Taking Liberties

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Consternation has broken out in the Irish literary community with news breaking last night of Dublin independent publishing house Liberties Press instituting a €100 reading fee for authors’ manuscripts.

Liberties boss Seán O’Keeffe plays it off as covering costs and maintaining standards in this piece in the Irish Times.

“They are, of course, free not to send material our way. However, we have a hard-earned reputation as an innovative and successful publisher, and we believe that in a few years, this will be standard practice among publishers.

We receive hundreds of unsolicited submissions every year, and if this policy results in the number declining, that will be no bad thing.

We hope it will encourage authors to think carefully before submitting material to us, and to value the work we do.”

Irish lit Twitter is, of course, apoplectic. Writer and founder of Gorse.ie, Susan Tomaselli has been vocal since the story broke last night.

Writer Thomas Morris, currently of Faber Books, has his carefully-measured thoughts on the matter:

FIGHT!

Publisher takes Liberties (Irish Times)

26 thoughts on “Taking Liberties

  1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

    I don’t like this guy Sean O’Keefe
    He seems a harbinger of grief
    He should visit his neighbours
    The place they call Fabers
    And from their book take out a leaf

    1. Nigel

      *hollow laugh*

      I don’t know the details here, but there are enough horror stories and cautionary tlaes about publishers not paying writers to give anyone the blues.

  2. Nigel

    If you’re a writer NEVER pay a publisher NEVER pay an agent.

    Obviously they are free to charge this and you are free to pay them, and there are legitimate reading and editing services out there that do charge and give value for money, but when it comes to publishers and agents – money flows to the writer. What little money there is, making this even more of a sad, exploitative practice joke. A publisher or agent who charges you to read your work is not primarily interested in representing you or publishing you, they are interested in your money. They are almost certainly a scam, so at best this is a business model based on a scam, legitimising a scam as a business model. Reading manuscripts by hopeful authors is THEIR JOB and the writer is not employing them to do this, the publishing house or the agency they work for is. Nothing illegal about this, but it is dubious and unethical and, frankly, and unpleasant precedent for others to do the same, making it more difficult to distinguish the scams from the real publishers/agencies. There are a lot of people trying to get published out there and a lot of people preying on them. This is one more.

  3. Niamh

    Thank you so much for raising this!

    Charging people to submit is one thing, but will these people be reimbursed if they are signed by Liberties Press?

    1. Kerri Ann

      The was a strange and unsavoury episode. I’ve never seen anything that was so clearly written with one hand.

      (OK, maybe Don Quixote.)

  4. Niamh

    Oh Ok I am actually so mad about this (I am a writer, in case you hadn’t guessed).

    ART IS NOT A LEISURE ACTIVITY. ART IS NOT A TREAT I GIVE MYSELF. ART IS THE VERY ESSENCE OF OUR HUMAN CONDITION IT IS THE ONE SOURCE OF CONSTANT HONEST INVESTED SUBVERSIVE RISKY COMMENT, INTERROGATION, EXPRESSION, VULNERABILITY ETC. ETC. ETC.

    WITHOUT ART WE LOSE OUR HUMANITY.

    HENCE THE DECIMATION OF ART AS A WAY OF LIFE BY CAPITALISM.

    Hence the heinous inhuman disgusting idea that a writer should pay to find an audience, to be represented by what is in fact NOT a high-end or well-paying publisher. Hence the idea that writers should please for and justify their very existence as something other than 9-to-five embittered wage slaves.

    This kind of carry-on has decimated academic writing and driven intelligent people who are not independently wealthy out of academia. It proposes to do the same with creative writing. It is morally wrong.

    1. Niamh

      Also props to Susan Tomaselli, she is a lady and a force for terrific writing in this country, and also Thomas Morris, who was until recently at the helm of the terrific Stinging Fly.

  5. Eamonn Clancy

    Irish fiction is becoming an amateur pursuit in the same way Irish theatre has, almost all young actors work for free nowadays, some are even paying casting agents indirectly to be seen for auditions. The sad thing is budding writers will find the 100 euros somewhere and Liberties Press will set the standard.

  6. Feidlim MacSásta

    I’d write some really tedious nonsense with atrocious spelling and grammar and then pay them €100 to make them read it.

    Even better. I’d just download some rubbish script off the internet, do a find change on random words to really melt their heads and send them that.

    1. Kerri Ann

      Tedious nonsense with atrocious spelling and grammar? If only there were some place you could find that of a Friday.

  7. thecitizenatbarneys

    I’ve opened a kickstarter to raise €100 so I can copy paste all Frilly Keane’s “columns” and send them to this O’Keefe man. That’ll learn him. Doubt he’ll be able to manage even a coherent tweet after that.

  8. Peter Dempsey

    Niamh – so all people who work 9-5 are “embittered wage slaves”? And you as a writer are so much better than them? Get off the stage.

    1. Cot

      Agree. Niamh is so up her own bottom. Any person, writer included, who thinks themselves above any one else, cannot claim to speak for humanity, or write for humanity for that matter.

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