How the Left Stitches Up Publishing    
    John Bean relates his experiences as a writer in the politically-incorrect school    

Since the days of Henry Williamson and his wonderful series The Chronicles of Ancient Sunlight - in which a Mosley look-alike hero struggles for the true Britain - nationalist authors have been thin on the ground. The only serious works I know that have made it into print in the last forty years are A. K. Chesterton's The New Unhappy Lords, John Tyndall's The Eleventh Hour and my recent published autobiography Many Shades of Black, none of which could find a main stream publisher and were, in essence, self-published.

While I have no delusions about my literary talents (I have earned my living as a hack technical writer), and will not complain that my work has not been short-listed for the Booker Prize, I know full well that if I had written an exposé of the wicked goings-on in the radical right I would have soon found a publisher!

Undoubtedly, other nationalists will have tried their hands at novels, autobiographies or simple commentaries on politics. Some such works will have been rubbish, but others most certainly would have been much more interesting and better written than many of the 80,000 books that were published last year alone. A great many of these 80,000 books were real rubbish - but of course they were politically correct rubbish. One typical of the genre would contain the theme of the traumatic experiences of a one-legged, tone-deaf half-West Indian Negro whose Jewish mother had played lead violin in the Auschwitz camp orchestra. My first experience of publishers and their literary agents was in 1995, when I wrote Ten Miles from Anywhere: a Suffolk Chronicle. This book had two major themes. There was a background of Suffolk village life from the beginning of the 20th century, as related through the words of villagers; then there was a look at changes that had taken place over the past 25 years, chartered as they occurred.

Controversial and not really relevant

Admittedly, I had tucked into the story a couple of brief references to the "white flight" phenomenon, and pointed out that: "The ever-open door to immigration meant that the cities are no longer composed of homogeneous people of a common culture, but several conflicting cultures."

One agent suggested that I should drop the last comment because "it was controversial and not really relevant." I refused to do so; I had in any case found that agents were only really interested if one was already an established author. Yet I was to find that many publishers would say: "First find yourself an agent." Other unpublished writers have come up against this vicious circle.

Having been rejected by publishers of several other country books, I went ahead and published the book myself under my own Hedgerow Publishing imprint, and by diligent marketing in East Anglian bookshops I have managed to sell 1,300 copies to date and make a profit!

That profit was to come in handy when I finally managed to get Many Shades of Black published - by paying most of the production costs myself. My first step was to try and find a literary agent. I wrote to Nicholas Mosley, the eldest son of Sir Oswald Mosley and an established author, enclosing a section I had written about his father and asking for his advice on finding an agent or publisher. He replied:-

‘Good luck with your MS. I'm afraid I know of no agent or publisher that would look kindly on this sort of account. It's very difficult to get anything like that in mainstream publishing nowadays - however thoughtful and accurate the account!’

He added that he was retiring from the political arena after the Channel Four film purporting to be an account of the life of his father.

I then approached 27 publishers, ranging from the giants to the small independents. Typical of the replies, including those from Century and Hutchinson, would be a brief rejection slip stating: "Our lists are full at present," and signed by an Anita or a Clare, Editorial Assistant. A little less dismissive, however, was the reply from Grant McIntyre, a director of John Murray:-

‘I found the material from Many Shades of Black extremely interesting but I don't feel that we would be able to do you justice in view of our recent experience of publishing books with political themes; in fact, our sales of these particular titles have been rather disappointing.’

This letter had an interesting PS, suggesting that I should approach Politico's, who ran a London bookshop and were about to start their own imprint. I shall have more to say about this company later.

Left-wing bias

Then I had clear evidence of left-wing bias; here is an extract from a reply from Chatto & Windus, signed from the Editorial Office:-

‘Chatto & Windus has a reputation, which we hope to maintain, for publishing both fiction and non-fiction of a left-wing stance. As such we feel it would be inappropriate to include your proposal on our publishing list.’

Antonia Owen of Peter Owen Publishers went one better. She wrote:-

‘Thank you for sending us the extracts from your memoirs. In all conscience, as a former member of the Anti-Nazi League in the 1970s, I don't feel we could take them on, so I am returning the material herewith.’

Which was very decent of her in the circumstances!

