I thought it might be of interest to post an interview I did a year or so ago on literary agent Andrea Hurst's blog.
AUTHORNOMICS Interview with Les
By: Andrea Hurst
publishing industry that is ever in flux, it can be hard for an aspiring author
to figure out what information is relevant and what she needs to do to be successful.
Recognizing this, literary agent Andrea Hurst and writer and blogger Katie
Flanagan present a series of weekly interviews with publishing industry
specialists. The AUTHORNOMICS Series features literary agents, editors,
authors, marketing experts and more talking about their opinions on the
publishing industry, writing, and what a writer needs to know.
Interview with Author Les Edgerton
Les Edgerton is an ex-con, matriculating
at Pendleton Reformatory for a couple of years in the sixties for burglary
(plea-bargained down from multiple counts of burglary, armed robbery,
strong-armed robbery and possession with intent). He’s since taken a vow of
poverty (became a writer) with 14 books in print. 2011 was a good year for him
as he published two novels with StoneGate Ink—Just Like That and The
Perfect Crime, along with noir novel The Bitch from Bare Knuckles
Press, as well as a new short story collection, Gumbo Ya-Ya, from
Snubnose Press. He just sold his existential novella, The Rapist to New
Pulp Press, which will be released in 2013. He is also editor-at-large for Noir
Nation International Crime Magazine. Work of his has been nominated
for or won: the Pushcart Prize, O. Henry Award, Edgar Allan Poe Award (short
story category), PEN/Faulkner Award, Texas Institute of Letters Jesse Jones
Book Award, the Violet Crown Book Award, and others. He holds the MFA in
Writing degree from Vermont College and a Certificate in Barbering from
Pendleton Reformatory. He writes because he hates… a lot… and hard. Injustice
and bullying are what he hates the most.
As a prolific author with 14 books in print so far, can you elaborate on how
the publishing process has changed since your first book?
changed tremendously in some ways and barely at all in others. I’m old-school,
so I don’t count self-publishing as publishing. A horse by any other name is
still a horse. In my opinion, it’s just another name for vanity publishing,
which is not publishing but… printing (abeit in electronic form). I’m not
including in that assessment legitimate publishers who publish ebooks, but I am
including those who simply publish the work themselves. I have friends who’ve
chosen to self-publish and while they’re still my friends, I’m not going to
purchase their books any more than I would the person who has stacks of their
vanity or subsidy-published books in their garage. Just want to define the
terms. And, there are degrees and shadings within even the self-published
category. For instance, I’m getting ready to self-publish a book… but it’s a
book that has been published and done well. It just never came out in ebook
form, so my agent got the ebook rights from the publisher and we’re going to
put it out. That, to me, isn’t the kind of self-published “vanity” book I’m
provided, to answer your question, let me address what’s changed first. The
biggest changes have come about because of the advent of ebooks.
changed is that if there was any doubt that mid-list authors have disappeared,
now there’s no doubt. At one time, legacy publishers would publish a writer’s
books knowing that they probably wouldn’t make any money on that particular
book, but they saw something in the writer that made them think that eventually
an audience would build for that author and down the road, they’d all make
money on his or her novels. As Roberto Durante said, in another context: “No
Six, in particular, are almost exclusively interested in brand names. Proven
winners who have a sizable audience already in place. Here’s a prime example.
A few months ago, I was told in confidence by someone who is in the “know,”
that a top editor for a major publisher, who has his own imprint, was told by
his boss (yes, even top editors have bosses), that if he signed any novel that
didn’t earn at least $30,000 he’d be fired. Not chastised, not given a talking
to, or a slap on the wrist, but… fired. Think this guy is going to want
to sign the brilliant novel by the unknown author or do you supposed he might
opt instead for the same-as-the-last book by Mr. Brand Name? Fugedaboutit.
That’s one change.
change I’ve observed is that so-called “literary novels” are just about over.
Remember: I’m just the messenger. Don’t kill the messenger! Here’s how I know
this. For almost thirty years, my wife and I and our son until he moved out of
the house, visited a local bookstore every single week. Never missed a week.
Our favorite was Borders and our second favorite was one of the two B&N
outlets. One Saturday, we walked into Borders and stood in shock at the change.
