For an aspiring writer in the US and/or in English, a standard dream is to have your book published by one of the massive powerhouses of New York City: Harper Collins, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Macmillan and many more, including their numerous subsidiaries, or by a smaller “boutique” publishing house that is also New York-based. This aspiration is completely understandable. It’s the same for a playwright who wants her work on Broadway, a visual artist who wants his work at the MET, or the composer who wants her work at Carnegie Hall. These are all New York arts institutions of huge international renown.
The difference, however, is that a theater, a museum, and a concert hall are physical spaces where those artistic creations can take place or be accommodated. With publishing houses, it’s not so much about the actual physical location of the headquarters in Manhattan. It’s about the marketing and distribution network and the money that it brings in, because it’s a widely regarded imprimatur of quality.
What does this have to do with naturist fiction? Well, the standard-bearers of this “imprimatur,” and the agents who negotiate between writers and publishers, are skittish about the bottom line. And they should be – this is capitalism, after all, like it or not. And so some topics are rejected out of hand, topics that are pre-determined to be low sellers.
Here’s what’s happened to me and a few other writers I know who have dared to send our work to agents: Reputable agent with legitimate interest in the genre (literary fiction, sci fi, fantasy or what have you) requests and reads first chapter of well-written naturist novel, and says, this is great, but… all the nudity! I can’t represent this to a publisher. They’ll say it won’t sell / there’s not enough of a market / it’s not mainstream.
Keep in mind that one receives many, many, many more rejections than interest, so when an agent asks to see a chapter, that’s a big deal. But, there are all kinds of other considerations that remain unknown to the aspiring writer. These range from what’s been published recently, or what’s been proposed and failed recently, to budget issues internal to the company… whatever.
It’s easy for someone else to look at the situation and say, well, you just don’t have the talent. However, that’s a very subjective statement, and it can be countered with another subjective statement: There is so much dreck churned out by the New York publishing house industry that it’s no surprise to read, in the acknowledgements of said dreck, “thanks to So-and-so, my uncle, for the contact.” It so often comes down to knowing the right people.
It would be easy to become bitter. But the antidote is to publish through CreateSpace (now part of Kindle) or several other online avenues. And this is what most of us naturist writers have done. Frankly, we are the pioneers of a kind of reading experience that Madison Avenue will not bring you for fear of failure to make money. As far as these publishing houses are concerned, nudity only sells when it’s about sex. Entirely without the distribution and marketing support of these major industry players, we naturist writers humbly but passionately subvert that expectation.