These are what’s left of the boyf’s roses, and as I was looking at them last night and wondering if they had another day left in them (they have, because I decided to dry them this morning), we began a conversation about an idea that’s been in my head for a while, but hasn’t properly found words.
It’s this: that the relationship between a (big) publisher and a (novice) writer is like the relationship between a parent and a child.
If, as the novice writer, you are that rare thing, the brightest new child in the family (and the family is a very large one) the relationship benefits both: the parent proudly sends the child’s work out into the world and knows that they will both benefit, the parent will bask in the financial and excellent-literary-nose glow of a successful first novel, and the writer will know that her work is being read, that the publisher is likely to want to publish her next, and that her first will make at least some of the money she’ll need to buy her time to write the next.
But if, as is surely the norm, the relationship is one of a time- and cash-poor parent and a worried, insecure child, neither benefit and both end up with little, or nothing. The child’s book is published and then, not long afterwards, remaindered: the parent realises that she knew all along that this was a punt too far and she never should have thrown good money after bad, the child’s gold was only glitter; the child realises that the parent she took for a loving guardian, she mis-took. (I have no experience of such a relationship so I can only surmise – but I have enough vicarious knowledge to think that I surmise not-so-far from the bone.)
However, and this is where the conversation with the boyf began last night, the relationship between an indie publisher (this, I do know about) and his writer can develop into one of equal responsibility one of, as I believe they say on TA courses, adult-to-adult. And then remarkable things can follow.
It is, of course, a question of the child growing-up and taking responsibility. And, on Saturday, I took responsiblity (I have done so before, but this was a new departure). I went to four indie bookshops to find out about them and, also, to find out whether they would like to stock copies of Speaking of Love. To my delight, two ordered it immediately, one said he thought they’d be more interested in the paperback, but would discuss same with his manager after the bank holiday, and one suggested I talk to the manager when he was back after the bank holiday.
The idea of selling my own work has been anathema to me (I have remained a child) until, after typing ‘sell my novel’ into Google’s search engine the other day, I found Mark Thornton’s SHELF SECRETS, see here and here, went on his course and learned a thing or two. And, as a result of that course, the idea that triggered last night’s conversation began to grow: that growing-up and taking responsibility are the point.
My local cafe, by the way, has now sold seven copies, see here for how they sold five in July.