I think it depends on how it is depicted. If it is in a negative light and he gets his goodies in the end, then I don’t think a publisher would have a problem with it.
But if it’s just conversation, it doesn’t offset anything because it doesn’t count as story.
Honestly, it sounds like the agent rejected your book for being too heavy. When you look at successful books, even the ones with the darkest topics tend to have sunlight regularly peeking through.
For example, “Room” is about a kidnapped woman and her child. Which would scare most readers a lot more than marital rape! But the child, who has never known a world outside their prison, is content with it. And though the woman seems to be in survival mode at first, you soon realize that she’s taking subtle actions to prepare for escape. You hate her kidnapper, you love her child, and you share so much of her hope that you’re biting your nails as her escape plans start to take a more definite shape. And that’s all apparent within the first hundred pages.
No agent rejected my book. It’s not even finished. Like I said, I’ve never even tried to publish. I was only commenting on someone else’s experience with a publishing agent who said her book was rejected because it merely alluded to rape.
Apologies for my confusion. I missed some details and thought you were talking about yourself.
That said, unless that agent had serious rape triggers, I’ll bet that book’s tone was as much of an issue as its subject matter.
It was also published in 1936 and the movie in 1940. That’s quite different than our current #Metoo climate.
Um, just to be clear: you included a rape to make a character irredeemable? I’m a little wary of this device. You bring up Prince of Tides, but that rape had everything to do with the victim’s family and how it crippled their relationships.
That’s why my novels aren’t for everyone. They have dark sides. They have explicit sex. Violence. They delve into characters that some people won’t like (I’m talking the heroes).
In my current series, my hero was an Army Ranger/Special Ops/Assassin for the government. What he did has never been disclosed. But he admits life isn’t black and white and he lives with what he did in the past.
In the first novel, an ex-Army buddy who’s now a police captain gets him involved in breaking up a gang extorting the local business owners because the police’s hands are tied. The gang also forces women into prostitution and uses rape to get store owners to pay. At times, the hero tortures and kills unarmed gang members. Some people simply won’t believe a hero could do that even though there are many books/movies where that happens (e.g., the movies Taken and Death Wish, even at the end of the first Jack Reacher he kills the Russian in cold blood). So I try to make the bad guys really bad and worthy of what they get. Rape makes them really bad (that’s what sets the hero off in Death Wish).
In my WIP, the bad guy is a Mexican drug lord and the people working for him, some of whom are U.S. law enforcement. I don’t know how they’re going to get killed yet, but it won’t be pleasant (for them). Again, rape is part of the plot and used to show how despicable they are and deserving of what they get.
Even my first novel under the same pen name has rape. The theme of the story is revenge. There are two subplots that come together at the end so there are two heroes. One hero is a policemen who is consumed with guilt because he blames himself for his kid sister’s rape when they were young. He’s hunting down and executing the rapists. That rape is simply alluded to. The other hero is also seeking revenge and uses the man’s wife to destroy the man. To him she’s collateral damage. Since it’s non-consensual, it’s rape. But he’s really a nice guy and is torn between hurting her (emotionally) and getting his revenge. He ends up falling in love with her.
As I said, these novels aren’t for everyone.
My other novel, under a different pen name, is a YA novel. Of course there’s no rape in that one, although there is blackmail and murder that happens behind the scenes. It is a mystery.
So what sells? My YA novel has been a disappointment while the others have done well.
Drug lords, prostitution rings, etc. I got all that. Lots of stories have them. It happens in real life. Now that you’ve explained your stories, I understand more of what you are saying.
Rape as a plot device can be incredibly tacky if the execution is poor. My initial concern was that you made a character rape/sexually assault someone for the sole purpose of showing their badness. That trick can get pretty old. I love reading/watching stories where main characters do bad things, but they tend to go outside the box of just rape, though.
Oh yes, Gone With The Wind is problematic in a few ways! I was merely pointing to it as an example of marital rape not overshadowing a book.
I don’t have a problem with the “content” of Gone with the Wind. My point was since it was published in the 1930’s it can’t really be used as proof that books with taboo subjects (in 2018) won’t have problems with being published.
That’s fair. Though given how few queries turn into paperbacks, it would seem that anything can have a problem getting published. Rape, wordiness, the premise being more popular last year…
This why a lot of Indie authors are DIY only. They don’t want to a) wait years to see their work in print.
b) sign away a manuscript for life of copyright (author lifetime + 70 years).
c) not be able to DIY publish in the meant time.
d) do all the marketing required of them.
e) Wait years get paid 15% of Net which goes to the agent first for their cut (10% to 20%).
f) Wait years to get paid by the agent.
