Allan Mayer’s Weblog

You Write on… and on… and on.

Posted on: October 18, 2008

Every Christmas the facts and figures are bandied about over how one little old man can possibly find the time to issue presents to all of the children in the world. This year the debate will be overshadowed by how one man (Edward Smith) will manage to make 5000 novels available between the Halloween closing date and the Yuletide target.
Try googling ‘You Write On’ or keywords such as ‘publish, 5000, authors’ and nine times out of ten you will come up with a literary web page or blog which is getting its knickers in a twist. The subject is the offer by You Write on and Legend Press to publish 5000 new authors by Christmas.

The concerns range from motive through anxiety about thousands of poor quality  novels being stored electronically, to good novels being lost to larger publishers and doubt about the ability of the operation to put so many books on POD in such a short time.
I have a confession. OK, unfashionable as it would seem to be, I am one of the 5000. And I don’t mean lepers, despite the fact that many sites see us as ‘literary wanabees’ or deluded objects of pity. I am going to publish my novel ‘Tasting the Wind’ through You Write on, and I am going in with my eyes open.

Firstly, although the word ‘scam’ has been used, I have tested a few of these (notably the Writers book agency) and this does not have the same flavour. There is no need to part with any money- unless you wish to buy an ISBN number- whereas you don’t have to look too far into the real scams before you are asked to show your commitment to your work by getting out your cheque book.

And yes, of course Legend Press will make money from this- why shouldn’t they? It has been pointed out that if the author is the only person to buy their novel (which in some cases may be true) then only Legend Press stands to gain. Look up the number 5000 on sites about publishing, and it comes up as the number required for a successful print run for a small publishing company.
And yes, the novels are not chosen on merit- it’s the first 5000 to email. So why is this any different to self publishing?
Critics have also questioned the charge for an ISBN number of £39.99. Several POD and self-publishing sites charge more than this. Yes, You Write On will get them far cheaper through buying in bulk, but I only want one number, and I don’t have the money to self-publish on my own.

Is it me, or do the criticisms seem strange when we accept the dictates of a publishing industry which sees books as ‘units’ to be moved and is guided by what will sell rather than what is good?

Yes, there will be a number of people who are deluded about their abilities, but there willo also be a number in which I would like to count myself, who have created a book of which they are proud, but which current profit orientated publishing trends will prevent from ever seeing the light of day.

The trend is for genre, and if you might have written a work of genius, but if it cannot be easily pigeonholed the big publishers will not touch it. Earlier this year I wrote to Dean Koontz and asked for advice. His letter recommended that new wrtiters go for the ‘high concept novel.’ My second novel will be, but my first is from the heart, revised over ten years and I believe in it. But when you send it to agents you get the standard letter which gives no idea about how far it is from what is required.
You Write On do not appear to be a tin pot organisation. They have Arts Council Funding and affiliations to the literary and publishing world which include Random House. Some of their authors have gone on to clinch deals with the bigger companies.
Let’s put it another way. I once received a rejection letter from an agent which said that they received three hundred manuscripts per week but only took on three writers per year. So for every 15,600 submissions only three are accepted. Chances are at least one of the 5000 You Write On authors will get noticed, so the odds are better than going through an agent. And is £39.99 to get onto Amazon so much when you add up all of those postage stamps to send your manuscript to agents with return postage?
So yes, I’m going ahead with it, and when my novel is published I will be adding a link to all of my networking sites. I will also be talking to my local children’s hospice who will receive 50% of my royalties.  So if you are reading this please buy ‘Tasting the Wind’ when it is available.Not only can I guarantee you a good read- some of your money will be going to a good cause and not to a big publisher. How good will that feel?

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