A couple of things today: a revised view of the ‘slush-pile’ and a remarkable download statistic. Excited? Me neither.
Before I decided to self-publish I tried to get a literary agent interested in my books. Actually, I tried to get about two hundred literary agents interested in my books. The only good thing that came out of that woeful and demoralising chapter of my miserable history as a writer was that, because of the high number of rejection letters I received, I didn’t need to buy toilet paper for a month.
I grew to hate literary agents. I wanted to meet one, provoke a fist-fight and beat her up really badly. I was suffering a good deal of angst and I had no outlet. Then I discovered Jesus…not really. More enlightening than Our Saviour in this case was the discovery of the Smashwords synopsis submission page. Don’t get me wrong. I like Smashwords. I love Smashwords. They might yet end up being instrumental in salvaging the rudderless ghost-ship that is my writing career. No, what their synopsis submissions page did for me (apart from making me think that I wasn’t such a bad writer after all) was create some empathy for literary agents. (I’m having a hard time believing that I just wrote that, let alone thought it. It’s testimony to how far I’ve come as a human being on this self-publishing journey.)
Let me explain. When one submits one’s submission to a literary agent for their condescension one is advised, ne warned, on each and every literary agent’s website that they typically receive up to three hundred (300) submissions a week and that from this number they ‘might’ take on three or four new authors a year. Yes, a year. Three hundred multiplied by fifty-two is over fifteen thousand. Over fifteen thousand submissions a year to sift through. In the trade I understand this to be referred to as the ‘slush-pile’. In my ignorance I found this to be a rather negative, derogatory and insulting term for the creative output of the masses when I first came across it. I damned literary agents for their arrogance. Now, having been a regular reader of the Smashwords synopsis submissions page (I really need to get a life) I think that ‘slush-pile’ is rather an elegant euphemism.
If the stuff that the postman brings everyday to dump on the desks of the publishing-deal-gate-keepers is anything like the torrent of utter crap that flows unfiltered over the Smashwords’ site like some broken raw sewage outlet then literary agents should receive our pity.
‘What about your crap?’ I hear some anonymous voice call from cyber-space. (Delete. Those dissenting voices are so easy to police and silence in the modern technologically enabled world. No one even saw it because I get to vet and approve everything. Blogging is so brilliant for control freaks.)
Is this really what people really want to read these days? ‘Erotic’ tales of bestiality and incest spanning three generations of inbred locals who then go on to slaughter each other with rusty tools from the shed at the bottom of the garden? I sure hope so because that’s basically what my latest book is all about. It’s called ‘Joint Enterprise’ and it’ll be on Smashwords within the month.
Now then, that interesting download statistic that I promised you.
I love WordPress as much as I love Smashwords. WordPress has the facility for bloggers to view a world map that is helpfully highlighted with incidents of other web users who have looked at one’s blog. Amazing and cool. This week I had someone from Outer Mongolia view my blog. Amazing and cool, again.
That kind of knowledge generates all kinds of questions for me as a writer and a thinker (the two don’t necessarily always go together. If you don’t believe me check out that Smashwords synopsis submissions page that I was banging on about earlier.) Questions like: Why? Who? Where exactly? As a writer I can envisage a Mongolian Yak farmer in a mountain hut whiling away a quiet night in some remote outpost of the country on his cutting-edge, top of the range, internet-enabled smart-phone. Maybe he thought he was safe from prying eyes up there on top of the world and so he typed in some disgusting search term into Mongle, or whatever search engine controls the back of beyond, and got a link to my blog – I’m proud to say that typing in ‘bestiality’ and ‘incest’ will do that. I tried it.
So now I have a new reader, a new follower of my blog. It doesn’t bother me that he might be whacking off to my writing. Live and let live. It doesn’t bother me that he might be downloading my books for free. I’m having a hard-time giving them away, anyway. What bothers me is that he might not get in touch.