“SUBJECTIVE” is the word I hear most when discussing the publishing business, and writing in general. At first I really didn’t get what that meant. I figured if I wrote a great book, everyone would like it. (Stop laughing!) Agents always say, “Write the best book you can. If it’s good, it will find a home.” (What they don’t tell you is that home is usually your own. Which is where it stays. Forever.)
Here are some excerpts from various agent form rejection letters we all know and love:
“In my search for clients I wish to represent only the manuscripts with which I feel a real connection. Ultimately—and for purely SUBJECTIVE reasons—this query did not spark that kind of enthusiasm.” (Which we writers interpret to mean, “Your manuscript sucks.”)
“We mold our client list from the many submissions we receive every month, and the process is both SUBJECTIVE and based on the direction of this agency.” (Which we writers interpret to mean, “Your manuscript sucks.”)
“Please keep in mind that mine is a SUBJECTIVE business, and an idea or story one agent does not respond to may well be met with great enthusiasm by another…” (Which we writers interpret to mean, “Your manuscript sucks.”)
Book reviews are also SUBJECTIVE. The most obvious example being the thousands of reviews for Fifty Shades of Grey. The reviews range from “If Heaven exists, it would surely be wallpapered with the pages of this trilogy, so we can all read this masterpiece for eternity,” to “I wouldn’t wipe my dog’s ass with the pages of this crap.”
SUBJECTIVE. SUBJECTIVE. SUBJECTIVE.
What the hell does this word even mean?
Based on (or related to) attitudes, beliefs, or opinions, instead of on verifiable evidence or phenomenon. Contrasts with objective.—BusinessDictionary.com
Proceeding from or taking place in a person’s mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
Particular to a given person; personal: subjective experience.–thefreedictionary.com
Based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes or opinions.—Dictionary.com
Do you see a pattern here? It means what floats one’s boat may not float another’s. What may be one person’s cocaine may be someone else’s bad LSD trip. One person’s kink may be another person’s therapy session.
Personally, I’ve found some of my female friends’ partners revolting. I pretty much think all of my ex-boyfriends’ wives are like, “Ugh.” To each his own, and even more so when it comes to writing.
I bought a book in Target a few months ago by a contemporary romance author I’ve wanted to check out for awhile. She’s been around a long time, has written a gazillion books, has beaucoup fan followers, and is a NYT bestselling author. And yet…
I picked up and put down this book so many times it took me forever to finish it. It wasn’t that this woman wasn’t a good writer; she was. But the heroine bothered me, because she was too adoring of the hero, so she came across (to me) as a sloppy puppy dog. There was too much conversation about feelings and too many internal monologues about feelings, which tend to bore me. I prefer more zingy dialogue. And there just wasn’t enough of a plotline to hold my interest.
But that’s simply my opinion. It wasn’t my cuppa. Hundreds upon hundreds of fans love her books, and loved this one, in particular. Does that mean it sucked because I wasn’t crazy about it? Of course not. It just means it wasn’t my cocaine.
If you were an agent, you’d want to sign someone who wrote a book that was your cocaine. Just like the person you marry should be your cocaine. And your passion should be your cocaine.
The next time you receive a rejection letter or a bad review, or get dumped by your lover, remember that damn word…no, not cocaine…SUBJECTIVE.