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  1. Teladan

    Teladan Active Member

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    Traditional The Authority of Publishers/Editors

    Discussion in 'Publisher Discussion' started by Teladan, Jun 27, 2020.

    Hello. I've recently been thinking, what exactly gives certain publishers or editors authority? This isn't borne out of hate or negativity since I can't even pretend to fully understand the business, nor have I sent out many stories myself. This isn't a tirade. However, seeing the amount of unfortunate posts on the rejections thread, I am minded to think whether or not certain editors, for example, have the right to reject work. I've said elsewhere on this forum that one's enjoyment and appreciation of a story is entirely based on their input and effort. It seems a shame to me that our "success" in writing fiction or non-fiction is dependant on people. In some ways I think self-publishing should be the norm. Honestly, I've always thought things like this. What gives certain people the right to judge? I have the same opinion for snobby critics of film. I'm firmly of the belief that one should be experienced in a given field before knocking something. Do most editors have degrees in some aspect of writing? Even then, is that enough? I've known plenty of people who misinterpret or just "don't get" stories despite having high levels of education. Once again, this thread has come about more from my own ignorance and it's not a focused attack.
     
  2. More

    More Active Member

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    I don't think you fully understand to role of publishers and editors.
    If you send your story to a Science Fiction magazine , the publisher is looking to buy stories he believes the readers will enjoy .
    The most common reasons stories get rejected are , the submitter has not followed the submission guidelines. The story is not the type the magazine publish. There are too many errors and would involve too much work to make it publishable. Most publications receive more submissions than needed , so if your not one of the best you will not be chosen . It is not a question of authority . If you owned a magazine and paid for it with your money, would you not make the same choices ?
    Editors and proofreader are employed to improve and remove mistakes in writers work . Most good editors make suggestions rather then simply run a red pencil over a manuscripts .
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
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  3. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Senior Member

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    No offence, Teladan, but that certainly sounds like a tirade to me.

    And you don't need to have experience in this field to understand any of it, you just need a basic grasp of how business works in general.

    What right do hey have? Every right. They are paid to do a job. someone has hired them to do so. Or, if they own the business, it's their business on the line. Just the same as if you get a job in that position or you own a business that does so, then you get 'the right.'

    It's like saying what right does a supermarket have in picking some foods to stock over others? They put the stuff on the shelves that they think their shoppers want, and go to great lengths to try and make sure they do. If they don't, they lose cash, don't turn a profit, or in the worst-case scenario - go out of business.

    What gives certain people the right to judge? The fact they have the job to do so. Someone has hired them based upon either past experience proving they are good at judging or the employer has been convinced they might be good enough to do so in a job interview.

    The same way the most sought after scouts in football (or most sport) are coveted because in the past they have uncovered players who proved to be undiscovered gems.

    Does this mean all scouts are awesome at their job? No. Just the same as not all editors and publishers are good at their job.
    But asking what right they have? That comes across as entitled.
    "Who are YOU to judge MY work?" Everyone is allowed an opinion. If people weren't allowed their opinions, then that's a world most people wouldn't want to live in.
    Just the same way im sure there is someone who might read your comments and say "and who are YOU to judge them as 'snobby?'" You lay a claim at the film critics for being snobby in their judgment, but you're doing the same to them by judging them. Who are you to call them snobby and denigrate their judgement?... See where the circular firing squad starts kicking in? EVERYone has "the right" when it comes to a subjective art form.


    As for why they pick things that they do, I will leave that in the capable hands of the great Quentin Tarantino.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
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  4. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Senior Member

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    But it is. Our readers and the people who are paid to judge what they want, the editors and agents. Their positions and paycheques are based on getting that right more than getting it wrong.
     
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  5. Richach

    Richach Contributor Contributor

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    So, in short, the writer has to conform to the criteria of the writing professional. That is the way I see it. Do you agree Steve?
     
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  6. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Senior Member

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    I think it's probably easier for an established writer to try something experimental.

