Do you think it feels the same to say “I’m a published author” if you don’t have a physical, printed book in your hands? I certainly think it would be nice to have a copy sat on my bookshelf, and to know that there are a couple of libraries in the country where someone might wander in and pick it off the shelf.
Five agencies out there have yet to respond, have yet to send me an email like this last one that I received on Monday…
“Many thanks for sending us this proposal, which I read with interest. I considered it carefully but I’m afraid on balance it just doesn’t quite grab my imagination in the way that it must for me to offer to represent you. So I must follow my instinct and pass on this occasion. I’m sorry to be so disappointing, but thanks for thinking of us. Of course this is a totally subjective judgement, so do try other agents and I wish you every success.”
[Agency Name Withheld]
Then, on Friday, I received this from Book Guild Publishing in Brighton…
“Further to our email of 11 July, we have completed aninitial assessment of the submitted sample material. We very much enjoyed the opening chapters to New Fire. The set-up is excellent, and your descriptions of the city and the activities that go on there are lucid and memorable. With vivid characterisation and a strong narrative right from the start, this material certainly whets the reader’s appetite, and we look forward to reading the complete novel. Please submit the MS to this email address.”
Now, the difference here is that Book Guild Publishing have a ‘partnership’ programme which builds a package for each author and requires the author to share some of the costs of publishing. Book Guild really seems to have grasped that their industry has changed forever and that the costs of printing no longer require the extraordinary levels of risk-mitigation that the old industry needed. In this modern, internet enabled world with print-on-demand, the barriers can be lowered a little and the readers be empowered to decide what they want to read. ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is a fine example of a book that would probably never have seen the light of day twenty years ago. Now, fee-paying readers have the choice. It may not be a literary masterpiece, but hey, 95% of readers don’t ever read a Booker or Pulitzer prize winner.
Where was I going with all of this? Oh yes, if I can raise several hundred pounds, I might just make that physical copy a reality and stand in Waterstones all Saturday with a winning smile on my face.