Eek! Authors • 18 April 2008 • The SnowBlog
Now, when I talk about authors, remember I is one. Actually, before I say any more, that kind of talk makes me want to digress for a moment. Joss Whedon is getting ready to film his new show and said of his script and his excellent cast: All in all, pound for pound, soup to nuts, man vs beast, it's a pretty amazing ensemble. I'm not sure how I landed this troupe, but rest assured I'm gonna write bestest good word for talkacting to them yes! They're in good hands. But that's besides the point. I was just going to say two things about authors. Firstly, it's scary when they try to press their manuscripts on you at the London Book Fair. This was new information to me. I did talk to a couple of really nice authors, but I also met a couple who appeared determined to make me publish their work by using a combination of intense staring, standing too close, and speaking in a menacing I-could-snap-at-any-moment monotone. Again, let me repeat, I have sympathy for authors because I have sympathy for me. But how is this tactic ever going to work? Yes, I'm afraid of you now, and no, I don't want to sign a contract with you so that we come into regular contact. Is it just a function of how important the pitching of their novel is to an author, that the pressure of the moment would turn their body language into that of a Mafia enforcer? Or have some people just had enough of being given the run-around and the fob-off and have decided they're going to get a straight answer out of someone even if it's just a call for security?
Secondly, I thought I would reiterate an author-centric point (assuming I haven't offended everyone and they've stopped reading). I bought a copy of one of my favourite books about six months back and gave it to Anna, who reads the lion's share of our submissions. She read two pages and said, "It's just not my thing." I also gave a copy of another of my favourite books to Em a few years back and she couldn't manage to fight the boredom enough to finish it. In fact she dropped it in the bath, I suspect partly because her grip on the book loosened slightly after its prose lulled her to sleep. And we three really are on the same wavelength in so many other ways. We laugh at the same weird, ridiculous things. We end up using the same expressions. We usually agree on which Doctor Who episodes are good and which aren't. And yet Anna and Em would have turned down two of my all-time top ten books. It seems crazy, but I just don't think there's any getting away from it. I think submissions work like that. It's something to think about if you happen to have had your manuscript rejected recently. By anyone.