Miss Snark, surely you jest

Hi Miss Snark,

You’ve often said on your blog that good writing trumps everything else. Come on!!! You don’t really believe that, do you? If Britney Spears were to write a novel, no matter how crappy, wouldn’t you have multiple orgasms at the prospect of representing it? If the book sucked, couldn’t a publisher hire a talented snarkling to revise it?

Switching to a serious mode, does having a national platform trump good writing for some books?


Neither Britney Spears nor her minions are reading this blog so what works for her is not good advice for you.

Nor is Donald Trump reading this.

This audience is normal everyday people (well, excluding those Bunion girls, and those shady killer babes, the odd agent and publishing professional, Bill E. Goat and assorted principessi, ...well, ok, you get the idea) .

"Good writing trumps everything" means if you're getting form rejection letters its not cause you sent it in the wrong font.


M. Takhallus. said...

The Godfather was rejected multiple times. Good writing will out -- but only so long as you don't let the b*stards get you down.

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

"well excluding those Bunion girls"...

Wow, it's been decades since someone's called me a girl. Maybe that second mortgage I took out for this new face will pay off.

Simon Haynes said...

Advice summed up: If you're not wildly famous you'd better be a damned good writer.

jude calvert-toulmin said...

Apparently Dostoevsky was rejected 113 times. And he's basically God in my books.

I was given some stinking advice last year and pressure was put on me to approach agents with a half completed MS, and knowing sod all about how the industry worked.

I sent out three (badly written) queries and got form rejections, naturally.

However knowing what I know now I realise that the writing almost certainly didn't get read. The rejections were a reflection on how I was approaching agents...

The way I see it, a good performance will bring the house down, yes. But you won't even get near the stage if you're not dressed appropriately...

a certain sinclair said...

Donald Trump may not be reading this...but someone who does read this blog regularly has a cousin who walks out with Donald Trump's daughter! Just thought I'd let you know.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the writing must stand on its own bupkus for credit sake.

However, I remember a few years back my daughter bought a book because it was written by Brittney Spears and her mother. It was supposed to be this piece of fictional work about her life without it being an autobiography or non-fiction.

It sucked. She only bought it because of the popularity the pop princess had for her singing career.

Janet Black said...

Good writing results in books that sell and sell and sell, mostly by word of mouth and positive reviews. Celebrities who 'write' books usually have a big rush of sales at the beginning and then the bad reviews come in and someone ends up with a small storeroom full of unsold books.

Zolah said...

This is actually hilarious. Britney Spears (and her mum) DID write a book, called 'A Mother's Gift' and it TANKED. It sold about 500 copies. It was so unsuccessful that most people here aren't aware it ever existed.

Platform may get you published. It can't force people to buy your work when it sucks hedgehogs through a garden hose.

In other words: there is a God. Dog, I mean.

Anonymous said...

Zolah beat me to it, but her report on Spears mother and daughter sales makes me wonder how well other celebrity books have done. How did Pam Anderson's novel that she actually didn't write do? Ethan Hawke? He's got at least a couple of novels out. Macaulay Culkin had a book of fiction published recently, too. Norton brought out poetry from Ally Sheedy. Did Jewel's poetry sell well?

This all seems to come down to marketing. It's must easier to get some kind of recognition and heat around "celebrities" than the rest of us. Ethan Hawke is going to do a big publicity tour for a movie at some point and if he just happens to come out and give Jay Leno a signed copy of his new book, it's a publicist's dream come true.

Alan said...

There's also luck, market, timing and so on. There's plenty of crap out there that proves that it's not just good writing that will out in the end. Determination is key, along with constantly trying to improve your work.

Stephen said...

Apparently Dostoevsky was rejected 113 times. And he's basically God in my books.

Yanno, Jude, I think that your books might sell better if you make him a vigilante private eye rather than some sort of deity.

"Meet Fyodor, a new kind of justice. He solves the crime; he dishes out the punishment."

Hey, it worked for Jane Austen.

kathryn magendie said...

Well, I'm commenting on something written days ago, so it may go unnoticed, but then, well, here goes.

As one who receives personal notes time after time from agents (and editors from lit mags) that read, "You are a good writer, you are certainly talented, your characters come alive, the writing is lyrical, this reminds me of (famous Southern Writer here), the writing is certainly professional, etc etc etc" then there is the


and the but!!!,and I'll use the latest comment from an agent is,

"but!!!, the story is too traditional"

I've yet to receive a letter back from an agent who said my writing was bad. There was one who said to change the first half to make it "less familiar(traditional?)" but!!! "the second half surprised and delighted her!"

So, not always does simply "good writing" win out - there must be that "something else" as well, or as my friends are telling me, I simply have not queried enough agents yet.

I keep hearing the "50 agents" thing--like, "50 agents" is the magic number that I should query and if after that I still haven't found one, it means, I suppose, I'm out of luck? or maybe the 51st will be it? or 52nd? Or 100th? When do I give up and think "Okay, the writing is very good, but it isn't something marketable on a wide scale? At least we aren't sure..." But that's a question, and questions aren't answered here - rhetorical I suppose anyway!

I've no doubt that I'm a talented writer - the litmag editors(who are beginning to take notice, sooo...) and the agents, and etc etc, have convinced me of this - but, will my "good writing win out" in the end--who knows? For there are all those other factors out there--mainly, the publishing industry is a business, it has to be that way, and there are writers galore out there vying for the same attention, and perhaps my good writing is right next to a ms that while the writing isn't so great, has a really really sellable idea

Example: Dan Browne's latest - the writing is bad, simply said. Lest one thinks I'm "jealous writer" - I'm the first one to love a good book-how can one say they are a good writer if they don't enjoy reading a good book? I personally couldn't read Dan Browne's book and will have to watch the movie to see what it's all about (egads! my sweet-faced Tom Hanks with that lanked-up hair and puffy-serious face and and -oh dear!)

I'm just saying. Sometimes good writing just isn't enough - at least so far!

This is way too long (per my usual! the shortest comment I've ever left is "amen" about the Sobee-it awards)

And no one will even see this, since I'm commenting from days ago, *laugh* and how would Miss Snark publish such a long novel-length email? lawd guess I needed to vent. now it's done.

always a brides maid, never a bride. *oh heavy heavy sigh*