Last week, I wrote a brief post about Writer’s Edge and how I discovered them. Here I wanted to share with you the feedback I received on Amidst Traffic:
You are a fine writer—with perhaps an affection for Sherwood Anderson’s or Flannery O’Connor’s short stories? I like your work a lot—which, I’ll just say cynically, may not be very favorable for the possibilities of marketing your work in the Christian publishing marketplace. Your work breaks out from the Christian-market-fiction mold (thank goodness!). But publishers do tend to think in terms of formula and what sells—and, frankly, most of what sells isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on! Most of the publishers who subscribe to our service, for example, would object to use of obscenities or cussing, no matter how true to the character or authentic for the time and place those words may be. Most fiction buyers are looking for escape and page-turning plots more than carefully crafted prose with strong images and evocative language, more’s the pity! Your work is a bit dark—but in a daring way, with a hint of redemption there. It may not be for the masses, but it’s surely worthy of publication.
But not all of them will be put off by the unusual, more literary novel. There is a handle of publishers who really like well-crafted fiction—and many of the publishers on our list are owned by larger, secular publishers and would/could potentially pass along a work of fiction that falls out of the Christian-market “box.” So I’m thankful and glad that I can pass along your fine collection of short stories in hopes that a traditional publisher will see the listing and take a chance on your book, which is worthy of the attention. I’d like to read it myself!
So what can I recommend? First, try to get some of these short stories published independently, either in print magazines or online literary zines. It can’t hurt to get your name out there. Second, you might want to change the title. People don’t use the word amidst much in everyday conversation. It’s antiquated and means amid. Your title feels a bit like a label. Maybe it needs a gerund (a verbal?), like Navigating or the like. ?? Third, keep on tightening and tidying your already-highly-polished prose.
First of all, it was such a pleasure to receive such a personal response to my book. And it only took about three weeks! That’s a really good turn-around.
I highly recommend any Christian author to submit his manuscript to Writer’s Edge just for that. Secondly, much of his caution about publishers sticking to what sells is the very reason why I originally self-published Amidst Traffic.
I don’t know what to make of his final paragraph suggesting a title change. As we stand now, the title will remain as long as the book is self-published, but if a publisher came along and told me to change the title, would I do it?
Perhaps I would. I would trust their marketing judgement in that regard.
But what if they asked me to change the book cover? Well, they better come up with something really slick, cuz my cover is freaking killer right now. 😉
What about you?
Have you come across someone who told you that you were a quality writer, but expressed that your style didn’t really fit a solid genre for publishing?