The biggest single area the week before was the space devoted to what was
labeled “Mainstream fiction.” Mainstream encompasses literary fiction in
bookstore terminology. They’d reduced that space fully by three-fourths. The
area that used to house literary fiction and other fiction that didn’t fit a
particular genre was reassigned. To two areas. Genre fiction was one. The other
was greeting cards, wrapping paper, novelty items. Cute little stuffed animals.
I talked to the manager and she said she hated to do it, but all the Borders
stores were under corporate mandate to do the same. Literary and mainstream
fiction just weren’t selling. They couldn’t justify the space devoted to it, so
they reassigned it to genre fiction which was selling and significantly. It’s a
cold, hard fact, but the marketplace is what determines what’s selling to
publishers. Literary novels today are infinitely tougher to sell than ever
before and that market is shrinking monthly. If you want to know what the
literary tastes of a nation are, simply gaze about at a national chain’s brick
and mortar outlet and see what’s on the shelves. The category area that has the
most shelf space is the area that’s selling.
mean so-called “literary” novels are impossible to get published? No; it just
means it’s much harder. They’ll continue to get published because legacy
publishers in this instance are the same as major film studios. Major film
studios will put out 85 movies that appeal to the biggest audience
demographic—teenaged boys—and the remaining 15 movies will be devoted to a mix
of other kinds of films. Among those will be a couple of “artsy” movies. The
ones that will be nominated for Golden Globes and Oscars. Most of which they
know they’ll lose money on. Then why make em? Because, studios want to be
thought of as intellectual, “arty” enterprises. Kind of an ego thing. They know
most of what they produce is mindless schlock, but if they get an Oscar winner
or even a nominee, they feel justified that they produce “art.” And, for the
one movie that does get nominated or win, they’ll actually make money on it
because of the publicity. It’s mostly a way for studio execs to feel good about
themselves and be able to delude themselves into thinking that they’re actually
engaged in quality work. Makes ‘em walk tall when they walk into Spagos.
publishers do the same thing. For all the vampire novels selling in the
bazillions, all the formulaic cartoonish novels about bigger-than-life vigilante
superheroes, that maintain a healthy bottom line, they’ll all put out a few
literary books that are published mostly because they’ll be up for the National
Book Award, the Pulitzer, even the Nobel. For the same motivation as the film
studios. So they can feel like they’re “literary” and providing “good
literature.” Makes ‘em feel proud when they walk into the Russian Tea Room or
Elaine’s or wherever they gather these days.
cynical? You bet.
the things that have remained the same? Well, the legacy publishers still
employ the best gatekeepers in the business. If you get published by a legacy
publisher, you’ve achieved something. You’re truly validated by people who
actually know something about quality in writing. If you self-publish, your validation
is going to come from your relatives, friends, and how effective you are at
marketing, for the most part. Sales seem to be the biggest factor in ebook
publishing and sales are a poor barometer of quality. For example, there is an
author who was, at best, a mid-list author when he was being published by
legacy publishers—his work is truly mediocre, at best—who has become a huge
marketing success since he opted for self-publishing. He’s making lots of
money—and that’s fine—but his work is still godawful. If sales are your measure
of success, he’s a good model to emulate. If being regarded as a good writer is
your measure, he’s probably not the guy whose bust you want gracing your
mantel. There’s a reason he went to self-publishing and it has to do with
writing ability. His sales ability is off the charts. His writing ability is…
what’s the word?… oh, yeah… pure do-do.
other changes and other things that remain the same, but those are some of the
You write novels, short fiction, nonfiction, and screenplays. What is your
favorite genre to work in and why?
far. They require the most creativity and the most ability. Short fiction would
be second. Nonfiction for the money. Screenplays are last. The reason is,
screenplays aren’t about writing. No one picks up a screenplay to go sit in the
hammock for a lazy-crazy afternoon of losing themselves in a fictional world.
And, screenplays are ridiculously easy to write. I wrote my first screenplay
literally in two days. Took seven hours the first day, put it aside for two
weeks, and then finished it in a nine-hour day when I picked it back up. Now,
it’s easy to write a bad screenplay in two days, so that doesn’t mean much.
