Internet Authors dont need prospectors

by : Mike Scantlebury

In Britain, we're having a big debate about the Health Service. People have finally realised that doctors aren't in the business of 'health' at all - they're in the illness business. They have no duty to keep people well. They simply wait around for them to get sick, then step in and try to cure them. Would that work in any other business? Suppose your Building Inspector said, 'Sure, your house isn't safe, but let's just wait for it to fall down or blow up, and then, hey, don't worry, we can fix it'. If that's not an option, there's other problems for British doctors too. The British public has now found out that the rest of the world does things differently. In China, for instance, doctors are rewarded for keeping people well. In Britain, doctors get bonuses for the more sick people they have. It's not a system that's working, nor is it sustainable.

British society seems riddled with 'professionals' who don't do what you might expect. You might thing that doctors would be interested in keeping people well, but they're not. You might expect that publishers would be interested in finding hot new authors, but they're not. Well, not if it involves any work, like looking for them. On the contrary, most British publishers are content to wait for someone else to discover new talent - some other publisher, or some agent, some friend or media figure or famous personality - and then the publisher might, just might, be willing to jump in and risk putting the book out. It's a strange thing to divulge, but most aspiring writers have no idea what poor shape the British publishing industry is in. It's so bad, it's unbelievable.

Finding an analogy is really difficult. Let's take prospecting. Publishers like this one, they like to imagine they are sifting through the dross to find nuggets of gold. Problem is, they don't actually do that. It's weird. Imagine it was the old Gold Rush days of yore and you went down to the river to watch the prospectors at work. There they all are, shifting mud, shouting, singing, sweating and shovelling. Then you look closer and see that no one is, in fact, sieving anything. All they're doing is picking up shovels full of dirt and flinging them into the river, so that the mud drifts down the stream. Then where are the few nuggets of gold coming from? Because, sure enough, every now and then, someone shouts out, 'I've found it!', people gather round, hoist them on their shoulders and they all go off to the saloon for a drink. You wait, look closer and realise with a shock that the people with the nuggets are bringing them down to the river, not finding them there. No, th!
ey haven't found them in the filth, they've brought them in from somewhere else.

Yep, that's exactly how publishing works these days. If you've every spent time in a publisher's office, like I have, you'll realise immediately that you're surrounded by mud. It's called the Slush Pile, and it's piles and piles, and piles, of big brown envelopes. Each one contains a precious submission, a manuscript, from an aspiring writer. As the days pass, it will dawn on you that no one ever goes near these mountains, even though they're overtaking the desks, the chairs, the filing cabinets and tables, but yes, every now and then someone will come in and shout 'I've found it!', clutching a manuscript. It didn't come from the pile. Then where did that particle of gold come from? From friends, relatives, the publisher's dentist, other publishers, agents and so on. The hills and peaks of envelopes pile up and gather dust, and then, one gloomy afternoon, an exceedingly lowly member of staff or temporary clerical worker, or even a volunteer or Work Experience student, is giv!
en the job of opening the envelopes and stuffing the manuscript back into the Stamped, Addressed Envelope enclosed to send to the author, accompanied by a Rejection Slip.

'Rejection'? It didn't happen. For that to be true, the manuscripts would have had to be looked at, pored over and examined. That doesn't happen. The dross doesn't get sieved for gold, it merely gets turfed back into the stream. So, good news for me, an aspiring author. If people say to me, 'You've been submitting novels for years and you keep being rejected', my reply is, 'No, I've merely been sending my stuff to publishers and they've kept on sending it back'. Yep, different thing. That's why I'm not discouraged and keep on writing. That's why I'm happy to put my books up on the internet and use on-line publishers like Lulu to make my books available. I know one thing: no one who has ever read one of my books from cover to cover has ever scorned it, complained about it or demanded their money back, or even said it was no good. I also know: that doesn't include one single publisher. No publisher that I've ever approached has ever bothered to sieve for gold and read one of m!
y books from cover to cover, or, in most cases, even deigned to open the envelope. So, their 'opinions'? Mud.