The results of the survey are in, and they're...

Sunday, December 02, 2007, 2:54 PM

...inconclusive.

Thanks to all of you who took part in my "What do I write next?" survey. Out of six votes, the numbers for the four ideas are as follows:

Idea 2: 2 votes.
Idea 3: 2 votes.
Idea 4: 1 vote.
Idea 1: 1 vote.

Now, some of you folks actually ranked the four ideas, and in light of that, Idea 4 got a couple of second preferences, as did Ideas 3 and 2. So, whether I use the first-past-the-post system, or proportional representation, my little experiment in democracy has failed to produce a clear winner.

While the experiment didn't provide a conclusive result, it did illustrate just how slippery the matter of personal taste can be. You all gave reasoned arguments for your preferences, and while there were some consistencies that I've taken on board, there was also wide variation in opinion. Idea 1 was clearly the weakest, though possibly more because of my half-arsed pitch than anything else, and Idea 4 did much better than I thought it would. Idea 2 was the most divisive, which I suppose is hardly surprising given the emotive and dark subject matter.

All this goes to show that when pitching a novel to an agent or editor, one person's meat is another's poison. A rejection or offer could very well hinge on the nebulous vagaries of that individual's own personal likes and dislikes. This is something we all know in our conscious minds, but deep down, we don't believe it. A form rejection will likely read "Not right for us", but the writer sees the words "Not good enough" in their place. No matter how often blogging agents or editors tell us it's about getting the right fit with their own tastes, I don't think we'll ever truly believe that. We take a rejection as "Not good enough" regardless of the true reasons for passing. But this experiment shows that half a dozen writers, all with good experience and judgement, saw entirely different strengths and weaknesses in the ideas pitched.

So, there is one conclusion: "Not right for us" means exactly what it says.

Anyway, so which idea am I going to go with? It was always between ideas 2 and 3, and the results have confirmed that. Idea 2 has more personal resonance for me, while Idea 3 is a more deliberate attempt at something commercial. And I still don't know which one to go with. Grrr. In the meantime, I'll be seeing if I can push some of these short stories I've got hanging about my hard drive...

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6 Comments:

Blogger cyn said...

i guess i didn't notice there was a vote? but i say go with what draws you the most. the personal interest one with guitars and the dark story sound intriguing. =) good luck and have fun!

5:20 PM  
Blogger Josephine Damian said...

It's all a matter of taste. Look at how Jessica Faust liked my pitch, but Nathan Bransford never gave it the time of day.

NEVER take rejection personally, or agonize over the why - sooner or later you'l find someone who's on the same page as you.

I still say, of the four choices, go with the one you feel you know the characters best since that'll be the easiest to complete - gotta complete it to sell it!

3:17 PM  
Blogger Ello said...

Yeah personal taste is so subjective - which is why you should write what you want to write! They were all good ideas!

2:45 AM  
Blogger McKoala said...

Happy to help confuse you!

2:56 AM  
Blogger Church Lady said...

It was quite interesting to see the varied work you have on the burner.
Good luck prioritizing!
:-)

5:22 PM  
Blogger Ello said...

Hey Conduit,
I just noticed that you had asked me a question in the great comment you left me on the flash fiction piece. I'm not sure how I missed it! But yes, I am of Korean descent and there is traditionally alot of dissension between Koreans and Japanese that is still ongoing. And yes, it is indeed a part of why I ended up writing my novel. I was fascinated by the amount of history betwen the two countries that continues this enmity.

Anyway, thanks for your great comments!

best,

Ell

11:04 PM  

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