    Read the commentaries to Isaac Asimov's short stories in his collections. He explains the rejections he got and how he had to deal with them, and he already had a track record with the editor he was working with, John W. Campbell of Astounding Science Fiction) - and how he was grateful to Campbell for helping to develop his career.
     
  7. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Some other aspect of this you may not be considering, Teledan, is the limited volume of stuff these publishers can actually publish in a given year. Say, 12 magazines per year? Or x number of novels, etc. Publishers don't have the financial resources to publish an increased number of times a year.

    Traditional publishers take a chance on novels, poetry and story collections. (Magazine publishers need subscribers.) They have to be willing to give an advance to an author, pay for the design, layout, printing, promotion, etc. There is no guarantee that even a good book is actually going to sell enough to recoup their costs. So they are limited as to what they can offer without going bankrupt.

    Consider as well ...all the people out there (us included) who have wordprocessing facilities, and now want to write a book, or a series of books, or short stories, poetry, whatever and get it traditionally published. Even if these MS's are all submitted to a very high standard ...which they are certainly not ...publishers couldn't hope to sell them all.

    The volume of wannabe writers is now huge. You're not only needing to grab the attention of agents and publishers because your work is exactly what they're looking for, but you also need to beat out an incredibly inflated amount of competition. Just look at the number of literary agencies that are 'not accepting submissions as this time.' If they could sell everything they like, that wouldn't be the case, would it? They'd be begging for submissions, not discouraging them.

    I'm hoping this situation will find a level in the not-too-distant future. Sooner or later, people who really don't have the talent or the staying power to become successful writers may simply drop off the branch—and the good writers will have a better chance of getting noticed. And if readership increases, so books sell at a price that makes it worth everybody's while, that won't hurt either.
     
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  8. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Speaking specifically to the trad-pub dynamic, and the initial gatekeeping part of that dynamic, what gives them authority is money, which they have and we do not. And money comes in many, many forms, most of which are not bills and coins.

    Probably the most common expression of money is time. Time, in this sense, is a major part of the overhead of any organization. It's why, in retail, there's a saying that "every time you touch an item, it loses value". That's got nothing to do with damage, staining, or wear and tear. It's referring to the payroll that is the monetary expression of the hands that move the shirt, that take it from this display to that display, that wearhouse it, that mark it down to clearance, that move it to another table, that fold the shirt for the gazillionth time because shoppers are the worst... All of that is money. So every time you touch the shirt, it costs you money in labor. That's what cuts into your GMRROI. You don't just want to sell the shirt. You want to sell it fast.

    Trad publishers have overhead as well. The entire endeavor starts with someone's money, and unless you yourself are the publisher, it's not your money, its someone else's.

    And if it's someone else's money, then... it's not a service and cannot be engaged as one. The prospective author has no rights that they can lean on, no expectation of customer service. This is not a customer service paradigm. You did not say this, but your question and other sentiments allude to this idea, hence my mention.

    The paradigm in play is that of an investment up for offer, and investors have only one thing in mind - money. That's why they are called investors. Forget any idealized notions of someone in that building with a passion for bringing new voices to the masses. That's just what one says on camera to thinly cover the crass capitalistic machine underneath.

    The person between you and publication in a trad-pub sitch is someone who has been tasked with determining if your investment is worth it to the investor. No one in these rooms cares that you're an artist. No one here cares how important or intimate the story is to you. Maybe back in the early romanticized days, but most certainly not now.

    The authority they possess is one invoked by the fact that you and I are supplicants. We are asking for a favor. One to which we do not have a right because no one has a right.

    "Right" is not in play.

    Only money.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
  9. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Senior Member

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    That's one way to look at it, and partly true I guess. I mean, that's specifically why there are different publishers for different genres in the first place. Different editors/agents/publishers deal in different subgenres even. Why? Because they specialize to find what sells and what wont in that particular area. Maybe conform isn't the right word, though. Some writers specifically target a genre to conform. Others dont.
    Most create a piece of art and then you have to find who is most likely to recognize it as a good product. I'm writing Scifi because I love it, not because I want to conform. I just then send it to the people who, i hope, are more likely to recognize it as a good product.

