Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Times They Have a-Changed

A quote from Ian Rankin in yesterday's Indie:

'I'm always happy to do interviews; it's certainly better than being ignored. For the first 4 or 5 Rebus novels, hardly anyone took any notice. I would have died for attention.'

I happen to know that Rankin was very nearly dropped by his publisher at that point that he's talking about.

The first Rebus novel was published in 1987.
As is obvious from the above quote, sales were slack and reviews scarce.
This continued to be the case for the next few books in the series.

Fast forward 20 years - those early books are now considered collectors' items, the novels have won 4 Crime Writers' Association awards, Rankin won the Diamond Dagger in 2005 and World Book Crime Thriller of the Year Award this year, several of the books have been televised and he has been made an OBE and Scottish national treasure.

Consider this:
If the first 2 books had been published in 2007 instead of 1987, none of the above would have happened.
Once it was clear sales were not taking off big-time, Rankin would not be offered a subsequent deal by his publishers and would struggle to get anyone else to take him on.

Even though this same fate nearly befell him 20 years ago, fortunately there was still a vestige of feeling at that time that it can take an author several books before their career takes off.

8 comments:

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Amazing how easy it is for success to be hit and miss. I find it almost hard to believe that Rankin's publisher nearly fired him. Goes to show how much it comes down to timing and luck. Funny old thing this publishing, writing world we've chosen to live in - a bit scary too.

Minx said...

It's mostly miss and miss, Vanilli. Good job we're all just in it for the pleasure, eh?

Cailleach said...

'Timing and luck' and bloody perseverance! (did I spell that right?) and lots of other lovely factors, like knowing people, getting the right amount of exposure... where do you finish? Pleasure Minx? There's that too... *ouch*

Debi said...

Luck? I heard somewhere that it's 50% preparation and 50% opportunity.

Verilion said...

So are you going to get us in with the right crowd then Debi? ;)

steve r said...

Have faith, young gal, your next publisher won't make that mistake

Debi said...

Ooooh ooooh. Did you see that everyone? I'm a young gal ... He called me a young gal ...

(*skips off giggling ...*)

Debi said...

Sorry, V - got distracted by the above.

Don't you know we ARE the right crowd, honey???