However, this particular screenplay placed as a semifinalist in the Nicholl’s
competition and Greg Beals, the director of the foundation told me it would
have won if I’d sent it in the year before, but the previous year’s winner was
remarkably close to mine and he said they never picked two screenplays in a row
that were this much alike. But, it placed in the top 100 out of 4,500 entries.
So, I take that as validation that it was a good screenplay. Written in two
days. Don’t think I could write a novel like that. And, I’d just learned
formatting the week before and had read my first screenplay ever that same
week. As Gore Vidal said about Jack Kerouac: “That’s not writing; that’s
typing.” I don’t write them anymore because I’m too old. After the age of 35,
it’s virtually impossible to sell a screenplay to Hollywood. Notice I didn’t
say “impossible.” I said “virtually” impossible. And, it is. Hollywood is
clearly an ageist society in every segment of the business except for
How did you go about mastering the craft of writing?
easy! By reading. That’s the only way to learn how to write. There are no
“secrets” in learning how to write. The “secrets” are right out in the open.
They’re on the page of the book you have open before you. All you have to do is
see how the author accomplished what they did and you’re learning to write. I
regularly get writers in my classes who haven’t read a book in months or even
years and I know there’s no way they’ll ever be a writer. But, I’ll also
encounter a student who has read voraciously from the age of five or six and
never stopped, and I know that person has a chance at becoming a writer.
How important do you think it is for fiction writers to obtain an MFA?
easy question. I think it’s totally unimportant. In fact, I think most programs
destroy more writers than help them. I kind of agree with Flannery O’Connor
who, when asked if writing programs discouraged writers, said: “Not enough of
them.” And I have one. I have two degrees—(well, three—I also have a B.A.)—an
MFA and a Certificate in Barbering from Pendleton Reformatory. Of the two, I
value my barbering certificate much, much more. I’ve made far more money,
enjoyed far more success with that one.
take a look at who the teachers and professors are in most programs. What have
they done and what have they sold? If Stephen King ever showed up in an MFA
program it would only be because he was slumming and bored and wanted a change.
Most of the folks (not all!) teaching in many such programs are writing the
kind of books Kurt Vonnegut was referring to when he said, “Literature is in
danger of disappearing up its own asshole.”
MFA programs are dedicated to teaching “literary” fiction. I don’t know about
you, but do I want to spend thousands of dollars and use up a couple years of
my life to learn to write something that’s basically dying? I don’t know what
your I.Q. is but mine’s over 160 and I try to put it to use, especially for
questions like this.
an Ivy League college performed a study in which they looked at a random group
of a hundred professional writers. They identified them as “professional” by
the only legitimate definition of the term—writers who earned their entire
income from writing. They discovered that almost exactly half of these writers
had a high school diploma or less… and the other half had a college bachelor’s
degree or higher. There’s really no correlation between writing education and
writing success. What an MFA degree does do is give the student access to
decision-makers. Lots of publishers and editors visit these campuses and lots
of editor’s eyes light up when they see “MFA” in the writer’s query letter.
However, most of these editors are the ones who are still looking for literary
novels and believe there’s a decent market for such. A shrinking number…
programs used to have more value even a few years ago than they do today. These
days, they’re seen by many universities and colleges as “cash cows” and they’re
springing up everywhere. And, like anything that gets bigger like this, the
quality goes down, commensurately. At one time, there were perhaps five-six
pretty good programs. Now there are hundreds. If anyone thinks they’re as good
and as beneficial for writers as they used to be, well I’d like their phone
number because I have this terrific bridge in Brooklyn I’m trying to move…
there is one program I think is a great one and one I wish had been around when
I got mine. Seton Hill focuses on genre writing (about time somebody did!), and
everything I hear about it is positive. They appear to be a program that’s
aware that it’s now 2012.
As a creative writing teacher, what are some of the most common mistakes that
you see beginning writers making in both fiction and nonfiction?
following the two elements that are always present in good writing. Be
interesting and be clear. Of the two, being interesting is the most important.
