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    Publishing and the ‘D’ Word

    By Caroline A Murphy, on 19 February 2015

    By Marianne Tatepo

    Of the thousands of online witticisms causing the SYP 2014 Conference hashtag (#sypconf14) to trend, one tweet stuck with me to this day: “It’s kind of hilarious how few people have chosen to attend the #sypconf14 session on diversity.” (Miriam H Craig, 12:15 PM – 8 Nov 2014, @miriamhcraig).

    You’ll have heard of the ‘d’ word. For some it may be equated to ‘race’. But diversity is not colour, gender, or ability specific. Was the ‘diversity’ session at SYP aimed at those few minority groups (ditto about such print issues by The Bookseller)? Many will be most aware of their own underrepresentation: diversity is being able to scan a room and see, or hear about both others like you and those unlike you. A room where each attendee can’t think to themselves “there are other people like me AND unlike me” is not diverse – the same goes for an industry. Still: it’s difficult to tackle the issue of diversity if none of those concerned are included in such discussions – so here’s my own input, following on Caroline Carpenter’s piece.

    My contention is: a diverse industry is one inclusive of those who have had to deal with marginalisation or disparities at a range of possible levels. Mental health issues; lack of social mobility; gender or racial imbalances or discrimination; physical impairment or disability; and other major factors that may lead them to feel there are no ‘people like them’ around.

    Identity is not one-dimensional. On the one hand, there were a plethora of others like me at SYP’s 2014 summit: literature or humanities degree bearers, and probable Student Finance benefactors, who are only mediocrely digitally skilled. On the other hand, it was honestly disappointing to have to acquiesce to some of the facts outlined in The Bookseller’s November issue regarding the status quo of variety in publishing – even ten years on, post-Web 2.0.

    As both a hyperbole and simile: a love for publishing can sometimes feel like having Stockholm Syndrome – we’re captives of something we’ve grown to feel an attachment to, in spite of the perils presented (e.g.: ‘death of the book’ and other doomsday fear-mongering), and this often causes onlookers to equate our loyalty to insanity. At ‘budding publisher’ level, this translates into the sacrifices some must make in order to intern for periods of up to a year (dixit many of SYP 2014’s despairing attendees). The labour is often unwaged, and worse yet: there is no guarantee that you’ll reach Promised Land.

    You’ll hear about books being rejected by publishers because the demographic depicted in said books is not that of ‘the reader’ or ‘the customer’ – that is to say, not white. To say that minorities aren’t ‘the reader’ doesn’t recognise the fact that they are often unrepresented in stories, despite the infinite amount of stories out in the world. Not reading every book that refuses to acknowledge you could be seen as a silent, peaceful protest of sorts – a sign of a malignant illness tainting the reading experience.  How can catering to a wider audience be achieved whilst simultaneously telling said audience – by way of ellipsis, by way of vacuum – that they don’t exist?

    What you won’t hear enough about is people like Nikesh Shukla or Malorie Blackman – both of them catering to different age groups, but certainly to wider groups than many past and present writers did altogether. A diversity workshop, I believe, would have been most beneficial to future agents, editors, marketers, publicists… That is to say: anyone likely to unearth the next Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Junot Diaz, or John Elder Robison and whose instincts may be muddled by a one-dimensional idea of ‘the reader’.

    What you won’t hear enough about is that the next generation of writers is tucked away in places like The Baytree Centre, in Brixton. In this all-women’s culture and literacy centre, young girls of BAME background aged 10-14 are attending Creative Writing and Reading classes voluntarily, and will soon submit their edited, original creative writing work to the Global Girls Project, with the hope to be published.

    However, you will certainly hear about the commercial benefits of diversity. What you won’t hear is about the value of culture – especially in a melting pot like the UK. What you don’t hear enough is how good, loyal employees are the ones attracted not to the commercial aspect of the industry, but the fact that their presence is reflected in the workplace; that they are part of a community – just like ‘the reader’. The fact that when, finally, they get that book proof on their desks, more than once in a blue moon, they can read about ‘others like them’.

    The momentum is now, and the opportunities are here: where there is a will, there is a market. If Nichelle Gainer could sell out for an illustrated coffee book like Vintage Black Glamour (£30 apiece) and even a major cultural institution like the V&A is doing a Black British Experience exhibition after recognising a “gap” in their knowledge… What’s stopping the publishing industry from recognizing the full scope of ‘the reader’?

