Background artiste from 'Better than Stars'

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

What Would You Do to Get Published?

Apart from selling your soul that is, or any other personal strategies you'd rather keep to yourself. What I mean is, how much would you be prepared to change your novel to please a third party, if the stakes were high?

"Not at all!" we cry - but hang on, who's taking the financial risk here (unless you're self-publishing, which is another story altogether)? And who has the more knowledge and experience? As I blogged last week, a good title is really hard to find: I'd be grateful for any help I could get.

The title goes. I wouldn't be happy about seeing the book in a cover I didn't like: but I have even less skill in that area. So would I be prepared to hand over control of the MS completely?

Of course not. For me, the crunch point would be when changes stopped it being recognisably my novel, and that would be different for each book: the protagonist's name for one, the outcome for the other ... probably.

Or who am I kidding? Is anything sacred?

What do you think?


Thomas Taylor said...

You make a very good point about finacial risk. My novel will appear with a title I didn't choose and covers I didn't design. It's also been revised under close editorial guidance, which inevitable means some changes that weren't part of my origianl plan. But I'm okay with this because I know those changes are based on the desire of an experienced marketing and editorial team who want the book to sell well and to see me prosper as an author. And they are paying up front for everything.

That said though, my editor told me right at the beginning that the novel will always have to be mine, and that I must not feel I'm writing something that belongs to enyone else. They've been very good about not forcing me down avenues I haven't wanted to explore.

Peter said...

I've actually thought about this one quite a lot recently. I'm making the big effort to get my novel polished enough to start sending out and there's a non-zero chance that a publisher that's interested might ask for a change that I'd be significantly unhappy with.

My story is aimed at YA and the main character is bisexual, which is not the easiest thing to sell in the world, as YA publishing tends to like their characters less contraversial.

If I was given a choice between never getting published and whitewashing my story to remove the 'non-standard sexuality'? I honestly don't know. I'd like to think I'd stay true to the story that I'd written and not participate in erasing a minority. Hopefully, I won't have to choose.


Sue Sedgwick said...

I know what you mean. I suppose it depends a bit how central the character's sexuality is: if it's an "issue" novel - see Melvin Burgess, tho' I'm sure he'd hate his work being so described - it could be a selling point: otherwise it would be harder to absorb.

'Better than Stars' has suffered from something similar. There's quite a lot of gender ambiguity in it - mostly around cross-dressing in masquerade for carnival - and in my mind the boy Ali falls for is unsure about his own sexuality -which might still be the case - but the feedback I was getting from beta readers suggesting that my ending was too open, and that readers would feel let down if they didn't actually get off together, led to me making changes.

What I'm wondering now is, have I moved too far away from my original conception? Should it actually be an adult novel, rather than YA?