Welcome to the New Year at Onyabus. I've been remiss in posting - there is never enough time in the working day to sit and think but I am determined to Do Better.
Today has been a day of emails, interviews and, sigh, unsoliciteds. The pile of unsolicited manuscripts is awfully high and awfully lacking in genius. Would that it were otherwise. Where are all the undiscovered diamonds of the children's lit world I wonder - those marvellous manuscripts from writers so talented they cannot help but get offers from all and sundry to publish their work? I am probably the only children's publisher in the world who actually sifts through the unsolicited pile myself but I read on with a somewhat sinking feeling and less hope in my heart than when I began this morning. There is always hope at the start of the reading pile. There is always a need for chocolate or a stiff drink at the end. I see we have been sent more stories about fairies...FYI we don't publish fairy books. More stories about environmental disasters - no, not for us, thankyou. Lots and lots of stories that the writers felt were picture books but are nothing more than lists of actions undertaken by a too-twee child. Dog and cat stories - mostly heroic dogs and recalitrant cats. No thanks. Four manuscripts were purportedly written by very small children whose grasp of language is uncannily adult but whose stories are woeful. Sorry. Your teacher, aunt, mother or father ought to put the stories you write in a drawer and give them to you on your 21st - not post them to us. There is a smattering of stories about desperate teenagers whose lives are forever blighted by First World Problems like their hair, their boyfriend or their mother. No thanks. We even have manuscripts about god, creationism and good calories.
I am beginning to slump.
Or even become slightly more deranged than usual..
How I look when deranged
Please someone send me a fabulous story - something utterly original.
In case I sound terribly ungrateful for the many manuscripts that fly in our door each day I am not. I am just very, very picky. Markus Zusak's first published book, The Underdog came from the pile - such a wonderful story. So original. So beautifully written. We snapped it up all those years ago and now look at him! Then there was Michael Gerard Bauer, the perfect gentleman of publishing whose first book, The Running Man, came off the unsolicited pile too and went on to win so many awards they scarcely all fit on the cover. Lyn Lee wote Pog - an unsolicited manuscript that won a swag of prizes. We can spot a good one when we see it. It just seems to me that there are a vast number of people out there who can't write but do anyway (and good on them, just don't send it to us) and an equal number of people who write what we call the OK Book; it's OK but it isn't wonderful.