I disagree with a lot of this.
a) I agree. Trad is slow.
b) Only if they signed a REALLY bad contract. If they did, that’s on them.
c) Again, that’s something that can be negotiated in the contract.
d) Um, that’s true for everyone who publishes, DIY even more than trad.
e) Nope. Payment is contractual. Yes, it can be late, but that means by weeks, not years. The WORST contract I’ve seen pays annually. Most pay quarterly. Percentage varies, net varies (again – negotiate your contract). Agents are 10-15%.
f) Only if your agent is scamming you and only if you weren’t savvy enough to add split checks in the contract.
Signing a bad contract is on the writer, no one else.
Romance has some pretty strict rules. I didn’t get my timing for the first ‘romantic’ scenes right and I couldn’t get published.
You gotta know the Rules of Romance in order to get a foot in the door.
Times have changed for romance. It (martial rape) used to be in Harlequin’s in the 1950’s and there was always at least one scene where He slapped Her.
But that was HALF A CENTURY ago. It’s not the same, today.
As is your right.
However, not many first time contracts are any better than this. I’ve listened to a LOT of first time published writers, and this is what they say.
Just go on The Passive Voice and click over to the contract page – you’re gonna see a LOT of bad contracts.
Even Dean Wesley Smith complains that he can’t get a ‘good contract’ any more. Kris Writes (I never get her whole name right.) says much the same.
YMMV - and I hope it does, but I’m not looking for a Trade Pub contract. I’d rather DIY and make pennies.
I would rather DIY it in the vast majority of cases too.
And I’m not disputing that the contracts the publishers offer are this bad. They are! They are HORRIBLE.
But they also can be negotiated. If there’s a point that you absolutely can’t live with (that the publisher refuses to change), then you don’t sign the contract.
Writers have the power to walk away. If they choose not to, that is NOT a fault of the industry. That is 100% on them.
So you don’t think the person OFFERING the contract has any part in the transaction?
I might be splitting some hair - but my POV is that the person offering the contract is 75% of the transaction and when they say “Take it or leave it” they get the other 25%.
Don’t want to pick a fight, just saying I have an utterly opposite POV here.
Part in it? Of course! They have the power to negotiate the best deal for them, and also to walk away if they feel the writer is being unreasonable. They also know that behind this writers are 100 more eager to sign! Knowing that, they aren’t really pushed to change their terms.
But, bottom line, it’s up to the writer to sign the contract or not. Writers are NOT forced into bad contracts (except by their own ignorance or their own insecurity). They ALWAYS have the power to walk away.
There are lots of options for publishing out there these days. Heck, if you DIY and don’t want to pay Amazon, you can even distribute solely from your own website!
Contracts will ALWAYS favor the one who wrote it. And if the one who wrote it doesn’t need you, then they’re likely to make the contract REALLY favor them. Right now, trad publishing doesn’t need us, because there is a huge percentage of (GOOD!) writers willing to sign. Amazon doesn’t need us either, which is why you have no chance at all of negotiating a higher royalty percentage from them.
So you don’t get what you want. Either get over it or do something different. YOU have that power.
Both true and false statements here.
(a) the wait time…let’s take off the table (for the moment) that a work is ready-for-primetime (meaning it could be signed). Then yes self-publishing is faster as you could get the book out in a few months rather than 9 - 24 with a publisher. The problem? You don’t know if the work is ready-for-primetime, which you do know when it’s been picked up.
(b) true – unless you sell really poorly in which case the book will become “out of print” and revert to you. In the “old days” this happened quite frequently but these days with ebook and audio sales, a book can be kept “in print” with very little outlay of cost from the publisher – i.e. they don’t need to continue to do print runs, store the books in the warehouse, and deal with the costs of returns
© What is at play here is the non-compete clause. I’ve had contracts that have gone either way (restricted until all books in the contract or released, or just a small window of exclusivity (during the publisher’s books release, and outside that window I can produce self work. So both are doable, you just have to watch (and negotiate) your non-competing works clause in the publishers agreement.
(d) Marketing is going to be the same in both self and traditional - so no big difference here. Well, unless you have a REALLY high advance (sig-figures and above) in which case you will get a little marketing help form the publisher near the release, but not enough so that you dont’ have to do some stuff on your own.
(e) You don’t wait years for your payments. Well, not all of them. You get a “unsigning” as soon as you put pen to paper and then the other payments come when (a) your book is accepted and (b) when it is published, and if the advance is big enough it might be divided even further like a payment when the paperback comes out (or 1 year after the first release). Also it’s not 15% of net – only ebook royalties are based on net. Print books are based on list. And the amount varies. Hardcovers are 10% - 15%, paperbacks 6% - 12%, ebooks 25% (and yes that’s net). As for the payment going to the agent first. Traditionally this is how things work, but these days the publishers will cut 2 checks - one to the author and one to the agent. And as for the agent’s cut - it’s 15% for any domestic sales and 20% for overseas.
(f) Agents (assuming they get the money first - which as I explained in (e) doesn’t have to happen), must pay within a certain amount of days (indicated in the agency agreement). My agents have always paid me within 5 business days of when the publisher pay them.