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Do Not Give Up Hope On Traditional Book Publishing

Updated on February 21, 2014

A Confession

I am a literary snob!

There, I’ve said it. I readily admit to being a snob. I have read great works of fiction and nonfiction, and the joy I have received from those experiences has been substantial. It has also left me with very little patience with regards to mediocre or bad writing.

Still, I see mediocre and bad work published on a regular basis. I am an avid reader. I read, on average, two books per week, so that’s over one-hundred per year, and of those one-hundred there are probably ten that I consider very good. For those of you who are math-challenged, that is a ten percent success rate. So I have to ask myself how does this happen? How do traditional publishers end up publishing mediocre work when their industry almost demands that they only publish quality material?

Times are tough in the traditional publishing industry. With the advent of ebooks and other online publishing venues, the traditional publishing industry is on very thin ice. As a result of this shrinking ice, they have to be very careful in their choices of who to publish. Many publishing houses are not even giving a look at new writers and instead choose to stick with the winners they currently have, the proven writers who have a solid track record.

So how does it happen that mediocre and even bad writing gets published?

The picture of a writing snob
The picture of a writing snob | Source

The Genesis for This Article

I just finished reading “A Cold Day In Paradise” by Steve Hamilton. On the back jacket of the book we are told the following:

“A Cold Day In Paradise” won both the Edgar and Shamus awards for Best First Novel, launching Steve Hamilton into the top ranks of today’s crime writers. Now, see for yourself why this extraordinary novel has galvanized the literary and mystery community as no other book before it.

Wow!

I was hooked after reading that glowing praise. I was hooked by the fact that this novel had won two of the more prestigious awards in mystery writing. I was hooked by the fact that this author has nine books in this series to his credit, and I was hooked by the fact that he was published by Minotaur Books, part of the St. Martin’s Publishing Group, a well-known industry leader in publishing.

I was about fifty pages into the book when I realized that I had lost interest in the story. How could this happen? Obviously there must be something wrong with me. There must be something I’m not seeing.

Well, no, as a matter of fact, the book is just mediocre and it failed to captivate me.

Mr. Hamilton is a decent writer. He does a good job of painting a scene. His writing has a fast pace to it and his plot leaves one guessing about what is going to happen next. Still, I was left feeling like I had just dated a beauty queen with zero personality. Finally I realized what the problem was: Mr. Hamilton’s dialogue was stilted and dull. All of his characters sounded exactly the same. If he hadn’t told me who was talking I would have had no idea.

Alex McKnight, his main character, sounds exactly the same as his love interest, who sounds exactly the same as his best friend, who sounds exactly the same as the mass murderer. After fifty pages I felt like I was on a continual diet of valium.

Not only that, but I had no interest in any of his characters. They all were just names in a book. I never felt like I knew any of them as real people.

And yet this man has nine books published by a respected publishing firm. What the hell is going on?

The fact that this was not published does not mean it is a bad book
The fact that this was not published does not mean it is a bad book | Source

An Important Reality to Understand About Traditional Book Publishing

Here it is: choosing which books to publish is a very subjective undertaking.

How else can we explain the fact that average books are published from time to time?

Let me give you an example from my own submission history. Three years ago I wrote my first novel, “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday To Today,” a fun little fantasy about resurrections and love and saving the Earth. I finished the book and then set about contacting publishers and agents. Two rejection emails that I received will demonstrate the point I am making. One read:

“Thank you for contacting me with your novel. I’m afraid your synopsis fails to capture my attention. Feel free to submit future works and best of luck with your endeavors.”

And then this one arrived:

“Loved your synopsis and the first twenty-five pages were greatly enjoyable. However, at this time I am afraid I cannot take on another fantasy novel. Stay in touch and I look forward to seeing more of your writing.”

So what happened? The novel hadn’t changed and yet one publisher was not interested at all while another was greatly interested. How could that be?

I repeat: choosing which books to publish is a very subjective undertaking.

There Are so Many Criteria to Look at As a Publisher

Publishers have limited resources to devote to a limited number of new books each year. Some only handle mysteries; some only science fictions; and some only handle the current hot genres. Some publishers are looking for strong dialogue; some are looking for dynamite plots; and some are only interested in deep, reflective pieces about the universal struggle of man.

Some publishers have bad days on Mondays. Some are in a hurry on Wednesdays, and some can’t be bothered with anything new on Fridays. Some are having marital problems and some are strapped for cash and some have an audit coming with the IRS.

In other words, publishers and agents are human beings, and as such they are subject to their own volatile mood swings just like every other person on this planet.

Somehow….some way….the planets and stars aligned perfectly the day Mr. Hamilton submitted his first novel to Minotaur Books and the rest, as they say, is history.

