February 7, 2011 by Tracey S. Rosenberg
As promised in part 1.
Book/literary festivals: I’m not sure how they work. I mean, I’ve been behind the scenes for a couple of them, but in both cases I spent the bulk of my time dealing with the actual books and/or authors, and came on board long after the programme had been established. So the alchemy of literary programming remains a mystery to me, and I expect that will continue to be the case even when I begin to receive a veritable shower of gold-leaf invitations delivered by footmen in crimson livery.
I’m sure that’s what happens.
I suspect programming actually involves lots and lots of phone calls and saying very nice things.
Cover blurbs: my publisher asks well-known people to say nice things about my book. I do not know whether I am expected to send these people beer, but I certainly would. Or, you know, a bottle of 60-year-old Macallan from 1926, if my publisher foots the bill.
Book prize submissions: my boyfriend, who is amazing in many ways (I never would have included ‘typesetting’ in the list of Skills My Beau Must Have but darned if he isn’t a whiz at LaTeX), likes to cheer me up in my moments of despair by suggesting I might win the Man Booker Prize. I am dubious about this possibility, but there are certainly a great many prizes out there, and it would look nice to have ‘WINNER OF THE THUNDERCAT PRIZE’ (or whatever) emblazoned across the top of the second printing.
At least I’m now eligible for the Man Booker Prize, given that I’m British, which I wasn’t before. (Commonwealth authors only, you see.)
Here’s an interesting article on book prizes, which points out something I’d noticed: some prizes restrict entries. A publishing house might only be able to send in a select number of titles, rather than everything otherwise eligible it’s put out that year. I can see why this would help keep the submissions to manageable levels, though really the best solution is the one taken by the James Tait Black Prize: get the graduate students to do first-round reading and report-writing. There is little that can’t be handled by a squadron of PhD candidates, especially if there’s free food involved. (Trust me on that one.) I should point out that the JTB judges consider all the works submitted, and use the reports as information rather than instant shortlisting.
Anyway, I do not particularly expect The Girl in the Bunker to take home a glittering array of prizes, though of course I’d be thrilled it it does. What I find interesting, though, is that because my debut novel is being published by a small house, it will be submitted for consideration, rather than passed over for a bigger name in the stable. Small v. big house is always an issue for a writer, and while there would be some definite benefits to being published by $conglomerate, there are perks in being a fish in a fairly smallish pond.
And with this rather rambly blog post coming to an end, I will say that I have a guest entry forthcoming on the Scottish Book Trust’s re:write blog, which is written by those of us who were lucky enough to be granted New Writers Awards. My entry is about bobby pins or hair/kirby grips, depending on what brand of English you speak.