Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Talented Newcomers


Talented newcomers

Most writers get far too many requests to read the manuscripts of unpublished authors. There just isn't time in most circumstances.
But the other side of this is discovering somebody who really can write and helping them get started--as Max Allan Collins helped me.
There was a time when I put in appearances at writers' groups and spent evenings talking about aspects of professional writing. Over the course of two or three years of this I met four people who went on to publish both short stories and novels in a variety of genres.
To a person they were shy about asking me to read samples of their work. I always said I'd read two chapters of a book or one short story under five thousand words.
My first discovery told me that here was a story that probably wasn't that good, that in fact after he'd finished it, he'd just stuck it in a drawer. That was a year ago or so. I read it that night and soon enough it was not only sold but Roger Zelazny himself was on the phone telling him what a wonderful piece of work it was.
Since then, as I said, I've met three other people who showed me short stories that were sold within a fairly short amount of time.
It's a good feeling when you see their first few pieces in print. You can kind of relive your own first sales through them. Whoever said that you can never equal the joy of your first was right.

1 comment:

Mathew Paust said...

What daunts me is the vast number of gifted writers there are. I grew up in a fantasy of believing only a handful of real writers existed, the well-known ones, and I never imagined the abundance of talent there is. It didn't really sink in until I started blogging about three years ago and started reading really sophisticated, engaging stuff by folks with no publishing creds but who clearly could and should be published were the field set up differently. Maybe the Amazon junta, with its advent of direct ebook publishing will give more people who could never get past the legacy gatekeepers a chance to reach readers who otherwise would never hear of them - no matter how good they are.

Then there are the genre partitions, behind which I am finding a bounty of not only gifted but widely recognized writers, within their genres, many of whom I'd not an inkling until I started reading your blog, Ed.

Then I see aberrations come along - the Shades of Godawfuls and the fad lit and celebrity tell-alls and sell-outs - and I think, once again, maybe Amazon, monster tho it clearly is, might be the benevolent giant that kicks open doors that had been carefully guarded by an elite that's always suspect by those who don't have the password (and, truthfully, often with distinct justification) so that happenstance, creative marketing and pure frivolous fancy can have a go at letting the reading public decide who is readable and who is not. Maybe then the entrepreneurial side of publishing can apply its creativity to benefit both author and reader with less risk of a tired brilliant-but-rookie Random House reader (Styron) turning down a "Kon Tiki" as unmarketable or anal retentive publishers nixing a "Confederacy of Dunces" because it was submitted on grade school tablet paper, or the single roll of teletype paper upon which Kerouac typed and submitted "On the Road" and on and on. But don't get me started... ;-)