Thus, there is hope for you!

An inspiration for all writers
An inspiration for all writers | Source

And That Is the Central Message of This Article

Take hope from Mr. Hamilton and his success.

Listen, I have nothing against Mr. Hamilton. There is no jealousy fueling this article. I am happy for any writer who finds success because I know how hard it is to write a book and how damn near impossible it is to get that book published the traditional way. No, in fact I am ecstatic for Mr. Hamilton, because if it could happen to him it can happen to me….and it can happen to you.

I have no doubt I can write as well as this author. I have no doubt that many of you can as well. That is a statement of fact based on being among you now for three years and reading your works….so we must not give up hope.

Of course traditional publishing is not for everyone. Many of you are quite happy publishing ebooks and never having to play the publisher/agent game, and that is all well and good. But for those of you who dream of one day signing a contract with Bantam Books, keep Mr. Hamilton in the back of your minds as you go about your day of writing.

Rejection does not mean that you are a bad writer. You may be an excellent writer but your time has not come yet. Hell, your time may never come in traditional publishing, but that is not a reflection on you and your abilities.

Believe in yourself and keep improving your craft, and then pray to the gods that you find a publisher who is in a great mood when your query letter arrives and who instantly recognizes your genius as a writer.

2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 3 years ago from New York, New York

      I must admit that I have read a few books in recent times that are critically acclaimed and find myself wondering why. Totally answered that question here today and does make sense. But sorry that this has to happen more often now. I will say though when I do find a great read, I savior and hang onto it as long as possible. Thanks Bill and have a great weekend now!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Billy, it happens. I also remember an interview with an author who made it big with his first and only novel--he couldn't write another line. His success was a fluke. So many of us are better than he was. We have to keep trying till we bond with the right editor/publisher. Thank you for this encouragement.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, there are definitely some that leave me shaking my head in wonder. Oh well...all I can do is keep getting better and hope. Thank you my dear; have a great weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dora! A fluke? Wow! I'd love to be that fluke. LOL Thank you my dear; enjoy your weekend.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 3 years ago

      Very interesting topic and article, Bill..

      I don't get how bad books get great reviews - and vice versa..

      I also don't understand how OBVIOUSLY horrid books are published - self or otherwise! Simple spelling errors should NOT happen on a regular basis - never mind the multitude of other grade 1 errors that are rampant.

      Keep ringing the bell Bill - nobody does it better!

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

      Fate is always twisting, turning and suprising us. Just when you think the door is welded down...

      Useful and inspiring words for the weekend. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Leslie, poor writing pisses me off quite frankly. It's too easy for poor writers to gain notoriety today and I think that's a shame for all of us who take writing seriously. Sigh! Now you got me riled up.

      Have a great weekend Sis...and thank you!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Once again an excellent look into writing that gives us an excellent view into life. I think we should only take about 1/10th of the stuff personally that happens in life.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Anna, we just keep prying at it, 'eh? Well I have my crowbar out and I'm ready to start. :) Thank you my friend; enjoy your weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, 1/10th might be overshooting the mark. Thanks buddy and have fun with that family of yours this weekend.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Brilliantly approached but then again who can stop you from surprising us with such helpful and encouraging hubs?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww, thank you DDE...I appreciate those kind words

    • Purpose Embraced profile image

      Yvette Stupart PhD 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Thanks for the encouragement billybuc. I certainly won't throw in the towel. But I must stay motivated and keep on writing.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      It really is a cheat to start reading a book like that and it turns into a dud. I have had that happen to me many times before I ever gave a thought to writing. Since I sold books my books were free for years and you better believe I took advantage and finally being disappointed so many times I went to non-fiction books for they can get by with more or it isn't as noticeable when you are telling the truth although I have read a couple of those flubbed up too.

      Keep up the good work!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Purpose, you must indeed stay motivated and keep writing. Best wishes to you and thank you.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Too bad you can't open your query with "Please read this on a day you are not suffering from PMS"! I guess, as with most things in life, timing is everything.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jackie, it is a huge disappointment and I don't think I was being too critical...the characters sucked! LOL Have a great weekend my friend

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LMAO....Sha, that is a great line. Thanks for the laugh...way too funny.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I love this! It really puts things into perspective. Hey, do you think it's possible to do an ebook (and even CreateSpace) with a book that could be "discovered" later by a publisher? I mean do you think that it's okay to go ahead with your own thing in the meantime, hoping to connect with a traditional publisher later? Does that question make sense? :-)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It makes perfect sense, Vicki, and the answer is yes. I just read about an author....seems to me it was some eighteen year old girl...who wrote an ebook, some fantasy, and it went to number one on Kindle and was discovered by a publishing house, who then gave her a contract and she went best-seller with it...some girl in London but I forget who it was...so yes, it is definitely something to think about.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 3 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      Very true. I must admit, I wondered why 50 Shades of Grey was supposed to be so exciting. The writing was fairly flat and the characters were even flatter. All that kept that book going was the naughty stuff and some hype.

