Saturday, April 08, 2006


The Transparent Imprint

Last year, when my sometime UK publisher Macmillan unveiled its Macmillan New Writing program, I did not exactly applaud them: doing an end-run around agents and buying all rights to a author's debut book struck me as pretty questionable. At the time, I asked another publisher what he thought of all this, and his reponse was essentially: if it's a bad program, the good authors will stay away.

The first books are out, and Tim Teeman of the Times of London weighs in:

Brickbats notwithstanding, the first six novels are about to be published. The truth? They ain’t great. After speaking to one of the authors, Brian Martin (North), I wanted them to shine, really to be diamonds in the rough (Martin has been trying for years to get published and has a fantastically rich, fruity speaking voice). But the truth is they are dull, riddled with cliché and clunky plotting.
Curiously, publisher Michael Barnard has also released his own account of the imprint, Transparent Imprint, which the Times derides as "an absolute (if unintentional) riot; the most extreme piece of vanity publishing you may see this year... [few] will want to wade through a defensive broadside against its critics, revelling in spreadsheets and minutiae." That might well be true, but even so, it's not often you see a publisher pull aside their curtain to show you such minutiae. The reading public might not care, but it may prove an interesting artifact for publishing observers and historians.

Update: Grumpy Old Bookman has a lengthy post on details from Barnard's book.

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