Wednesday 14 November 2012, 15:46
Things move fast in the book world these days. When we finished the last series of Phil the Shelf, in the summer, it was all leather belts and bondage.
Now, in the ebook charts - always the first indication of change - erotica only just makes it into the top 10. At number one is Thursdays in the Park, a love story about pensioners, written by a granny.
Yes, no-spring-chicklit has arrived at last.
Hilary Boyd's first novel, in which two 60 somethings find mature love in the children's playground, bombed in hardback but swiftly sold over 100,000 copies when Kindled. It's tempting to say that this was because elderly readers are able to increase the type-size on an ebook reader, but there's probably more to it.
Anyway, it's prompted us to start the new Shelf series with a look at the ageism-in-reverse now dominating popular literature.
The most obvious example is the return of Ian Rankin's veteran detective, John Rebus. The author, who insists on operating in real-time, had felt obliged to retire his sardonic hero on reaching the cops' cut-off age of 60.Ian Rankin. Photo © Rankin.
Four years later, however, economics have dictated an upward shift in the retirement age which, in theory, allows Rebus to slide his vinyl rock albums back into their gatefold sleeves and reclaim his warrant card.
Ian Rankin discusses the issues in Sunday's programme, while Gerald Seymour reflects on the survival problems facing an ageing female MI5 executive from the Valleys.
And we test the market for granny-lit in our Shelfstarters spot, when a former reporter with the Mid Wales Journal tries out her romantic comedy about an ageing provincial journalist on the Simon Cowell of cold print, literary agent John Jarrold.
Now it has to be said that, in several years of scrutinising unpublished first novels, for us, John has only occasionally become excited by a listener's offering. Same with all the publishers we've used. Getting a book accepted is never easy. But at least the writer goes away with a working knowledge of what's wrong.
Which is why you might want to give Shelfstarters a go. One way or another, it's going to improve your chances of making money out of writing - especially these days, when being turned down by a publisher really doesn't have to be the end. The advent of the ebook means that anybody can now now put a book on the market at minimal expense - and tens of thousands of people do.
The downside of this is that there's never before been as much badly-written, badly-plotted, unreadable drivel available worldwide for £1.99 or less. Self-published novels are, in general, the best evidence you'll find of a need for professional publishers.
Unfortunately, when rejecting a novel, publishers rarely explain why they're saying no and how you can improve your chances of acceptance by somebody else, which is the kind of advice you get for free as a Shelfstarter on Phil the Shelf.
And there's still time to get your book into the series which starts on Sunday.
Just send the first 25 pages of that slaved-over manuscript, plus a one-page synopsis of the story, to
Phil the Shelf,
BBC Radio Wales,
You won't find a quicker way of - just possibly - being a proper published novelist in 2013. Or at least not having your self-published ebook held up to public ridicule.
Go on. You know it makes sense.
Listen to Phil the Shelf on BBC Radio Wales from 1.30pm on Sunday 18 November.
Wednesday 14 November 2012, 15:26
Thursday 15 November 2012, 11:59