      There seem to be quite a few mediocre writers out there. The only thing I can understand about publisher's minds is that when they are faced with a choice of you or Stephen King, they will always pick Stephen King, because he has yet to publish anything that doesn't sell many copies.

      Writers just need to persist with different publishers and be in front of the editor's eyes at the right time. Voted useful!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Suzanne, it can be a bit discouraging when reading a mediocre piece of writing that was actually published....but then again, it can be a symbol of hope for the rest of us. If mediocre is published then why not us? We must really have a chance. :) Thanks for your thoughts and enjoy your weekend.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Well, that gives me hope. I just need to get that ebook out there. LOL. I do have one I co-wrote with someone that I need to get out there! :-) Along with all of the other ideas in my head. Thanks for all the info!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are welcome, Vicki, and I know the feeling. I have two ebooks that are sitting on my desk waiting for me...as they have been for months now. I have to finish this novel first and then I can turn my attention to those other two ebooks.

    • cmoneyspinner1tf profile image

      Treathyl FOX 3 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Nine books published St. Martin’s Publishing Group? I'll tell ya what's going on? Nobody consulted you! :)

      That's what I always tell my husband. :) Actually his criticisms, much like yours, are usually pretty valid. A person, i.e. "the disappointed one", kind of wishes the "cognizant parties" (writer and publisher) would have consulted an "independent" (like you or my husband) for some objective remarks and suggestions before releasing the work.

      I support all forms of publishing. But for sure traditional publishing should not and probably will not go away. Just in case though, is there an organization we need to sign up for to save it?

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

      Since people can publish their own book that is good for the authors, but it would be so much nicer for a tradtional company to publish your book.

      Some authors that I have enjoyed reading regularly though the years until recently as their writing has changed. Some have made a change to empasize new age views or some other change, which can be interesting, but it seems they lost something in quality. They are still published regularly, but their books have become boring to me. I am always looking for new books to enjoy, but I agree with you that many books are praised and I wonder why. Maybe it is my age. Haha

      Very interessting topic and well-written hub.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Yes, I think it is everyone's dream to be published by a traditional compnay to publish one's book. Whatever happened to all the greats, or are we truly becoming snobs or are we just used to reading the greats of the past. Oh, there are some nowadays too, but getting fewer and far between, maybe because the publishers have so much junk to filter through, they may actually miss the greats of today. I feel you are going to be one of those greats that go down in history as a great writer. That is all of our dreams, I would think.

      Excellent article and good points to ponder, dear Bill!

      Up and more and sharing. Enjoyed reading on my lunch break.

      Hugs,

      Faith Reaper

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Billy, Hp would not feature my last hub calling it poor quality, maybe that is why you haven't been by but if you just haven't had time NP just wanted when you do come by to tell me why on earth it would be called poor quality. I feel like taking my goodies and leaving town!

    • cecileportilla profile image

      Cecile Portilla 3 years ago from West Orange, New Jersey

      Hi Billybuc

      I too enjoy reading. I have read books by my favorite authors that turned out not to be as good as their prior work. I believe that publishers will still publish poorly written books by authors who have already established themselves. Publishers know that these books will still sell because the public naturally expects the work to be good based on their prior experience with that author.

      As Harry Belefonte once said, he had written a song that he did not know was filled with grammatical errors. By the time he realized it he had already made millions!

      I don’t believe people rely on book reviews prior to buying books written by their favorite authors. As such poorly written books will get published and read even if not in their entirety.

      However, as you said, as writers we should keep improving our craft. Hopefully we will all get to a place where anything we write is considered gold, even if it is not!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 3 years ago from Northern California, USA

      I've been formally rejected a number of times, but I am grateful that my first rejection letter came from an editor who offered praise, mixed with a critical comment. The company didn't publish my book because it wasn't what they were looking for at the time. But, the fact that the editor took the time to offer a critique is what sparked me to continue writing. Yeah, it's all subjective. So, you're right; we should keep on writing because the time may come that our book will land in the hands of an editor who is subject to like it and publish it.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      cmoneyspinner, that's the problem exactly...nobody consulted me! LOL

      If there is such an organization I will sign up for sure...I just can't warm up to ebooks no matter how hard I try. :) Thanks for your thoughts and have a great weekend in Austin.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Interesting points Pamela! I can think of three established authors off the top of my head whose work has diminished in quality over the years for whatever reason. Maybe that just happens to all authors but I think not.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, it was lovely spending your lunch period with you. :) It's an interesting question....what happened to all the greats? Are they out there and not yet recognized, or has the quality of writing depreciated? I'm not sure I can answer that one. Anyway, thank you for your kind words. I'm just going to keep on writing and hope for the best.

      blessings always my friend

      bill

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      This is a well-needed positive message. Believe in yourself and keep writing your best work. All reading is subjective, otherwise we wouldn't have such a wide range of genres. I like thrillers and comedies; others like science fiction and romances. It's great that it's a subjective area of life.

