Publishing cricket fiction: the publisher’s story
As yesterday’s post explained, my company – The Professional and Higher Partnership – publishes fiction by the Rt Hon Sir Alan Haselhurst MP. We’ve published Accidentally Cricket and Unusually Cricket in hardback and as e-books; and we’ve republished Occasionally Cricket (in both formats) and Eventually Cricket and Incidentally Cricket (as ebooks). We’re publishing Fatally Cricket this autumn.
‘The Professional and Higher Partnership’: we’ve would have called ourselves ‘Academic and Professional’ – the more usual label (at least in the UK) for the sector of publishing we specialise in – but that name was taken (sort of), so we brought in ‘higher’ from the phrase ‘higher education’.
So how does an outfit like ours, focused on specialist, learned, non-fiction, come to be publishing cricket fiction?
In addition to publishing I work, in a very selective way, as a literary agent. Some of the authors I represent inhabit the ‘Westminster village’ (as London’s politico environs is called) and one of them, John Blundell (then Director-General of the Institute of Economic Affairs) is a cricket enthusiast. John kindly mentioned me to Alan Haselhurst, best-known as a Member of Parliament but also an author of cricket novels.
Alan had had three such novels (Occasionally, Eventually, Incidentally) published by Queen Anne Press. When that press closed, Alan needed a publisher for his next book (Accidentally). Alan asked me if I could represent him. I secured a deal with a sporting press (the publisher of sports books rather than fiction) – or at least I thought I had: the contract was never forthcoming. It transpired that the press in question had run into difficulties (I believe it was subsequently taken over).
So what to do? Well, I’m a publisher. And a cricket enthusiast – I play for Mildenhall CC and Burrough Green CC and am a life member of Scarborough CC and Cambridge University CC. So it seemed not too big a stretch to propose publishing Accidentally and, in due course, subsequent books in the Outcasts series.
Strategically, of course, this makes no sense. We publish books on creative writing in higher education and books on teaching and research in higher education. They sort of go together – in fact they fit together well. But cricket fiction? – however one tries to spin it, it doesn’t fit.
But then life is not purely a matter of strategy, important though strategy is. Life is also about having fun when one can – and publishing the Outcasts series has been fun. In particular, we relish our book launches at the House of Commons. Generally, the series helps us to be ‘out and about’: I guess we could try to convince ourselves that makes strategic sense – but, really, that isn’t the point.