Sunday, September 22, 2013

Melboure Writer’s Festival – How they got published.

At the recent Melbourne Writer’s Festival, six of the authors I saw mentioned how they got their book published.

Jo Case was asked by a publisher to write her non-fiction book Boomer and Me after the publisher read an article Jo had written about her son’s Asperger’s.

Graeme Simsion originally wrote The Rosie Project as a film script. It won an Australian Writers' Guild award for the best romantic comedy script. But he had no luck getting the film made, so to get the script noticed he decided to turn it into a novel. The novel won the 2012 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript. A bidding war then broke out for the manuscript.

Catherine Deveny said she submitted the manuscript of her novel The Happiness Show by mistake, she sent the publisher a file containing it rather than the memoir they had contracted her to write. The publisher read the novel manuscript and liked it so much they wanted to publish it (Note: Deveny already had had six books published). 

A friend of Lucy Neave’s had an agent and recommended Neave to that agent. But the agent said Neave’s manuscript of Who We Were needed work. Neave worked on it for a couple of years and then sent it back to the agent.

Bali Kaur Jaswal did a mentorship with an agent. The agent helped develop the manuscript of Inheritance, but did not take her on. Jaswal sent the finished manuscript straight to its eventual publisher.

Many publishers rejected John Weldon’s manuscript Spincycle before it was picked up by an independent publisher. Weldon (pictured above) said that about a year later, a major publisher finally got back to him, but they were too late. Weldon didn’t have an agent.

Obviously the chances of getting published greatly increase when you know someone in the right place in the publishing industry. Those of us who don’t know anyone (yet) can take a bit of heart from Jo Case, John Weldon and Bali Kaur Jaswal’s experience. But note: Jo Case worked in the book industry as a reviewer and still works as a senior writer and editor at the Wheeler Centre. Lucy Neave, Bali Kaur Jaswal and John Weldon all teach creative writing. And Catherine Deveny had a long history in writing for a major newspaper, television and radio. So the only route open for those of us who aren't working in the business could be winning awards like Graeme Simsion did.


Anthony J. Langford said...

Not surprised that they all had connections - this has been my experience at writer's festivals too. Frankly, it just depresses me.

It also suggests that good, if not great novels are being passed over if the author isn't connected in some way. The occasional one does get through but the majority don't. We should all be troubled by this.

Graham Clements said...

I agree it is troubling.But I think publishing is no longer, in the majority of cases, about bringing out great novels, it is just about making money. I think the first thing that most editors at publishing houses(with agents it is a given) think is, will this manuscript make me money, instead of will this manuscript change the world or enlighten humanity or make people think about their future.