One of the few things I’ve been clear about throughout this work so far is the desire to be published through a traditional publisher. There are a few reasons for that: the sense of it still being “proper” publishing; the feeling of someone else validating my ideas; that we seem to be in a period of time where there is something of a last opportunity to go through one of the old publishing houses before they close their doors forever…
But if thruth be told I think it’s also become significantly shaped by an early conversation with my literary agent who talked about the chance of some sort of advance.
Now let’s be clear, the sorts of figures she was talking about weren’t particularly significant. But they were enough to make me think that it would be worth persuing because it would give me a bit of a buffer to take time out from other paid work.
But having now spoken to three publishers I’m increasingly sceptical that anyone will back the book from that world without me having written the whole thing up front.
This is hardly surprising. The book industry has been turned upside down and given a through duffing-up since I was working in it at the BBC back in the late 1990s. The arrival of online retailers (whisper the “A”-word…), the dropping of the Net Book Agreement, the rise of micro-run digital printing in turn leading to a revolution in self-publishing opportunities, the rise of the eBook…
Publishers are still important, but they are no longer the gatekeepers of knowledge that they once were.
I’ve been working under a fanciful idea that I can produce a bit of the work and then someone will provide me with some sort of support. I need to change that – I have to work on the principle that I need to write the whole thing (or more or less the whole thing) and then work out how to take it to market. Waiting for a cheque for a publisher will be a way to defer this exercise for ever.
And I should be encouraged. I have had one publisher express serious interest. Another couple have expressed curiousity in the idea.
But if I actually had the thing completed, well, at that point I’d be having very different discussions. Self-publishing, crowdfunding and traditional routes would all be potential options if I actually had something to publish.
Which leads to a major question – how do I carve out enough time to make the thing a reality?