Bücher sind in Deutschland wohl bewahrtes Kulturgut. Deshalb binden wir auch ihren Preis. Dumm nur, dass es so schwer ist, einen Autorenvertrag zu bekommen. In England serviert Macmillan als Gegenentwurf die Geiz-ist-geil-Lidl-Aldi-Discounter-Version einer Buchreihe.
Wer gerade einen richtig guten Roman gelesen hat, ergeht meist in einer von zwei Reaktionen: Entweder er erstarrt in Ehrfucht und wispert ergriffen "So was möchte ich auch mal schreiben können." Oder ihn packt der Übermut und er ruft: "So was kann ich auch schreiben!"
Wer zur zweiten Gruppe gehört, rennt meist schnell gegen Wände. Verlage werden zugeworfen mit Manuskripten, einen Lektor dazu zu bringen, überhaupt die erste Seite zu lesen, ist schon ein Erfolg. Besser, man wendet sich an Literatur-Agenten, ist der Rat. Oder man zahlt dafür, veröffentlicht zu werden – aber nicht jeder Literat-in-spe hat mal eben ein paar tausend Euro übrig.
Der britische Großverlag Macmillan hat einen Ausweg entworfen: den Discount-Autorenvertrag. Es gibt keinen Honorarvorschuss, das Manuskript wird nur grob lektoriert. Stattdessen wird das Buch auf den Markt geworfen, der Autor erhält ein Fünftel der Einnahmen.
Eine kluge Idee, finde ich. In Zeiten, da Internet-Seiten blitzschnell zum Kult werden und Witze-E-Mails innerhalb von Tagen rund um den Globus verschickt werden, tippe ich drauf, dass es schon bald das erste Kult-Buch geben wird, das auf diese Weise erschien. Im Königreich wird die Idee derzeit zumindest heftig diskutiert, hier ein Artikel aus dem "Guardian".
Und hier die komplette Bloomberg-Meldung:
Macmillan’s No-Frills Publishing Plan Divides U.K. Literati
^c.2005 Bloomberg News<
By Charles Goldsmith
May 26 (Bloomberg) — A no-frills plan for new writers by
publisher Pan Macmillan Ltd. is the talk of Britain’s book world as authors descend this weekend on the annual Hay-on-Wye literary festival on the England-Wales border.
Macmillan, home to such popular authors as Wilbur Smith and Minette Walters, recently initiated a "New Writing“ program aimed at first-time novelists – a bid to yield surprise hits while spending little on upfront costs.
Reviews of the program are mixed: supporters say it gives
hope to undiscovered talent, while critics dismiss the initiative as a gimmick doomed to failure.
Among the first crop of novels to be published under the
system will be "North,“ a psychological drama by retired
English teacher Brian Martin, 67, of Oxford, England. He sent his book to Macmillan after failing to win a publishing deal through two agents, he said.
"I know what traditional publishers and agents tend to
think,“ Martin said. "For someone at my age to find an agent
who’s going to invest time in someone like me is very, very
The author describes "North“ as a ôônovel of obsession“
in which the narrator is "almost as enigmatic as his subject
North, a strange, elegant Anglo-American youth.“ North’s first name is never revealed.
The New Writing plan’s terms are simple: Macmillan offers no advance payments to authors, and Macmillan editors will perform no rewriting in order to "keep costs to a minimum.“ Writers will receive 20 percent royalties on books sold, with Macmillan holding an option to publish a writer’s second book under the same terms.
The first half-dozen books will be published under the plan
in April 2006, followed by one or two a month, Macmillan said.
It said the books will be carried in the company’s catalogs,
and "sold in the market“ by the publisher. While Macmillan
makes no promises about marketing efforts, it promises to keep the books in print for two years, Macmillan Chief Executive Richard Charkin said in a phone interview.
The plan, which differs from vanity publishing in that Macmillan pays publishing costs, has sparked a spirited debate over the state of the U.K.’s book industry.
"The New Writing scheme suggests that the days of taste and
literary discrimination at Macmillan are over,“ wrote Robert
McCrum, literary editor of the Observer newspaper and a former editor-in-chief at publisher Faber & Faber. Novelist Hari Kunzru, author of "The Impressionist,“ told the "Guardian" newspaper that the plan was "the Ryanair of publishing,“ a reference to the low-cost airline.
Critics of Macmillan’s plan such as McCrum say the system
strips editors of their responsibilities to select and shape the
most promising new fiction. Skeptics also say the plan will
result in poorly selling books because publishers that have
invested little in the works will inadequately promote them.
"It’s very, very hard to sell first novels at the moment
anyway even with full promotion and published in the normal
channels,“ said Dan Franklin, publisher at Jonathan Cape Ltd., a unit of Bertelsmann AG’s Random House.
Macmillan, part of German media company Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, said the plan helps gifted new authors whose works wouldn’t be published through traditional agent-oriented publishing channels because the cost is prohibitively high.
Charkin said he’s "almost speechless“ over criticism that
the system exploits authors eager to be published. "How could one possibly say that offering to publish someone who wouldn’t be published, and paying 20 percent royalties, and making no promises but doing our best, amounts to exploitation?“ he said.
Much of the criticism reflects ôôsnobbery and elitism“ in the
literary world, said Charkin, adding that he regards Ryanair as "quite a good thing.“
Macmillan, whose history dates to 1843 and includes such
authors as Thomas Hardy and Rudyard Kipling, has received several hundred submissions since directing prospective authors to the New Writing plan on its Web site a few months ago, Charkin said.
The publisher requests completed works rather than ideas, sent electronically, and cautions writers to expect "a inimum of communication between publisher and author.“
The New Writing system has split Britain’s literary ommunity "right down the middle,“ said Charles Jones, co-founder of Writersservice.com, a Web site aimed at writers. The plan is welcomed by "a lot of people out there writing wonderful things who can’t get them published, but others say, "No, the gatekeepers are there for a reason, and they ensure that good things get out.“
The buying manager at the Waterstone’s book chain, Scott
Pack, said the plan could help more "experimental books“ make their way into shops. "Macmillan is being honest: they’re saying one reason we don’t publish these books is because it’s too risky.“
The issue has also stirred plenty of debate on Web logs or
blogs used by aspiring writers.
"All those wannabe novelists see it as the answer to their
prayers, while others see it as the end of civilization,“ McCrum said in a phone interview. He said he doesn’t expect other publishers to follow Macmillan’s lead.
Others aren’t so sure.
"Rival publishers may be dismissive of Macmillan’s scheme,
but they will nevertheless be watching carefully," trade
magazine "The Bookseller" said in an editorial. "If any of the
authors take off, expect to see more Ryanair publishing
ventures quickly crowd the flight paths.’"