My favorite agent blogger, Nathan Bransford, had an interesting post today about the pointlessness of complaining that such and such a classic would never have been published in today's writing world. It reminded me of one of my own complaints that is similar but a little different.
I see over and over again books by established authors that sell by the tons, yet if an unpublished author attempted such a book, no publisher or agent would even look at it. One obvious example is the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. It has so many main characters that even Mr. Martin could not possibly write a synopsis that would pass muster with any agent if Martin were a first-time author. If I had as many major characters as Mr. Martin in my story, no agent would bother to read past my query letter.
Yet, it is from such authors that new writers like myself draw inspiration. I thought up my story long ago due to my love of Tolkien, but it was reading Martin's stories that made me actually decide to sit down and type out the first chapter. I would have preferred to have a larger cast of main characters than the three I used, but I knew that even my three main characters would be a tough enough sell for a first-time author.
I guess what bothers me about it is that the publishers don't appear to me to be looking at what actually sells so well and allowing new authors the leeway to mimic such bestsellers in the structuring of our books. Martin's books are too long by newbie standards and have too many main characters, yet they sell fantastically well. Perhaps it is not just due to his great writing. Perhaps there are a ton of fantasy readers out here who love long, involved stories. That is what I think, and that is why it perplexes me that publishers and agents won't allow a new author to have a long, involved story.
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