Season’s greetings, friends! And boy, what a ride 2016 has been! Here’s hoping that 2017 brings more peace and sanity into the world – and for all of you much prosperity and some grand adventures.
Just because the season of of gifts and feasts is upon us, doesn’t mean I’ve been slowing down on the old journalism front though. Very excitingly, I can now reveal my first ever podcast: The BookBrunch Yearly Wrap 2016 Podcast, brought to you for FREE! That’s right, you can listen in for absolutely no money as some of the publishing industry’s top voices talk about their feelings on 2016 and their predictions for the year to come. The only reasonable excuse for not listening is if you have eaten so much you’re plastered to the couch.
In a rather lovely turn of events, I have been listed on Byte the Book’s Hub for publishing professionals. You can check out my profile right here.
Returning the favour, I thought I’d give Byte the Book a big shout out. They’re a fab networking event for everyone in the publishing industry and beyond, bringing together engaging, lovely folk from across the creative sectors. Yes, writers, that includes you!
They have monthly events with panels on industry issues and it’s worth becoming a member just to attend them all for free, let alone for the other great benefits like free entry to Bologna, LBF and Frankfurt.
I’ve been a member for two and a half years now and it’s become one of my go-to events for keeping up with publishing and staying connected to my industry friends. For more information, check out the Byte the Book website.
For this week’s BookBrunch interview, I spoke with Ed Marino, Executive Chairman and codeMantra about publishing’s very technological future and the benefits of real collaboration. For the full article, visit the BookBrunch website, or get started with the excerpt below…
There have been a lot of claims over the past year that digital sales are down and print is on the rise, but according to Ed Marino, Chief Executive and part-owner of service provider codeMantra, publishing’s phase of uncertainty is far from over. In our trans-Atlantic chat, we discuss the definition of true collaboration, the role of service providers in the industry, and our very technological future.
Marino came on board with codeMantra in February 2014, after he and a group of colleagues acquired the business. In his classic US accent, Marino describes it as “a technology-enabled services company” that offers content production and software platform services to major publishers, primarily in the STM and Academic space.
This week for the BookBrunch interview, I got together with Ella Kahn and Bryony Woods of the Diamond, Kahn & Woods Literary Agency to discuss this year’s Trailblazer Award success and the future of agenting. For the full article, head over to BookBrunch, or read the snippet below:
As the deadline approaches for this year’s Trailblazers Awards, run by the London Book Fair (LBF) in partnership with the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) and BookBrunch, we catch up with two of last year’s winners, Ella Kahn and Bryony Woods, of Diamond Kahn & Woods Literary Agency. They discussed how the award has affected business for the better, why they made the decision to set up their own agency, and what the future holds.
In the four years since Diamond Kahn & Woods got started, the agency has accrued 50 clients and placed over 40 books, managed between Woods, Kahn and their colleague Elinor Cooper, who joined in April last year.
However, the agency was conceived long before this, when Woods and Kahn met during their Publishing MA at UCL in 2009-2010. “As friends, we had always known we both wanted to go into agenting, and joked about setting up our own agency together one day in the distant future, when we were both eminent agents with big lists of clients and grey hair,” Woods explains.
Having heard some pretty serious stats about training given to newbie publishers lately, I felt inspired to write a piece about the Autumn Statement, productivity, and the shift in attitude towards training and skill-building support that needs to happen in publishing. The full article is also FREE to read over on BookBrunch. Here’s a snippet:
Training and skill drain: affecting productivity in publishing
Research shows that publishers are failing to invest in the skills they need
In his Autumn Statement last week, Chancellor Philip Hammond brought attention to Britain’s sub-par productivity. Our output per unit of input lags 30% behind other economies such as the US and Germany: in the time it takes a German worker to make £1.35, a British worker will make only £1.
Hammond’s remedy involves a £23bn National Productivity Investment Fund, which will be used for the most part to invest in infrastructure such as roads and affordable housing. However, fixing productivity involves more than this kind of investment. As Katie Allen pointed out in the Guardian over the weekend, “when it comes to appearing to be doing something about the productivity puzzle it is far easier to talk about roads than the thorny issue of Britain’s addiction to low-paid, low-skilled work”. This is an issue that comes down to attitude.
The past three weeks have seen me write up reports on three stellar publishing conferences: the London Book Fair’s “Building Inclusivity in Publishing” conference; The Literary Consultancy (TLC)’s “What’s Your Story?” symposium; and the Society of Young Publisher (SYP)’s annual Autumn conference, this year on the theme of “Making a Bestseller.” Here’s some write ups – the SYP one is even FREE to read!
