Who knows, that first Publishing deal may not be that far off, after all. The recently launched Macmillan New Writer Scheme may be your best opportunity yet to make it big in the publishing world.

Since the project was launched in February, Macmillan has been receiving 200 manuscripts a month. And in April next year, six novels will be published and one or two will be released each month.

The Macmillan New Writing scheme, though, is not without its critics. A number of online content providers have blasted the scheme as a “scam”. The Guardian newspaper’s Arts Correspondent, Charlotte Higgans (www.guardian.co.uk) branded the scheme “the Ryanair of publishing; it’s like having to pay for your own uniforms”. Natasha Fairweather, an agent, calls it “an exercise in futility”. In contrast, Michael Bernard, Macmillan executive director, describes the scheme as “a way of giving a voice to talented new authors”. 

There’s no doubt, though, Macmillan’s New Writer Scheme is a departure from mainstream publishing. For example, if Macmillan decides to accept a novel for its list, the terms are nonnegotiable; no advance will be paid, however, writers will receive 20% royalties from sales.

Here’s the deal: if accepted, MacMillan will copy edit books, but if manuscripts need more detailed work, they will suggest that writers employ freelance editors. Even then, this does not guarantee publication.

Barnard says, “This is about Macmillan finding new authors. Like a lot of mainstream publishers we haven’t in recent years been accepting unsolicited manuscripts, but only ones sent through agents. And we are not discovering as many authors as we need.”

“There are literally tens of thousands of writers out there – and we have a responsibility to help them. We can’t do that by paying a half million advance to every author.” 

According to Barnard, the books will appear in the main Pan Macmillan catalogue and would be “very posh books” with ribbon markers, sold at £15. He expected them to become “collectors’ items”. 

Scott Pack, of Waterstones, welcomes the initiative. “I think it’s a fantastic idea,” he said. “When books are presented to me by publishers they prioritise the ones to which they have given large advances. But the bestsellers are not necessarily the ones that have had big advances. This creates a level playing field.” 

Pack believes the scheme could be great for spotting new talent, and points to examples of self-published books that found success not going the route of conventional publishing.

We think if you’ve spent years working on your novel with no success in finding an agent, then Macmillan’s New Writing Scheme may well bring you the success you’ve been waiting for.

Pros: Once in a lifetime opportunity 20% of Royalties from Sales Creates level playing field for new talent

Cons: MacMillan will acquire all rights to new manuscripts No Advance Paid Possibility sharing of editing costs Less control

More detail about MacMillan New Writing can be found here

By: Andy Ballentine And Merlin-publishing.com

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