Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Musings from someone who sees stories everywhere.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

writer's quest continues

Zafar, Deepika and Atyllah, thanks for visiting. I'm making this as a post and not a reply to your comments for the benefit of anyone else who chances to drop by and discover that we are in soups of similar viscosity. I don't know why I posted that earlier one, perhaps for people who keep asking why I dont publish my stories etc as books. I know even members of the relatively serious Indian writers' groups think it's a cinch to get works of fiction published and become rich and famous. Perhaps the 'success' of writers like Kavya Vishwanathan fuel their high hopes.

Selling an article on say, mehendi parties and wedding dresses to a foreign magazine is much, much easier than selling a short story collection or novel. And it's very lucrative. Agents/publishers don't have time for anything but polite 'form rejctions' for works of fiction they they don't want to represent. Those of us who frequent writers' groups have a pretty good picture of what those bland little 'thanks, but no thanks' slips really mean.

But what really raises hope and then makes the writer's heart plummet into the ravines of the Himalayas, is that 'encouraging rejection'. It often happens that an agent or editor likes your work enough to meet you personally and spend her valuable time discussing other ideas. They offer detailed and positive comments on your work and suggestions for changes which you may not agree with. They also offer to see more work from you.

But such 'encouraging rejections', though fewer and perhaps more esoterically valuable for the poor wannabe seeking publication, also can result in nothing.

I keep these rare ones in separate files. works nearly as well chocolates to lift a dismal mood. Here's an exerpt from one I got from an agent in New York;

Dear Monideepa,

I just finished reading your manuscript, and while I like your characters and the story's premise (a spider and rat transform into humans to help a family fight off an evil moneylender), I felt the story was too complex for your audience (ages 9-12 or maybe younger?). I liked the worlds of the story, but I found the treasure hunt difficult to follow and unnecessary: even though the rats needed gold to pay off the moneylender, in the end they got rid of him another way. The most interesting moments in the story are the relationships between the insects, rats and kids and the secret animal/insect worlds (original and fun).

When you're ready to write a new novel, you might like to look up some of the animal/insect novels on Here's one search. If the link doesn't work, I gave you steps on how to get there.

Here you'll find synopses of featured titles in the trade market, sorted by publisher. You should be able to get a sense of the types of books they publish and where your writing fits in the marketplace. A follow-up visit to publishers’ web sites will yield further insights and lead to a new kind of focus in your writing—more to a publisher’s way of thinking.

Monideepa, thanks again for giving me an opportunity to read your novel--I enjoyed it and hope to read more of your work in the future.



As the PenguinIndia editor told me, and as Debbie the agent stresses at the end of her note to me, market forces play a big role in selecting works for publication. I subsequently learnt from other children's fantasy writers that, since there are already a spate of successful books in this genre in the market, publishers/agents aren't keen on trying out works from new writers at the moment.

Right timing and good marketing strategies matter. Nearly as much as polishing your writing to make it the best it can be.

1 comment:

Read@Peace said...

Hi Monideepa
The encouraging part about Debbie's note is that she has actually read your work. It doesn't happen to a lot of promising manuscripts that simply land in the slush pile of some publishing houses.

If it helps, the second book review that I wrote when I was 18 was ripped apart and thrown back at me. It hurt... but that was the best training I ever got. The book Editor T K Ramasamy went on to be my mentor and I owe the living that I make through writing to him. There are two lessons he taught me and they will stay with me for life. One is to be intensely passionate about your work, two - always be patient.

From what I have read on your blog, your writing has promise. Keep at it, never mind the rejection. There are after all a zillion publishing houses out there.