Since returning to creative writing six years ago, I’ve scrambled up several steep learning curves to do with the business of writing. These include formatting, book cover design, marketing the ebooks I self-published on Smashwords and Amazon and the all-important lessons of how to write a synopsis and query agents.
I made another round of supplications to the ‘gatekeepers’, in February, after spending the previous two months editing my fifth novel. As any writer knows, that feels like wading through porridge, but there’s still a discernible feeling of achievement in having polished a manuscript.
I’m at a stage where I feel like I’ve created a potentially commercial product—which is how I’m increasingly coming to view my novels—rather than taking joy in them as a readable story. Despite this confidence, I know I’m a nobody, an unpublished author looking for his first publishing contract. Any marketability I have comes from where I live in Cornwall, which is popular as a holiday destination and from being the location of the successful television adaptation of Winston Graham’s Poldark stories.
I know that some bestselling authors are poor writers, but what makes me mad is that if my manuscript was submitted to the gatekeepers by a media celebrity (who’s already got fame and wealth), then it would be snaffled up immediately. Commercially, it’s the way of the world in publishing that someone with an existing high profile, a ‘platform’, will be more attractive a risk than someone anonymous who will take more effort to promote—but it still makes me mad!
It’s proof that no one cares what you’ve written. Would-be readers are more enticed by already knowing who the author is, than anything to do with the quality of the story. As an example supermodel/supertwit Naomi Campbell has ‘written’ several novels and biographies—I don’t know if she’s read them!
That’s what makes me angry—realising publishing is a business and has little to do with art.
How about you?