Monday, July 11, 2005

What's Next?

The agents can't ignore 23,000 visitors (as of July 11). So I still am getting requests to look at the material. Usually it's a chapter to 50 pages. Burdened with that knowledge, can you imagine the flurry of writing and re-writing it will inspire? "If I can't interest them in the first XX pages, then I'm sunk."

Of course, this supposedly mirrors the reading public. If they pick up your book and sample the first few pages, then they are going to make their buying decision based on their reaction, right? Do we know that's true? In my own case, I purchase books based on recommendations from those I trust, or write-ups and reviews in the paper, magazines, on-line. And once I've bought the book, I'm not going to send it back if it starts slowly.

It would be interesting to compile a sampler of good books that start slowly and require patience. Alfau's Chromos springs to mind. Wouldn't get an agent to piss on it today. Ulysses? I can see the agent comments now:

Sorry, but I can't imagine where I'd sell this.
I was exceedingly put-off by your dense, unreadable prose and confusing structure.

Now, I'm not trying to make a deft comparison of my work to Joyce. Frankly, I don't really like Ulysses all that much, it's not a book I read with great enjoyment (as opposed to Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, which polluted my writing style for decades as I tried to channel Bill the Drunk. But as one agent who read the first 50 pages of Beyond You & Me wrote me:

Sorry, the journal structure doesn't work for me, while another one replied after reading 2 chapters I'm afraid though that it's just too off beat for my bourgeoisie taste. I like my books less episodic and more plot-driven.

Interesting how bald confessions of mediocrity now pass for badges of honesty.


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