Sunday, 5 July 2009

Pride or Prejudice...The dilemma facing the world of publishing

By Darren E Laws
While many POD publishers are seeking the acceptance of the industry and wondering when the platforms for eBooks and other digital forms of publishing are going to truly catch on, it is apparent there are many battles ahead to win within linked sectors of the industry. Literary agents for one would rather their artists go unpublished than use a publisher who does not want to go down the traditional route.
At Caffeine Nights Publishing we occasionally get the odd leftfield submission, one that makes us stop and think. Recently one such incident occurred when a leading London agent submitted two novels to us. One novel was from a well known actor/comedian/writer and the other from a lesser know author. Both titles were excellent and the sort of titles we would normally be thrilled to publish but it was clear from the outset that the literary agent representing these two artists has not done their homework. Whether the manuscripts came to us via an intern or someone new in their position it is not clear, but the nature of the introduction letter and any lack of following submission protocol showed either arrogance, contempt or naivety, three qualities certainly not lacking in the world of publishing.
Of course the moment we informed the literary agent of our approach to publishing and our policies of not giving advances or printing thousands of copies of a title before establishing if there is a demand for the title, the agent got cold feet and withdrew the submissions with a reply that hinted that they would search the bottom of their unsellable pile to forward us something more suitable. Of course I wasn’t meant to feel insulted at such a slight. The inference being that POD and digital publishing is not ‘real publishing’. The agent in question did not even have the grace to return answers to a couple of questions I posed. I sometimes wonder where the real professionals are in this industry. Simple courtesies can go a long way to making amends for prejudice.
I am quite sure that both authors will find a home and I will follow both titles with interest to see whether they make the light of day. It would be an interesting scenario if one did not. I truly hope this is not the case. They say pride comes before a fall and one can’t help thinking the world of literature and publishing is certainly not without its fair share of hubris.

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