    Weekly Calendar

    By Caroline A Murphy, on 7 December 2014

    PaulHollywoodHi all,

    Here is your last calendar of the term, so here a small selection of things that are going on this week that you might fancy!

    Tuesday 9th:

    10am: Last Sales, Marketing and Promotion lecture with guest speakers from Taylor & Francis and Rising Stars.

    1pm: Author Management lecture with editorial and publishing directors from Gollancz and Michael Joseph.

    UCL’s Chamber Choir are holding a Christmas concert at the North Cloisters at 6pm. It’s free and there are refreshments. So if that’s your kind of thing, get yourself there!

    7pm: Storytelling Live – Robin Hood, with Wendy and Michael Dacre at Waterstones Piccadilly.


    Wednesday 10th

    1pm: Paul Hollywood is doing a signing of his new book British Baking at the Bloomsbury Institute


    Thursday 11th

    10am: Publishing Skills lecture on interview skills with Evan Hancock from UCL Careers service

    1pm: Publishing Projects – we’re all updating each other on the progress of our projects!

    SYP Festive Celebrations – This is free if you’re a member. Click here are more details

    UCL Publishing Christmas Party? – As you’re all aware, we’ve had some booking issues with our original plans for a Publishing Christmas Party :( We shall update this as soon as we know what the plans are!


    Friday 12th

    DEADLINE: Author Management.


    Have a very good Christmas break, and we’ll return in the New Year with more exciting London and UCL events!


    Your Weekly Event Calendar…

    By Emily C McCracken, on 30 November 2014

    Enjoy this last relaxing week before the deadlines and Christmas events come for you!

    Tuesday Dec 2nd

    Publishing Case Studies in Sales, Marketing & Promotion

    Tom Chalmers, founder, Lizard Press
    Ian Lamb, Head of Children’s Marketing and Publicity, Bloomsbury
    Crystal Mahey-Morgan, Online and Digital Account Manager, Penguin Random House
    Katie Sadler, Digital Marketing Manager, Fiction, Harper Collins

    Literary Agents  in Author Management

    Introduced by Iain.  Masterclass panel with Carole Blake and Peter Robinson.


    What does a literary agent do?   This session will give you the answers, with some of the best in the business!

    Links: Peter Robinson: http://www.rcwlitagency.com/agents/peter-robinson/

                   Blake Friedmann: http://blakefriedmann.co.uk/

    Please familiarise yourselves with Carole Blake (easy, as she is a real Twitterati!) and her agency’s website, BlakeFriedmann (http://blakefriedmann.co.uk/ ) and Peter Robinson (http://www.rcwlitagency.com/agents/peter-robinson/ ) as well as Rogers Coleridge and White’s website (http://www.rcwlitagency.com/)

    Also, chapters 3, 4, 6, and 13 ​from  From Pitch to Publication ​will be particularly useful to you.

    Wednesday Dec 3rd

    For all you international students who were lucky enough to get a place at this event, here is your reminder….
    UK VISA talk at  1PM in the Christopher Ingold XLG2 Auditorium

    Thursday Dec 4th

    Project Management in Publishing Skills

    Guest speaker: Philippa Middleditch
    –> Room: Malet Place Eng 1.03 <–

    Saturday Dec 6th

    BookMachine London: Meet and collaborate with the most inspiring people in the publishing industry today! This week’s speaker is Rebecca Swift, Head of Creative Planning at iStock BookMachine.

    Finally,  your Author ToolKit Countdown is …….12 days
    Thank you and hope you’re enjoying Christmas time in London so far!


    Celebrities Use Pink Post-it Notes Too! – Russell Brand at The Reading Agency

    By Caroline A Murphy, on 26 November 2014


    Photo courtesy of Amy Davies

    By Caitlin Mehta (@CaitlinMehta)

    Every now and then when reading a book I’ll struggle to find a book mark. While I used to use the (barbaric) method of folding down the corner when I was young and foolish, the older and more considerate me now opts for old train tickets, receipts (for food most likely) and occasionally the odd post-it note. This may seem completely unrelated to the fact that a few of my course mates and I went to hear Russell Brand give The Reading Agency’s annual lecture, but bear with me!

    I wasn’t sure what to expect from this evening: was it going to be a serious affair? How could it be with Russell Brand as the guest speaker? Would he focus on books? What’s his favourite book? Would he talk about political affairs? Would it just be about reading? I should have already been able to answer a lot of these questions based on my knowledge of him. It’s funny that feeling of familiarity we get when thinking of celebrities we’ve actually never met. Having grown up hearing about this man constantly in the news and seeing him prance around in an (admittedly) hypnotic manner on my television screen I should have known.

