You know what it’s like when you work in publishing. Or maybe you don’t, because like me you don’t publish books. It’s like being a doctor and always being consulted on that twitch in your left little toe.
Anyway, you’re out sweeping leaves, or whatever, when you’re approached by this person in your neighbourhood who says they have written a novel and would you read it? (Remember, you’re a publisher here, not a doctor.) You sigh, smile politely and take the manuscript home to read. Because you can’t say no.
Well, at the acquisitions meeting I went to at Random last week, there was a ‘book’ with a background like that. Surprisingly for our imaginary leaf sweeper, it turned out to be not bad at all. It may actually get published. But I don’t think anyone should expect that their novel will suddenly improve simply because there lives a publishing world person just down the road.
I was allowed to read the last fifty pages of this novel, so that I would know what was being discussed. Others had read the first hundred pages, so not everyone had seen the same part of the story. But most were cautiously in favour of doing something with it. I have my own thoughts on this one, but when it’s a bestseller, please remember that I was in at the very beginning.