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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

The Snail’s Pace of Traditional Publishing

I published “The Village Wit” on my own, using my interior design and cover art with design by my friend, Lia Gallegos, in September of this year. This was after nearly nine months of sending out query letters to agents and publishers in America and the UK.

Now, if you were to ask an agent, or a publisher, about that rate of rejection, they probably would say the book is unpublishable. But of course they would, just as they’re about to publish another book about teenage vampires in love. Great stuff, that.

Yet, there’s another side to self-publishing. The least of that side is standing behind one’s work. And the other is seeing that publishers are terribly frightened of spending money without some sure sign of getting a large return. But, the most appalling aspect of dealing with publishers is their dilatory response — positive or negative news notwithstanding.

I sent, last April, a query to The Dalkey Archive Press, and a few days ago I received their reply. “Sorry for the delay” they said. Anyway, they don’t want to see the book (the already-published book, that is). This kind of business creates a dilemma for the writer.

Firstly, many publishers don’t want simultaneous submissions (when an author sends his book to multiple publishers or agents at the same time). They seem to think that this practice is discourteous, at the least, and disingenous at the worst. A writer should stand behind his work, they say. Only someone who is not sure of his work sends it to many at one time, they think.

Of course, if a writer sends one query out per publisher, and the said publisher takes eight months to respond, anyone can see (including said publishers and agents) how long it could take for a book to find the light of day. Their crassness is indefensible. They’re arrogance is despicable.

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