    Because what our books are, at the end of the day, is a product to them. Getting pretentious over it being seen as anything other than that to business people is what I was really trying to get at. And is what @Wreybies explained best of all. It's also down to if your product is good enough for someone to recognize it as good. And my definition of "good" in this case, is "will it sell."

    That's why I posted Tarantino's explanation - If you throw your product at the wall enough times, and it IS good enough to sell to the public, eventually you will come across someone who will recognize it's good enough. Does that mean the ones who rejected it before are awful editors/publishers/agents/critics? No. Does that mean they should be denied the RIGHT to do so? No. That's what Teladan was hinting at.

    Hell, look at some famous art masters like Vincent Van Gogh. He wasn't "recognized" in his time, now he's one of the greats. He had to DIE before people started noticing his stuff was good enough. Does that mean everyone who was an art critic and saw his art in those days were idiots, and shouldn't of had the "right" to critique others work? No.

    Looking down your nose at, and denigrating the people who spend their days (lives in some cases) rummaging around in never-ending stuff, just because they don't automatically and instantly notice your work is "great" is entirely self-serving. Because your work might not BE good enough, and it's you that's wasting their time. That's why there are thousands of agents/editors/publishers, everyone's opinion is different, and some might have a better grasp on it than others. All of them have their right to that opinion because "good" is subjective on an artistic level.

    The best example I can give to Teladan is me. I've just spent the last couple weeks looking at, contacting, and asking quotes from graphic artists because I want some images of my characters.
    I sifted through dozens of artstation/deviousart/reddit/pinterest/flickr profiles, and eventually chose an artist who i thought was the "best" for the amount of money I wanted to spend.
    Does that make me a terrible judge because I didn't choose another artist who is also really good?
    Newp. I picked the one i think, subjectively, will do the best job.

    What right did I have to decide that?

    Every right. I'm paying for a product.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
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  10. Xoic

    Xoic Senior Member

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    Question @Teladan —you said you think people should be self-publishing. If you believe that, then why are you even concerned about traditional publishing? Why not just self publish?
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
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  11. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    The answer to trade publishing is always going to be get good enough to get past the gatekeepers.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
  12. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    It's their money, power and name on the line. If they don't like what you're writing, they have no obligation to publish it. It's that simple.
     
  13. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Since you mentioned the rejection thread, as the founder of the thread, I don't see it the same way as you. No one is making me send out stories and try hundreds of times. I know rejection is coming, but I also know it only takes one editor to like your story and buy it. Another thing is to look at how long it takes to get a response. I've waited over two years before for a form rejection. Reading submissions is not the priority of these publications nor should it be. And a lot of the work published is solicited. It just means you have to have a better story than everyone else. That's really hard, but it happens. It takes a lot of tries and it takes a willingness to improve by reading what your desired publications are publishing and writing more and more until you can give them something they can't turn down.

    As for qualifications, it should be clear by reading a publication if they know what they're doing or not. Yes, a lot of people in the literary scene have MFAs or something like that. Volunteer positions for first readers and internships aren't always easy to get. A lot of publications affiliated with universities have grad students staffing editorial positions. I've been on the inside, reading slush and sending out rejections. You don't know how bad I wanted to find a good story that I thought we should publish. Most submissions aren't as polished as they should be. And I did find things from the slush pile. But I could count those times on one hand, whereas the number of rejections I sent was far too high to keep track of.

    Anyone can self publish, but that's not something I want to do. I don't think it should be the norm. I want both the financial backing and editorial guidance that comes with a traditional publisher. Why should any of us want to wipe that out? Just because our work gets rejected doesn't mean the system should change.
     
  14. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    It always makes me laugh when people think that self publishers don't have the same restrictions on quality.. yes you can self publish any old crap if you want, but to self publish successfully you've got to have a product that readers want to buy.

    If your book is riddled with inaccuracies, typos, and spelling mistakes and has a cover made in MS Paint no one will buy it
     

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