Quite often when I wander into my local bookstore there will be a writer sitting signing books on a Saturday morning.
One time there was a man with a pile of thrillers and since I like thrillers I picked one up to take a look. Soon we were chatting.
“This novel, my first one,” he said, “Has just gone out in its fourth edition and I now earn my living entirely from my writing.”
I was impressed. It must be selling well. So I asked him about his route to publication. He didn’t have an Agent but said that he’d submitted directly to publishers and had two offers which he’d had to chose between.
I glanced at the publisher. I'd never heard of them, but from what he was saying I assumed they were one of the respectable indies.
He started talking about book deals, and how his publisher wanted to see how well his first book sold before offering him his second book deal. He also told me about how he went to major literary festivals such as Hay on Wye with his writing. He was very convincing.
He then asked me if I was a writer too.
“Yes, I said. I’m writing children’s books.”
“Oh. It’s virtually impossible to get published in the children’s book market,” he told me. “Most of them are ghost written or written to order. You’ll never break into it.”
I was a bit taken aback. It seemed an awfully negative thing to say to a fellow writer.
Maybe I should have put his book back down at this point. But it was a thriller. So I bought it.
When I got home I started to read it. It was awful - about six typos or grammatical errors in the first pages, the writing was laboured and packed with clichés, the dialogue clunky.
Disappointed I googled the publisher – it’s a vanity outfit.
I feel cheated!