if flawed (structurally) story. From what has been posted, however, I would say the novel has enough merit to have a chance of not being leftist propaganda. Now let us see if the writer can actually make interesting characters and keep the plot going.

    Just make sure George Clooney is cast in the movie...

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