After that, there are structural problems that are very common. Most writers
have never been taught story structure, or if they have, often it’s an archaic
structure. Most English classes, most college writing classes, many MFA
programs are focused on “parts” or writing. All these “exercises” on
description, or characterization or dialog or whatever. Yuch! Listen, one
doesn’t get to Carnegie Hall by practicing the scales. They get there by
understanding what a symphony is and how to write a complete symphony. I hate
it when writers refer to what they’re writing as the “piece” they’re working
on. What in the hell is a “piece” of writing? Dude! Dudette! Write something
that’s complete and entire. A short story. A novel. Talk about your novel, not
the “piece” you’re working on.
biggest mistakes beginning writers make are not using their own, particular,
unique voice, and not beginning the story of nonfiction article or book in the
right place. After that, the next biggest problem is not striving for and
achieving what Flannery O’Connor said about the best of novels (badly
paraphrased) that they be: “All of a piece; all of a unified effect.” So many
novels end up episodic with no through-line. In other words, a mish-mash of
scenes and quirky characters. That’s a novel of which the author can say,
truthfully, that it’s “only available in my room.”
One of your well-known writing books is Hooked: Write Fiction that Grabs the
Reader at Page One and Never Lets Them Go. What are the important elements
in hooking a reader early?
where the story begins. It’s that simple. A contemporary story is about one
thing and one thing only. Trouble. That means the story should begin—when
the trouble begins. Not the week before, not two years before, not even two
minutes before. When the trouble begins. Period. And, that seems to be a
difficult concept for many to master. Something has to create and/or reveal
that trouble to the protagonist. That event is the inciting incident. And,
that’s where stories today need to begin.
a time in our culture when novels could begin more leisurely. This was a time before
television and movies and CNN and iPods and all the other entertainment venues
were upon us. Today’s reader doesn’t have the attention span nor the interest
in picking up novels with leisurely openings. That doesn’t mean stories should
begin with gunfights, stabbings, bombs blowing up, kidnappings, murders, or any
of that melodramatic stuff. It means they have to open with conflict—the major
conflict that forms the core of the story. It can be a quiet conflict, but what
it can’t be is a lengthy account of the protagonist’s bucolic life for the ten
years before the trouble began. It has to begin with the trouble. Period.
movies began, they had no structural models, so they used novels as their
models. Today, it’s been reversed. Novels have to imitate film structure. Years
ago, screenwriting how-to books insisted the first ten minutes of a screenplay
be “devoted to the setup.” No mas, again quoting Roberto Duran. Those days are,
in the words of my son, “so five minutes ago.” Films today begin… when the
trouble begins. As should novels.
We read a
novel for one reason. To see if and how the protagonist is going to resolve the
story problem. If there’s no problem on the page, for that novel the reader is
going to become… a nonreader. Count on it. Very few (and they don’t count)
readers pick up a book just to encounter in the beginning a nifty shooting in
an alley. If they don’t know the characters or the protagonist’s story problem,
why would they care? There are a million places to see someone get shot. Just
click on the nightly news. There has to be a reason to turn to Page 2. That
reason is we see a character with a compelling problem—one we can relate to—on
7. Beginnings are so important, especially in
today’s marketplace. How does a writer determine if they have started their
novel in the right place? Do you have an opinion on using prologues?
begun with the introduction of the event that created and/or revealed the
problem that’s going to occupy the protagonist for the following 349 pages,
they’ve begun in the right place. If they’ve begun anywhere else—they haven’t.
needs to be written in a scene. Everything truly important in a novel needs to
be delivered via a scene. Not through the character’s ruminations or thoughts or
that kind of thing. A scene. When I pick up a manuscript and it’s the character
thinking on the page, my Nexium starts to malfunction and I can feel the bile
beginning to rise and voila! I’m throwing up in my mouth.
so many writers fail, is that they don’t write scenes. They write a character’s
thoughts and ruminations. They deliver descriptions of emotions based on events
the reader hasn’t been witness to, via a scene. Doesn’t work. I see this in
high school students beginning to write poetry. They deliver all these
descriptions of emotions based on something the reader hasn’t been privy to and
think that that’s poetry. It isn’t. The only way the reader is impacted
emotionally is by living through the event right along with the character and at
the same time. Period.
I think the vast majority… what’s the word?… oh, yeah… suck. Most aren’t
needed. Now, for those who practice selective reading, I didn’t say “all.” I
said “most.” Occasionally, one might work—although I can’t think of any
offhand. Most, I suspect, come from a writer who’s been admonished not to begin
with setup or backstory and just has to provide that crap… so they create a
prologue. I use an example of one in a brilliant book. Larry Watson’s Montana
1948. He uses one in his terrific novel and it won major awards and is one
of my favorite books. But, it wasn’t needed. Not at all.
