Dear every publisher in the world.
This letter is not typed from a bitter place. My heart is a smiley sticker.
As I type, I type these words with Captain Happy in control at the wheel of my brain.
I have a simple question for you.
What does it take in this current climate to convince a publisher to read original material from a writer?
As far as unpublished authors go, am I close to being one of the authors with a chance of having their first chapter reviewed?
Before you answer my question, here is some information about me; some reasons why, I believe, perhaps I should be given half an hour of your time in a day of your choosing.
I was shortlisted for The Dundee International Book Prize, please click on the 2012 shortlist here: http://www.dundeebookprize.com/archive.htm
I have a decent chunk of followers on Twitter: https://twitter.com/craigstone_
I have been interviewed live on the BBC: http://bit.ly/BBCComedyCafe
I did have, by reputation, one of the best agents in the business, but we parted ways because I spoke my mind, and asked questions like, what have you done in the past year to further my career? And what publishers have you sent my book to?
Should I have asked these questions? Absolutely I should have, my dream is not for others to hold for a moment, to then place on the side to forget about, so it grows old, and dries out in the shade of the successful dream of somebody else.
I have plenty of good Amazon reviews:
I have more reviews on Amazon.com and Goodreads.
Recently I received a pair of clogs from Holland, covered in glitter, from a lady calling herself a fan.
They don’t fit. Sadly.
I say these facts not to boast (except for the clogs, I am clearly boasting about being sent glittery clogs) but merely to illustrate the evidence suggests I am one of the talents, and not one of the time wasters.
Yet despite the evidence, I still can’t get a publisher to read my books.
Plus, the reviews for my books are entirely honest. Honesty, I’m wondering – does it matter these days? Are we really in the era, (perhaps we have always been?) where it’s better to be an average writer with a great marketing campaign, than a great writer with an average campaign?
I always thought the best marketing campaign, would be to publish the best book possible?
My book titles are Life Knocks, The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness, How to Hide from Humans, and the book I am working on now is titled Deep in the Bin of Bob.
Life Knocks is a story about a recluse forced to live with a lonely old man with boundary issues; The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness is one homeless man’s race to save a parrot from becoming the dinner of another homeless man. Deep in the Bin of Bob is a story about a mute Muslim boy who climbs to the top of a council estate in Bermondsey. Life Knocks takes place in Willesden Green, North London. It spans Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Hawaii. The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness takes place in a North London Park. Deep in the Bin of Bob takes place in Bermondsey, central London, which in this book, is in the bin of a guy called Bob.
I don’t think any other writer is going to be writing anything similar.
What happened to supporting original books from UK Authors? Not even supporting them, just giving them a chance? Turn me down. That’s all I’m asking for. Take on my challenge, read one of my books, and turn me down. At least then I can get on with my life.
I have been in the queue for quite a long time. 17 years of waiting.
What do I need to do, who do I need to be, to get my books read by a publisher?
Does being shortlisted in an internationally respected competition nudge me above the author who has not been shortlisted in an internationally respected competition?
Do I need 200,000 Twitter followers? Does having 100,000 followers nudge me above an author who has none?
Do I need 200 more five star Amazon reviews? Does having 200 5 star Amazon reviews (across all books) nudge me above an author who has only 10?
Do I need to appear on ITV and have my own show on Sky1 on top of being interviewed on the BBC? Does appearing, and making people laugh, live on the BBC, as myself, being interviewed about my books, nudge me above an author who has never been asked to appear on the BBC as themselves, talking about their books?
I don’t know, but I am asking. Apparently the answer is no, these achievements do not matter.
But what about when you combine all of those factors? If all these factors combined don’t warrant my books being looked at by one publisher somewhere in this world, then perhaps one of you publishers could be lovely and take a minute to explain what I’m not doing? What am I doing wrong? Why will a publisher not read my books? What else do I need to do?
I think I deserve a chance, for you to sit down, and read one of my books.
I wrote my first book homeless, the story behind The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness is as engaging as the book.
All the evidence available to me, the facts without my opinion, suggest people like my books; people enjoy my words.
I feel I have done my part. I’ve got the twitter following, I’ve created the books.
The material exists; I just need to borrow your eyes for a bit.
My agent chose to represent me because she fell in love with my words, she said I was an exceptional talent.
One published author said the only other book he enjoyed about love as much as Life Knocks was The Magus.
If John Fowles was around today, not that I am comparing myself to him, would it be the case that no publisher would find the time to read him?
So, how do I get a publisher to read my book?
How do I get you to contact me?
Flowers? Chocolate? Send you some clogs covered in glitter with a note attached informing you I’m sitting under your desk spelling your name out on the floor in Alphabet Spaghetti?
Please, there has to be a publisher who can look at all the empirical evidence, note my age, now 33, and recognise that to get as far as I have completely unaided proves I have at least something worth at least a bit of your time.
You could find the time to read a good unpublished book by a young English writer. If your love for reading is why you ended up in publishing, then I would go further, and say you have a responsibility to read Life Knocks, or The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness (if you are a publisher more into the surreal).
Tell me my books are rubbish if you think they are, tell me I don’t have what it takes, laugh in my face, ask me to get out from under your desk and put the Alphabet Spaghetti back in the office fridge.
I can take it. I can take rejection, but the cold silence. The cold silence just leads to a million questions. The cold silence leaves hope. The cold silence can be filled with anything I choose to fill it with, when what I need is someone in the publishing world to fill it with facts, or preferably a book deal. I’m sure you are busy, but I believe it’s your responsibility to respond to me. It’s your responsibility to exhaust any and all possible means to find decent literature.
So, ask me, please. Ask to read Life Knocks.
Ask to read The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness.
Ask me more about Deep in the Bin of Bob, if you wish.
Give me a break, I’m only asking you to read a book already judged to be better than hundreds of other books from all over the world by an established international book panel, including Stephen Fry and Philip Pullman.
That’s what you do, right? Find talent? Shine a light on it?
Well, I’m here. Waving in the dark.
Come back and tell me my books are rubbish once you have read them, and I will say fair enough. I’m young. I’m learning, but I’m keeping your Alphabet Spaghetti.
Or maybe to release my frustration, I’ll leave the Alphabet Spaghetti in your fridge and spell out “YOU CAUSED SADFACE” before I leave; so that when you open the fridge in your office, you will be faced with the undeniable consequences of your decision making process.
If you say I need an agent, I understand, but my agent was a bit rubbish, and I think I’m at a level where maybe I don’t need an agent because there is enough proof to suggest I can write. But, you tell me. My luck with agents has been poor, I’ve had one agent who represented the biggest names around, he got me a deal, then disappeared for personal reasons. Understandable personal reasons, and I never blamed him, but my luck with agents has been bad. I do wonder, where I would get with a decent one.
Please disprove that the industry is all about who you know, please show me at the heart of the industry it really is all about how you write, and that if you are one of the better writers, you don’t have to know anyone, because books are still about the words. Please show me books are still selected by the words, and the order the words are put in, and nothing more.
I wait in hope of an answer, you can email me on email@example.com or you are welcome to leave a comment, anonymously, or not, underneath this blogpost.
If you are a book agent, feel free to get in touch with me. As long as you’re not a wally, and you are actually interested in the material, and wish to work with me to form a relationship, rather than use me as a number, then I am willing and happy to listen to all ideas and suggestions.
My minimum requirement for an agent to represent me, is that you read both of my books, and actually want to meet me for a face to face; at least once. I’ll come to you.
Thank you, truly, for your time.