When I sit down to read a book, I love the escapism; I love to fall into the story, in my mind, I become part of the story. I eagerly read on, page upon page, chapter after chapter, absorbing the storyline and enjoying it.
This is why I feel sorry for publishers and literary agents. They seem incapable of enjoying a good yarn. Instead, they are constantly thinking, not about the plot, the storyline, sub-plots, and plot twists, the characters, the heroes, and the villains, they only concentrate on grammar. They are the grammar police, they are interested in out of place hyphens, articles, punctuation, pronouns, prepositions, spellings, capitalisations, verb forms, verb tenses, and auxiliary verbs, to name just a few. I have no clue what most of them are anyway.
When I read a work of fiction, I don’t go through it looking for an antecedent that is out of place. I just enjoy the story.
Another example would be a sentence such as:
“Where’s me dog gone?” Tom said in his best Welsh accent.
Yes, I fully appreciate that that is not what an Oxford professor of English would say, but I am writing the speech characteristics of a 13-year-old Welsh boy with limited education, and ‘they’ don’t like it. (Nb. I have placed the word ‘they’, meaning publishers and agents, in inverted commas purely to annoy the grammar police). Surely, they think, this common boy of little worth should say: “I say old boy, would one happen to know the whereabouts of my canine friend?”
So, my friendly agents and publishers. Why not just sit down by the fire with a nice glass of red wine and read to enjoy? Reject a book if the story’s lousy, but not because of a misplaced preposition.
This, of course, is one of the reasons that the Booker Prize winner for 2020 Douglas Stuart and his novel Shuggie Bain was turned down 32 times before it was published. Agents and publishers don’t read, they just look for faults and reasons not to publish.
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