Wouldn’t It Be Nice as the Beach Boys Say?

Wouldn’t it be nice to be a published author? By which I mean to say wouldn’t it be nice to be a commercially published author, the publication of whose book (or books) would be undertaken by one of the big (medium-sized, or even smaller) names in the publishing world – said publication being paid for by the aforementioned commercial publisher, who would be only too delighted to have your permission to advertise, market, distribute your book, organise personal appearances in connection with your book, and subsequently, too, to commission second, third, fourth, fifth – umpteen editions of your book, whilst arranging temporary storage for those copies of your book which have not yet been ordered by an ecstatic book trade, not to say your clamouring public worldwide?

Well, yes, you say. Of course, it would be nice to be a commercially published author.

That is to say, those of you who would say this are those writers who have never written a book, will never write a book, have not yet completed their own major opus, have already produced their major opus only to find it spends more time in their bottom drawer than with their publisher(s) of choice – or have even coughed up the wherewithal with which to self-publish their major opus, or (like myself) have expended money (big money, let me tell you) on several separate occasions in order to foist as many as four book titles on to an unsuspecting public, one of which books (let me also tell you) was shortlisted for a major prize back in 2006 alongside a book by this year’s Booker prize-winner, Howard Jacobson. Not that he turned up on that previous occasion nor (as far as I know) offered any excuse as a non-attendant non-winner.

Still, four years and four book titles on, I must admit that it probably would be nice to be a commercially published writer as opposed to what I have latterly become, namely, a much more impoverished self-published writer who may not in conscience or in fact self-publish again due to family exigencies which may lay more legitimate claims upon self-financing.

What I remain, though, these four years and four book titles on is more than willing to turn up if and when shortlisted (Yeah, like as if, you say?), but even more convinced that, nice though it would be to be a commercially published writer, that life in the foregoing instance would not necessarily be rosier. Because the plain fact of the matter is that there are very few commercially published writers who may depend upon it that their next book will definitely be accepted for publication. I say this consequent upon hearing how one erstwhile popular writer has had his latest offering rejected. The author in question in this instance is a million seller. So very few writers are immune to being so curtly dismissed.

I intend to revisit this theme next time. In the meantime perhaps you rejected writers may care to acquaint yourselves with a wonderful book by a wonderful writer that tells us what life is like for the generality of commercially published writers, namely How Not to Write a Novel: Confessions of a Mid-List Author by David Armstrong

April 2011


Bill Keeth’s books, Every Street in Manchester ISBN 1859880649 & Write It Self-Publish It Sell It ISBN 97809558863 are available from Amazon and all good book shops. Bill can also be contacted via his website, http://www.novelnovella.com.

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