      I'm so glad you said you didn't like a 'successful' novel. I've wondered in the past why I don't like a story or a film that everyone is raving about. I've thought that perhaps it's me who is not 'clever' enough.

      I find that people enthuse about a book and so everyone thinks it MUST be good, then I can't get into it, I don't like the style, I find it pretentious.

      Now I know that some people are pretentious, some people just go along with the flow because they don't want others to think them 'uneducated'. What a shame that they can't just admit what they like and what they don't like. It's the same with art and fashion.

      Great hub. Up, useful and shared. Have a great evening, indeed, a great weekend, bill. Hope the 're-shuffle' goes well; ours is on its way! Ann

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jackie, I saw that...I clicked on it and it was gone, unpublished....I don't know what HP is doing nowadays, but I think they need a change in management soon. Keep writing and don't leave; I like having my friends close by.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      cecileportilla, you make a valid point. I do believe established writers have a leg up in getting published no matter the quality of their work. I guess I understand that economically, but as far as quality of writing I think it's a shame. I would expect more from someone who has reached the top of the business ladder.

      Have a wonderful weekend and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Marlene, your point is a great one. The fact that the publisher offered praise is huge and should give you a reason to keep writing. Usually writers just receive a form letter saying thanks but no thanks; when they take the time to praise and offer positive feedback then you are on the right path. Thank you dear friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hello Ann and a pleasure having you here. I always hate to admit this, but I don't like the Harry Potter series at all...I don't tell many people that because, as you say, that opens me up to comments like "what's wrong with you?" Well, there are things wrong with me but this is not one of those things...I just don't like her writing. Oh well; I doubt she would like mine either and I'm fine with that. :)

      The weekend looks peaceful right now; we'll see what surprises are lurking.

      Rest up and enjoy yours, Ann, and thank you.

      bill

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 3 years ago from United States

      Loved your videos and the text and now gotta find a published writer who i an be a true friend to and hopefully one day he/she will recommend my book for publication ;)

      on a serious note...I agree with you bill...there are times when I just don't understand the awards the boring books get and I find myself down right critical on that...glad to know you in the same boat.

      to be published as a novel and making it big...every writer's dream and your words were inspiring that a rejection letter should not bring her/him down.

      happy friday bill :)

    • Sparklea profile image

      Sparklea 3 years ago from Upstate New York

      BILLYBUC: I have yet to comment on your other hubs as it has been so hectic, but they have been printed out for me to read over lunch and coffee...BUT, I FINALLY decided I was going to spend this afternoon on hub pages and I am glad I did.

      FIRST OF ALL, I could not BELIEVE your first video...SUSAN SHAPIRO!!! I THOUGHT OMG!

      I attended a writers workshop in Greenwich Village a couple years ago which I saw advertised on the internet...It was led by Susan Shapiro and was held in her apartment!

      There were 18 of us and she had guest agents join us. I almost DIED when she went around the room and had us read our work OUT LOUD!

      One of my dreams has been to go to NYC and attend one of her courses, but too expensive ...but I STILL plan to do that. AND she said the SAME THING there as on her video, "the piece you write that your family hates means you have found your voice."

      She wears only black, -even her toilet and bathroom sink and tub are black. Her apartment was phenomenal.

      I also took a picture of her, which I am thrilled to have.

      Her advice was so excellent, I wrote it all at the front of my diary that year. I can't BELIEVE you have her on video! It is over an hour, so I watched the first few minutes, but will go back to it.

      She and I shared emails...she told me she got a $300,000 advance on one of her books. Before I attended her class I read her book, "Five Men Who Broke My Heart." It was supposed to be made into a movie.

      I am SO glad you mentioned that book "A Cold Day In Paradise" and that you lost interest! So many books I thumb through at Barnes & Noble, I can't even get past the first page.

      Thank you for your encouraging words for those of us who love to write. You really open one's eyes about traditional publishing.

      I read all of the comments, and, like Suzanne Day, I also read the 50 Shades Of Grey trilogy because my friends kept telling me to buy it and said it was so excellent. I only plowed on to see how it ended and the ending stunk. I wondered why I wasted my time.

