A novelist friend of mine recently wrote me a letter — not an E-mail, mind you, but an actual letter…on paper…sent through the postal service!! What a concept!! — to update me on her novel writing.
She says her latest is in the hands of her agent, and though her style is literary (and quite wonderful to read), she intentionally set out to write a mass market novel this time around. Her agent loves it, and it has been sent to five publishing houses. They’ve only heard from one so far, and it was a rejection; the publisher in question said it is “clearly mass-market,” and therefore unsuitable for their mostly-literary list.
She says she shouldn’t be depressed about that, since she set out to write one that was mass market, and has apparently succeeded. But, she admits, she is a little depressed.
She wants to write literary novels, and she has a beautiful style in her writing. I recall fondly the experience of the language of the last manuscript I read from her…the pictures she conjured with her writing definitely transcended the page, and remained with me long after I had returned the manuscript to her. She wanted to experiment with writing a mass-market work. She did. She succeeded. And at least one publisher has said so, even if they can’t use the novel for their own imprints.
But while laughing at her disappointment at having her work “branded” as “mass market,” she adds something very true about writers:
“We are never satisfied.”
I don’t have any fancy ending for this piece; I think that quote sums it up better than anything I could add.