[This is a comment–regarding some recent posts here–that I. Fontana posted and also sent out to me & Ken, and we thought it was worth presenting on the main page for those who missed it. I. Fontana knows whereof he speaks, and he’s one of my favorite “new” writers out there. Love his short stories, which I’ve linked on HTMLGIANT before, and I know he’s got some other stuff in the works that I’m very, very excited to see published. –N.A.
Nick says it: I. Fontana says it. Presented with no further ado: –K.B.]
Superagent Nat Sobel said in an interview last summer that he chooses at most one in 500 unsolicited manuscripts to represent in a given year. Grove/Atlantic, HarperCollins etcetera — all the major New York publishing houses, in other words — explicitly announce that they will not read any manuscript which does not come from an established agent.
In the early 19th century, literature (and in particular the novel) evolved into a popular art form generally serialized each week in newspapers, which meant that in order to keep the particular novel being read, there had to be narrative pull, even cliffhangers — in general, plot. But this meant that the socalled “unwashed masses” now were exposed to such writing, so that writers no longer had to hang around court or otherwise suck up to aristocrats, publishing their books by subscriptions to the wealthy (which constriction obviously required that the wealthy find such books pleasing). Democracy means including the lowest common denominator as well as the connoisseur.