Wednesday, June 1, 2011

True Talent

I'm reading Earthbow Volume 2 by Sherry Thompson. The book is really making me think. Yes, about the story, and the characters--but I mean beyond that. It's making me think, again, about the subjectivity of the entire publishing industry.

You see, Sherry spent many, many years trying to get her books published. She's fought an uphill battle the entire time. You can read her entire story HERE if you'd like. The point is, she ended up finally being taken on by a small publisher because her attempts at getting published by larger houses failed. Even an agent wasn't able to help her. Even placing third in the speculative category of the ACFW Genesis contest in 2006 did no good.

Many agents and editors and even published authors will tell you that it must be her writing. Something isn't up to snuff or she would have landed a bigger publisher. Something that is the fault of the writer.


Sherry's writing is fabulous. Not just good. Not just publishable. Seabird--the first book in the series--immediately became one of my favorite fantasy novels of all time. It was one of those books I began to read, and before long had been completely swept away.

And yet, she struggled to find a publisher. I simply don't get it.

I'll tell you this--Sherry gives me hope. She may be saddled to a small press that doesn't have huge reach. She may not be making best-seller lists (*yet*). But there is NOTHING that would convince me it's because of lack of talent--which tells me that no one can point a finger at me and tell me with 100% certainty that the reason I'm not getting snatched up by a big publisher is lack of talent. And that is enough to make me keep going.

Sherry, you have truly been an inspiration to me. And big publisher or not, big sales or not, you are one of my favorite writers ever.

Folks, please, check out Seabird and Earthbow Volumes 1 and 2. You won't be sorry.

Amazon links: Seabird, Earthbow 1, and Earthbow 2.


Lum said... made a great point!! :)

Robynn Tolbert said...

On my list to buy and read.
Lack of talent has to be last on the list of why authors don't get published. I've read too much published garbage to think otherwise. Far as I can tell, it's all in who you know.

Xanthorpe said...

That is an awesome testimony! Sherry is indeed a great author and continues to encourage many of us to complete our own quests.

Thanks for standing up for her :-)


Kat Heckenbach said...

Thanks, Robynn. I think you'll really like Sherry's books. They have that classic fantasy feel you like. Great world-building, too.

And, Xanthorpe, thanks for stopping by to support Sherry!

Lynda said...

Kat, I'm warmed by your treatment of Sherry's work, here. Sherry is a member of Broad Universe, which is how I found out about your review. It is good to discover people can value the work of others on its merits and their responses. Period.

SherryT said...

Hi, Kat! You've been so good to me, it really makes me blush. (Now, if you would just stop liking insects. Shudder!)

Seriously, I've been thinking about this subject for many years now. Gradually, I've become convinced that it was never my -writing-. Who even saw it? The literary agent whom I had only briefly, never did anything at all & was eventually fired by her agency for goofing off.

When it came to my many efforts to interest a publisher, I doubt that most of the acquisitions editors got beyond my cover letter.

Why? As conference panelists--professionals in the field--have mentioned repeatedly, editors are looking for a way to say no to each query--in order to get on to the next one. Most publishing houses are stacked up with query letters & are desperate to plow through them somehow. This is why most big publishers will only accept queries sent by agents on behalf of their clients these days.
(Always check a publisher's guidelines before submitting!)

As for the tripe that does get published, who knows? Knowing someone may be involved sometimes. Keep in mind that some less-than-great books are written by famous authors who are not up to form but who have a multi-book contract with that house. And then there are authors who sneak in because they're writing in the same genre or style as whatever is selling. Can we say "Twilight" knock-offs? ;-)

I write fairly traditional fantasy. Not about zombies or vampires. Not urban fantasy. Not erotic fantasy. And not steampunk. My kind of fantasy is passe. Publishers are looking for the "next big thing".

Kat, thanks again! Your words always make me feel better. I'm glad that anything I've done or said gives you hope in exchange.
You -will- be published! Keep the faith!

Kat Heckenbach said...

Now I'm going to start blushing. I appreciate all the appreciation here!

I just feel that total frustration by the publishing industry. It makes me second-guess my abilities. I don't want to think success is all about connections. That DOES play into it, but there are times when true talent, all on its own, gains a writer recognition. It seems, though, that in each situation it's a different combination of luck, talent, connections, and self-marketing. All too often talent is the last thing considered.

And yes, Sherry's book isn't the next big trend. What makes me mad is the idea that all new books must be the next big trend. The stories are solid, original yet classic, and just wonderfully written. It's a shame that kind of thing has to lurk in the shadows of the sensationalist writers.

Again, thank all of YOU for coming by and showing support!

SherryT said...

At this risk of wearing out my welcome here...
For any author who has doubts about how difficult it can be to get published, my I suggested you read my interview by Keven Newsome at:

Kat Heckenbach said...

Not anywhere near wearing out your welcome, Sherry!

BrandonZ said...

Hi Kat, Thanks for your interesting look at what might drive the publishing industry. As someone new to writing, it is intriguing. More importantly, thank you for lifting up Sherry's work! I have read both Seabird and Earthbow, and recommend both! Sherry is a wonderful writer, wonderful person, and has been a wonderful mentor to me as I have written recently. Peace!

Kat Heckenbach said...

Thanks, Brandon. This is so cool seeing all the people whose lives Sherry has touched :).