Prufrock's Page

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Publish And Be Derided

Robert McCrum called it an "astounding abdication of cultural responsibility". Hari Kunzru labelled it the "Ryanair of publishing". And literary agent Jonny Geller suggested that it did not have "a hope in hell" of succeeding.

Those were the initial reactions to Macmillan New Writing, an imprint that encouraged the acceptance of unsolicited material from unpublished authors. Since February last year, it has received more than 3,000 manuscripts. And now that the first six titles are out, the New Statesman's Simon Baker wonders whether it was such a good idea in the first place: "...if these novels were worth publishing at all (and I'm not convinced that they were), they needed better support at the final draft stage. More seriously, by making publication in effect non-paying, MNW demotes fiction-writing to the status of a hobby. Talent needs to be nurtured; those who possess it require remuneration. MNW offers neither satisfactorily, and a lower standard of novel seems a likely outcome. Ultimately, the biggest loss is to the reader."


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