I feel the
same about epilogues. Mostly, I think they come from writers who don’t know how
to tie up the loose ends with the plot, so they stick ‘em on to accomplish
that. I think most would be better served in learning how to plot better…
important do you think it is for authors to maintain a strong social media
presence? What tips do you have for keeping a successful writing blog?
depends on who you are. If you’re Joyce Carol Oates, it’s probably not
important in the least. If you’re Les Edgerton, it might be…
probably the wrong person to ask what it takes for keeping a successful writing
blog. I have one and I don’t know if I’d call it successful or not! I mean, I
only have 250+ followers. I’ve had more people watch me pull off a crime… If
numbers aren’t important, then I feel it’s successful. I’ve made wonderful
contacts through it and many that have helped me not only sell my books but
even helped me get them published. As to what makes it successful, I think it’s
to base it on the same elements I feel important in a good novel. Be
interesting and be clear. I don’t know if it’s always clear, but I do try hard
to make it interesting. After all, there are about sixteen bazillion blogs out
there and if yours ain’t interesting, then who’s going to want to read it? I
figure it it’s interesting to me, then it might be interesting to others. Maybe
not… I have weird tastes… I also have a mean, contrarian side to me. I don’t
believe in telling people necessarily what they want to hear. There are enough
people out there in writing telling folks they’re great and that writing’s easy
and all that stuff. There are just lots of folks who aren’t great and their
writing sucks and somebody maybe ought to tell them that. How else do we get
better if we don’t know we’re bad?
On your blog, you have posted the first chapter of your new writing book, A
Fiction Writer’s Workshop at the Bijou. Do you think giving away the
first chapter is helpful for building sales?
question! And, the answer is—I don’t know. I hope so. If the readers see it as
valuable information—and early responses say it is—then I think it’ll prove
helpful. Plus, although I plan on self-publishing it, chances are some editor
or other gatekeeper will come across it and think: “Hey, I can sell that
puppy.” And then ring me up on the telly. Who knows? After all, those folks
whose first meeting with Ed McMahon was on their front porches were real people
getting those giant checks…
Many authors are choosing to self-publish now. Do you see that as a viable
option? What are the pros and cons?
very special circumstances would I self-publish. And, I am for two books. One
isn’t really self-publishing. We’ve obtained the rights from Writer’s Digest
for a very successful book they published of mine—Finding Your Voice—and
I’m publishing an ebook version of it since they opted not to. I’m pretty sure
there’s a sizeable audience. It earned out its advance of $8,000 within six
weeks of its release way back when and every year has paid me excellent
royalties. I’m pretty sure there’s an audience for that book, particularly
since it hasn’t appeared in ebook format.
instance is the Bijou book you referred to above. If I was a beginning writer
with no street cred, there’s no way I’d self-publish it. But, I’ve got a pretty
decent track record with sales of my other two writer’s how-tos, so I’m fairly
confident that will translate into decent sales. Hooked just doesn’t let
up in sales, year after year, so that tells me I have an audience. Plus, I’ve
delivered and continue to deliver, a four-hour workshop on the film I use as
the basis of the book—Thelma & Louise—to writing groups and
workshops and draw absolutely rave reviews for the presentation, so I know
there’s a significant audience for it and that it fills what I see as a hole in
the writing how-to canon. Hope so, anyway!
Do you have any upcoming workshops, classes or author services to share with
invited to appear and do a reading of my work at Noir at the Bar in St. Louis
at Subterranean Books on April 28 that I’m pretty jazzed about. Great, famous
venue! One of my publishers, Cort McMeel of Bare Knuckles Press got me the gig
via the host, Jed Ayres, to help promote my novel, The Bitch. I’m really
excited as I’m told folks like Scott Phillips and Nick Arvin will also be there
to read and I’m a huge Scott Phillips fan! Details should show up at http://spaceythompson.blogspot.com/
or at http://store.subbooks.com/
a class with author Jenny Milchman via Skype for the New York Writer’s Workshop
and we’ll be taking applications for the next class shortly. It’s titled:
Beginnings: The Start of Your Novel, Your Career, & Your Writing Life.
teach a private workshop online on novel writing. The next class will begin in
approximately two months. Anyone interested can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lamb has asked I join her world-wide network of writing teachers to provide
video lessons for writers. Plans are still being formulated, but anyone who
might be interested, I’d suggest following her blog at http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/
as she’ll post information once it’s all set up.