      Like you, I am a reader. I STUDY the authors' writing styles, and I have found I love books written in first person. ( I was so glad you wrote your book in the first person).

      I read The Book Thief, over 500 pages, in less than one week and went to see the movie the next day. I thought the book was phenomenal.

      I also read a true story, "Growing Up Amish" which was from the heart. The day I finished it my husband and I went to Lancaster, PA, and I tracked down the author. I posted the picture of us on Facebook.

      Everyone of us has different tastes, and so with Editors. I truly believe in my heart you will publish a blockbuster book, and your taking time to share your nuggets on Hub Pages - not to mention Facebook, Artistry With Words...you have a gift that you are sharing and I know all will come back to you in a tremendous way.

      This is one of my favorite hubs that you have written. You ALWAYS write as if you are sitting in a room talking directly to the reader.

      Thank you for giving us insight into the publishing world. And for saying that rejection does not mean you are a bad writer. I agree that each one of us need to continue to believe in ourselves and improve our craft.

      God bless you real good, voted up, useful, interesting and awesome.

      Blessings, Sparklea :)

    • Sparklea profile image

      Sparklea 3 years ago from Upstate New York

      PS: I printed this one out too, FOR SURE :)

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 3 years ago

      Thanks for the inspirational pep talk. One of these days, I may resubmit my manuscript to some agents and see what happens. The problem I ran into was I couldn't find anyone looking for my combination. The Christian fiction agents didn't want crime novels and the crime novel agents didn't want Christian fiction. Who knows? One day I might find someone who wants both in the same book.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ruchira....I always think there is something wrong with me that I don't see the genius in a book that others rave about. LOL It's good to know there are others who don't see it too.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lea, you are such a truly nice person. Thank you! How remarkable that you met that lady and talked to her in her apartment. Quite an experience I would think. When I'm rich and famous you can spend the afternoon in our farmhouse and we'll chat as old friends do.

      I never feel I do justice to your wonderful comments. Please excuse me for making this so short; I have a customer who thinks the work week ends on Sunday instead of Friday. LOL

      blessings always dear lady

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you again Lea!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, Sheila, stranger things have happened in literature. Maybe you are at the forefront of a brand new genre and your time just hasn't arrived yet. Be true to your own writer's voice and then hope for the best.

      Thank you and have a great weekend.

    • Sparklea profile image

      Sparklea 3 years ago from Upstate New York

      You have a great weekend too, hope you and Bev get to a movie!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Lea!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      No it didn't get deleted; just insulted, lol.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Very interesting... as always! It's not easy to be published for sure and as you said it so well, choosing which books to publish is a very subjective. It depend of the mood of the person who is in charge, their quota in each category and a lot of other factors I am sure. Until any writer is accepted and well known in the litterary world, having a book publishe is a big endeavor!

      I had a good laugh when you described your experience reading the book of Steve Hamilton "I had just dated a beauty queen with zero personality" :-)))

      Enjoy your weekend!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Anyone who wants their book published should read this. Try Try Again is your message. Thank's for all you do to help writers. Have a good one....

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...oh, well that explains it, Jackie!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, I'll have one for you early next week....a reflective one...I promise. Thanks for being so supportive.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Joelle....just trying to add a little levity to a bad experience. Have a great weekend and Go Canada in the Olympics.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Great hub. I like that you pointed out the role of subjectivity (publishing sure isn't science!) and gave a specific example of a book that fell flat for you. You should write a hub on things you should do while you're waiting for that traditional book contract.

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      An excellent hub for every writer. You have eloquently stated what I have found to be the truth about the publishing industry. Straight up correct.

      Thank you for that. I makes me want to continue to read each writing you create! ;-)

    • mathira profile image

      mathira 3 years ago from chennai

      I too share your thoughts but was never bold enough to admit it. You know, you made me feel motivated that though I might not be acclaimed and famous, I too have some hidden talent, perhaps better than some writers.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Flourish, thank you and I like your idea about a future hub. I will consider that; don't be surprised if you see it next week. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DrBill, that is a very nice thing for you to say. Thank you. I will try not to disappoint you.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mathira, you are a good writer who will only get better. Believe in your abilities and keep writing.

      Thank you!

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      Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you, Bill, for this interesting and highly informative article on traditional publishing which I hope to try in the coming months. I also prefer traditional. As challenging as this is, I will throw my hat into the ring. I agree with you in that what passes for “award winning” or “#1” on some list, has me puzzled at times. On the other hand, it makes me view the amount of rejection that will undoubtedly be coming my way with a renewed perspective of hope. Thank you, my friend. Have a great weekend! :-)

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      Mary Kelly Godley 3 years ago from Ireland

      Great advice as always. I will give my fingers crossed and place my faith in the luck of the draw.

