It wasn’t just seeing the brutality of the slush pile first hand that caused me to change my views. Wandering the halls of the annual book fairs, I couldn’t help but be astounded and somehow disheartened by the sheer number of books that are published every year. How, I asked myself, can my voice be heard above all this noise? And then, there are those writers, those brilliant voices, that inexplicably fail. As a publisher, you believe in the writer, you believe in the book, you promote the hell out of it and yet still the copies just don’t sell. And at the end of the day, that is what publishing is, the business of selling books. When books don’t sell, they are remaindered, they are pulped, they are listed as out of print, they are forgotten. Suddenly it seemed a bit pointless to be churning out my mediocre words into a clearly disinterested world. So rather than add to my piles of unread prose, I hid my writer’s heart away.
This is not to say that I have spent the last decade in bleak despair. Publishing is one of the most vibrant and exciting industries to work in and right now it is going through a period of immense change. For decades publishers have acted as gatekeepers for what is and isn’t read. Unpublished writers were, for the most part, unread writers. Digital publishing means that writers, instead of poring over endless rejection letters, can put their work out there - and what better way to get the attention of those distant commissioning editors than a bestselling Kindle novel? Of course, self-publishing is in no way a sure-fire way to success. If anything, the clamour of voices has become louder and harder to navigate. But the digital world has given us one thing: more opportunities to reach our readers.
So, armed with this sliver of hope and opportunity, I have slowly been starting up my writing hand again. It’s been hard. I am rusty, wracked with self-doubt and a heap of healthy cynicism, but I am doing it. I am writing.
|Caroline - an industry veteran now 'jumping the fence'|
About the writer:
Having spent twelve years in the publishing industry, Caroline Goldsmith has spent her life surrounded by books. She has worked in sales, publicity, marketing, rights and contracts and has spent more time at bookfairs and hauling suitcases full of hardbacks around Europe then she cares to remember. She has now left publishing to embark on a new life in the country, where she plans to rekindle her long-neglected writing habit and finally unleash that novel that has been hiding in her on an unsuspecting world. You can follow her adventures on her blog These Are My Days, or on Twitter @goldcaro