Sunday, 13 October 2013

Traffic congestion

These are the poetry books that CBe has published this year (also the book on Michael Hofmann and two other prose books).

Five males and one female isn’t good, but I’m not especially worried; I do believe I’m gender-neutral in what I take on; with the four books CBe will publish early next year, three women, one man. More interesting, to me, is that half of the books are by writers already on the list (Allen, Morgan, Nurkse). Two of the books (O’Brien, Arikha) are by writers publishing poetry for the first time (though both have written in other genres). One (Elliott) is by a poet who has published before with Blackstaff in Northern Ireland.

For all publishers, loyalty to the continuing work of writers on the so-called backlist and openness to work by new writers pitch against each other, in competition for the available space. There are several established poets, I think, who are writing at a faster rate than their publishers are able to publish. Queues build up.

Nine books from CBe this year – a ridiculous number – was based on a very rash assumption that I’d get some ACE funding for a marketing/sales person, which didn’t happen. I’m not too unhappy about that, because the ‘grow-&-expand’ model, which seems to be the default model that all parties assume and expect, doesn’t have to be – does it? – the only one. But six years in, there is this problem: that the authors I’ve already published are more than capable of filling every slot. Answers on a postcard, please.

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