Why do publishers think that there is going to be a new J K Rowling? And if there is, that they will be the ones to find him or her. It’s not a God-given right to have another publishing phenomenon, and if it was that easy, we’d have them all the time, and then it wouldn’t count as a phenomenon any longer. I wouldn’t mind more books like Harry Potter for me and others to enjoy, but I don’t need the circus that accompanied our favourite wizard.
Why does Barry Cunningham think he’s going to find the new J K R? Because he found the first one. Still doesn’t mean he has more J K R finding talent than anyone else. I gather his Chicken House have set up a competition for new children’s writers, and I know I’m rather late gathering this. Last year’s competition already has a winner out of the 2000 books they received. Congratulations to Emily Diamand who won with her Reavers’ Ransom. I hope she does well, but having won only means that Chicken House is publishing her book, and hopefully that they’ll push it a little bit more than some books get pushed. Neither fame nor fortune is guaranteed.
I’m guessing from what Barry wrote in the Times recently, that there is another competition this year. That’s good, and may provide a much needed break for someone. Though I have heard from someone in the know, that to make space for Emily and the next winner, Barry has given some of his existing authors the shove. That isn’t quite so good. So, maybe it’s not the next J K R we are getting, because she lasted for ten years before her series came to an end. Perhaps we are just getting an annual flash-in-the-pan.
The piece in the Times ended with instructions for the aspiring hopefuls on how to write a good children’s novel. I think the potential winner already has it in them. What’s more, the ex Chicken House authors probably also know this, and they are still being chucked out.
As my informant put it; “A disturbing new development in the book world? It all smacks rather of The X Factor and ‘How Do You Solve a Problem Like Andrew Lloyd Webber?’ etc. Rather than focusing on nurturing talent long term, it seems that Cunningham’s and others’ new strategy is to pursue the momentary starburst of a competition winner, who will have a brief time to shine before being swept aside by the next year’s contest.”
My source also worried about not being grumpy enough to qualify for possible J K R status. I’m sure it comes automatically with all those requests for money. Unless you’re a former Chicken House writer, in which case you can be grumpy for other reasons.