Mark Terry

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

"Don't think..."

May 7, 2008
In the immortal words of Crash Davis in "Bull Durham"...

"Don't think, you'll just hurt the ballclub."

So I've spoken here before about not paying too much attention to what editors (or agents) say in their rejections unless they're actually saying something useful. I mean, like a lot of writers, I've received--on the same day!--rejections where one says, "Loved the character, hated the plot," and the other said, "Hated the character, loved the plot." Almost no matter what is said, you really have to take it to mean: no thanks, not for us.

So yesterday I got a rejection, passed on to me by my agent that said:

I appreciated his energy, but in the end it felt a bit too commercial for us to position on our small list.

Oooookkkkaaayyyyy!

Now, class, let us discuss the meaning of "too commercial." 

(Because one way of interpreting it is: meant to sell. And we wouldn't want a publishing house to buy books that might sell, now, would we?)

Anyway, like I said above: don't think.

Cheers,
Mark Terry

13 Comments:

Blogger Erica Orloff said...

OMG, that's funny.

And so true. I sold Spanish Disco to, I think, the fourth or fifth publisher my agent sent it to. I can tell you a no-longer-there editor at Simon and Schuster said, "I have NO DOUBT Ms. Orloff will be a household name one day. Her writing is funny, crisp, polished . . . but this book isn't right for a first book." Okkkay. Then I had a "heroine is charming, didn't believe the secondaries." Two days later, "couldn't warm up to the heroine, LOVED the secondaries." Finally, an editor said, "I can sign such an edgy book, but I know someone who can . . . call my friend at Red Dress Ink." And I sold about three weeks later.

All of the above showed me . . . it's subjective in the extreme.
E

6:40 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

A while ago I was watching a YouTube book talk by Rick Riordan. For his mystery novels he's won just about every award in the field, and his 4th children's book came out this week and his last one has been on the NYTBS list for 52 weeks! He noted his first novel was rejected something like 14 times and the exact same comments I received he received--loved the character, hated the plot; hated the character, loved the plot.

It's a total crapshoot.

7:05 AM  
OpenID eric-mayer said...

Classic rejection! Hey, I can write something that won't sell. Once their guidelines get out they're going to be inundated.

8:45 AM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

LOL ... god forbid, a book that will sell! That's a new one, at least the first I've heard it.

I love Bull Durham. And I love your writing, so I'm crossing my fingers for you!

9:31 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Spy
--exactly what I wrote to my agent: "That's a new one."

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