Saturday 24 March 2018

There's no publicity like self-publicity

Dale Carnegie once wrote a famous book called How to Win Friends and Influence People. Seventy years later, on the other hand, Irish writer Aiden O'Reilly has just posted a blog on his website which could be entitled 'How to Gain Attention by Alienating Publishers'.

In an open letter addressed to Transworld Ireland, a local imprint of the multinational Random House, the budding author announces that he is seeking to have a novel published but that "I decided not to bother sending my manuscript to you". This is because he doesn't feel it would get "serious attention" as "your new fiction writers are exclusively TV producers, actors, columnists and other such people with a high media profile". (Transworld publishes Amanda Brunker, Ronan O'Gara [below], Patricia Scanlan and Sister Stan, among others).

Indeed, even if Transworld took his book, he insists that he "would not feel comfortable with your publishing house", and he goes on to deplore a publishing "reality" whereby "40pc of debut novelists have a high media profile".

There's a serious point being made here about the kind of books -- and authors -- favoured by publishers nowadays, but one mainly marvels at O'Reilly's sheer cheek in biting hands that might be in the business of feeding him.

Or perhaps it's very canny, self-publicising cheek -- I was alerted to his diatribe by a piece in the Daily Telegraph, of all places.

Up to then, I'd never heard of the guy, though he won the 2008 Michael McLaverty short story award, and there are raves about him on his website. "Fantastic," says one unnamed enthusiast; "You write beautifully," says another.

Indeed, all the tributes are anonymous, while O'Reilly is just as coy about personal details, loftily declaring that "a bio is a marketing tool -- I'll keep that bullshit for agents and the like".

Hmmm. The author's own marketing tools already seem well-honed, and while he may have spurned Transworld, I've no doubt he'll acquire a publisher more to his liking.

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