Publishing: Where Art Meets Commerce

Publishing is a very fine balance of discovering and nurturing literary talent while finding a way to commodify and disseminate to the masses.

I wholly appreciate literary fiction, but fiction that borderlines on experimental is difficult to sell in commercial publishing. Experimental fiction plays with form, voice, technique and style. This is to be distinguished between high-concept and genre developing fiction which can be super commercial.

I note the differences because when you search for an agent and seriously pursue trade publishing agents and editors are looking for authors and styles they can sell to editors whose publishing house can then sell to consumers.

Publishing is not creative writing. Publishing is where art meets commerce.

There are a number of literary journals and short story editors looking for experimental fiction that leans away from trade publishing, but these are two different avenues to reaching readers with your work.

Trade publishing is looking for authors that want to make money from their writing. Trade publishing is looking for writers that write for an audience, not themselves. Trade publishing is looking for author brands.

Don’t waste your time searching for an agent if you are not primed for a trade publishing career.

Image via Teleread

Published by Carly Watters

Carly Watters is a SVP, senior literary agent and director of literary branding with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial and upmarket fiction, select literary fiction, platform-driven non fiction and select memoir. She occasionally represents children's book projects. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

2 thoughts on “Publishing: Where Art Meets Commerce

  1. If you’re not interested in becoming a brand, is seeking publishing through a smaller press the route to take? I’ve been having a terrible time even finding agents to query.


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