Does stupid sell?

As dylanmcpreviously noted, both Julia and I have newly completed manuscripts we are attempting to market the old fashioned way, that being the agent and conventional publisher route. We have saleable books in every respect of the word. Well written, with interesting characters and plots that tie in with popular culture. Julia’s in a form of ghost hunting story with light humor. Mine is a kid shooter book that explores what these horrendous deeds do to the people who are often forgotten after the fact: the friends and family members of the victims. It honestly amazes me that neither of us has received more than a mere blink of interest from agents, which once again begs the age old question: what do today’s agents want?

Since I am sort of a TV addict, I’m going to use a current television series to tie into the title of this post. The show is Hostages, currently airing on CBS. The show has an interesting premise at first glance: a doctor who was scheduled to operate on the president is forced to pledge she will kill said president in order to save herself and her family, all of whom are being held hostage by a rouge FBI agent. The problem is, this show is being stretched over a series of 15 episodes when it should have been, at best, a 90 minute made-for-TV film. Each week something more ridiculous happens to keep said hostages from escaping the clutches of the evil FBI guy. Last week’s gem gave viewers (the few who are left) the reason why this seemingly competent, decorated FBI agent has gone ballistic. For those unfamiliar with the show, which probably includes most of you reading this, the explanation was that his wife is dying of cancer but her cancer is curable if she gets a bone marrow transplant. Alas, there is only one match in the entire world: her estranged father, who—Are you ready?—just happens to be the president. To quote the infamous Forest Gump, stupid is as stupid does. So, after that “shocking” revelation, the doctor becomes sympathetic to her hostage holder and begs him to give her some time to find another suitable bone marrow donor.

So now for the question on all of your minds: why in the world am I still watching this loony show? Pure curiosity. I want to see how many more stupid plot twists (a generous description, I realize) this group of writers (again, a generous description) were capable of coming up with. I can’t help but wonder how much longer it will be before FBI man and Killer Doc wind up in bed together. That, in turn, could lead to a plot to kill Doc’s husband, who, for the most part, is the only sane character in the entire show. Even the actors, including the handsome and talented Dylan McDermott, seem anxious for this thing to just end.

And finally, to answer my own question, yes, I guess stupid does sell, as long as you know how to wrap it in a fancy package and top it off with a pretty red bow.

NaNoMo and too many writers out there?

images (1)I believe in the power of writing: its benefits are enormous. For instance, students who write about personal matters tend to have fewer illnesses than students who write on hackneyed subjects. That has been scientifically proven. Writing teachers know that serious writing stimulates critical analysis: student writers often do not know precisely what they think until they have to write something down. In general, to write even to oneself in a journal (presuming one does so on paper) is to leave a mark of having existed.  ( Journal or diary-keeping was widespread in the 19th century.) On the other hand, some blogs outlive their creators, as is the case of

To cultivate writing is to cultivate good grammar, strategy (formulas of argument and story) and eloquence. Additionally, people who write become fascinated by and adept in language usage. Words are the richness of culture; with their origins and meanings they weave the breath of other lands into one society.

As a writing teacher, I think everyone should learn to write effectively. To do so is empowering.

Having experienced the role of a writing judge for a well-known magazine, I realize that a great many people think their skills honed enough to merit a book. They are often wrong.

NaNoMo (National Novel Writing Month) statistics give a startling indication of the competition out there for anyone who does write a good book:

NaNoWriMo 2012 at a Glance

341,375 participants started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.–From the NaNoMo site.

Publisher’s Weekly/Lunch usually reports approximately 50 book sales a day, although that probably doesn’t include weekends. Usually people on the free email list read that there are even more sales to hear of if we would but subscribe to the magazine.  So at least 250 books gets sold a week and about a thousand a month, coming to 12,000 a year. We could double that number to include all the book sales not reported by Publisher’s Lunch.: 24,000.

I am noticing that 24,000 and 341,000 (writers in NaNoMo) as numbers are really far from each other. Like miles. Or light years.  What about all the writers who aren’t counted in NaNoMo? Maybe another 340,000? How many of those writers are querying agents?

The numbers are sobering.

Something to think about.AbdulAhad_RubyStar