When first announced, the MNW initiative was warmly welcomed here, though not everywhere. Some book-trade people thought it was just plain silly, or worse, and some writers feared they would be ripped off.
Well, in the event nothing untoward has happened, and on the whole I think Macmillan, booksellers, and writers, have all done rather better from the initiative than might have been expected. MNW themselves have naturally chosen to look on the bright side, and here are a few of the highlights of the past year, as they see them.
- The German rights to M.F.W. Curran’s The Secret War have just been sold for an advance which would have many established authors breaking out the champagne. It will be published by Lueba later this year.
- Jonathan Drapes’s Never Admit to Beige was one of the first books to be selected as Book of the Month by the Simon Mayo programme on Radio Five.
- German rights of Brian McGilloway’s Borderlands and his second novel have already been sold to Dumont.
- A film option has been sold in Michael Stephen Fuchs’s The Manuscript.
You may recall that the standard MNW contract gave the imprint an option on their published authors' next book, and deals have been done to publish follow-up novels by Michael Stephen Fuchs, Edward Charles, and Brian McGilloway. In fact, Pan have bought world rights to three more books by McGilloway, and it is pretty clear that Pan Macmillan are hoping that he will be the natural successor to Colin Dexter (the onlie begetter of Inspector Morse.)
At least one author, to my knowledge, has had her second book turned down, but that, I fear, was always going to be the inevitable outcome for the majority of those whose first book appeared under the MNW banner. It was always the case that MNW saw this venture as a way of sorting out the top commercial talent. If you don't make the cut it is doubtless bitterly disappointing. But that, I fear, is what happens if you venture into the cutthroat world of trade publishing. You can scarcely say you weren't warned, both here and in a thousand other places.
As for year two of MNW, the firm have issued (to the trade) a paperback containing extracts from the next 12 months' output. This includes some intriguing stuff. Fuchs's second book has a good start; the opening chapter from MNW's first American signing, David Isaak, is also interesting; but the best bet, to me, looks like L.C. Tyler's The Herring Seller's Apprentice.
This features Elsie Thirkettle, the world's rudest literary agent (a title for which there is considerable competition). The book begins with a postscript, which is something of a novelty, and I am much looking forward to the rest of it. So are others, it seems. If you wish, you can pre-order a signed copy from Goldsboro Books.
All in all then, MNW looks increasingly like a very good idea indeed. But then I always said it was.