Friday, July 4, 2014

What can Dan Brown do for you...?

I just received, and promptly deleted, another"Newsletter" from folks at YouWriteOn who are relentless in their pursuit of...something. What that is, I don't know. Their hard-to-resist-invitation read:

Read six pages of A Kill in the Morning (by Graeme Shimmin) for the opportunity to win a critique of your opening chapters by an editor from Transworld, publisher of Dan Brown.

Somehow I managed to resist it but it did set me thinking. Even if this were true - and YouWriteOn folks love to stretch the truth until there is but a tiny grain of something resembling reality left - what would you, as an author, hope to gain from this? If your novel is really so good that no agent or editor would be able to resist scooping it up, then you'd not bother with folks at YouWriteOn. You'd be already a Transworld author unsurpassed. If it's merely average, then no amount of editors will help you reach the coveted published-at-Transworld status. 

If anything, having a novel that has not found a home - and I presume here that you shopped it around for a while - read by an editor at a publisher's house, will just confirm the novel's "not-for-us" status and such mediocrity will spread like all rumours that you don't want to travel. Editors do communicate with each other (somewhat) and there is a chance that what one editor read and politely commented on (which is worse than an outright refusal) will find a way to another editor, and another, and another, etc. In essence you'd have doomed your novel's chances even before it got a chance to see many drafts and emerged something strong with a publishable potential.

Thinking that editor from Transworld will open up doors for you is just...not even a pipe dream. It's just plain unrealistic. The only one who can and will open up doors for you is you - and maybe one or two close relatives if they're in the publishing field but that's it. Thinking that any editor-read of your novel will actually give you something useful is...equally unrealistic. The editor might, just might give you one or two lines of encouraging fluff but that's about it.

You might think that you're making "connections" but honestly, you're just giving the folks at YouWriteOn what they need for their promo purposes (not of any work that's yours) and that is "widely-read" tag they will use in promoting their own interests where the author's name and publisher's name stand out as something that is actually partnered with YouWriteOn. In reality, nothing could be further from truth.

Read six pages - and then answer questions via link. How do you know that your answers will remain your own or that you will be credited with whatever review you will write of those 6 pages? If you write something clever, YouWriteOn will appropriate it and use it to shine its false light far and wide. How do you know that your answers will be "submitted" to the contest? Do you know who are the "tech-collectors" of link-question-answer material online? Are there any to begin with?

Oh, there will be a winner but it will be someone who paid YouWriteOn to publish their novel and the author will "advertise his/her good fortune" far and wide. Will there be an editor who will allow the world to know his/her name, and see what they said about whatever first chapters they critiqued? I rather doubt it. Some author who published with YouWriteOn will no doubt crow about his winning edit but I don't even think it will go that far.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not against marketing illusions like this one. Many other writing sites propagate them. I'm just trying to understand why would any author who hopes some day to publish his work(s) want to get his chapters edited by any editor at a major publishing house without having a book contract with the said publisher.

Now, if YouWriteOn's "prize" in this read-first-six-pages and answer my questions was a Transworld book contract, endorsed by one of the Transworld editors, then I'd pucker my lips, whistle and turn green with envy. But the only editor I want to read my next novel is the one who acquired it for his/her publisher - in most cases it would be the Senior Acquisitions Editor.

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