Having spent some three hours on camera with the producer of the Windrush programme celebrating 50 years of immigration, I naively expected that I might appear for just a few minutes in the actual programme giving the case against the open-door policy on immigration. In consequence, I used this point to try to interest major publishers Harper Collins. I received this reply from Andrea Henry, Editor:-

‘Harper Collins is the official publisher of the Windrush book, written by Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips, and which ties in with Pepper Productions four-part documentary to be screened on BBC2 at the end of May, as you mention.

‘As the official publishers, I do not feel that your proposal is something for us to pursue. In securing the rights to publish what will be an excellent and, we hope, celebrated book, we have very much taken a stance on the issue of immigration. I think it would be inappropriate for us also to present the issue from the other side.’

The one consolation from all this is that, as I understand, the Windrush book went down like a lead balloon, in spite of being plugged energetically by the BBC, and only a few thousand copies were ever sold.

Then in February 1998 I received this letter from Dan Franklin, Publishing Director of Jonathan Cape:-

‘I'd be happy to look at a synopsis and some sample pages of your book, but I must warn you that, being profoundly out of sympathy with your views as they were then (and you don't indicate whether they have changed), it is an unlikely project for me to take on.’

As his name suggested that he might be Jewish, in my reply to Franklin I emphasised that my book had rejected all aspects of anti-semitism - which was true. In my concluding paragraph I said:-

‘As you will see from the copy of a letter from Harper Collins, they are to publish a book on the history of immigration from a politically incorrect stance. I hold the view that there is a substantial market for the opposing view as long as it is expressed without rancour and racial hatred.’

But despite several faxes from me, six weeks went by without a reply. Finally, I managed to speak to one of Franklin's underlings. He seemed embarrassed that I had not heard from his superior, who, I was told, had decided not to proceed with the book.

Principles on the left

The following month, the publishing world saw the birth of its first global super power. The German media giant Bertelsmann swallowed the American publishers Random House, owned in the United States by Si Newhouse. Bertelsmann already had a big slice of English-language book publishing, and through Transworld they controlled Corgi Books and Doubleday, among others. Now Random House in Britain had owned a whole group of once independent publishers, including Chatto & Windus, Jonathan Cape, Century and Hutchinson (all of which I had approached).

The Sunday Telegraph of 29th March 1998 published a revealing profile on Gail Rebuk, the dynamic lady who had been Chairman and Chief Executive of Random House in Britain since 1992. The daughter of affluent Baltic Jewish immigrants, she is married to Tony Blair's focus group supremo Philip Gould. She made £1 million in 1989 when she sold her own company, Century-Hutchinson, to Random House in 1989.

The Sunday Telegraph profile quoted one of her author friends as saying: "She's made piles of money, but she keeps true to some principles on the left." It would be interesting to know what those particular principles were, but they were not explained.

Contents may cause "offence"

I said earlier that I would have more to say on Politico's, who run an established political bookshop in Westminster and have even advertised in "respectable" right-wing journals. As a result of my experience with Politico's, which I shall relate, I do not accuse them of bias but of cold feet.

Hearing that the firm had started to publish under its own imprint, I wrote to it enclosing a synopsis and sample pages of my manuscript. When I spoke to both directors, Iain Dale and John Berry, on the telephone they expressed an initial interest. However, a few weeks later I received a polite "no" from Iain Dale. In his letter he said:-

‘I have read your synopsis and two chapters with interest. Unfortunately, I do not think the book is for us. We are generally trying to publish political reference books (i.e. books of speeches, quotations or directories) and while there are some exceptions to this I do not feel that as we are presently constituted we could really do justice to the book.’

He was also kind enough to recommend two other small publishers.

When my book was finally published, I sent a copy to Iain Dale, who then ordered five copies for the bookshop. A week later these were returned to me with a note from John Berry stating:-

‘I'm afraid we will not be able to stock your book in our shop as it's (sic) contents may cause offence to some of our customers.’

I replied to Mr. Berry asking if anyone had yet expressed any such "offence." If they had, there would be no prizes for guessing who! Probably the same people who have had the book removed from another London bookshop. In this letter to Berry I also stated:-

‘When I made a purchase at your book-shop last year on one of my visits to London, I did not protest at the fact that I found the many books in support of Marxism offensive to me - in that it was responsible for the deaths of 50 million people. I just considered it to be part of democracy - the availability of all shades of opinion.

‘It is disappointing to find that Politico's bookstore is, in fact, a Politico's Correct Bookstore.’

Many Shades of Black is available from Freedom Books, the British National Party's mail order book service, or from Hedgerow Publishing, PO Box 97, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 8WT. Price £8.95 post-free.

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