Tag Archives: success

Understanding the publishing model and why luck matters

Phil: After the Literary festival session, while everyone else rushed to have books signed, we had an interesting chat with Gareth Howard about the publishing model. Earlier in the evening, the idea of publishing as a business was touted. It’s an uncomfortable fact for most people gripped with the urge to write that if you want to see your words in print then you need a marketable product. Not just a good book, but a book that will sell.

One way, as we have discussed, is to be famous. If Alexa Chung (a name I picked out randomly from yesterday’s Metro so I assume she/he is famous) writes a book then it’s on the shelves. Pippa Middleton has publishing advances on offer that would allow most of us to give up work. Cynically I suspect that this isn’t because she is the new bard but more to do with having a nice bum at her sister’s wedding.

The other way is to be pushing something people want. Gareth was relating how he had worked in TV commissioning. In that industry, producers wanted certain types of programme and if you had them, you got the money. The same idea works with books. At the moment, even the owner of a pert derriere couldn’t flog a story about a boy wizard or teenage vampire. The world has been there and done that.

“But what do they want ?” I hear you cry. Dunno. And if I did, I’d probably have a go at writing it myself and become fabulously wealthy. That’s the problem.

However, it is also good news. Have you sent your novel off to a thousand agents with only rejection slips to show for it ? Worry no more. It might not be that you can’t write. Maybe you don’t need to spend hours agonising over every single word. Your problem is that you don’t have what they want at this moment in time.

You need to be lucky as well as good. A mediocre written story and agent knows they have a home for will be more readily accepted than a super one that’s unfashionable. OK, so you might start a new fashion but very few business people are going to bet on that. Far easier to tell your boss you’ve hauled something out of the slush pile, especially if it is headed “by Selena Gomez” (apparently the most searched for celebrity online. No, I don’t know who she is either. Presumably that’s why people turn to Google).

Which brings me to back to us. We are trying to sell a love story with a background firmly set in the recession. The funny stuff that goes on in the background revolves around a quango being closed down. That makes it topical – and if the double dip recession goes triple dip, we’re still in with a shot – yet hopefully with a story that transcends time. All we need is a bit of luck. Mind you, I bought a lottery ticket that evening and didn’t get a single number…

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Finding happiness in small things.

LollypopPhil: The publishers response (blogged last Thursday) caused some discussion at our airport cafe lunch venue. Rather more than the sandwiches which were, to be honest, a little stale.

Maybe the unseasonably warm weather had something to do with the state of the bread as well as our good spirits. If so, then all is forgiven as sitting outside watching the ‘planes go by was lovely. Both of us felt the same way, even “You can give me criticism and I’ll give you a knuckle sandwich” Nolan who was more concerned with trying to get as much of suntan as you can in 45 minutes while wearing work clothes.

The reply was disappointing but there were hints of promise too. Like a jump lead for our enthusiasm, it has revved up the nolanparker creative engine and some serious fiddling with the manuscript is apparently underway by my co-writer. I await the results with a mix of excitement and trepidation.

WordPress provides another measure of our progress. A week or so ago, we were awarded a badge for breaking the 20 followers barrier. Apparently this is a new feature designed to encourage all of us bloggers to follow each other until no one has time to write anything because we’re all too busy reading blog posts. I suppose that someone in WordPress headquarters has decided we all need little prizes to encourage us to keep hammering the keyboard, hence the new badges which you can read about here. Don’t just look at visitor numbers, although Robin Coyle seems happy doing this, you get a badge. Woo hoo.

They say good things come in threes and as you can see from the photo, and the real reason for this post, it does. Dear reader, feast your eyes upon my first ever prize for a sporting endeavor.

As you might guess from our headline picture, I’m not very good at sport. Look up “Last to be picked at school for any team” in the dictionary, there is a picture of me. In fact I can confidently claim to be utterly useless at any sport. You might laugh at Eddie the Eagle, but he’s Franz Klammer compared to me. Candice has medallions for running – apparently putting one foot in front of another lots of times and traversing a distance without the aid of St Johns ambulance is something to be reward with a medal, even if you’d probably prefer a Mars bar. Me. Nothing. I don’t think I even got a swimming certificate.

Sometimes this isn’t for want of trying. Every month I go Ten Pin bowling (yes, this is a sport, just like darts) with a group of friends. For at least 3 years this has been happening most months. Enough time for some of the practise to bear fruit you might think. No chance. I’m actually getting worse !

Sometimes though, even I get a break. On the score screen last night popped up a promise that if you got a strike on the next throw, a prize would be awarded. No one in our group has won this, not even Dave who is so keen that he has his own ball and shoes. Not until last night, when I lobbed the ball down the alley and knocked every pin down ! Expecting a triumphant presentation, perhaps with some champagne spraying and pretty girls like they get in Formula 1, I waited.

And waited.

For quite a while. Until we’d nearly finished the game in fact. Maybe they were busy setting up the ceremony I thought.

Eventually, I couldn’t bear it any longer and wandered over to the shoe swap counter to ask.

“You get a lollypop.” said the man in charge of shoes and shoe spray, “But I haven’t got any.”

Thwarted. I returned to the game but my heart wasn’t in it. I mean, the Olympics this year had better be more organised. “I’m sorry Mr Bolt, we forgot to order enough medals. You don’t mind do you ?” won’t go down too well.

Eventually they realised that I wasn’t a man to be trifled with and by the end of the evening, the prize had arrived. No champagne or eye candy, but hey ho, it’s not much but I’m proud of it. A plinth is under construction along with a trophy cabinet. At least I don’t have to polish it.

Little things.

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