Monday, 17 January 2011

And Now I'm Even Dreaming Blogposts

Last night I had a terrible dream.  My daughter Helen (not my real life daughter - in fact, it was moaning Helen from The Archers) had a non-fiction book she'd written.  I mentioned the book to an editor friend who suggested a particular publisher might be interested.  I passed the info onto Helen, who duly wrote to the publisher.  But, sadly, the publisher had only the day before commissioned a virtually identical book on the same subject.  

The info pushed Helen off the rails.  She complained: the publisher had stolen her idea; the editor had stolen her idea; everybody was culpable of a great wrong; she was going to make them pay.  I tried to reason with her, but she was beyond reason.  She ranted and raved about the conspiracy she perceived against her for so long that in the end I woke up utterly exhausted.
OK.  It was only a dream but there was a core of truth**.  Some people really do believe that there's a conspiracy by publishers and agents against them.  I have met them.  They are full of grievances about how an agent didn't read the whole of the manuscript, or a publisher is obviously only interested in celebrities.  I have heard a man who I previously thought was quite normal state with confidence that the sole reason his book was turned down was that editors are young female arts graduates who obviously couldn't understand the science behind his novel.  That maybe true, but I have seen that book, and it has one of the least appealing first pages I've ever read.

Publishing is a poorly paid industry.  It's been hit by the recession and there have been job cuts.  Those who are left are usually doing two people's jobs.  They don't have time for conspiracies.  But nor do they have time to spare on reading submissions.  You have to grab them with your covering letter and, most importantly, your writing. Your first page needs to be brilliant, and so does your second, and third and fourth...

** And not just that Helen is a pain in the neck and it's a pity she didn't die rather than Nigel who never did anyone any harm and was an all round pleasant and cheerful chap.  BTW if you don't listen to The Archers this won't make any sense to you.


liz fenwick said...

Yay! You're posts have just turned up in my blog list!!!


Sarah Duncan said...

Hooray! I struggled with Blogger all afternoon (feet were stamped, tears were shed, rude words were spoken) but hoped I'd cracked it. I didn't think they were going to come until I'd done a new post, so that's great news.

Can you let me know if they're doing everything they're supposed to be doing from your POV?

liz fenwick said...

Will do!All looks good so far.