Friday, 8 October 2021

To writers submitting their work

First, and obviously: given the amount of blood, sweat, tears and toil that you’ve invested in your work, let alone the time and money, it would be perverse not to spend 5 minutes on the Net finding out who you are sending it to. Me. Not ‘Editor’, not ‘To whom it may concern’, not ‘CBe team’. There is no team. Nor are there any ‘submission guidelines’.

You’d know this if you’d read the snapshot history of CBe that’s downloadable from the ‘About and News’ page on the website, but that’s 22 pages long and writers are busy people. Let’s keep this short.

Is your work ‘a good fit for the list’? CBe has no manifesto but, looking at the list of titles I’ve published, I see they’re a bit short on plot and rhyme. I do like ‘proper’ novels, with weather and ‘character development’, but they are not why CBe is here. Just give me good sentences, any time of the day. About a recent CBe book, someone said that it’s ‘unlike even those other books that are unlike other books’; some of the books don’t have a chance of winning prizes because they slip shy of all of the prize categories.

Practicalities. If CBe publishes your work, you get an advance of around £300 against royalties of 10% on net sales and a first print run of maybe 350 copies. That may be that. Around a fifth of the books CBe has published have sold fewer than 100 copies; a few have sold more than 3,000 copies. No ebook. If someone outside the UK is worried about not just postage costs but delivery, I’ll send them a pdf.

I can’t promise you a big presence in bookshops, or reviews. The set-up is reasonably professional – CBe has a distributor and a sales agent – but I don’t have a little black book.

CBe has been publishing since 2007 without Arts Council support (I made three applications in the early days, and then stopped). If CBe’s position on the margins of the publishing industry may be considered arrogant (in its aloofness from the commercial fray) or political, or both, I’ll take that, but this is largely because of an accidental combination of low resources, age (I’m 70) and personal temperament. As I said, there’s no manifesto.

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