Archive for July, 2008|Monthly archive page

Engleby

I picked up this one because several people had asked if I had read it – because part of it is written as journal entries – one of my narratives in Korakas is in journal form and they thought it might be useful to me. Very different from mine however, but I am glad I read it. Mike Engleby is an odd chap but worth reading.

If like me you were anywhere near London in the 80s it will make you smile. If like L you were at university during the 70s it will make you smile. It’ll probably do the same wherever you were or whatever you were doing during those decades. The unreliability of Mike’s (Engleby’s) narration crept over me slowly – maybe I’m just slow. I found myself laughing at some of the statements he made and as the story unfolded my laughter turned to gasping as I couldn’t believe he actually said some of the stuff, then it dawned on me that pooor old Mike might not be all he cracked himself up to be.

Another one I am pushing at people saying, ‘you must read this’ although since reading it I have read some of the reveiews and they are anything but complimentary!

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Macmillan New Writers

Long time no write I know – but I went to a writer’s group in Leicester the other evening to listen to a chap from Macmillan New Writers speak. MNW was set up two years ago by Pan Macmillan to find new writers. You email your complete manuscript to them (usual thing – guidelines on their web site) at the moment he reckons they are receiving 150 a day and they are trying to respond withing twelve weeks. If you haven’t heard within that time you haven’t been selected. If you are selected to be published (they are publishing twelve new authors a year at the moment) they do a basic run of hardback, no advance just a share of royalties. The reality of this is that you may not get an upfront payment, and due to average sales for first novels in hardback you may only get £1000 or so in royalties. But it still seems a good option to me. I don’t expect my first novel to be a smash hit, I’ll just be content to see it published. Macmillan are looking for writers with potential, who can go on to publish second and third novels. The thing that attracts me to this is that unless somebody would give me an advance of £30,000 I wouldn’t be able to give up work anyway, so for the moment writing is going to have to fit around paid work, so waiting for royalties isn’t a problem. As the whole novel is submitted the readers have the opportunity of whizzing through to see how good it is throughout and at the end, so the emphasis isn’t on those first three chapters. They came in for a lot of bad press at the outset, but I reckon it is quite a good way to get into the market place. If they choose to publish your novel (has to be a debut novel, any genre) they have an option on your second one and if you want an agent you are still free to get yourself an agent.

However… isn’t it a bit like self publishing? They copy edit but don’t edit, they do a special hardback edition rather than paperback. No special marketing budget. No advance just royalties? Is it a step into the world of publishing or is it just their way of low risk publishing and picking up on second novels if they hit a winner?

Interested to know what you think.