Friday, April 07, 2006

Macmillan New Writing launch

Yesterday evening to Macmillan HQ for the launch party of the Macmillan New Writing (MNW) imprint.

There were, at a guess, about 150 assembled in the Macmillan atrium for the usual wine and nibbles. The first six books in the MNW series are officially published today, and the good and the great were invited to wish them well.

I gathered, from Richard Charkin no less, that literary agents had been invited, but most had not turned up. Similarly, all the journalists who had written hard things about the scheme had also been sent invitations, but they too were notable by their absence. Pity. But then they go to so many of these things, and at the MNW do they might have been asked to justify their position.

It was a very pleasant occasion, and I think I managed to meet most of the first six authors, plus several other interesting people. One such was a lady I have met before, who is a writer of radio plays (among other things). I asked her if she was still able to get her plays produced on the BBC. She smiled. No, she said. They have got rid of all the real producers, and now there are just bunny rabbits, who favour young writers because they're cheap.

Ah, the joys, as I have remarked before, of the writer's life. Well, at least if you write prose you can just stick it on the internet. But if you write plays it's harder.

Amidst all the natural, and perfectly proper, euphoria of the launch, two people helped to put the matter into perspective. One was Michael Barnard, the onlie begetter of MNW. He pointed out that this year the Macmillan company as a whole will publish (if I heard correctly) about 6,500 titles. MNW will publish 14.

The other person to administer a little corrective, if only to me, was a man who was there just as a friend of one of the authors; he was not a writer himself. I had quite a long chat with him and as we were leaving he leaned forward and said to me, confidentially, 'Of course, in the end, you know, it's only words on paper.'


Anonymous said...


I was really chuffed to meet you in person last night. And it was really good fun - everyone involved with MNW (all the authors, Sophie and Will, Mary Chamberlain and Jayne Barnard - and most particularly Mike Barnard) are just such lovely people. I feel awfully lucky to be stuck with them, and it was great to have everyone together for the first time.

And many thanks to you for your warm support of, and free publicity for, the imprint. You certainly deserved your seat at the table last night. Hope to see you again soon.


Anonymous said...

Roger Morris has just summarised the event and mentioned your presence over at Culture Vulture. Glad to hear you're not so grumpy after all. =:-)

Anonymous said...

I refuse to believe that you're not grumpy--it would crush me.

Love the quote, "in the end, you know, it's only words on paper." A reminder of the ancients, who used a slave to whisper into the ears of conquering heroes, "You are mortal."