Archive for August, 2013

different degrees of desperation

Posted by on August 31st, 2013

Richard and Judy have launched a competition to find a new bestseller.

Richard Madeley says:

“It’s become a big thing culturally – people want to write. So we just thought we’d channel it. And I know we’re going to get a bestseller. People who have been desperate to be heard, to be read, will submit their writing.”

But from here, term 1.4 of the competition rules reads:

“(you) have not previously submitted your partial novel (the “Extract”) or any work to a publishing company or literary agency and have not been previously published in any format, or released into the public domain, including but not limited to the Internet”

I’m sure there are various sensible logistical reasons for these limitations, but the two statements don’t sit well together. If you’re “desperate to be heard, to be read” then chances are you’ll have posted a short story online, or unsuccessfully submitted something to an agent or publisher at some point, and are consequently ineligible. The only possible alternatives are that: a) you’ve never written anything before; or b) that you’ve decided to leave your prior body of work utterly unobserved by others on your own hard drive until now, like a modern day Henry Darger.

Over the years, Richard and Judy have done an enormous amount to help writers (and vice versa). On the face of it, this could be an admirable undertaking. But if you’re aiming to support writers who are “desperate to be heard, to be read”, then don’t forget that many great writers will have been published in various capacities, only to be lost along the side of the road for reasons outside of their control. Others might have  been rejected by an agent just once so far. I appreciate it might be difficult – logistically – to handle entries, but if you’re going to do this shit, then do it right, or don’t bother to do it at all.