Sunday, 3 January 2010

Dreams Can Come True

There are all sorts of myths which vanity presses and self-publishing companies encourage. Two of the most enduring are that publishers won't consider debut authors; and that publishers don't promote their writers' books any more.

If that's the case, someone ought to tell Jamie Ford so he can stop making such obviously delusional posts.

(He's living the dream and deserves every wonderful moment of it. I hope that a few of us get there too this year.)

14 comments:

Sally Zigmond said...

Thank you for the link, Jane. I like happy and positive news when yet another dollop of snow has landed in my neck of the woods with no sign of a thaw. The novel looks good but it seems that no British publisher has picked it up yet. Maybe this year?

Funnily enough, just before I checked up on HPRW, I was reading a email newsletter from the Andrew Lownie literary agency. Admittedly, he deals almost exclusively in non-fiction but he says that debut authors are doing better than established ones at getting deals at the moment.

Carole Anne Carr said...

Hi Jane, I grew tired of the lottery and self-published my children's books. Lots of hard work and needs courage, did it all without help, but the books are selling and I'm about to publish my third, and at 73, couldn't wait to be noticed, and now it's great fun.

Jane Smith said...

Sally, I get Andrew Lownie's newsletter too: it's great, isn't it? It's very useful. I particularly like the articles and submissions updates that he publishes on his website.

As for snow--we've got LOADS here and I've had quite enough of it.

Jane Smith said...

Carole Anne, I'm glad you're enjoying your self-publishing venture. If you'd like to submit a copy or two of your books to my review site I'd be pleased to write about them (but I warn you: I am a fierce critic, and only recommend a few books each year).

I have to take issue with you about the "lottery" aspect, though: getting published isn't nearly as much of a lottery as some people like to say it is. If you've written a good enough book, your odds of getting published are far better than is widely believed.

Dan Holloway said...

I've come across Jamie on another blog that was campaigning to get him a British publisher. Good on him.

Back when I was seeking representation I had a very helpful e-mail from my "dream agent" which said that a debut author of literary fiction needed a "big splash" book in the current climate. That was back in about April I think. I certainly don't think it's as hard to get published as people claim - once you weed out the duff books the odds are way better than those usually cited (not, of course, if one has written one of the duff books - how on earth does one tell that?). But I donthink that's worth bearing in mind.

For those who think debut authors of literary fiction can't make it, can I point them to the wonderful small press To Hell With First Novels, through the www.tohellwithpublishing.com website.

emmadarwin said...

Speaking as an ex-debut author of literary(ish) fiction, if you see what I mean, I've heard it in various industry places that it's easier in some ways for editors to persuade an acquisitions meeting to buy a debut novel because 'no track record' cuts both ways: scope for boundless optimism, for talking up the USP and the elevator pitch, even in a deeply flawed book...

It's the really good, working author with unspectacular but solid sales and fanbase, and not much prospect of breaking out of that level, who is being swept off the publishers' lists like old wedding confetti.

I know I'll get my head bitten off for this, but in some ways I think it's much harder to have a modest success, and then find the ground cut from under your feet through no fault of your writing, than it is to be told that, sorry, your writing isn't something the industry has space for in the first place.

Not that I'm looking nervously forward to trying to sell my third (and, fingers crossed, fourth) novels, or anything...

Dan Holloway said...

I actually agree 100% Emma. You'll think I'm bonkers, but I actually find that (personally, not at all saying it's teh case for others) one of the compelling reasons to self-publish - you can build a solid fan base without pressure - and no one will cut you off if you don't hit massive early targets. That gives a writer huge freedom to find their voice without being trapped by the expectation to repeat what they did in novel one, or do something utterly different in novel two.

I will have everything crossed for you in your negotiations :)

On a shameless plug note, I'd love to leave a link because for the first time in gawd knows how many years I wrote a poem. Sorry, Jane - feel free to excise

http://agnieszkasshoes.blogspot.com/2010/01/poem.html

emmadarwin said...

Dan, one of the times when it seems self-publishing can work, too, is the mid-list author who's been dropped: there's the fanbase, ready and waiting...

See Lee Jackson, publishing his latest online:

http://www.victorianlondon.org/diary/index.htm

On a slight tangent, I think the utterly different/wholly the same problem is one of the few ways where luck can come into it. Most so-called luck is actually created by persistence and/or hard work, but it IS luck if your natural writerly tendency is towards the right balance of new and familiar, just as it is luck if what you write best is something the industry happens to want at the moment.

emmadarwin said...

Oops - and thanks for the crossing-things thing...

Guinevere said...

Good news, indeed, and interesting stuff in the comments as well. I don't know what to believe about the publishing industry quite yet. I'm jut hoping that it isn't as dire as many make it out to be!

Donna Hosie said...

I've been reading about Jamie Ford's progress over on his agents blog. Not only is he a talented writer, but he also has an amazing support network around him.

(He also works his arse off promoting his novel!)

Jane Smith said...

Dan and Emma, yes. Thanks for that. And happy new year to you both!

Guinivere, I don't think that publishing is dire at all. There seems to be a direct correlation between how well you write, and how kindly you consider the publishing business to be: the harder you work at your writing, the better your reception is likely to be.

steeleweed said...

I think a lot of people confuse fantasies with dreams. Fantasies make you feel good, dreams make you work. And the harder you work, the better you chances of attaining your dreams. From what I saw on Jamie's blog, he worked hard and deserves his success.

Carole Anne Carr said...

Hi Jane,
Thank you for your reply, I'm on to fifth printing with one of my books, the third with another, and if I can have my next book into English Heritage and the museum bookshops in the Ironbridge Gorge by early this year, then I think I shall become better known, although the reviews from children are enough to keep me going.
I'm having to concentrate on niche selling at the moment, but my books are adventure stories which hopefully one day will have a wider audience.
I should love you to read one, and shall send. Don't know if your address is on the blog, but shall look when this is sent.
Happy New Year, Carole.