As a publishing outsider from the age of fourteen, sitting in my room until late at night disturbing all and sundry with the distinct sound of the dot matrix printer churning out perforated pages, I always looked at it with hope.
Hope that telling a story was as simple as writing it. That you could send off one envelope of pages and receive the life changing offer of a publishing deal from the first person you wrote to, because the process was simple and magical.
It’s not like this at all and it’s taken me some twenty-three years to get to grips with.
there has developed this alternate reality where a literary agent has become the arbiter of what makes a good story.
When you take a look around, most houses have become part of the big publishers who won’t deal direct with writers. Those who remain independent are brilliant but working with limited resources so have had to introduce the safety buffering of solicited material via agents. Some now run the agent model for profit too, having introduced mandatory creative writing courses and the like.
While the agent system is valuable, to a degree, the industry has created a itself a rather unique situation where it can only ever see what the agent allows it too. And agents have often taken this role too far. Sure they have money to make, so have to consider the financials, but there has developed this alternate reality where a literary agent has become the arbiter of what makes a good story.
This isn’t a dig at agents, but there is a clear conflict here, and it exists because of nothing more complex than human nature. An agent has to make money from the publisher, and the publisher has to make money from the submission, so the odds are stacked in favour of fads. Every book has to be the next something or other, because it’s a replicable sales model, a safe bet, an easier pitch. This is a real shame because it means people are often so focused on finding the ‘next…’ they don’t see the potential in front of them. Everybody knows the Jo Rowling fable of rejection, but feel free to tell me I’m wrong and give me a different view.
People also, of course, know just how rapidly the self-publishing market has grown. It’s huge and largely driven by writers who have failed to get the lucky and magical break into the mainstream industry. Some of it, admittedly, isn’t great but it sells and the rapid expansion should have gone a long way to becoming the wet kipper the industry needs.
All I’m really interested in doing is finding good authors, with interesting stories, who’ve written great books. I’ve no interest at all in publishing the ‘next…’ because it’s not why I’m sitting here.
I’m looking to adopt a family of writers and create a home for them. No fads, no barriers, no replicable sales models. Because readers deserve great stories and it’s not for anyone but them to decide whether a book is great or not.
We are open for unsolicited and unrepresented submissions because the process really is simple and magical, as long as you don’t care for fads.
JP for CR.