Tuesday, October 9, 2007

An Unanswered (and Apparently Unasked) Question

Okay, class. I'm sure we all recall, from previous lessons, that the purpose of the Macmillan New Writing imprint was to find new talent. You can't submit to Pan Macmillan, the parent, without benefit of an agent; but MNW would find new, most likely unagented talent, and in the longer term funnel these talents into the Pan Macmillan fold. Perhaps they would remain unagented; perhaps they would acquire an agent; but the presumption was that they would pass on to Pan Macmillan at some point.

Initially the theory was that the first book would be with MNW, and then the second would move to Pan Mac, but this was amended early on to read that the first two would be with MNW.

The bit that's a little unclear is: What happens after that second book?

Okay, there's Brian McGilloway. who signed for three more books in his series with Pan Macmillan (and a canny move on Pan Mac's part, I would say); but that's a series. What about those who've completed their two MNW books (or even one MNW book and a refusal under right of first refusal)? Do they get a "Legal to Submit to Pan Macmillan Without an Agent" card? And, if so, do they get a chart of who the editors inside Pan Mac are?

Or is it expected that at this point they probably get agents? (Ssome--Roger and Aliya, offhand--already have them, and some of us have already had and divorced one or two.)

In the days of legend (that is, all of a few decades ago), writers tended to stay with their publisher (one reason agents had less clout). And, if I understand the scheme as envisioned by Mike Barnard, one of the goals of the MNW scheme was to take a step back into the past, where writers were discovered by the publisher, and effectively formed a long-term alliance with the publisher. But how does this work? Can writers, once published by MNW, submit their own manuscripts to Pan Macmillan? And if so, to whom? If instead we all have agents hawking our next manuscript, how does Pan Mac get any kind of preference? There seems to be a missing piece here.

Can someone--perhaps someone with two books at MNW (other than Brian, who signed a five book deal after one book, and thereby leapfrogged the process) enlighten me? Do you get an unlisted mailing address, or a secret decoder ring, or what?

(Lessee, two books...that would be Edward Charles, Michael Stephen Fuchs, and Aliya Whitely, I believe.)


Roger Morris said...

I don't have the answer to your question, David, but I just wanted to say I'm reading, and enjoying immensely, Shock and Awe. True, I'm both shocked and awed by your extensive knowledge of firearms and in general methods of killing people. But the writing is pretty damned impressive too.

And as high concepts go, this one must be up there with the highest.

Best wishes


David Isaak said...

Thanks, Roger!

And glad you bought all the gun stuff, since I'm not exactly a gun guy.

In fact, I don't even own one--though I'm thinking of acquiring one if the neighbor to the back doesn't leave off working with power tools at 7 am.

Tim Stretton said...

Surely everyone in America owns an extensive collection of firearms?

I found the pyrotechnics and sundry lethalities in S&A so convincing I imagined you had first-hand experience of killing people: I'm surprised (and yes, a little disappointed...) to find it ain't so...

It's all part of the author's job description, isn't it--the convincing patina of expertise. in one of my earlier self-pubs I managed to convince a sceptical reader that I was an expert on galley-racing. (Shame I couldn't convince a mainstream publisher it was publishable...)

Suroopa Mukherjee said...

Hey David, I am in no position to answer any of the questions - and very important ones too - at this stage, but I just thought I would use this forum - again, rather conveniently - to share a bit of good news. My academic research and writing which is on the women survivors of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, on which I have published a children's book - and for which I am on sabbatical from the University - finally found shape this year in a book proposal that I submitted to Palgrave Macmillan for their Palgrave Studies in Oral History. Lo and behold, it has been accepted for publication! I am ecstatic, because Bhopal is a cause very close to my heart and I do believe the world needs to know. It will be published by Palgrave, US and the scheduled date is December 2009, which is the 25th anniversary of the tragedy.

Bhopal is very much in the news in the book world, what with Indra Sinha's (dear friend and co-activist) novel "Animal's People" getting short listed for the Booker. Do read it!


David Isaak said...


Oh, I've killed people. Who hasn't? You know, high spirits, college pranks, that sort of thing. But I've never bought a gun for the purpose. I just pick one up from the big piles we have laying around on most street corners.

And, yes indeed, lying is our business. Mystery writer Lawrence Block has one of his burglar characters rhapsodize in great and convincing detail about the difficulty of picking Rabson locks. There is no such thing as a Rabson lock. Block lifted it as a sort of homage from Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries, where Archie Goodwin talks about how tricky Rabson locks are.

And I don't see any way Roger Morris could have visited 19th-century St Petersburg, but he convinced me...

Galley-racing? Now that's offbeat.

David Isaak said...

Suroopa, that's terrific news! Palgrave Macmillan is right at the top of academic publishers all around the globe. Congratulations--that's just marvelous.

Jake Jesson said...

"But I've never bought a gun for the purpose. I just pick one up from the big piles we have laying around on most street corners."

That's a fascinating sf/fantasy story idea.

If you don't use it, I'm stealing it. :)

David Isaak said...

"If you don't use it, I'm stealing it. :)"

It's all yours, mi amigo.