Even these days, with self-publishing so regrettably prevalent, it isn't easy to turn that manuscript you've been tip-tapping away at for the better part of a decade into something substantial: into a book, with a cover, media-savvy marketing materials and a purposeful publicity push to get it into stores other than Amazon, and hands other than those of your immediate family.
A large part of the problem is that no publisher in its right mind is going to open the floodgates to unagented submissions. Maybe things have changed since I last looked into it, but the act of convincing an agent that he or she has a chance of successfully selling the fruits of your fingers has ever been an almighty obstacle, and a dam against the inexorable flood of utter rubbish.
Every now and then, though, an organisation will break with tradition, presumably looking for precious gems amidst all that filth. Angry Robot Books have opened their doors before, to widespread applause, and now, divisions of Harper Voyager in the UK, the US and Australia have joined forces to do it all over again.
Have a gander at the press release for more details:
"In this time of accelerated evolution in the field of digital publishing, the editorial leaders of Harper Voyager in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia are delighted to announce an exciting joint venture that will offer talented aspiring writers the chance to join the global science fiction and fantasy imprint.
"For the first time in over a decade, Harper Voyager is offering writers the chance to submit full, unagented manuscripts for a limited two-week period. The publisher is seeking new authors with fresh voices, strong storytelling abilities, original ideas and compelling story-lines. Harper Voyager is home to some of the biggest names in science fiction and fantasy, including George R. R. Martin, Kim Harrison, Raymond E. Feist, Robin Hobb, Richard Kadrey, Sara Douglass, Peter V. Brett and Kylie Chan, among others.
"The submission portal [...] will be open from the 1st to the 14th of October 2012. The manuscripts will then be read and those most suited to the global Harper Voyager list will be selected jointly by editors in the USA, UK and Australia. Accepted submissions will benefit from the full publishing process: accepted manuscripts will be edited; and the finished titles will receive online marketing and sales support in World English markets.
"Voyager will be seeking an array of adult and young adult speculative fiction for digital publication, but particularly novels written in the epic fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy, horror, dystopia and supernatural genres. Submission guidelines and key information can be found at www.harpervoyagersubmissions.com."
Much as I sympathise with the slush readers one can only imagine Harper will have to hire on worldwide for this epic endeavour, I love that this sort of this seems to be becoming a tradition. A year-round open door sounds like a recipe for disaster, quite frankly, so there needs be some compromise, and if you ask me, declaring a brief free-for-all is exactly the way to go.
In short, if you've been looking for the chance of a lifetime of late, then make no mistake, my fellow wannabe authors: this is very probably it.