I follow a lot of blogs and forums about writing and have received a lot of second hand information about the publishing world. I have experience myself of self-publishing, but it occurred to me last night that I have no idea what it’s like to work through publication with a registered house. Would I want to? Would I enjoy the process?
On the one hand, I have always written with an eye on publication as the prize. On the other, I want to write what I want to write. I mentioned Pulp Idol previously on the blog. If I had been published before I wouldn’t have been able to enter.
Competition Rule 3: Writers must not have been published by a recognised/registered publisher other than self-published, in hard copy or on the internet.
I’m self-published so that’s obviously ok. I entered the competition for experience and exposure. If I win I’ll be ecstatic, but I’m genuinely not that bothered about it. Best case scenario? I win, it attracts publishing interest, I get my book out there in an official manner and it’s all wonderful. Worst case scenario? I win, it attracts publishing interest, I get my book out there in an official manner but it’s a horrible experience and the book that comes out the other end isn’t the one I wanted to write. And then I’m excluded from competitions like this one in future.
Dan Holloway, who I’ve reviewed on this site before and who I speak to quite regularly (as he’s a great bloke) writes ultra gritty, underground literary fiction. It’s marvellous, but it isn’t for your average bookshop browser. He’s said to me on more than one occasion that he has no interest in mainstream publishing as he doesn’t think it will allow him to write the work he is compelled to write. Do I agree with him? I’m not sure. I don’t think there’s much point him beating at the doors of Faber & Faber (which is a criminal shame as his work is much better than a lot of other people that are under that imprint, and other imprints) but I do secretly hope one day that a major publisher will emerge that specialises in edgy writers. If that day comes I would love to see Dan spearheading that kind of thing as a major list writer. It’s not for me to decide, of course, it’s his work and his career and he certainly doesn’t need any advice given the progress he’s made and the incredible writing he’s produced. And at the moment that publisher doesn’t exist anyway. But if given the chance, would I snatch at a contract on offer? I said in my last interview I would; in all honesty, I’m not so sure. I’d be very cautious.
Of course, this is my view today. Tomorrow it will have changed. I never said I wasn’t fickle.