Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Patrick Rothfuss

I checked out Patrick Rothfuss's blog for the first time today. Now come on, don't any of you tell me you haven't heard of him! He's only the most successful debut author of epic fantasy in recent history for his book The Name of the Wind.

I had never read anything about the author himself, so what hit me the most was how down-to-earth he seemed. Reading about him reminded me so much of myself in certain small ways, or at least in our down-to-earthness. I was also struck hard by him saying that his book had been rejected by every agent in the known universe. You see, that's the thing that eats at me about agents and publishers these days -- they write all these blog posts about how wrong we are to call them out about overlooking great books, yet how could anyone have passed up this one? It just didn't grab them? How come they all LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it now?

Okay, so it wasn't exactly the same when they saw it as opposed to the published version. That's the whole point to me -- why are they only looking for a completely perfect, finished version of a book rather than recognizing real writing talent when it is there? It took Patrick going to a conference before he was finally able to get someone to take notice, and - voila - he gets one of the biggest fantasy debuts in ages. I bet it took some real work from the agent and editors to polish it into what it became, but wasn't that worth it? I would say 'YES', obviously.

Sorry for the mini-rant, but I feel like I am in a similar situation to where Patrick was before he finally got discovered. I have spent more than twenty years building my world in my head. I spent more than three writing the first book. I know it needs some polishing to make it shine. I know I am getting better as a writer all the time. But, why wouldn't an agent see the talent that is there and want to help turn out another Patrick Rothfuss rather than allow some other agent to get me somewhere down the line? It's not like I have amateurish big-issues with my first book; it just needs a bit of rewriting in the early stages to make it more tense. I'm fully convinced that I can be a well-known fantasy author. I know I can do it eventually over many years of hard work, but I still think that an agent should be good enough to recognize talent early and want to snag the writer before another gets him or her.

I'm not suggesting that agents or publishers should want to deal with writers who need a ton of help. I just wish they would be more willing to nurture those who show real talent, have an interesting concept, and look like they could really have something awesome with just a bit of guidance.

And since I am in THAT kind of mood right now, I'll mention that I did query Rothfuss's agent, and he never responded at all. Okay, I'll be back to my usual cheerful self tomorrow (I think it's my sore throat and headache that did this to me today)!


  1. Steve (Maine Character) keeps telling me to visit Patrick's blog. I've stopped by but never commented or tried to contact him. I need to do that.

    I haven't read or even heard of his book, but I will say that I completely agree with you Ted. About everything you've said. Of course I haven't finished your book yet, but I know that the concept, the characters, the plot and the setting are amazing and would be perfect on the fantasy shelves. I know dealing with agents can be so frustrating, but I do believe that you will get there one day.

  2. I remember hearing an interview with several musicians, and the ones who'd been around a while talked about the changes over the past 20-30 years. Said music execs used to be all about the music and loved it. Now it's just business and money. They don't care about quality musicians, just the next big commercial hit.
    Maybe the same is true for the publishing industry.
    Don't give up, Ted!

  3. I have heard that publishing houses used to actually nurture writers. They recognized talent and knew that the writers would grow into stars. They won't do this anymore, apparently.

  4. i don't know...
    to me, it seems like there is an ENORMOUS amount of sincerely talented writers out there. the digital age has really brought out many who otherwise would have slunk into the shadows.
    if agents offered representation to every talented writer or book with potential, i don't they'd have enough time to get all of them polished enough for publication.
    it would be nice for obvious talent to be snatched up... i keep thinking of my amazing crit partner here, who's always getting partial and full requests and then R's with a 'not quite right for me' note. it doesn't seem right. her book is AMAZING.
    but- i think the agents are just doing the best they can to find the best books they can, and with the sheer volume of the slush- i think that is a really hard thing to do.
    mistakes will be made.

  5. Yeah, Rothfuss is down to earth. Plus, really funny. And with a really big beard. All he needs is a wizard hat.

  6. I lean in Alex's direction. Its all about the money now. Too bad. At least viral advertising offers a venue for writers like myself to sell their goods.

  7. I agree with you all. Stephen, I hope your book is doing well. I'm sorry I haven't gotten around to reading it. I got excited by a new story idea and it is consuming me. I can't seem to do much else but think about it and write little character capsules and such.

  8. I absolutely loved The Name of the Wind (my only complain is that book two has been delayed for sooo long. Doesn't he know we're dying here?). And I do think it's sad that agencies don't want to nurture talent like they used to. I've been at this a long while (I won't say how long, it'll just depress me)but I'm not giving up!

    Glad I discovered your blog btw (thanks goes to Mathew Rush) and off to check out Mr. Rothfuss's blog...

  9. Also found your blog through Matthew. Sounds like you are on the right track. I wish I'd gotten into writing in the era when it was simple. I went to an author signing recently for a middle grade author and he was published in 9th grade after he sent in a 7th grade "class project" to scholastic.

  10. Chris and mshatch, thanks so much for dropping by. I love seeing new faces around here!

  11. Ted -
    I am feeling very much the same way right now! After sending 70+ query letters out (and getting almost identical letters stating that "not the right fit, couldn't help you the way you deserve,etc."), it's a bit disheartening. That's why I decided to go the self-pub route and I'm hoping (!!) that someone will read it and send it to an agent or a publisher and say, "Let's sign her!" *sigh* Or I could just go to a conference (with money I don't have) and meet agents and publishers and it could be an absolutely awesome time. Maybe I have a sore throat and headache too... ;-)

    I'll be better in the morning. I hope.

  12. Melissa, it's nice to hear I'm not the only one feeling this way! I hope it gets better for all of us.

  13. It should be known that Patrick has gone on record on saying that his previous submissions were embarrassing and that he was glad that it took as long as it did to get published, or the book would not be as good.

    Take that as you will.