February 13, 2013

Subjectivity In Publishing

By Byron Suggs

When I was invited to write a piece for SuiteT, it was truly a Sweet Tarts moment—opportunity vs. challenge! So, let’s talk about subjectivity in publishing, shall we? For the benefit of this post, we’ll approach it from the viewpoint of a writer who’s spent a good deal of time honing his/her craft. If you're at that level, then you’ll probably be nodding your head as you read this. If not, read carefully.

When I finished my first book, Rockapocalypse, it wasn't very good. I queried tons of agencies and got either the silent treatment, or "I'm afraid your work is not suitable for our current needs". It took a while, but I got the message. So, I pulled my book and worked furiously to improve it. That meant swallowing a lot of crow to get over my self-importance. I was fortunate to have a small, traditional publisher show interest, and after several re-writes, a failed attempt to get their pub board approval, and much grief, I wrote the doggone thing all over again from scratch. I listened to their advice…threw caution to the wind…stayed outside the box.

And BINGO! They changed their mind.

During all of this, I took everything gained from that experience and started my second book, Cold Currents. It was a joy to find my voice, run with it like the wind, and apply everything I'd learned. Many beta readers and freelance editors loved it. When I started querying, most agencies turned it down, but a few slipped positive comments into their rejection letters. So, I changed tactics mid-stream because I knew I had a good book. I made it a numbers game. All-out assault. I landed twelve “full” manuscript requests from agents.

Why am I telling you this? Because this is where subjectivity really hits home. Even after all of that, three-quarters of them turned it down. Part of those did so because they didn't know any editors that were looking for this kind of book (aka extended subjectivity). The other part did so because it wasn’t their cup of tea, didn’t resonate with them. The lesson here, and one I think every writer should learn, is that even with a good book, subjectivity can still make for a rocky road. Fortunately, I ended up with three agents that saw a good book and offered representation. Bottom line: subjectivity.

I've seen too many writers get depressed over their inability to make their mark in this industry. Too many give up their biggest dream for a lesser one. All because they didn't grasp the concept of subjectivity in publishing. Remember, you're a writer. Your words are the most important thing to you. But publishing is a business. Their potential to sell your work, who they know, andespecially what they personally like, will determine whether you're successful at getting to the next level. Don’t give up! Work hard, believe in yourself, and learn the business! Understanding subjectivity should be a part of every writer’s toolkit.
Primarily a writer of southern fiction, Byron's first novel, Rockapocalypse: Disharmony of Justice, is a tale of youthful dreams, adult peril, and Divine intervention by a few deceased rock icons. His second novel, Cold Currents, a southern literary mystery/thriller, is in the hands of his agent. He is currently working on his third novel, Bone Whispers, (a follow-up to Cold Currents), and a collection of short stories for future publication. A child of the sixties, his first viewing of The Wizard of Oz shaped his outlook of the world and erased any boundaries that could have stunted his imagination. He believes that a good tale should take you on an exhilarating adventure and leave you a bit more enchanted after you turn the last page. Byron is represented by D4EO Literary.  Website:  Twitter  Facebook Linkedin

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