So yesterday, a few of my friends on my favorite critique site begged to read the first Jeff story. I hemmed and hawed, but I’ve been really digging the story, so I posted the first part, and made sure to note in the author’s comments section that it was a super rough, and I was looking more for do you like the characters and does the story make sense, then worried about my grammar.
My first critique was not from one of my friends though, but a self appointed YA expert who, besides fixing my grammar, proceeded to tell me what I needed to do for publishers to be interested in my YA story.
She might as well as written my standard rejection letter, “Unique voice, obvious talent, not sure if you’re a fit for our magazine/publishing house.”
I’ll go through her critique in more detail later, because there might well be something of use in there, but critiques like this are always a mixed bag for me.
They say that if you can’t find the story you want to read that you should write it yourself. They forgot to mention that publishers are looking for something that they think they can sell.
I was leery of traditional publishing before I started the submission process, once I got involved in it, I walked away fairly quickly. I know a scam when I see one, and that’s what traditional publishing has become.
You have to pay for professional publishing out of your pocket, before an agent will agree to represent your work (usually). Then you have to make whatever changes the agent feels your work needs. At this point, your story might start to feel a little foreign to you, but yeah, it’s probably better… right?
Only then will they start to pitch your stuff. If you’re lucky and a publisher bites, you have to then go though another round of ‘edits’, which can be anything from word choice to plot changes. If your super lucky, this editor will work with you. If you aren’t, you’ll be treated like a child who doesn’t know the difference between a verb and a noun.
At this point, if your story remotely resembles the original work you sent out, it’s a damned miracle.
12-18 months later, you’ll see a book, which, most likely, you will have to hawk yourself, with minimal push from your publisher. And if this book doesn’t sell well immediately, they are done with it and you.
Don’t even get me started on the issues with cover art.
And all these people take a huge chunk of your money.
No thank you, I’d rather do it myself. Yes, I’d like a copy editor to look over my stuff for grammar and typos, but the rest of it… I have yet to find an author who’s happy at the end of the traditional publishing road. Most of them feel cheated.
If my stuff doesn’t sell well, I can change the covers, change the blurbs, give portions away for free. I can go on blog tours, write guest columns, and in general keep pushing my story, written the way I like.
If you want to do the traditional publishing route, then do it. Go for it. Just remember that it’s not the only way to publish, and these days, it’s not even the most profitable or artistically satisfying way for you, the author.