Diminishing Returns (or The Very Final End of Barney Thomson)
19 March 2010
In October I made one of my sporadic attempts to find a regular publisher for the Barney Thomson series. I was thinking that The Final Cut would really be the end of Barney, but that I'd have one last go at dragging a mainstream publisher on board, and if I was successful, then more than likely Barney would get to ride again. (That's why his brain's not back in a jar at the end of Book 7.)
I gathered everything positive about the series that I could think of, and made a nice little folio of images and helpful factoids to interest the discerning publisher. 100,000 book sales around the world; translated into four languages; screen option in Hollywood hands; some great press reviews from the early days; around 10,000 hits/month on the website.
It looked good on paper. Like Manchester City.
I spent a few days trawling the internet for the appropriate people to whom to send the package, identified fifteen of them, and off it went in neat little brown envelopes.
Seven people have yet to reply. I think I've probably written them off by now. One publisher returned an unsigned photocopy of a piece of paper telling me how to submit my book to their New Writing programme. A programme which is what it says on the tin. i.e. if you're not a new writer, then don't submit to it. That wasn't very helpful. Without wishing to identify a publisher too directly, it was Pan MacMillan. It's for such moments that the phrase fuck you and your dog was first used by the Greeks.
Which leaves seven. Four of the seven wrote and said thank you very much but not for us. One of these four even said that she'd enjoyed and followed the series with interest, but it just wasn't her publisher's kind of thing. That someone in publishing had followed the series with interest was in itself a bit of a surprise. Simon & Schuster. Lovely people.
Which leaves three publishers who seemed enthusiastic and said they'd take a look. 20%. Not bad. As many a manager has said after leaving Old Trafford with a scrappy 1-1 draw, I'd have settled for that.
Two of them said they'd get back to me before Christmas; neither of them did. The one who hadn't promised to reply before Christmas did, and said no. Then the next no came in early February, which left one; by chance, the same publisher who had originally published the Barney series in the late 90's. I'd gone back to them because everyone I'd dealt with there at the time had gone.
And so yesterday, at last, the answer came, and again the Man From Del Monte he say no... Thumbs down. Red card. Not for us. Nobody's going to be saying Houston we have a problem, because no one's getting sent in to space...
And that, for the barbershop death junky, is that.
Life muddles on in its usual way, and there are still biscuits in the cupboard; but sadly, that was Barney's last chance, and the sun has finally set on the world of the absurd barbershop. He really is gone now.
This is a reality show, so it's all right to cry...