The frustrating…. errr, I mean rewarding pursuit of the traditional publishing deal

You’ll have to excuse me. I’m suffering from author madness at the moment.

Before I explain the title of this post, let me stress that this is not a complaint. It’s merely an observation.

As some of you know (and many of you probably don’t care), my agent has been making a herculean effort to sell The Takers (and as much of the series as he can) to major publishers. He updates me whenever he hears back from a publisher with either rejections, or notes on how to improve the manuscript. I’ve declined to make some of the changes, but more times than not the suggestions do add elements to the story that I think make it better. I’m not stubborn or naive enough to believe I have all the answers, so I’m always excited to hear what people in the storytelling business have to say. My sole desire is to deliver a story that is as close to perfect as possible. Suggestions and criticisms from editors are going to help me do just that.

That’s not to say I don’t like The Takers as it is currently written. I do, and many of you have expressed to me that you like it, as well. I’ll never change the tone of the story. The suggestions so far have been to give a little more background information on Oz and Stevie’s relationship and, for God’s sake, get rid of the cliffhanger ending. I’m finding out that editors do not like cliffhangers. I love them, but I understand that’s a personal preference that many don’t share. I have no problem stepping outside of my head and making the ending a little more concrete… But just a little.

Here’s the frustrating part. These are two separate notes I got back from two different publishers.

Publisher A – Oz is completely unlikable. The reader can’t relate to him and therefore will never root for him.

Publisher B – Oz is too likable from the beginning. There’s no room for him to grow.

Do you see my dilemma? Both publishers are part of what’s known as The Big Six in the industry. They’ve managed to make a lot of money in a business that fails 70% of the time. They know what they are doing. So, either I have somehow managed to create a completely unlikable main character that is too likable, or one of them is wrong.  The problem I have is figuring out which one is off the mark.

This sounds like I’m complaining, and I guess on some level I am, but I do deeply appreciate the time both publishers spent reading and providing me with feedback.  If the two criticisms had been similiar, I’d be busy trying to correct the problem.  As it is, Oz will remain unlikable in a likable way.

Pardon me while I go slightly insane.

A book is not enough!

The Oz Chronicles Project - Coming Soon!

The Oz Chronicles Project - Coming Soon!

So, one of my favorite hobbies is to kvetch about the publishing industry… not so much the publishing industry, but my inability to find the magic formula to become master of the publishing industry universe. Rapidly advancing technology is changing publishing at an equally rapid rate. Publishing companies are redefining themselves along the way in order to find ways to make money. In short, publishing doesn’t mean what publishing meant 10 years ago… or 5 years ago for that matter. Publishing companies don’t want books anymore. They want multimedia projects, intellectual properties that translate from book to video to website to blog to audio to video game to social networks to film. The Amanda Project is the best example of this. This new publishing philosophy has a lot of people plotzing all over the place. They believe books are books and that’s what the publishing industry should stick to doing.

I couldn’t disagree more. I’m of the belief that this could very well be the best thing to ever happen to the publishing industry. It’s not about the book. It’s about the story. That’s what I do. I tell stories. I want the story to exist in every form possible. I think this is beyond cool. Bring on the The Oz Chronicles role playing game where the kids are in control. The video game, the viral videos, the Oztweets, video study guides, I’m into all of it, and I know why the publishing industry is doing it. I applaud them. It really has inspired me to think in broader dimensions.

I suddenly find myself moving from kvetching to celebrating. Change is good. Looks like I’ll have to find a new hobby.


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