Friday 18 January 2008

Rejection letters

People start to send me things: stories, novels, graphic work. And then I send them back, with letters saying why I’m sending them back. I don’t look forward to writing these letters: just as no one likes being rejected, rejecting isn’t fun either. And what’s being rejected here is not a cup of coffee. It’s work on which people have laboured for months, years, and in which the emotional investment is very high. (Someone – it may have been Ian Hamilton – remarked that you can tell a friend that his clothes sense is ridiculous, or even that his wife is a dumpy cow, and still remain friends, but if you tell him you don’t think much of his WRITING you’ve just lost that friend.)

Some of the work I send back is good. Some of it could appear with distinction on the list of a major publisher. That’s one of the reasons why I return it.

Having launched CBe from the kitchen table, almost by accident, a few months ago, we’ve been asking ourselves whether to scale it up and become more proper. This is the answer: no. CBe will remain more of a hobby than a fully fledged small press, and the new books we’ll publish will most likely be short, offbeat and not the kind of work a mainstream publisher would look twice at. We’re not trying here to make a virtue of eccentricity; and we’re not passing laws either – it’s possible, if one comes our way and we fall in love with it, we’ll publish what looks like and may even read like a conventional novel. But generally we’re not in the market for the kind of material for which there are already many other possible publishers.

Keep it hedonistic, as the man said before Christmas.

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