“60% of fiction in US chain stores is written by, like, ten people” – David Applefield
That was a comment made at discussion panel I attended at the Geneva Writers’ Conference a few years ago. Although Applefield was speaking tongue in cheek, I’d imagine that his invented statistic is not too far from the truth. Certainly when I go into a bookshop here in the UK, it seems to be the same authors that dominate the bestseller shelves and whose books can be found on the 3-for-2 tables. Stieg Larsson, anyone?
But what if you’re a good writer – scratch that, a brilliant writer – whose books have been overlooked by the media, passed under the radar of literary prize judges and never been picked for a retailer promotion? A life surviving on bread crusts and water beckons.
That is unless you happen to be one of the eight writers selected for promotion by Fiction Uncovered. The project aims to bring great but largely unrecognised writers into the public eye. A panel of judges will choose eight titles – novels, short story collections or graphic novels – to be the subject of a major publicity and marketing campaign which will introduce them to a wider audience. The selected books will be promoted by booksellers up and down the country, giving them the chance to compete against the likes of Larsson for book sales.
Of course, it’s not all about the money. The writers who benefit from the promotion will no doubt be delighted to have their books read and discussed by a new and hungry audience; the resulting large cheque will be the cherry on the cake.
The judges decision won’t be announced until Spring 2011 but for readers already excited at the prospect of getting stuck into books by fantastic, lesser-known authors, the good news is that in the months leading up to the announcement reviews of recommended books will be published on the Fiction Uncovered website.
I’m personally looking forward to having my reading habits shaken up a little bit. I was wondering who I would recommend as an unrecognised literary genius but to my great shame, no one sprung to mind. It’s not that I haven’t read loads of great books by UK writers – I have, it’s just that they’ve all been by fairly well known authors. Hopefully Fiction Uncovered will open my eyes to the great range of writing out there.
Do you have a favourite author who you think is an unrecognised writing star?