Friday, August 29, 2014

Creative Differences In Publishing

Martin Amis is one of England's literary stars, but that doesn't mean he can get his novel published in Germany or France. No matter how well known his name, it all comes down to sales or lack thereof.

Mr. Amis has penned a new book about the Holocaust, which was once a rather sensitive subject. With the passage of time and continued insight into the era, however, there is a renewed interest in the period of Fascism and world war. Writing fiction set in concentration camps has proved successful, as in THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS which presented impossibly horrible circumstances from the eyes of a child. Why not write a novel from the point of view of those who were in charge of mass murder?

THE ZONE OF INTEREST has been met with critical acclaim, another example of Martin Amis' ability to probe the depths of the human soul and present the bleakest of pictures. Despite the positive reviews, his usual publishers in Germany and France declined to publish the book, but it had nothing to do with the subject. It was simply a matter of the publisher not believing that the book would sell.

According to reports, the German publisher found the book 'too frivolous'. A topic as heavy as the Holocaust was not dealt with in a suitably heavy manner in THE ZONE OF INTEREST, what with a love story between two of the main characters, a married woman and a man related to one of Hitler's confidantes. Germans would not buy such a treatment, in the publisher's mind, and so the book was turned away.

In France, the book will be published by Calmann-Levy, after the opportunity was declined by Gallimard. There are those who believe that Calmann-Levy was feeling the sting of having rejected a previous best-selling novel on the Holocaust, and this was an opportunity to correct the error. As for Gallimard, they must have felt that Amis was not selling well enough in France to warrant their participation in the new venture, and once the Germans declined, well, there must have been something lacking in the novel and best to jump ship before it starts to sink.

Not everyone 'gets' what a writer is trying to say, no matter how well that author thinks he has composed his prose. Not everyone likes what every author has written. Not everyone who reads books is a fan of Martin Amis.

It's a matter of finding the right fit, whether you are famous or completely unknown.

Finding that fit, of course, takes time and effort. That is why you keep going with your submissions and your next novel and the next one after that. Because you just don't know when the pieces will fall into place, and someone out there will appreciate what you've done and see the financial benefit in bringing it to the reading public.

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