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Last Updated: Monday, 2 February, 2004, 06:24 GMT
My London: Looking for a publisher
Andrew Wood
Andrew Wood took two years to write his book
Andrew Wood, a web developer from South Africa, moved to London five years ago and wrote 'The Pigeon Conspiracy' - a book about the birds taking over the world. Here the 26-year-old talks about what it is like to be an aspiring author in the city.

When I came to London I just started writing. I'm not sure why, I just felt compelled to.

I had no idea what I was doing. But I read books on how to write novels, talked to other people and just taught myself.

I eventually got it finished and got a friend to read it who ripped it apart. So I went through it again and have been doing that for the last two years.

The inspiration for the story comes from travelling in Europe and Trafalgar Square. In European cities there are always pigeons and people feeding them.

The people are the best thing about London - you have to rely on people to survive
Andrew Wood
That planted a seed in my mind because it was almost like the pigeons were controlling the people.

I set the book in London because it is one of the top cities in the world, it is up there with New York in terms of media and ideas.

And the characters suit the city because they are transient twenty-somethings and it's great to live in London at that age.

You're exposed to so much, it is so fast and there is so much going on.

And there are so many people and from so many places passing through, which is a great environment for an exchange of ideas.

The Pigeon Conspiracy by Andrew Wood
Mr Wood's book is printed on-demand
The people are the best thing about London - you have to rely on people to survive.

The publishing world is very tough, especially in London. But it is the right place to be in the English publishing world.

The fundamental problem is the oversupply of manuscripts and many good ones don't make it because there are so few agents - they don't even read 95% of them.

They tend to rely on what's going to make them money like established authors, so a first-time author has a tough job to get a book deal with a mainstream publisher.

'Pay off'

A friend introduced me to Peter Giles who runs nooza.com.

For about £60 he gets the manuscripts reviewed, gives you objective feedback, produces a market orientated review, and they are put online for literary agents to look at free of charge.

It's a great scheme to get unknown writers hooked up with agents.

And with my book it can be published through on-demand printing, which means the manuscript is stored digitally on a machine and it is printed off when a paperback is ordered.

This is a much cheaper option that getting a huge run, of say 2,500 books, which is risky as well.

Also, when we try to get a mainstream publisher we can take the book - the commercial potential of which has been partly proven - as well as the manuscript and reviews.

Hopefully it will all pay off.


My London is a series of features about life in the city which will be on News Online every Monday. If you have a story suggestion please send an e-mail to: londonnews@bbc.co.uk.


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