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  1. #1
    jonathan jenkins
    Guest

    Does controversy sell?

    I've penned a thriller about terrorism, big oil, and American policy in the Middle East. Had no trouble landing a good agent, but since then several publishers have sent polite rejections with recommendations (such as cutting length), which I've adopted.

    My Q is whether publishers might be fearing but not acknowledging the elephant in the room - that the novel is highly politically divisive. My agent thinks not, since the publishers all knew the manuscript's subject matter when they requested it. Anyone have thoughts?



  2. #2
    Wonky
    Guest

    Re: Does controversy sell?

    I don't think so. Those topics are hot now. If they didn't like those subjects they wouldn't have asked to see it in the first place. Maybe because those topics are hot now, publishers are innundated with them? Ask your agent about that.

  3. #3
    Carol O
    Guest

    Re: Does controversy sell?

    That was my thought, too. These are "hot" topics and therefore likely arriving on the editorís desk by the cartload. Which just means you'll need to make yours stand out by force of prose.

  4. #4
    ahmed omar
    Guest

    Re: Does controversy sell?

    You touched a hot issue, it all depends as how you submit your work, I am sure if you sent it in as current affair work and spiced up with a controversial topic. Publisher might accept your manuscriptís. You may want to try and find a publisher from Washington DC as well like Gail Ross Literary Agent.

  5. #5
    KJ --
    Guest

    Re: Does controversy sell?

    Keep in mind that your agent would not have offered representation if he/she didn't think your manuscript had marketing potential. Your agent probably would have heard something through the grape vine if publishing houses were universally ignoring topics such as yours.

  6. #6
    Heather Brewer
    Guest

    Re: Does controversy sell?

    Does controversy sell? Well, it depends on the controversy.

  7. #7
    Daniel Martinez
    Guest

    Re: Does controversy sell?

    I agree with Heather. How God Was Created is the title of my newest book, and I have had many mixed responses: a lot of people are willing to take a look at it, because they say, "Oh wow, How God was created? That seems interesting . . ." or they say, "Oh, Heavens, I can't believe this blasphemy!" even before they know what it's about. If it's not one of those two tresponses, it's either "God? I want nothing to do with him," or "Eh, God's not really my thing."

    As you can see, it is the title of my book, and not necessarily its content, which people find offensive. But -- the fact that it is offensive is what makes it intriguing; and what makes it intriguiing is what makes people talk about it; and when people talk about things, they like to find out for themselves.

    I also agree that your agent knew what he (she?) was getting into, as did the publishers who requested the manuscript. Keep pluggin'!

    -- Daniel Martinez,
    Novelist

  8. #8
    Daniel Martinez
    Guest

    Re: Does controversy sell?

    Sorry about the typos, even though I know it doesn't really matter.

  9. #9
    Brittie
    Guest

    Re: Does controversy sell?

    Well that's a bomb of a question: Does controversy sell? Of course it sells! Controversy's what makes media go round. But, not knowing a thing about your book - how 'true to life' it is, or how 'pulp' it may be, how deeply researched it is and from what sort of access and information sources, it's hard to answer your question.

    Saying that, I'd venture to comment that media in America at the moment - print, television, subjects of books that are selling - is in one of its most conservative moments in social history. Not knowing more about your book's 'attitude' it's hard to say, but I wouldn't put the notion out of your mind. I'd also consider a UK publisher, if people in the states are shying away from it for what may be 'controversial' reasons. The UK has no problems publishing what could upset the apple cart over here.

    Yes, your agent's right, the publishers know what your book's about when they request it, but on the other hand, what is delivered: is it more heavy-handed than the publisher imagined, and if there is fall-out envisioned, would this editor want to stand behind it? I'd be thoughtful and cautious and keep listening, then, if it continues to fail without a consistent, literary critique, I'd try another English-speaking country and see what response you get.

    In the short term, don't forget that after 911, every disaster movie planned for production was cancelled or postponed, but they soon bounced back. That's another way to think about it.

  10. #10
    leslee
    Guest

    Re: Does controversy sell?

    Controversy sells unless I'm the writer.

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