Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Backstory - Rescued from the Slush Pile

How The Gift of Rain came to be published and what's happening now. Liz Thomson talks to Myrmidon Books in Publishing News:
This year's Booker long list has, not for the first time, put a tiny publisher on the map. Myrmidon, based in Newcastle and founded only last year by management consultant Ed Handyside with £120,000 of investment from friends and “a bit of a remortgage”, bought The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng from agent Jane Gregory who, having discovered it on the slush pile, spent two years offering it around before Handyside wrote introducing himself.

“Every single publisher turned it down,” Gregory told PN, “but now we are being inundated with queries, including from American publishers.” Auctions seem inevitable, and Gregory and her colleagues have reason to feel vindicated. “We all loved it and we'd sit around asking if it was us or them. Then along came a young publisher with the face to do it. Good for them.” Handyside and his colleague, editor Anne Westgard, bought UK/Commonwealth rights excluding Canada, and, by Wednesday, had already received offers from Australia and New Zealand.

Handyside, who was today due to travel first to Holland and then to the Far East, told PN he “had an instinct” about the novel and, as this week dawned, about the long list. Published in May backed by some modest PR by the Penang-born author, a lawyer currently living in South Africa, The Gift of Rain has sold “exceptionally well” in Malaysia and through Amazon, where it has lingered at fiftysomething, helped by a good review in the TLS. From the outset, Borders was supportive, and some independents, while Waterstone's came in “eventually”, initially stocking it in 24 branches. “That was up to 150 before the news, and we're now getting reorders,” Handyside continued, adding that sales were either direct or via Gardners or Bertrams - though Myrmidon is now in discussions with distributors. The first printing of 3,600 paperbacks and 400 hardbacks is now all but sold out, and a reprint is in hand. ...


saras said...

Way to go, Tan Twan Eng! I'm so proud and happy for you! Have just bought the book and am going to start reading today. Congratulations and thank goodness for a small publisher who had the guts and the instinct. saras

Ted Mahsun said...

Definitely the best slushpile story I've heard so far. Way to go, Twan Eng!

Madcap Machinist said...

Myrmidon has had a great start-up year. Kudos to the Handyside/Wesgard team.

I am unfortunately writing this with the rally on the telly.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your support, I really appreciate it.

Warmest regards,
Twan Eng

animah said...

Everyone focus:
Mr Eng will win the Booker
Mr Eng will win the Booker
Mr Eng will win the Booker

maitresse said...

such a nice story! eng's book sounds wonderful, I'm looking forward to picking it up:

and wonderful blog, by the way.

bibliobibuli said...

glad i found your blog too maitresse!

btw the author's family name is tan and his given names twan eng. we are all teasing him here because we know that everyone is going to get it wrong!

jading said...

Great work Twan Eng!
So very, very pleased for you!

Anonymous said...

Aha, he's a lawyer. That explains how he has the money to go off to SA and write :)

Anonymous said...

“Every single publisher turned it down,” Gregory told PN, “but now we are being inundated with queries, including from American publishers.”

And yet nothing had changed. Same book.