Here are the facts about traditional publishing as I see them: in a world of tough economic times, big publishing houses are sticking to the safe and familiar rather than going with the new and risky. And in this fashion, a ‘new’ author comes out with a crime novel, which manages to move around 500 or so books. Of course, the author’s name is revealed to be a pseudonym and the real writer is unmasked… add another 0 onto the end of the 500 and the 5000 figure represents the number of books moved in a few hours after the big reveal. And, well you’ve read the rest. It’s been interesting to hear the views of upcoming writers who have expressed a sense of relief that their debut sales of around the 500 mark were normal and comparable with a hugely famous author under a guise.
It goes to show that most readers nowadays would rather stick to a famous name than try out a novice. As for me, unfortunately most literary debuts can’t hold my interest for more than a few minutes anymore – they aren’t challenging enough and most contemporary poetry in Foyles or Waterstones isn’t interesting enough for my taste. The Southbank Poetry library is keeping the real poetry scene alive, IMHO, and as for novels… when I’m out book shopping, I’ve reverted to buying classics, genre fiction and good old non-fiction, in the ‘interim’. Let’s hope the traditional publishing industry doesn’t stagnate too much, as this poor bookshelf did.