Who is shaping the public’s taste in books?

I agree that publishers have to make a profit, as in any other business, but the message most writers are getting these days is that if you are not a celebrity or your book is not guaranteed to be a huge success then no-one is interested in you.  No wonder so many writers are turning to self publishing.  Today I had yet another rejection from a publisher with the opening comment: “We enjoyed the first three chapters enormously”.  At this my heart leapt, but then I read “However we do not think we could publish your novel as it does not fit in with our list.”  So no, they were not interested in publishing it.
The danger in all this is that the range of books that are available and will be available in the future is strictly controlled by a few publishers whose criteria are less to do with literary standards and more to do with commercial success.  This was evident in the fight over who would win the chance to offer Pippa Middleton a six-figure book deal before even a single word was put to paper.  I am sure her book will be competently written and will sell very well but this does not give much heart to the thousands of authors who would like to have even a modest publishing deal.

Move over celebs!  Give the rest of us a chance.

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Joan Fallon is a writer and novelist living in Spain.

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