Polperro Postscripts

A blog for anyone with an interest in Polperro, publishing and people... with occasional musings on history and humanity.



Young Authors

Posted on August 31, 2012

I regularly receive submissions from authors seeking to have their work published. Many of them are well-written and researched and some are temptingly attractive publishing prospects. But the book business is becoming increasingly competitive and more and more difficult to get a reasonable return on the investment required to launch a new author’s work on the market.

In fact, almost all my most successful titles have come by word of mouth rather than arrive unsolicited. A chance conversation over dinner with someone perhaps, or via a friend of a friend say… It’s easy to spot the obvious (but rare) potential success, just as it is often easy to decide what is not likely to be worth taking on. The really difficult ones are those MSS that I like, indeed would love to publish, but instinct and experience suggests that I should not. And these are by far the biggest category.

I no longer take on fiction (success in this genre has been mixed at best) and nor do I do children’s books though I have occasionally tried to assist a few children’s authors to get published, either elsewhere or by self-publishing initially. It’s a particularly difficult market to break into, however. More recently, I’ve been approached by a couple of young writers, writing for their own age group. It’s always a delight to be able encourage youthful talent and, just maybe, help get their work into print.

One such budding author is 12-year-old Charlie whose debut novella, Bagpipe Island, was first published earlier this year. A couple of limited print runs and some local press publicity have not only fostered a growing readership for his book but also encouraged him to write a second: Fairichaun. As the blurb on the back cover says, it’s full of surprises and strange happenings from beginning to end.   

The story revolves around Rolph Ralph, an ordinary 11-year-old boy who never makes fun of other people’s names. Never! But when he gets angry with his embarrassing clown dad and his egg-poaching mum, a nasty encounter with some cruel fairies results in a shocking and uncomfortable mix-up involving Hercules the obese pigeon, Selina the deaf ostrich and an unsavoury fairy called General Bunion.

Fairichaun (the title is a conflation of fairies and leprachauns) is an extraordinary flight of fancy and it will be intriguing to see how it is received when it is published in September. But I suspect that we may be seeing a lot more of Charlie’s output in the years to come.