Monday, July 20, 2009

Conservative Follow-up

I attempted to reassure our conservative writer friend that the publishing industry loves those books, despite his initial bias.

Yes - but unfortunately - since the process requires an agent - the bar is still very high for a first time author to get a fair assessment. I have sent out quite a few query letters to agents who specialize in non fiction and virtually all of them respond with a form letter and of course they do not bother to ask to read a chapter or two to evaluate it. So until agents wise up and make the connection that a lot of conservatives buy books and publishers like to make money - I guess they will continue to represent authors who sell those wonderful and very important works on specialized topics that no one wants to buy!

I would like to assure you that agents buy books they believe will sell, at least to some degree to make their effort worthwhile. It's true that agents will often not take on a book they don't care for - which can mean a lot of things, but also they feel goes against their own personal beliefs. This isn't wrong; it means they're not the agent for that work. Someone else is.

If the work is great and has something important to say, someone will pick it up. If you've gotten no hits on your query letter, it's time to vastly improve your query letter. That or you've written a bad book and blaming the "liberal bubble of New York" is just the beginning of your problems. Either one. Glenn Beck would probably get going if I had a chance to prod him on the liberal media bias and NY liberals, but Simon and Schuster publishes him without batting an eye and damn, does he sell a lot of books.

11 comments:

MiraFae said...

The letter reads like comments written by hundreds of writers on blogs around the industry... determined that it must be some bias by the agent, some grand scheme against them, that is keeping their book off the bookstore shelves.

Seriously, replace "Conservative" and "Liberal" with "Literary" and "Genre" and it's the age old writers' cries:

IF ONLY THEY'D READ MY BOOK!!
THEY MUST NOT WANT TO MAKE MONEY!!
NEW YORK IS OUT OF TOUCH WITH WHAT PEOPLE REALLY WANT TO READ!!
THE BOOKS ON THE SHELVES ARE INFERIOR TO MINE!!

...and on and on and on...

This writer obviously hasn't been around the publishing blogosphere much, or she/he'd know how cliche his comments are in the query wars.

That said, the smart move would be to look into which agents currently rep the Conservative authors and query them.

(After a few honest looks at his query/proposal... because it could be that it's just not good enough to garner interest.)

~Aimee Maher said...

I second that comment.

Anonymous said...

Unless the rejection letters had "Republicans suck!" scrawled on them in crayon, there's no proof the agents are rejecting this author because it's a conservative book. I saw this same leap of logic in the book "Why You're Wrong About the Right" (Threshold Editions) and was annoyed by it. For what it's worth, those authors appear to be represented by the John Talbot Agency. Alexander Hoyt Associates also reps a large amount of conservative-leaning books. All NY blue state businesses.

Jael said...

It is nearly impossible for a first-time conservative author with no platform to sell a nonfiction book. However, it is ALSO nearly impossible for a first-time liberal author with no platform to sell a nonfiction book. It's not bias. It's just positioning, and sales, and common sense.

If agents and publishers are getting more submissions than they can handle, they've got to make a choice somehow. Unless you are unique or powerful or both, it's probably not going to happen for you. In most cases, they are also being pitched NF books by people who are already published experts in that field. Why would they choose you instead? (And this is for posterity, so be honest.)

The good news is, if you want to get the word out, you don't need conventional publishing to do that. Blog. Blog huge. And once your blog is huge and you have a giant audience, a book will be cake to sell.

Melissa said...

I would say part of the problem may be platform. Nonfiction books in an awful lot of areas require the author to come to the table BOTH with impeccable qualifications and an established platform that will guarantee sales numbers. If the poster doesn't have both of those things, then a well-written proposal with a great idea may not get him anywhere.

And, um, no that isn't a restriction on conservative writers. That applies to topics as diverse as dog training, theology, and fitness.

Caitlin said...

Nice Princess Bride reference =)

Joe Iriarte said...

It's sweet how you're trying to talk truth to self-delusion, but the OP has already settled on the explanation s/he wants. This person represents those folks who argue passionately that Obama should be impeached for the great crime of . . . not being Republican, I guess. Clearly reality is not a high priority for this person. And as for the rest of us, well you're speaking to the choir.

It's not strictly a republican thing, either. I know plenty of apolitical unpublished folks who are just certain there's a conspiracy out there keeping them down. Apparently the thought that what they have to offer is simply not good enough is too horrible to consider.

Unlike these folks, and unlike the OP, I believe in the free market. I believe that when I have something to sell that will make publishers money, they'll be happy to enter into a partnership with me. No vague conspiracy to keep outsiders out will trump enlightened self-interest. And I have at least as big an ego as any wannabe writer I know. I'm only about a third of the way through my million words of crap, but when I've gotten through them, if not sooner, I expect I'll find success.

I don't have time for paranoid excuses, because all those are is reasons not to write.

Eric C said...

His excuse is a cop out. A quick look at the list of popular conservative books are all by people with radio shows, websites and tv shows/tv appearances. If you want to sell you book, you need to excel in other media first.

Eric C, www.onviolence.com

Anonymous said...

Did you see this article? http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0709/25175.html

TheWriterStuff said...

Sounds like self-fulfilling prophecy to me. He's not expecting the book to sell because the publishing world is too liberal so therefore it's not selling. (Either that or the book's no good.)

Anonymous said...

Sorry to say that I've written a conservative non-fiction book and numerous big name agents have declared they are too liberal to represent it! A recent survey claimed that 80% of people working in publishing voted for Obama. I think there is some difficulty finding agents and publishers (other than Regnery, which doesn't do that many titles per year)