Readers are hungering for more experimental fiction, according to Man Booker Prize longlisted author Paul Kingsnorth.
His book The Wake, which was published through crowd-funding on Unbound, in set in England after the Norman Conquest and is written in what Kingsnorth calls "a shadow tongue", combining Old and modern English.
Kingsnorth, an environmental journalist and writer, told The Bookseller: "I think there's a real hunger for more experimental writing and art. I think there's a lot of dullness over a lot of contemporary literature, a real sense of dullness and conformity and conservatism. I can understand why it's a commercial risk for a big publisher, and understand why the big guys can't put it out. But readers are definitely open to it."
Political travelogue One No, Many Yeses, Kingsnorth's first book, was published by Simon & Schuster, while second book Real England was published by Portobello. He said: "Having been with a big publisher, a small publisher, and also releasing poetry through very small presses, I feel like I've seen all the different ways it's done, and they all have their pluses and minuses. The plus in going crowd-funded is the connection you get with the audience before the book is even out, which is really valuable."
The Wake was offered to publishers by Kingsnorth's former agent, Patrick Walsh at Conville & Walsh, but was not taken on. "I knew when I was halfway through writing it it wouldn't get published," Kingsnorth said. "One publisher said they liked it, but asked if I could rewrite it in modern English to make it more accessible. I said no."
Knowing Unbound's director of channel John Mitchinson, the book was put on Unbound, where it was one of the quickest fiction projects ever to hit its target.
Kingsnorth, who is now represented by Jessica Woollard at The Marsh Agency, is now in discussions with a traditional publisher for two further, related novels. He said: "I didn't think these books could come from a mainstream publisher, but I think all challenging books have to start from the margins before working their way in."
Concerns were raised yesterday about the availability of the title following its shortlisting.
Rachael Kerr, publicist and editor-at-large at Unbound, which published The Wake in April, said: "The original print run was 500 special editions for subscribers and 1,000 for trade, and we've since done one reprint of 1,000. We have ordered another reprint of 3,000." It is also availble in a digital edition.
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