Words are no longer enough: inclusivity gets gritty “A theme that became clear early on in the day was that the industry has been treating diversity and inclusivity as if they are optional, which for those they are excluding they are not. ‘We’re not here to talk about diversity in publishing, we’re here to talk about humanity,’ said Crystal Mahey-Morgan, one of the keynote speakers and founder of OWN IT! Publishing. ‘We’ve got so caught up in the box ticking and PC conversations, we’ve forgotten why inclusivity is so important…'”
TLC symposium: ‘What’s your story’ in the digital age “We have to be careful as an industry about whom these laws of literary merit exclude. Now and in the past, writers of colour have often experienced difficulty being recognised in the literary world. ‘The idea that literary value is a liberal, free world isn’t true,’ said Cook. ‘Literary values are created in a process, and it is a process that has been party to brutal exclusion. We are talking about a system of violence. There is a certain kind of violence in this world and if you try to pretend that there isn’t, you misunderstand it.'”
SYP conference 2016: redefining successful books – FREE to view “Having to point out that long-term sales and profits are just as valid as short-term ones seems to me to be a symptom of an industry increasingly concerned with short-term goals. The question I was left with is not what makes a bestseller, but whether, by its standard definition, a bestseller is an inherently good thing.”
Writer, critic and bookshop obsessive Jorge Carrión “I think people who go against the EU in England and things like this, they are probably not used to going to bookshops because in bookshops you feel there are no frontiers, that we have a common cultural and intellectual space.”
I’ve been on a bit of an adventure since I last posted, reporting on Sharjah International Book Fair in the UAE for BookBrunch! What an extraordinary place it was and I’m very grateful to Sharjah Book Authority and Midas Public Relations, London who showed me such overwhelming hospitality while I was there.
If you’re interested in the news from the Fair, check out these articles – including an interview with Ahmed bin Rakkad al Ameri, Chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority:
The haze of panic-packing and binge reading in advance of this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair has begun. This week, I caught up with the Fair’s own Katja Böhne to discuss what’s hot at Frankfurt in 2016. Read the whole piece over on BookBrunch, or get your teeth into the excerpt below.
It’s that special time of year when the leaves are turning, the nights are drawing in – and every publisher in Europe is packing their suitcase for the Frankfurt Book Fair. As the opening draws near, I caught up with Katja Böhne, Head of Marketing and Communications at the Fair, to discuss what awaits visitors and exhibitors in 2016.
“It’s five minutes before the Fair and everything is a bit upside down. Juergen Boos [Fair director] said recently, ‘The homework is done, now the chaos begins!'” Böhne says with a laugh as soon as she picks up the phone. The line is clear and she speaks with a gentle accent in impeccable English. “Actually, everything is fine and on track, but there are still so many last minute ideas and things to do. Every year it’s the same, so it’s not unusual.”
As many of you may know, I love short stories. Reading them, writing them, eating them… Ok, maybe I don’t literally imbibe them but there’s a definite consumption process involved in perusing a short story.
So you can imagine how excited I was this week when I got to interview KJ Orr, the winner of this year’s BBC National Short Story Award. As always, read the full article over on BookBrunch or enjoy the excerpt below.
The big book buzz this week has been about the 2016 BBC National Short Story Competition winner, KJ Orr, and her winning story, ‘Disappearances’. A debut author, Orr beat a heavyweight shortlist including Man Booker winner Hilary Mantel and Costa Poetry Award shortlisted Lavinia Greenlaw. Here, Orr discusses what it feels like to have won, how she came across short stories, and their value to readers.
“It feels pretty incredible and still quite hard to believe,” says Orr about winning the award. “I was settled on the idea that I hadn’t won so I was not prepared at all. Doing the live broadcast directly after was surreal. Most writers are fairly introverted, quiet souls, then there are moments where you have to come out and put on a public hat. I just hoped I made some sense because I wasn’t really prepared to say anything!”
It’s been a while since I busted out an opinion on publishing, so here’s some thoughts about Faber Academy and their extraordinary success with getting their students published. Read the full article over on BookBrunch, or enjoy this little snippet.
Jasmin Kirkbride investigates the successful formula of the Faber Academy, and learns that it involves focusing on the work rather than on the deal
Last week, Headline announced that the launch list of its new Wildfire imprint would contain three Faber Academy graduates: Colette McBeth (published previously by Headline Review) and debut novelists Karen Hamilton and Felicia Yap. This is the latest in a steady stream of deals for writers who have taken the course. What is the secret of their success?
This week for the BookBrunch interview I had a really strong conversation with journalist Gary Younge about his new book, Another Day in the Death of America (Faber). You can read the whole thing over on BookBrunch, or get started with the snippet below…
The Guardian‘s Gary Younge has been undertaking serious investigative journalism since the mid-nineties, exemplified more than ever in his latest book, Another Day in the Death of America. Here, we discuss the book, how he researched it, how journalism has changed over the past two decades, and what that means for storytelling
With five books already under his belt, Younge launched Another Day in the Death of America (Guardian Faber) on 28 September. It has already been featured on Radio 4’s Book of the Week and received reviews fromThe Spectator, The Times, and The Guardian itself among many others. It’s no surprise, because the book’s contents are shocking and moving in equal measure.
