Self-Publishing, Vanity Publishing, Agents and the Press

Last week all of Facebook was treated to the earth-shattering news that Fleet Street Fox had gone to her own book launch and lots of whisky was drunk. Fleet Street Fox, for those who don’t know, is a woman who has a column in the Daily Mirror, who writes occasionally thought-provoking pieces on who said what and what they might have thought about it and whose latter media career is based on a lie. The central conceit is that She Cannot Be Named because she Knows Too Much.

As any good spy knows, the way to maintain anonymity is to publicise your own press launch and make sure your full-face photos go all over the internet. There isn’t even an attempt to say ‘ok, I had to be anonymous before the book came out’. It was just made-up.

The same week I approached a literary agent, one who specialised in fiction. Not ‘my identity has to be kept secret until it doesn’t’ fiction, but literary fiction, a book that didn’t involve me saying how for example, Fleet Street Fox’s ex went off with someone else and how she dealt with it all, with hilarious consequences, but an actual work of fiction, 110,000 words that comprisse Not Your Heart Away.

 

It’s not in the same league as Jordan’s new work of fiction, obviously, the central fiction there being that Jordan/Katie Price had anything at all to do with writing it. As she said, she doesn’t even read them, let alone hammer the keyboard herself. No, much like AA Gill, who used to claim to be dyslexic, everything said to be written by Katie Price isn’t written by Katie Price. Obviously, post-Blair and the White Queen’s mantra that words mean anything you want them to mean, not actually writing anything doesn’t mean she isn’t an author and shouldn’t be described as one by her agents, publishers and publicists.

The agent I contacted helped explain why traditional print media is dying without mentioning blow-up dolls pretending to write books even once. Have you approached any other agents? Well, you better not have, because we don’t want to waste our time. We want a clear eight weeks to read your stuff. We won’t acknowledge getting your email, because that’s how busy and important we are. In fact, most of our readers are so busy that they aren’t reading anything this year, presumably while they’re finding someone to write Jordan’s stuff for her. If we don’t take your stuff on, we won’t tell you. If we don’t talk to you it means we’re not going to be talking to you.

So let me see if I’ve understood this. I send them my stuff. They don’t say if they’ve got it. If I’ve sent it to anyone else they don’t want to know. If they don’t want to do anything with it they won’t tell me and it’ll be two months before they tell me if they do.

The single word response ‘bollocks’ must spring to many people’s lips. It does beg the question, what are agents for?

The answer isn’t to publish your stuff, because CreateSpace and Kindle and a load of others will do that for you, along with a proper real grown-up ISBN code and a paper proof copy.

There seem to be two Big Questions any aspiring author needs to ask themselves:

Q1) Am I Jordan?

Q2) Have I been on TV lately?

If the answer to both questions is no, don’t bother agents. Meanwhile, does anyone have any ideas why book publishing is suffering? Anyone?

 

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