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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Good morning from CapeTown. It was still early when I switched my tablet on sitting up in bed. I do a lot of my commenting before office hours, and spotted this hub on Google+. Robin and I both read your article with great interest. It always astonishes us the amounts some publishers pay in advances, even for half finished manuscripts. WE often heard of incredible deals that were concluded between Random House and Harper Collins for one book which we read about in the book fair news paper in Frankfurt.

      Being a small publisher from Cape Town we always dreamed of selling our titles on to the big boys, which somethimes happens. WE sold several titles for translation in Germain, Dutch and India, but usually to other smaller publishers like us for quite small advances which we share with the author. During the week of the fair we got approached by several hopefull authors who tried to get an appointment with the agents for the big boys but failed and ended up with us.

      They were all after the big advances which we never offer, so after a nice chat they left. Coming back to your acticle and having listened to one video, the world of publishing is for us compleatly different.

      The many publishers we dealt with and shared experiences with were all the same as us, co-operative publishers who tried to limit their risks, especially on debut authors.

      I still think that most writers have absolutely no idea what all is involved to get a manuscript into a printed copy and now also into an epub and kiindle files for worldwide distribution.

      Its the self published authors who learn the hard way that getting a book in print is only 20% of the job, and 80% has to do with marketing.

      Our world is changing fast and we both feel that going the ebook route first and after a great deal of marketing moving onto a small print run will work a lot better and flush out the formula money making authors from the genuine wordsmiths. How the traditional publishers will fare in the years to come is still unknown.

      Thankyou Billy for your dedication to the world of writing.

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      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Wonderful advice again Bill, and encouraging that anyone can be published and win awards if the right opportunity presents itself like the author Steve Hamilton, you mention. I have noticed some popular authors, one in particular who's books I enjoy overall, seem to be on a contract to produce a certain number of books in a short time. This particular author must write at least six novels a year, some with different co-authors, but I have noticed the quality of many not up to his earlier works. They seem as though they have been rushed out. to meet a deadline. I guess that is something you have to be careful of if you become a successful author.

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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Good call indeed, Bill. We should never give up writing regardless...be it a traditional book or other wise!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Genna, thank you as always. This is a tough business. Even publishing ebooks is no guarantee of anything. There is no harm in trying the traditional way; heck, you can do both. Best wishes to you and I hope you enjoy your weekend as well.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      thewritingowl, I'll cross my fingers for you as well. Maybe between the two of us we can get you published. :) Good luck!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nadine, good afternoon! I was hoping you would weigh in on this. It really helps to get the perspective of a small publishing firm. Bottom line is getting published takes a ton of work. I think ebooks have, in a way, made it so writers think there is an easy way out, and that is just not true. It still takes,as you mentioned, a lot of marketing on the part of the writer to find success. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, and have a great weekend.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      No we shouldn't, Michelle. If we have a passion for writing then that passion needs to fuel us. Thank you for sharing.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      John, that seems to be a recent trend and I've noticed it as well. James Patterson comes to mind for me; he must publish six per year and there is always a co-author now, just as you pointed out. I'm not sure there is value in that approach other than the profits the publisher and author make.....anyway, have a great weekend and thank you.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Exactly who I was thinking of Bill... :) I much prefer John Grisham now. Still prolific but not as much so hasn't compromised quality of story.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      John, great minds think alike. :) I like Grisham as well and have found his work to be of high quality every time he writes. Thanks for checking back on this one.

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      M. T. Dremer 3 years ago from United States

      I must, respectfully, disagree about the quality of Steve Hamilton's writing. I've read two of his books (A Cold Day in Paradise and The Lock Artist) and found both to be a refreshing take on their respective genres. But, every writer has a different opinion of what 'good' writing is. And every writer has that one author who they just can't understand how they got published (for me it's Janet Evanovich).

      I do agree that authors shouldn't give up on the traditional market. It's served its purpose well and there is no reason why it can't find a place for itself along side self publishing (rather than one defeating the other). Already publishers are snatching up successful indie authors and adding them to their catalog, which means self publishing is just another tool for getting into the larger publishing world.

