Dear Miss Snark,
I wrote once before. You weren’t too hard on me and the comments were interesting, so I thought I’d try my luck again with something that’s been on my mind.
I don’t presume to be The Next Great Author, but I want to challenge the notion that getting published is “all about the writing”. There are some wildly successful authors who freely admit they write an outline and then relegate the actual writing to their “assistants”. And then there are some terrible writers that get published because of who they are (e.g. well known, controversial, etc.), and not how well they write. Good Lord, Snarky, there was even that thing earlier this year where four publishing executives called on a televangelist to convert him to their company’s multi-million dollar One True Book Deal.
So, I want to challenge the notion that it’s “all about the writing”. I do subscribe to that theory for unpublished authors, but would the Great and Powerful Miss Snark consider that quite often it’s “all about how many books we can sell and how much money we can make?” Two sets of rules?
The Next Great Author
Leaving the writing to assistants doesn't mean it's bad writing. Or unmarketable. James Patterson and Barbara Cartland come to mind. I don't read either of them but I respect the fact that they sell millions of books to people who like the books.
Well known people are always asked to write books. For some time it was fashionable for Sentators to write mysteries. John Kennedy didn't exactly write Profiles in Courage despite the Pulitzer he got for it but there was a reason he got it published and little of it had to do with the quality of writing (which is actually pretty good, thanks to Ted Sorenson).
All of that is true.
None of it has any relevance to you.
You are not a famous televangelist, nor are you Joe Kennedy's son, nor I presume are you James Patterson or Barbara Cartland. You are the NGA who is sending me a query letter to see if Im going to invest in your future.
To that end when I say "it's about the writing" what I mean is that it's not about the font, or the pagination or that you send the thing in express mail envelopes. Those things annoy me but if you write well enough, I'll send KY over to lick the envelopes himself.
What I intend to convey with "it's about the writing" is that I want you to obsess about the writing. I want you bleed on the page, I want your dictionary in shreds, your thesaurus begging for mercy and your prose to shine as though Grandmother Snark's parlour maid rubbed it like it was a lamp with a genie.
"It's all about the writing" is true for 83.7% of the books that are published. Do not confuse this with "it has to be good writing" cause bad writing sells, and sells well. I have no idea how that works cause I don't handle any of it. And lest you all tut tut that I sound like a snob, no no. I don't handle bad writing cause I can't tell the difference between marketable and unmarketable bad writing. Some people can. I offer up the entire career of Danielle Steele as evidence to support that statement.
We may disagree about what constitutes marketable/unmarketable, good or bad, but when we do we are talking about the writing.
There are exceptions to the rule but you aren't it.