The winner of Susan Wingate’s DROWNING is Carol Anita Ryan! Thanks for
reading our blog!
Hurst has over 25 years experience as a published author,
developmental editor for publishers, and skilled literary agent. She works
with both major and regional publishing houses, and her client list includes
emerging new voices and New York Times best-selling authors. Andrea represents
high profile Adult Nonfiction and well crafted fiction. Her clients and their
books have appeared on the Oprah Show, Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning
America, National Geographic network and in the New York Times.
Flanagan is a fiction major at Northwestern University. She is
currently an editor with Booktrope Publishing and Pink Fish Press. In the past,
she has interned with Andrea Hurst Literary Management and the Northwest
Institute of Literary Arts. Her favorite genre is women’s fiction, but she
reads any fiction put in front of her. Check out her blog about the writing
life at katieflanagan.wordpress.com and follow her
on Twitter at @K_Flanagan.
- Bob Stewart says:
Well done, Les. I just wish you’d tell the folks what you
think. You’re just too shy.
But, you’re one of the best writers around, not to mention a great guy.
- Paul D
Fantastic stuff from a brilliant writer.
Great questions and really interesting answers. As Flaubert
said, “no such thing as truth, only perceptions…” ; )
Shannon Hollis says:
Wow, Les is great. No bs…direct and funny. I like what you
say about self publishing and the absence of vetting in the process. Especially
when it comes to fiction.
- Robin Billlings says:
Les, I appreciate your honesty, and agree with what you
said! Great to see the truth of how things are now. laid out so well.
- Les Edgerton says:
Thanks, folks. Full disclosure–I know Bob and Paul and
they’re friends… and I know where they live.. Thanks, guys. Bailey, Flaubert
got it right and I agree. Hope people realize these are just my
opinions–nothing more, nothing less. One of the reasons I love being a
writer-unlike insurance salesfolks and politicians we get to express our true
opinions. Plus, I’ve reached an age where it’s more important to me to be
truthful than tactful. Jackie, right on! Folks love to talk about Hemingway and
his b.s. detector, but often, when they come up against someone who actually
employs one, some don’t like it. I don’t hate people who use vanity publishing,
but don’t claim it’s something else. The cost is just less with ebooks. It’s
still vanity press books. The thing is no one is “entitled” to having a
legitimate publisher put out their books, especially if they’re crummy. Often,
they are. There’s really a reason no one’s discovered some of these people’s
genius. It’s because… there isn’t any. It’s never been easy to get published
and it shouldn’t be. Ask Fitzgerald who was told by Zelda that she wouldn’t
marry him until he published something and he papered his walls with
rejections.At a time when it was easier to get published than today… It’s how
you learn what’s good. By getting rejected. You either get good, or… you get
gone. Until self-publishing…
I better shut up now…
- Andrea Hurst says:
Just to add a bit of spice here, even though I am a
literary agent, I am considering self publishing my first novel.
Traditional publishing is in transition and there is a lot of opportunity out
there in eBook land. Saw short memoir published on Kindle only last year, sell over 40,000 in six months. I don’t
think a publisher would have even signed it.
What do readers want? We have to seriously ask that question now.
Interesting interview-I nodded my head in several places
and wanted to argue with him in others, which made it a good read. I follow
Edgerton’s blog and glean many an interesting gem from it. We’ve heard his
opinion on self-publishing and the legacy publishers-now I’d like to hear what
he thinks about all the thousands of independent presses popping up.
- Les Edgerton says:
Andrea, have you considered publishing an ebook version
with one of the publishers who are doing well (and aren’t self-publishing) like
Aaron Patterson over at StoneGate? Several others I’m aware of (and you most
likely know far more than I do!) would be delighted to publish you, I’d think.
- Andrea Hurst says:
- Andrea Hurst says:
Go ahead and argue, let’s see what you think.
