Because of the threat of snow I was determined to get up to London, so I went earlier. Got off the tube a couple of stops later and found myself in Fortnum & Mason
As you do ;) This is one serious posh shop people. I just thought I’d have a wander lol. But I kinda found myself in The Parlour, the ice cream parlour!
Looks yummy yeah? Nope….it wasn’t! It was the most sickly thing I’ve ever had :( That white stuff isn’t cream, it’s buttercream! So there’s more buttercream than cake! I couldn’t eat it all lol. On the plus side, they give you a mini ice cream with your latte ;)
Anyway, enough of the cake, onto class!
Our guest tutor tonight was Hannah Griffiths (Publishing Director at Faber & Faber) who came to talk to us about publishing. I really don’t know where to begin to be honest, she was brilliant. I learnt so much! So I guess I’ll just share with you some of my notes, some of the things that Hannah said that I found interesting or useful.
She will only read a MS subbed by an agent. For 2 reasons…1. She’s a busy lady, she trusts that an MS sent in by an agent will be worth reading and 2. because she only signs authors who have an agent. Why? because she doesn’t want to spend all her time talking to that author about the business side of things (because she’d rather talk to you about your novel!), explaining stuff to debut authors who don’t know all the stuff about contracts and rights.
TItle is really important! Books with a good, memorable title will often get read on that alone, so make it brilliant!
Polish your MS to perfection. You have a much better chance. Don’t submit before you’re ready to.
Most people over-write the first 2 pages, don’t! Read 10 opening paragraphs of novels considered to be good. Learn from them!
Great authors leave no trace of the turmoil it took to get there. I love that quote :)
Be original, assured and confident in your prose, but surprise.
People don’t know what to buy anymore, publishers need to get their shit together (regarding online sales).
A good agent will know the “tastes” of certain editors.
She talked about the publishing industry. Here in the UK our biggest Bookshop chain, Waterstones, are planning on closing a third of their shops in the next couple of years. This will have a major impact on book buying in the UK. Publishers aren’t really that worried about Ebooks. Their problem will be getting debut authors work “out there” and noticed in the years to come. The ordinary man in the street, who buys 4 books a year will be turning to the supermarkets, where there is no author loyalty. It’s just a case of buy what they have.
Hmmmm, it all seems a bit sad, the state of book buying in the UK, and doesn’t fill you with hope :( At the moment Amazon seems to have the UK online market sown up. If you walk into a Waterstones you have access to 1000+ books blurbs to make your selection from. You go on to Amazon and you have to scroll through pages of books to find something you might want to read (unless you’re on there for something specific). I know what I prefer, but it seems I’m beginning to be a part of a minority :(
Sooooo, I learnt that 1. I really should have an agent before anything else and 2. The chances of me becoming a successful novelist within the next 3 years is very slim (tongue firmly in cheek there). But, it does beg the question Where exactly is the publishing industry headed? It’s quite a worry :(
- Penguin Random merger begins a new chapter for publishing (guardian.co.uk)