New Beginnings or Old Boys’ Network?

UK television is one of the things I moved to West Africa to escape from, but occasionally one hears a snippet from TV world that has a bearing on the true state of our trade as writers.

Thanks to Jonathan on one of the peer-review sites for bringing this little gem to my attention.

It’s often said that agents and editors act as quality control, ensuring only the best writing is actually published and put in front of the reading public.

Now we all know that’s not entirely true. We can all think of published books that somehow slipped through the quality control net. Some will no doubt say Sugar & Spice is a fine example.

But by and large the argument runs that agents and editors sieve the wheat from the chaff, and the first and biggest hurdle we all face to become published authors is to actually being good at writing.

Enter debut novelist Fern Britton.

Now I’ve not read Fern’s book, and I make no comment on its literary shortcomings, if indeed it has any. It may well be a masterpiece!

But I was stunned to learn that Fern had been on BBC’s The One Show doing a promotional slot.

No surprise there, of course. Book publishing is a commercial business and Fern is a TV celebrity. Peas in a pod.

No, what left me stunned was Fern’s apparent admission that her editor came round to this new and unpublished novelist every month to read the chapters she had written, and taught her how to make a list of chapters, so if she got in a muddle she could check where she was supposed to be…

So that’s where we’ve been going wrong!

Writing the book first, and then trying to find an editor.

Memo to Saffi: Please find me an editor living on the West African coast who can pop round each month to organise my chapters before I email them to you.

Oh no. Don’t worry. I’ve just realised the chapters have numbers. Now, does chapter five come before chapter four or after it?

Yeah, on second thoughts, tell the editor I can squeeze her in on the first of each month, so long as she doesn’t stay too long and doesn’t expect a cup of tea.

New Beginnings by Fern Britton is available on Amazon in paperback and hardback.

And by the way, the Kindle edition, curiously, is the same price as the paperback…

Rather impressively it was published today, March 17, and by mid-afternoon had already notched up eleven reviews.

Bloody fast readers!

It’s also number, at 5pm on the day of launch, at 57, and climbing, in the Kindle charts.

If it displaces us at the top we shall take solace from the fact that we organised our own chapters, thank you very much.

    • Shannon
    • March 17th, 2011

    Can’t knock the hustle. Funny that a woman took advantage of the old boys’ network. Even if we don’t have the power of celebrity behind us, hopefully we can put together a support team for when we don’t know how to order our chapters 🙂

  1. If it’s good it will last. If not then its numbers will spike early, like a heavily advertised movie after opening weekend. Either way, we must all tend our gardens.

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