The Small Publisher Route to Success #4


Time for an occasional series ... for those not up to speed on recent postings, a summary. My previous publishers were Harper Collins, Random House and Macmillan. My new publisher is Heart of Albion, a small independent based in Leicestershire, the county of my birth here in England. I submitted a manuscript of ON SACRED MOUNTAINS to them by email one day in January. The next morning the illustrator and distributor were contacted and the book would be printed in a matter of weeks. Thrilling!

The publisher then contacted Random House in New York to seek the UK rights of I WAS CARLOS CASTANEDA. I expected failure - especially after visiting Rider (part of Random House UK) prior to the US publication, getting an editor excited enough to want to see a copy, then finding New York refusing to submit one because it did not fit in with their strategy. In fact, Bob at Heart of Albion won through and that UK edition is already slated for September.

How come this is a 'route to success'? Surely success means going with one of the big houses once again?

Today has given me two lessons on that count. One was getting in touch with my agent. She has had two novels to sell since October, one of which she has read and sent out to just the one editor in early December. Today she tells me it has been rejected - I don't know when. Suddenly her enthusiasm for it, which was overwhelming, seems very dampened. Rather than doubting her choice of editor (which I of course do, since enough of those who know have raved about the book) she seems to have started to doubt the book. I feel disempowered, at too many removes from getting that book out into the world.

On the other hand I hear from Bob that ON SACRED MOUNTAINS is getting into the distributor's spring catalogue after all. Also he has just accepted a quote for a mailshot about the book to over 4000 UK bookshops and libraries. I couldn't want for more.

2002 will see publication of two of my books - that is so much surer a route to success than hanging around the edges of the tired publishing industry with nothing happening, knowing their November 2003 slots are already full. I've just made up a list of 26 book festivals that I will now approach to give a reading or talk or workshop around both titles. I've got something I can promote, something I can work with. Bob's putting himself on the line to bring out the books, which adds a certain zip and immediacy to our email correspondence. Dealing with people in the big houses often seems more like trying to communicate with plankton in a whaletank, more aware of being gobbled up than they dare to be about writers or writing.

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