Monday, June 18, 2007

The curse of the unknown writer

Oops - technical hitch when I was writing a comment on this post. Apologies to kaz, who commented first.

Can you please tell me why it is so darn hard in this country to find (a) a publisher or (b) an agent unless you are either a celebrity or former sports star?And why are we all so snooty about genre and children's writing?And can you please fix my ceiling - it's leaking because the lady upstairs' bath has overflowed again.

This is a constant refrain among hopeful authors – with good reason – and the answer is fairly simple: it comes down to publicity. In order to sell large numbers of books – and publishing is a business, after all – publishers need to be able to get publicity for their books. With about 1000 books published in Australia each month, there’s a lot of competition for that publicity. If your author happens to be famous already, the chances of getting publicity are greatly increased. This is probably the main reason why it’s difficult for first-time novelists to get a break unless they’re already famous (for example, Tara Moss) – but it’s not impossible. I’ve placed three first novels in the past few months, with good prospects for others. Publishers are willing to look at first fiction and non-fiction – they are fundamentally book lovers, after all – but they also have to be realistic. If you really want to make sure first Australian novels get published, buy more of them!

As for genre and children’s writing – I love it, and snap up good genre and children’s authors as often as I can. People who look down their noses at books like these are completely missing out on great reading and, I would dare suggest, aren’t real readers – real readers want good stories, no matter what form they take. If people only read books for the snob value they may have, that's a boring old life.

Not sure what to do about your ceiling ... maybe call a plumber?

1 comment:

kaz said...

Should we try again? My comment/question was to do with this bit:

"I’ve placed three first novels in the past few months, with good prospects for others."

How do you find new authors, Agent S? Do you just stumble upon them in the 'slush pile'? If so, what makes them stand out from the crowd?