No question for this one, just me ranting a little.
It's always hard for me to find publishers for fiction, especially debut novels. It's especially hard at the moment, with book sales down, booksellers nervous and publishers also nervous about not just the economy but digital publishing too. Even novelists who have already been published are having a hard time if they haven't sold several thousand copies of their last novel.
The fundamental reason for this is that there is not perceived to be a robust market for Australian fiction. Australians don't like to buy Australian novels (although they love Australian non-fiction). There are, no doubt, a few reasons for this, and a big one is that publishers tend to favour literary fiction, which is not the type of fiction most people want to read. There is not a lot of expertise or interest in the sort of commercial fiction that sells in big numbers here when it's written by other people. I've written before that there can be snobbery about commercial fiction. And we see the big sales for overseas writers continue. This could be a form of cultural cringe too - we just don't believe Australian writers would be 'good enough'. The only endeavour in which Australians seem to think we're 'good enough' is sport.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of submissions I receive are for fiction. And I receive a lot of submissions, so that's a lot of fiction being written.
My question to those of you writing Australian fiction (for, if you're Australian and you're writing a novel, you're writing Australian fiction) is: when was the last time you bought an Australian novel, of any type? Have you bought one in the last year? Have you bought more than one? If you have not bought one or have bought only one, I guess we can't say that you're actively supporting Australian fiction, can we? As our economy works on supply and demand, no demand = no supply. No supply is rapidly where we are heading, which means that if you are writing fiction it's going to because harder and harder to get that novel published by conventional means.
If you've just realised that you don't buy Australian fiction, yet you write it and expect to get it published, you may be coming up with reasons: it's too expensive, there's nothing that I want to read or, perhaps, Australian novels aren't as good ... Yes, some novels are expensive (although what price someone's years of intellectual and creative toil?). I try to get first novels published at B formats, priced under $30, but I lose most of the time. It's frustrating. So I understand why you may not want to take a $35 risk on an unknown author. Why, then, would anyone want to take the same risk on you and your novel? And if you have a cultural cringe about Australian novels, why will yours escape someone else's cultural cringe?
So here's a suggestion. If you are writing Australian fiction and want to get published one day, the best thing you can is to buy Australian fiction and create a bigger demand for it than publishers currently think exists. Actively choose an Australian novel over a novel from another country. There are lots of great Australian novels out there. If you love genre fiction, buy Australian thrillers, romance or crime novels over books from other countries. Become a mindful book buyer and reader. We know that energy is neither created nor destroyed, it just changes form. If you put more of your book-focused energy into Australian books, there will be more to move around. This not a woo-woo incense-burning statement - it's science.
My personal policy is that I buy Australian books and I usually borrow books from foreign writers from my local library or buy them as ebooks. I work in the Australian publishing industry and, even though I don't have a huge amount of disposable income to spend on books, this is one expense I will bear because it's important. Is it important to you too?