A Great Time to be a Reader

Someone once told me a story that stuck in my mind -- when Thomas Aquinas accidentally came across a piece of paper with some words on it, he was overjoyed! The discovery made him rejoice! That's how rare reading material used to be...

This is a great time to to be a reader: nowadays our main problem is how to find the works of literature we like amongst everything else that's out there.

Reading the fifty queries Nathan Bransford posted in today's "be an agent for a day" contest, I can't help wondering, what would a completely-saturated market for books look like? Here are the rules again -- Bransford posted fifty queries today, and you have a week to pick the five winners. Queries somehow make any manuscript sound peculiarly unappetizing. And the existing system seems better at screening out writers who are bad at marketing than at screening out writers who are bad at writing.

Still, for a writer these problems are surely compensated for by the advantages of having a super-abundance of reading material available, online and elsewhere. There's no reason ever to run out of literary inspiration! Then rejoice!

2 thoughts on “A Great Time to be a Reader”

  1. I wonder if old Thomas Aquinas would have been quite so overjoyed had that piece of paper been a rejection slip from Nathan Bransford? I’d say yes. In fact he would have been right to rejoice all the more.

    Consider this fellow’s competition – precisely what is he aiming to achieve? Or, rather, to what end? Are we meant to be surprised that agents receive a fair few queries from illiterati and dullards unworthy even of our pity? Or is this agent himself trying to solicit our pity – along the lines of, ‘Poor, poor, me. Look at the sort of shite I have to shovel, day in, day out.’

    I think not.

    More likely this is a shameless, Simon Cowell-of-an-attempt to make himself look clever in the face of others’ humiliation. In which case, who’s playing aesthetic gatekeeper for him while he’s away? Not to mention looking after his victims’ interests.

    So, I admit it – I am the proud recipient of one of his generic rejection slips. Sour grapes? Maybe. But plenty of rejoicing, too.

  2. I think I would rather read tax forms than queries. Of course, lucky old Aquinas never had to read those either.

    In the words of the incomporable Neil Gaiman (taken from http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2004/02/on-writing.asp)

    “It does help, to be a writer, to have the sort of crazed ego that doesn’t allow for failure. The best reaction to a rejection slip is a sort of wild-eyed madness, an evil grin, and sitting yourself in front of the keyboard muttering ‘Okay, you bastards. Try rejecting this!…'”

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