Booked In With Jess: 6

With an ever growing population and therefore a higher number of creatives on the planet, I’m sure you’re aware of the growing issues within the publishing industry. Not only are community libraries slowly dying and book shops making fewer sales, but aspiring authors are finding it progressively more difficult to get their works published.

Particularly in fiction, the battle to be published has become a strenuous task which now requires an agent. Agents are like unicorns – beautiful but seemingly non-existent. If your mate says they have an agent you nod and smile but inside you’re thinking, yeah right, and I have three pet fairies. Agents are like a highly desired endangered species and your only way to get your unpublished manuscript noticed by the established companies is through them – you see the problem.

Author of A Time To Every Purpose and Face Value, Ian Andrew decided to go down an alternative route after he finished his first novel. He self-published. Without the immediate help of professional editors or a marketing team, Andrew worked relentlessly to ensure his book was of the highest standard before publication. But can a self-published book compare to mainstream market?

Crime-thriller Face Value gripped my attention from the first chapter as the story jumps straight in with a murder scene. From then on I was kept guessing of what was to come and was led by Andrew as he unravelled the shocking plot. Protagonists Kara and Tien are likable in spite of their brutal behaviour which makes them interesting to observe. It’s only in the second half of the novel that the pair become clearly distinguishable, yet the development of their characters is interesting to watch, I assure you.

I particularly enjoyed the way two plotlines interwove, the minor plot not only provided greater character insight but also gave a break from the main story which often built to major intensity. It fuelled the impatience of wanting to know what was going to happen next in the main plot by having to concentrate on the chapter that sat between you and that action, kind of like a really good advert break.

Plus, Face Value provides a realistic depiction of the world, including LGBTQ+ characters and a range of ethnic backgrounds, giving the story a sense of truth which makes the fictional plot all the more engaging and hard-hitting.

As an English student and university magazine editor, I couldn’t help but cringe at the incorrect spelling of Jane Austen and a few clumsy sentences here and there which I expect would have been picked up by a professional editorial team. In one sense, it’s frustrating to see some room for improvement in Face Value, yet it’s vital to recognise that books published by the likes of Penguin and Harper Collins can also suffer in this way. Andrew managed to write and publish a successful and original piece of work- how many people can say that about themselves?

I caught up with Ian Andrew for an interview about the Wright & Tran novels which you can read here.

Jessikah Hope Stenson

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