Article published on June 2, 2016.
With regard to Mike’s article on Quality Control in Publishing, while not trying to establish and promote my own meagre attempts at authorship in the modern world, I thought I might just tell you my short tale of publishing such as it was.
Way back in the mid 1970s I thought – quite naively – that I could become a first class author. I purchased a decent folder, a wad of A4 writing paper and a mediocre fountain pen. I was in the early stages of marriage at the time and this afforded me loads of spare time in the evenings, strange to admit.
So began my brief sojourn with the virtual quill.
First I began my opus about Vampires, they were a current fad at the time thanks to the Hammer film company. I still have a different idea, but it was not to be this time. I then began a more personal account of my life but with additional excitement and adventures. The imagination ran wild (unfortunately) and the entire plot ended rather stupidly. A few more attempts proved fatal to my plummeting career as the novelist. Facing ridicule from the more philistine amongst my acquaintances, I spent long hours composing short stories. I like to believe that I got reasonably good at them, one in particular that only used about 2,000 words stood out most. I felt quite strongly about it to the extent that I purchased the Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook and found a few publishers that might be interested in my story.
I am not about to tell you who these people were, or how they conducted their business, but of the three stories [I submitted] to them, only one was accepted. Remember I had no previous knowledge of publishing whatsoever, totally in the dark as to what was the normal procedure, however, some weeks passed, then a letter arrived.
It began with a polite but final announcement that two of these stories were of no use to them, but the third, was. Enclosed was a cheque for £98 as full and final payment for my story. It indicated that it was to be sold on to one of those paperback collections, [namely] The Pan Book of Horror Stories Vol 71. I purchased loads of these books over the years with a vain hope that I would see my story in print someday, but all to no avail.
Where it is now is anybody’s guess – did it get used? And if it did, by whom? All I have left is a copy done on carbon paper and rewritten on a word processor some years back by myself. I gave up: two new motorcycle tyres and an oil change is scant reward for the toil and stress burning the midnight oil in my lonely garret… Good luck to all those who still pursue the elusive..!!