Sunday, 26 June 2011


I attended the panel discussion entitled 'The World of Publishing', the panel being John Jarrold (my agent), Lee Harris (editor of Angry Robot), Julie Crisp (editorial director of Tor), Jon Weir (publicity manager for Gollanz) and David Thomas Moore and editor).

Some of the points raised bear repeating. It seems that 90% of submissions to agents/publishers torpedo themselves by not following submission guidelines and by being infested with poor spelling/grammar/punctuation. This results in them heading binwise. New writers have got to realise that publishing is a business and hence has got to be approached in a businesslike manner. I emphasised this at my workshop: getting these hygiene factors (grammar/spelling/layout etc.) is essential. If a writer can't be arsed to spellcheck his or her work then they are signalling that the chances of them meeting editorial deadlines etc. are piss poor. Of course, the corollary of this is that if you do get them right then you're immediately in the top ten per cent of all submissions.

On the subject of self-publishing the panel was surprisingly dismissive. They acknowledged that some new writers had come thru the Kindle ranks but noted that these were amazingly small in number (a handful out of the 3 million books self-published last year in the States) so really nothing much has changed.

There was a comment that some writers, tho' talented, had written books which were perceived as not commercial enough (been there with 'Dark Charismatic'!).

They also looked for enthusiasm in their writers: if a writer wasn't passionate about their work then i) it showed in their work and ii) how were they supposed to be enthused about a book if the writer wasn't.

Food for thought.

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