      Having said that, I amassed 52 rejections for my novel from the traditional market. And the only useful advice I got out of it was that my book was too long. A lot of people told me to 'never give up' but what they failed to mention was that eventually you'll run out of agents/publishers to submit to. What then? Abandon the book you spent eight years writing? That's a hard pill to swallow. So, in that regard, self publishing saved my book from an undignified death (not to mention the opportunity to show my family that I wasn't being lazy for the last eight years.) But, more so than that, self publishing allowed me to move on. I couldn't get past that original novel, because I sank so much into it. And self publishing came through for me in a way that the traditional market didn't. I will still submit new novels through the same agent-seeking process, but I no longer view self publishing the way I used to. I once said "self published books are poorly written, grammatical catastrophes written by people without the spine or motivation to attempt something greater." So, if my mind can be changed, there is hope for all of us. :)

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      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Hi, Bill - Like you, I read a great deal and encounter more than a few books that demonstrate mediocrity within the first few pages. Those get tossed aside the moment I am bored. There is too much good writing available to wade through lousy writing.

      In addition to books by "established" writers that don't hold a candle to their previous work, I'm finding too many traditionally published books that look as though they were scantily line edited, if that. In my opinion, this state of affairs reduces the credibility of traditional publishers. They may have fewer staff than during the industry's heyday, but editing should never be sacrificed because it hurts a book's success. Books that don't get the necessary attention before they hit the bookstore end up as remainders.

      When I discover an author who never disappoints me, I read everything he or she publishes. I believe you've commented about James Lee Burke, who is one of my favorite authors. I read a lot of novels that fit into the mystery/thriller/police procedural genre, and my favorites include several UK writers who hit the ball out of the park with every successive book. I can lose myself in one of these writers' books, and the enjoyment I experience is what makes me want to write fiction. Make that "good fiction." I don't want to write tripe.

      The growing ease of self-publishing and the venues available for self-promotion of one's work provide good writers a platform they may not find with traditional publishers. There is a growing number of indie authors who have found great success this way.

      That old saying, "The cream rises to the top" is true in this situation. Good writers who make it into print by whatever means and market their work will be discovered, their books bought and enjoyed by many readers. Some of these authors may even be offered movie contracts, all of which encourages those of us who write and consider the self-publishing option.

      There are many self-published books, however, that should never have seen the light of day, at least not without comprehensive editing, and it's those books that make readers hesitant about buying indie books even when priced very low. (After all, most people don't want to waste even $2.99 on an unreadable book.)

      An indie author may be able to imagine and tell an excellent story, yet lessen that story's impact with mediocre or poor writing. After less-than-competent writers exhaust friends, family and recipients of early freebies provided by Amazon, sales of their self-published books usually dwindle accordingly. Word of mouth and written reviews by readers sell (or kill) books, regardless of how much they are touted on Facebook, Twitter and author websites.

      People who read a lot pay attention to reviews--not only those on Amazon, but on Goodreads, LibraryThing, The Bookbag and book blogs. Best-seller lists in themselves do not guarantee good reads. In the past I've read a few books from The NYTimes list that disappointed me. Just because a particular title--especially by a popular author--is selling doesn't mean it's a good book.

      I realize that not everyone is a great writer and include myself in that assessment. Only a few writers have the talent and skill to be labeled "great." Fortunately, it isn't necessary to be a literary giant to interest readers. Most people with the desire to write well can learn to do so. At the least, they can get help from an editor with any aspect of their writing that is weak...before attempting to publish it. The difference between good writing and mediocre writing is what captures the attention of readers, holds them until they reach "The End" and makes them hope that author is busy on another book.

      I've met some excellent writers on HP and been exposed to some amazing writing here. Those are the writers I continue to regularly read. I also think I can recognize potential in some novices and try to be supportive as they work on improving their writing craft. (It's always exciting to read their later work and observe how they're getting better.) But there are also some would-be writers who show up on the HP feed who should turn their time and attention to another activity. (That's the nicest way I can say it.) My time is too precious to waste slogging through dreadful writing, and I won't do it. If that makes me seem harsh, so be it. I actually think it's cruel to encourage anyone whose every effort shows a distinct lack of talent, skill, or even a slight mastery of language and content. There must be some talent and skill upon which to build; otherwise, the results will be painful to anyone who places value on good writing.

      Bill...Once again I hijacked your comment space, but I get really wound up about this topic. Your intro to this hub struck a nerve with me, as you wrote what I often think. I like your teaching hubs because you don't shy away from telling it like it is...even if what you write hurts some sensibilities. Thank you once again for pointing out some major truths about writing and publishing.

      Voted Up++++ and shared

      Jaye

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      Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for sharing this, Bill! People are different, so they have different opinions in what would be good.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      M.T. thanks for your input. There is hope for us all for sure, and I love your attitude. As for Hamilton....thanks for your take on his writing.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jaye, you can "hijack" my comment space all you want. At least I know when you comment it is well-thought out and contains some quality thoughts and opinions. I agree with everything you have written here. My time is precious too, and I won't waste it on writers who simply do not want to put in the time to improve their craft....and that is my biggest issue with many writers. Writing is a craft...it is one of the Arts...and as such it needs to be treated like that. I hold writing in too high regard to be bothered with poor effort, sloppy grammar and disdain for the basic elements of writing.

