Phil: Not The Book obviously, that never went away, I mean the book that all writers are supposed to treat as some sort of bible – The Writers and Artists Yearbook.
When we went down to the even in London a few months ago, copies of this were on sale at a bargain price to all the budding Browns and Rowlings. They did a reasonable trade as a copy of this is de rigour the bookshelf if you aspire to getting published. Like the fancy notepad, it’s a staple writer accessory. Who doesn’t need instant access to the addresses of every company in the publishing world or the details of every potential outlet for your work ?
Erm, well, the publishing world is in the Internet nowadays and sometimes with more up to date details than those found in the book. This point was raised and the editors admitted that if there was a discrepancy you should go with the web. As for outlets, well for magazine work you ought to be reading an issue or two before submitting and if you pay attention, the editors contact details are usually inside. So, is there a point or is this just another bit or literary decoration ? Yes there is, in my opinion.
What the web doesn’t do is bring together stuff you didn’t know about. Simply browsing through gives you ideas that you wouldn’t have had any other way. There might be websites that claim to offer the same service but they want you to pay for it and so you don’t really save any money.
Better still, there are articles by famous and successful people to read. It’s a bit like Playboy in this respect – writers might say they read it for the articles but really they are lusting over the agents and publishing house details in between.
So, as a writer, I have a copy on my desk ? Nope. But then I have an advantage over many authors. Living in posh and sunny Leamington Spa so my local library will let me borrow their copy. For free. Apart from the fines when I hang on to it too long anyway. Many libraries only have the Yearbook as a reference item and even then it’s hidden under the counter like a mucky video that you have to ask specially for. Writers are obviously untrustworthy and will make off with it if access is not controlled. Except in my town, where we are too nice for that apparently.
(Biscuit note – The digestives in the photo are from the Co-op own brand range and a lot nicer, more shortbready, than the McVities version)