UCL Connect: Publishing - Careers In the Digital Ageby ray burke on 04/29/17
Thursday April 27th
Alumni event at the London Review Bookshop. The speakers were Diane Banks, founder of Diane Banks Associates agency; Nick Coveney, Digital Marketing Director at Knect365; and author Irene Sabatini.
In the shadow of the British Museum, we devoted alumni wanting to get advice on writing and publishing collected in the bookshop, surprisingly bigger once inside. The night was started off by Irene. Born in Zimbabwe, her career started off while she was living in Switzerland. She attended a book conference and asked a question of one of the panelist who was intrigued enough to ask for a sample of her work. She talked about the fairytale aspects of her career as her work was sought after by the agent and though it didn't get published she kept in touch with the agent who ultimately got her next book published (The Boy Next Door) and won an Orange Award for New Writers.
Her advice or her biggest challenges: have a thick skin, you'll be rejected a lot. Be flexible, have fortitude, and persistence. And most importantly, move on to the next book if this one does not sell. You're a writer and you have to keep writing and leave your literary 'darlings' behind if they don't work.
Diane spoke of her experience in the industry. Her advice was more on contracts and what writers would expect upon being published. Elements should be separate so UK and Commonwealth rights should be the main rights offered by the publisher. A writer should retain or control their rights to other foreign markets, so US, India and Australia, etc should be separate, audio, TV/film and any apps as well should be retained by the author. I'm sure contracts are different but it was interesting information.
Nick is now out of publishing, but during his time from 2010, he worked at Hodder when the first Kindles and tablets were introduced and his bosses had no idea of how to use them in the industry or how they could influence the market. He also had a fact (remembered imperfectly, but probably close) that 80% of best seller books are only by 15% of books, so the market is skewed a bit.
Irene and Diane then answered a question about advances. There is quite a range from say £1000s to £50k and above. It depends on the company, their size and resources. Do you want a large company and advance where your book could get lost or a smaller more bespoke company to curate the book. The payments schedules may also differ with halves and quarterly payments the usual schedule.
One thing that did resonate was Diane's statement that even while writers worry about rejections, agents get rejected as well trying to sell your work to publishers. Not something we think about.
Then after questions there was wine and snacks and networking. I spoke to a few other attendees. Carol was from Brighton and had written a book about the digital age and women harassed and attacked through digital means. We'll be staying in touch so hope I can spread the word for her and her husband loves sci-fi. I think she'll self-publish. Then I met a lawyer who the first thing she did when I gave her a bookmark was to fold it in half. Folks, that ain't a booklover! Geez! Diane's agency does not cover sci-fi. Then I spoke to 2 of the staff. They have a smattering of sci-fi books in the shop but one was an enthusiastic sci-fi reader and recommended Frederick Pohl. And I gave them a bookmark. Carol and I took pic of each other outside and off we went to our merry ways after a few glasses of red.
An interesting night and I learned a bit more than I had at the London Book Fairs.