I don’t really have a very good explanation for why I buy a new copy of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook every single year. (Or indeed why, as you can see from above, I’ve hung onto my last few years’ worth of copies).
It’s not as if the listings change a great deal from year-to-year – the vast majority of the publishers and agents therein still have the same contact details and submission guidelines as they have done for donkey’s years. And it’s not even as if buying it has ever done me all that much good. Over the years I have bombarded dozens, possibly hundreds, of agents and publishers listed in editions of this book with synopses and sample chapters of my novels. Carefully going through, circling the likeliest candidates who publish similar books or the right genre, and crossing them off as the rejection letters come in.
There’s been the occasional positive contact with the odd agent via the book, but of course nothing that’s ever led to publication, only kind words and encouragement. (Which are still no mean things to get from agents, admittedly).
In fact, the only copy of the Yearbook which has directly led to me getting something published remains the very first one I ever had, the 2001 edition, which was given to me as a 17th birthday present by my friend Lauren a frightening eleven years ago now. (I ended up getting paid to write some features on TV history for The Stage newspaper after getting their contact details from that book).
But as I say, I still waste my money buying the new edition every year. Perhaps because it gives me the psychological feeling of getting closer to achieving something. Makes me feel a tiny bit like a ‘proper’ writer... Mind you, it can also be a bit depressing – all those people publishing all that material, and still no room for me? I must be really crap...
Oh, and one of the articles in the new edition is all about why it’s okay to self-publish, complete with a list of very famous writers who resorted to it at one time or another. Hmmmmm... Get thee behind me, Satan!