- Les Edgerton says:
Before I’d self-publish, I’d look at legitimate ebook
publishers, especially those who are doing significant things. Just two that
come to mind are Aaron Patterson’s StoneGate Publishing and Cort McMeel’s and
Eddie Vega’s Bare Knuckles Press. Eddie has several other imprints under the
BKP umbrella, one which would fit what you’re doing well.
The thing is, folks this are vetting the books they
publish, much as legacy publishers do, but they have a couple of advantages.
One, they can take chances on books that may not be as commercial as legacy
publishers require. Most of these publishers adhere closer to what I suspect
more publishers would like to do–publish books more on their quality than their
commercialism. Two, they can and do move much quicker than a print press. Sign
with them and a month or two later your book is out there. Three, these two as
well as others, also do print runs in addition to the ebook versions. Four, the
editorial quality is as high as it is with legacy publishers. Top-notch. Four,
the royalty rates are much higher and fairer to the author than what we get
with legacies. I’ve also found the author is afforded a much greater degree of
control over his/her book than with a legacy publisher for which the author has
almost no control
Andrea, I didn’t know if you meant for me to argue it here
on in private, but I have these and other very sound reasons why I’d suggest
you investigate what these publishers offer. I think you’d be very surprised.
Hope this helps!
Les, this would have been more valuable if you could just
learn to speak your mind. (I’d type a smiley face, but I fear retribution.)
Enjoyed your post and learned a lot. I don’t agree with you
about ebooks. I think there are legitimate authors doing their own publishing.
I also think they’re getting lost among the thousands, perhaps millions, of
- Les Edgerton says:
Anna, I love all the indie publishers springing up. What’s
going on is just an accelerated version of what’s always gone on, both in books
and in films. When writers like Bukowski couldn’t get published in America,
along came a guy who founded a small, independent press to do so. When Warner
Bros. became a conglomerate, and would only do “safe” movies, along came the
Coen Brothers. It happens constantly in media. When companies–publishers and
film companies–get too big, they get top-heavy and can’t move quickly or they'll upset
their stockholders. They begin to pass on taking chances. Indies come along and
while most fail, a few make it, and they begin to grow. For instance, the Coen
Brothers are still calling themselves “indies” but they haven’t been an indie
for a long time. They’re not yet approaching the critical mass of a 20th
Century yet, but they will… and then they’ll begin acting the same. And, then,
another filmmaker will come along and… Same with publishers. It’s all healthy
and keeps the dead wood cleaned out. All of it is cyclic and has happened
before and will continue to happen. For those outside the mean or average, it’s
always good news. And, those daring young men with their press machines will
someday grow fat and old and someone else will come along and take their lunch
away. As writers… it’s all good, imo!
- Les Edgerton says:
I agree with you that there are legitimate authors self-publishing… just as
there are and have been legitimate authors who self-published print versions of
their books with vanity publishers. I can only speak for me when I say I
wouldn’t buy their print self-published books and I wouldn’t buy their
self-published ebooks. In certain instances, self-publishing is legitimate–as I
said, I’m self-publishing two books myself. But, one has already been
successful as a legacy published book and the other hasn’t, but it has been offered
contracts twice and an advance of 10K and I turned it down because I didn’t
want to write it the way they wanted. What I’m not willing to support is the
writer who’s been turned down a handful of times, if they’ve even sent it out,
and feels they’re “entitled” to being published. They’re entitled to publishing
it themselves but I’m also entitled to not buying it. I’m not the only writer
who feels like this–I’ve heard from many of my fellow writers who feel the same
way, but don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. My feeling is we’re lowering
standards in the field of letters. But… it’s just an opinion! Not anything
I’m glad I stopped by to read this valuable interview, Les.
I appreciate they way you “say it like it is.” I happen to agree with you on
just about every point. I loved your books, “Hooked” and “Finding Your Voice,”
and highly recommend them. I haven’t read any of your fiction–yet. Will do so
- Les Edgerton says:
Thanks, Margaret! Hope you enjoy the fiction. I’d suggest
THE BITCH and JUST LIKE THAT, and if those don’t make you call the cops to lock
me up, then some of the others…
So there you have it. I imagine some will agree with me and others won't. And, that's good. Hope you enjoyed our little interview.