“It takes the basic statistical premise that seven children are shot every day on average in the USA and then tries to make it human by picking a random day and finding out who they are,” Younge explains. “It tries to get to the humans stories behind that statistic: how these kids lived and who they were, and maybe showing a bit more about America beyond those particular incidents.”
You might remember that a couple of months ago, some of my articles from 2015 were selected for Snapshots III, the third annual collaborative book produced by BookMachine and Kingston University Press. I am pleased to say, you can now get you can get your mitts on your very own copy via Amazon!
If you’re in the industry or a publishing enthusiast, then it’s really worth picking up a copy. It’s full of insightful words from the industry’s movers and shakers as well as savvy predictions about where we’re headed next…
It’s been quite a while since I posted, but the good news is that means there are not one, not two, not three, but SEVEN delicious BookBrunch interviews stacked up for you to get your teeth into. Over the last month, I’ve interviewed some really extraordinary folk who have made me laugh and think long after the write ups are finished and the articles are live. Hope you enjoy…
Collaboration is the rage at the moment, yet the misleadingly straightforward word can hide a minefield of possible pitfalls: how do you reach out to others to start collaborating? And once you’ve formed a partnership, how do you maintain your needs and vision whilst still allowing for those of others? Collaboration can be pretty scary if you haven’t tried it before and if you’ve had a bad experience, it can be even more intimidating.
So what’s the answer? According to workshop leader Jamie Catto, the key is to think bananas!
According to Catto, and numerous psychological studies, we have reached a state of business in recent years where we all expect ourselves to be perfect but, not only is this perfect ideal unattainable, it actually harms our ability to reach our full potential.
This fortnight’s BookMachine article is up! This time, it’s on the effects of the digital revolution on business. Read it over on the Bookmachine blog, or get started right here:
World-famous travel and maps bookshop Stanfords has announced that, alongside books, they will now be offering horse-drawn omnibus tours of London to their customers. While this idea fits well with their brand, it definitely breaks the mould of what we have come to expect from a bookshop. And Stanfords aren’t the only ones employing lateral thinking to revamp their brand: it’s a phenomena happening across the board and it’s results are as exciting as they are intriguing.
Why digital forced us to adapt
The last decade has seen a revolution in the way we use technology. It has become unimaginably mobile, instant, easy and relatively cheap. Smartphones were released in 2000 but the iPhone, which really lit the smart-phone fire in line with the roll-out of 3G internet access, was launched as recently as 29 June 2007. The iPad only followed in 1 April 2010. The first mainstream eReaders, the Sony Reader and Kindle, were only released in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
This fortnight’s Bookmachine article, sponsored by Getty images, has gone live! It’s all about the fine line between honest enough and too much in YA literature. Read it over on the Bookmachine blog, or get started right here:
The Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF), an arm of the American Library Association (ALA), recently released the list of the most banned books in the US during 2014. It’s an annual report, but what’s surprising is that, year upon year, these lists increasingly contain YA and Children’s titles.
These challenges seem to be part of a wider movement debating the appropriateness and necessity of more mature themes cropping up in literature aimed at younger audiences. More importantly, it brings up the question, once you leave the parents out: what do young people really want to read about?
It’s a strange thing, but as a publisher and an author, I find I have to very strict about when I wear my work hat and when I wear my writer’s hat, and it’s very rare that I feel comfortable letting those two things overlap. This weekend’s London Short Story Festival was one of those occasions.
Running from Friday 18 to Sunday 21 June, this was only the Festival’s second year running. Despite this, it boasted a jam-packed programme of events and all its Masterclass workshops sold out well before it started. Events featured authors from around the world, from established masters like Ben Okri, Helen Simpson and Toby Litt to new guns like Kirsty Logan and SJ Naude. The Festival is sponsored by Spread the Word, who are keen to represent the diversity of the short story form, and this showed in the programming.
One of the bonuses of being an Editorial Minion is that invites to really groovy literary events sometimes land in your inbox. The Best First Novel Award, presented by the Authors’ Club for the work of fiction writing deemed to be of the highest quality, released in the past year in the UK.
The longlist and shortlist are voted upon by a panel of members from the Authors’ Club itself, before a guest adjudictor, this year the novelist and memoirist Susie Boyt, selects the final winner. Boyt presented the award of £2,500 to the 2015 winner, A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray (Hutchinson), yesterday evening in the gorgeous surroundings of the National Liberals Club.
This fortnight for BookMachine, I just had to jump on the Kamila Shamsie train, and because I believe that content is king (call me naive!) I had to put in my pennyworth about female protagonists. Read the full article on the BookMachine blog, or get started right here:
Just over a week ago, author Kamila Shamsie spoke out publically, including in The Guardian and The Bookseller, proposing that 2018 should become the Year of Publishing Women (YPM), in order to help counterbalance the prevalent gender bias in Publishing towards male authors.