The facts on fiction and Marley’s origins | Letters
Karl Sabbagh says small publishers face with huge obstacles with selling books and even letting anyone know they exist; plus a descendant of Dr Miles Marley sets the record straight
With reference to your leader on literary fiction (28 December), as a small publisher we are faced with huge obstacles in the way of selling our books or even letting anyone know our titles exist, however good they are. Last year we published an excellent novel called To the Lake, by a Russian writer, Yana Vagner. This had sold over 100,000 copies in Russia, and is being made into a TV series there. It has won prizes throughout Europe, and been translated into half a dozen languages, with sales outside Russia running into tens of thousands. We paid an advance to the author, a fee to a translator, and typesetting, cover design and printing costs, a total of about £9,000. We sent at least 50 copies out to major periodicals, newspapers and broadcast media in the hope of getting reviews, but there were none. The one thing we couldn’t afford was advertising, at a cost of £1,000 or so for a quarter page in a literary journal and far more in widely selling newspapers. So far, we have sold 64 copies. Can anyone wonder why we don’t publish more such books?
Managing director, Skyscraper Publications
• Dr Christopher Goulding (Letters, 26 December) may regard Barry West’s “theory” about Dickens’ use of the name Marley as tenuous; in our family we regard it as long-established fact. I am a descendant of Dr Miles Marley on my mother’s side, and was born in Padstow. Our family also owns the little portrait of him that was reproduced in the article. I knew Adela Harvey (née Marley), his granddaughter, and her daughter was my godmother.