Thursday, June 17, 2010

What's in a book?

Does anyone else find it interesting how two people can feel entirely different about the same book? One might love it while the other... ya know. Doesn't. So what is it about books that can bring out such varied (and often passionate) responses in readers?

I think the fact that everyone responds differently to books is a good thing. Of course I wish every person who ever reads my book(s) will love it, make book trailers for it, place it on their "untouchable shelf" and have everyone they know buy it. BUT. If everyone only loved the same books, the publishing world would be even harder to have a chance at breaking into. Not to mention how boring the book stores would be. "Oh, look another book that is just like all the others! Yippee!"

The fact that agents and editors also react differently to different books (or manuscripts in this case) is a huge bonus to us aspiring authors. Hear me out on this. There have to be similar elements in any manuscript for it to succeed (a tight, intriguing plot; well developed, interesting characters, polished writing, etc.). However, it is the differences in our stories that help us find the agents who are right for us--and then hopefully the editor who will love it and champion it as well. Agents and editors are people, too. (All rumors to the contrary aside; they aren't out to get you, I promise.) They have personal opinions and tastes, and they know what they're looking for. While your book may be incredibly well written and have been polished until it shines like the crown jewels in the Tower of London, if they don't LOVE love it, you probably won't get that offer. They have to be willing to fight for it, and they don't have the time or desire to fight for a book that just doesn't grab them. Would you want someone to rep you who doesn't love it that much? I wouldn't. Even if it is your so-called "dream agent." (That's a whole other post entirely.)

I, for one, am grateful that different people have different opinions about books. I'm glad my agent loved my book so much that she offered to represent me. I find it very comforting to know that the person who will be pitching my book to editors adores it as much as I do. I have no questions about how much she loves it, and that is a great feeling!

However, once it's on a shelf (please, please let an editor love it, too...) I fully expect everyone to think it's the best book they've ever read.

Ha, ha. Gotchya! I only expect 98% of people to feel that way. I'm dead serious. Okay, not really.

So, the point is, even though it's hard not to--don't take the rejections personally. They are doing you a favor by telling you no. If they don't love it, you don't want them signing you, trust me. Keep honing your craft, keep polishing, and keep moving forward. You will find someone who loves it. Thank heavens we all have different tastes!


Bethany Elizabeth said...

That's a great perspective, and I totally agree. I love different books than my family does, but it's nice to have a couple of books in common to talk about over dinner. :) It would be so boring if everyone liked the same books.

Sara B. Larson said...

Bethany - It would be boring if everyone liked the same books. But it's true--I do enjoy talking about books that I loved with other people who loved them, too. :-)

Sara said...

It's also very interesting to have a conversation with someone who felt the opposite of what you felt when you read a book. I'm always surprised when I find people who don't like my favorite books or I don't like their favorites. It makes for very interesting, but good, conversations!! I love hearing others point of views.

Lisa Gail Green said...

I know it is so hard when you get that rejection, but this is so true! And what a wonderful way to look at it. Yes, everyone has personal preferences - even agents and editors (because *gasp* they are people too)! Thanks for the reminder and I am sure at least 98% of people will like both of our books. When that editor falls in love with them. Right?

Shannon Messenger said...

This is SO true. Doesn't necessarily take the sting away from the rejections, but they really are doing you a favor. You want your agent to LOVE your book, cause they're gonna need to believe in it when the editors reject it too. Yep, publishing is FUN, isn't it? :)

Anonymous said...

great advice! hard to remember when you get those rejections, but I want the person repping me to love my book & my vision for it as much as I do. whoever that person is, they're my "dream agent."

Karen Lange said...

Yes, it could be pretty boring otherwise. This is a great thing to remember, thanks:)

Carrie Harris said...

Yes! Keep moving forward! And good luck with that submission purgatory; I see you had a few offers for buddies. I think I'm going to add Submission Purgatory Matchmaker to my resume. ;)

Sara B. Larson said...

Sara - Very true, conversations with people who felt differently about a book you've read can be very interesting!

Lisa - You bet! 98% here we come!! ;-)

Shannon - It doesn't take away the sting at the time, that's true. But in retrospect, now that i have an agent, it definitely does.

Jessie - If you already know that your 'dream agent' is the one who loves your book, you're on the right path!

Karen - Definitely very boring.

Carrie - Ha ha, thanks! Any time you feel like playing matchmaker, go right ahead. ;-)

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Posts like this are why I tagged you as awesome for a blog award over at my blog!! Your words are very inspirational and timely, since I have the full and partial out to two agents I love (not in a creepy stalker way, of course).

This perspective is priceless. Thank you!

Melissa said...

What a perspective. It's just so right. I don't want an agent that doesn't love my book because what would that serve? It's not fair to either of us.

Elliot Grace said... wife and I disagree on the same book continuously. Different tastes in the literary world are as important as eating your vegetables, however. That's why if you're rejected the first 25 times...keep trying. That agent whose tastes run similar with yours is out there:)

Talei said...

Ah different tastes, I love a great debate over a new book. My friends and I have a couple of differing opinions on the 'Eat, Pray, Love' novel...we're still talking though. LOL. Congrats on finding a fabulous agent. I'm in the middle of my first WIP so learning as I go. Am glad I found your blog! ;)

Andrea Mack said...

When people have different opinions about books, it makes for some interesting discussions. And isn't it wonderful that everyone can find a book that they love, and that speaks to them? I like how you applied this idea to rejections - provides a great perspective.

Kathryn Rose said...

Hi Sara, I'm a new follower! I love your blog!

Yeah, it's great that we all have different tastes. I hope that people will like my work and I think I'd feel a bit sensitive at first if some didn't, but it's all subjective and I think that with time I'd have thicker skin about it.

This post makes those rejections a bit more bearable, thanks! :)