(This is, word for word, the announcement of our withdrawal of The Dead Beat from Not the Booker Prize. Thank you to everyone who supported Cody. No doubt many of you will have thoughts, but for Cody’s sake, and in the interests of dignity, I would be grateful if you demonstrated your love for her and for her book with a simple upvote for the announcement here. Thank you)
To call us a small press would be a gross overestimation of our size, so entry to many prizes is beyond our reach. Not the Booker Prize has, therefore, been red ringed on our calendar since we first took on The Dead Beat and started getting it ready for publication over a year ago. We loved the rambunctiousness of it, the hackles it raised on the way, and ultimately the great discussions it led to.
The press is just one part of eight cuts gallery, which exists to promote amazing work in the arts in exciting ways, Principle among these are the press, our online exhibitions, and our live shows. But what each element of what we do has in common is a belief that the very best art is a celebration of life. In all its complexity. And, contra Wilde, in honesty. That belief, and a refusal to compromise it in any arena, is built into the fabric of everything we do.
As a result, we realise that many places we go we will raise eyebrows and maybe the odd hackle. As the guy who runs eight cuts, I set out always to meet those hackles with genuine respect for the person behind them, with dialogue in pursuit of understanding, but not by compromising what we stand for. I believe that we owe it to the small niche of people who would love what we do to place integrity before superficial manners and compromise that aim at superficial civility. And I believe it is part of the respect I owe interlocutors not to sweep disagreements under the carpet or assume they will act in a belittling way to genuine offers of dialogue.
That said, when all attempts at conversation are met with stony silence and comments that insult readers, such as the third one on this thread, gain 22 upvotes, it is clear that I have made a miscalculation. I am big (no, really, I’m 18 stone) enough and ugly (no, really, my danholloway avi is pukka, I am) enough to take dislike of us and what we do on the chin. And Cody well, she’s 7 stone and doesn’t look a bit like me, but anyway she doesn’t mind bad reviews.
But I did make a miscalculation about Not the Booker, for which I issue a wholehearted apology to Cody, and to those people who knew neither me nor her but read and reviewed the book in good faith, and loved it. By targeting Not the Booker, I have brought those readers and reviewers ridicule – not at all from Sam, but from commenters and people who have come across the book through Not the Booker. The assumptions of log-rolling and the names and insinuations that have been levelled against people who genuinely believe The Dead Beat to be as special as I do are immature at best, deliberately hurtful at worst, but most likely lie somewhere between the two, either in what Jack White would call the “sea of cowards” or the smirking hipsterdom of “I can snipe smarter than you.”
Most of all, I apologise to Cody. Not because I entered her book for a competition where she ended up with a bad review. We talked that through, we know this is a book people will get or not get, and I knew that Sam’s review would be a fair, balanced reflection of his opinion. And I was right. Rather, I misjudged the mood of these forums, their willingness to meet dialogue with dialogue, to accept differences, and most of all to talk about the book rather than sniping at the author or readers. As a result I have exposed her to comments that no author deserves to have levelled at them, I have let attention get diverted away from her incredible book, and I have misdirected energies that could have been spent reaching out elsewhere.
In order to allow Cody the space she deserves, it is both with regret, and not with regret, that I withdraw The Dead Beat from Not the Booker. I hope there is time for the 7th placed book to be included. I am very proud of what we have achieved at Not the Booker, and of how we have conducted ourselves. I know others will dissent from that opinion, as of course they are entitled to do, but I believe when looked at from a distance the forums tell their story.
The Dead Beat is withdrawn from Not the Booker, but eight cuts gallery’s doors remain permanently open to everyone here. We invite you to try before you comment, maybe come and see one of our live shows – we will happily waive entry fees and offer a free paperback if you turn up for anyone from these forums so that you can see just what we do.
Thank you to Sam for Not the Booker, to the readers who have voted for us despite the abuse aimed at them, to all those reviewers everywhere who love Cody’s work, to everyone who believes in the power of art to celebrate life, and most of all to Cody for producing such a perfectly-crafted exemplar.