Friday, June 11, 2010


Ever since I've been living in France, and writing in English (and also, at times, in hesitant French), I've discovered that attempts to get stuff published—either in the US or the UK (let's forget about my native Australia)—are a brick-wall affair.

Why? Well, publishing traditions in those Anglo-Saxon nations exploit exclusively the concept of literary agents. In other words, I can't simply propose a typescript to such-and-such a publishing house. I first have to find a literary agency, and it becomes their job to look for a publisher. Fair enough. Well then, why don't I simply link my existence as an English-language writer (residing in France) to such-and-such a US or UK literary agent? That's a good question. The truth of the matter is that I've never succeeded in convincing any serious US or UK literary agent that it might be worthwhile establishing a professional contact with me. Why not? Well, I don't know… apart from saying that they all reply that they're not interested, without taking the slightest look at anything that I've written (apart from my inquiry letter). I have the impression that there's some kind of credibility gap. Prospective agencies look at my address, "overseas", "on the European Continent", and they say to themselves: Shit, no… Or else I'm mistaken. Maybe they judge my literary nullity from the absence of subtle vocabulary and exotic forms of speech in my inquiry letter… I don't think so.

No, there's no doubt. We English-speaking writers residing on the European continent are living in the context of a giant English-language publishing system that has little or no place for individuals who don't reside in the "right" place, who don't pay income taxes either in the US or the UK. Needless to say, the system has litle to do with an author's writing talents.

For an English-writing European such as myself, interested in several kinds of writing (blog, novels, genealogy, local history, etc), the concept of self-publishing is a potentially exciting but subtle affair… which I'm exploring intensely, particularly in the context of electronic books. In any case, I must break out of the present stalemate.

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