    It wasn’t all jokes but at the same time it wasn’t deadly serious or even the ‘b word’ (boring) either. There is something about Russell Brand when he gets going on a good rant that you just can’t ignore. Perhaps it’s the purposefully intricate vocabulary he utilises that you may not have previously understood, but do now however due to the context and manner in which he so eloquently weaves it into his speech (that was a pretty good attempt at his style of speaking, right?).

    The narrative theme of Russell’s lecture (a title I would use very loosely), was to explain what reading meant to him as he read extracts from books gifted to him by family, fans and other famous people. One particular highlight was his rendition of an early chapter of Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. Before mocking the crude seeming, old-fashioned names ‘Dick’ and ‘Fanny’ in typical Russell style (there I go pretending I know him personally again), he went on to explain to the audience that this book, bestowed upon him by Auntie Pat, showed him that books could open portals to other worlds. This is a notion that I feel some adults forget as life gets in the way of reading for pleasure.

    Whilst reading from these books I suddenly noticed that curiously, much like myself, Russell Brand also seemed not to be in possession of a real bookmark. Sure enough as the comedian worked his way through the hefty stack of books he brought on stage it appeared that in each one he had marked his place with a bright pink post-it note. One of these even got stuck to his trousers much to my amusement.

    I realise this was not the main message to take away from the evening. Books really are fantastic; libraries are too. That was the eventual point of the long-winded lecture. However to me, the makeshift post-it bookmarks were a sharp reminder that yes he is a “celebrity” but still  a human being not so far flung from myself. A human being with flairs and flaws who likes to read stories both factual and fictional as a means of escapism. It is stories, as Muriel Ruysker was quoted as saying, that make up the universe.

    That and funny men with long hair and pink post-its stuck to their legs!


    Check out Caitlin’s blog at www.caitlinlouisemehta.wordpress.com

    FutureBook 2014 (part 2)

    By Caroline A Murphy, on 19 November 2014

    Here’s some key information taken from the FutureBook conference 2014 by Rachel Mazza (@mazzie191)

    Sidebar #1 A few figures from the presentations…

    1. The biggest growth in ebooks, predicted by Nielsen global survey trends, is in nonfiction and children’s
    2. According to the same survey, fiction ebook sales are plateauing
    3. Between the US and UK, 30% of publishing is English language based
    4. A growing number of younger people (16-24 age group) are now purchasing ebooks
    5. However age 45+ is still reading the most ebooks
    6. More males are also starting to purchase ebooks
    7. 27% of UK consumers buy both ebook and print

    Sidebar #2 Unbound

    The company Unbound is doing something interesting. Co-founder and CEO Dan Kieran explained that Unbound puts the power into the hands of readers via crowdfunding an author. Once the goal is met, the author will write the book and once completed it will be published by Unbound in ebook or for print-on-demand. This idea is fascinating because it allows authors to know if there will be interest in a book before time is spent on it and they can see exactly how large their audience is. However, can Unbound provide the visibility for the author and longevity for their work that traditional publishing can? I regret not having the opportunity to ask if any publishing houses have contracted any of the authors whose works were funding through to publication. It’s definitely something to check out: http://unbound.co.uk

    Sidebar #3 Publishing subscription model

    There seemed to be some disagreement between the speakers as to whether or not subscription was something consumers were interested in.

    Senior Publicity and Digital Campaigns Manager of Headline Ben Willis believes subscriptions are a great business decision. Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin isn’t convinced subscription is what consumers are after since many do not re-read.

    For further info on the matter: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/tom-weldon-book-readers-don’t-want-subscription

    Sidebar #4 Hack Pitches and Big Ideas sessions

    Companies and creative individuals had the opportunity to share their plans for innovating the publishing world.

    -The winner of the Hack Pitch was “Voice” – an organization that developed an X Factor style contest with the winner receiving a contract to read for an audiobook. Contestants submit clips of themselves reading selected passages and people can vote on whose voice they enjoy listening to the most.

    Some people to follow on the good ‘ol Twitter:

    @marissa_hussey (Marissa Hussey—Digital Marketing Director at Orion)

    @booksandquills (Sanne Vliengenthart—Digial Coordinator Hot Key Books)

    @dan_kieran (Dan Kieran—CEO of Unbound)

    @BenWillisUK (Ben Willis—Senior Publicity and Digital Campaigns Manager of Headline)


    For more highlights check out #FutureBook14, if you haven’t already.