      I know I sound like a snob and so be it.

      Thank you so much. I truly appreciate your words and opinions about writing.

      bill

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      No doubt about it, vkwok, and that gives hope to all writers.

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      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Bill, a very encouraging article! I guess we've all read books that have won various awards, but the best we could say about them is that they send us to sleep pretty fast. It's good to know that there is hope. Good luck with your next book, although I don't think you'll need it.

      My Best as always.

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      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      My previous comments veered away from the problems you noted with traditional publishers and the issue that if a manuscript reaches an editor high enough up the publishing food chain to be either rejected or accepted, that decision may depend on something as illusive as what kind of day that individual is having. Professionals in the traditional publishing business are not infallible in their choices. Publishing decisions among the big houses range from wildly successful to good to not-so-good to disastrous. That's why too many books end up in remainder bins marked down to $2. It's also the reason why we sometimes begin reading a book that doesn't engage us.

      Whatever works best for an individual writer--whether the traditional publishing route or self-publishing--success depends not only on writing ability, but also on marketing. I've read from several sources that even the major publishing houses don't spend much on marketing for any authors except those who are already proven best sellers.

      This means that work for the less well-known author doesn't stop with publication. Another phase begins: promotion. Being a writer in this era demands business acumen and marketing know-how. These skills are especially critical when one uses a self-publishing platform, but they are also necessary to some extent with a traditional publisher if the author isn't a famous name.

      I recently read that J.K. Rowling began using a pseudonym after completing the Harry Potter series in hopes that she'd get honest feedback rather than blind adulation for her newest books. An attorney's wife let the truth slip, so now the world is aware Rowling wrote the books. Sales went from unremarkable (before her identity was realized) to extremely high simply because she became known as the author. Such is the power of fame for a successful writer. Most people will think she shouldn't complain about more money pouring in, but I think I can understand her wish for honest opinions of the new direction of her writing.

      Thanks for your continuous encouragement, Bill, to this group of writers.

      Jaye

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      Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Yo Bill, ever read the book 'Forest Gump'? You know, the one Tom Hanks made the movie about years ago? Nothing like the movie at all. No Bubba, no shrimpboat, no Lt. Dan, no Jennie, and the list goes on and on. What amazed me was how Hanks ever saw the book to begin with. Forest was a six foot tall black blues harmonica player in the book.

      What I'm getting at is writing a successful novel has a lot of luck involved. Sometimes you just aren't lucky. But then, sometimes you are. Great points.

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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great message Bill. I have read my share of dogs and thought to myself how on earth did this get published. Sounds like luck can sometimes play a role in getting published or not.

      Hope your having a great weekend.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Jo! I don't know if anyone else will love my new novel, but I will. :) In the end, I am the one I must satisfy since my standards are unrealistically high. :) Have a wonderful Sunday my friend.

      bill

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jaye, you raise a very interesting point about Rowling. I can understand her wish...I know I would be the same way. Of course, I would be quite happy having one wildly successful book before trying that experiment. LOL The longer I am in this business the more I realize there is a very fine line the separates the successful writers from the wannabes....and sometimes that fine line is, as you say, promotion.

      Well done again my friend. You should be writing these articles instead of me.

      bill

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Randy, oddly I did not know that about Forest Gump...how interesting. Thanks for sharing that and here's hoping we both get very lucky in the future.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      True words, Bill. I will never discount the role talent plays in being published, but I know today there is also much to be said about the stars and planets aligning perfectly.

      Thank you buddy!

      bill

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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      And the moral of the story is that even publishers make mistakes. I think they'll know it when that book brings in very little cash flow. So yes, I agree with what you said. A great deal of this game is LUCK. As Stephen King told me, 'never give up trying.'

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Indeed, Deb. If this is a passion then we will continue doing it and then hope. :) Thank you my friend.

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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a very interesting look at traditional publishing, Bill. Of course, like all your hubs for writers, it's also inspirational!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia! Inspirational is what I am after.

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      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I was just chatting with a librarian about the virtual library system. We both agreed the traditional book publishing must continue. There is just something about holding a hardcover book and turning the pages that is soothing and allows for full visual mental imagery. By the way, I can't thank you enough for all the wonderful information you provide and the lessons learned on how to write, Bill.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dianna, you are a wonderful friend and thank you for your kind words. As for virtual libraries, I don't own a Kindle and I doubt I will. I have to hold a book in my hands....that's just the way I am.

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