Sunday, November 06, 2005

Recycling the slush pile

There is an argument that says anyone who puts their novel onto the net having failed to find a conventional publisher is simply recycling the slush pile.

That may be true. I am sure that 95% of the mss rejected by conventional publishers don't deserve an audience. It's that remaining 5% that matter though.

A conventional - or maybe we should say old-fashioned - publisher will reject a book for many reasons not based on merit but rather economics. If an author is too old, ugly or unknown he/she is already handicapped. If the book doesn't have an obvious niche or genre there's a problem. If the book is in any way difficult why should they bother? I don't have a problem with this. Agents and publishers need to make a living. They are obliged to champion books and authors that, at least eventually, will sell. The economics of traditional publishing dictate as much.

Independent publishers (a nice phrase coined by the Grumpy Old Bookman) don't suffer from the same economic constraints. This blog costs me nothing apart from my time and effort.

And if a few books get published that attract a few readers that otherwise would be denied the pleasure, where's the problem? Who knows, one of those otherwise unheralded books might even turn out to be a masterpiece that will last forever. And if it's a clunker it will suffer the fate it deserves.

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