Sunday 27 October 2013

A book comes to life

The call
We put out the call for submissions. We watch as they come in. We don’t look yet. We’re mildly curious as to how the writers have found us. Was it social media?  Did they visit our web site? Did someone in the know recommend us to them?
We recognise some old friends and we are flattered that some very established writers turn to us now. There are some new voices too: will they bring us that smart new gobsmacking, stunning, life-changing short story?
Still we don’t look.

Thursday 10 October 2013

What a publisher reads - and thinks about whilst they’re doing it

I read. I read a lot. Possibly it’s because of my love of reading and because of my love of books that I’ve become a publisher. I’m also a writer and a reviewer. So what do I read?
Keeping a balance
I publish young adult literature and short stories. It’s logical, then that I read a good deal of those. I also read some non-fiction that interests me. That is often about literature, writing or something to do with the publishing business. Or it might be to do with a period of history I’m interested in. I also read books for younger children occasionally and normal literature – often books I’ve picked up at writing friends’ book signings. Then, of course, there are the books I have to review – usually children’s or young adult. I also read in French, German and Spanish – partly because I can and partly because I want to keep up my fluency in those languages.  
How I choose
I sometimes think they’re choosing me. Since I’ve acquired a Kindle I select in a slightly different way. I keep it charged up with four of everything: four young adult / children / four adult in each of French, German and Spanish of normal adult books and four non-fiction. If something comes up and I have a gap, I’ll purchase the book. If I’m going somewhere than involves flying I’ll make sure all categories are full. Added to this are the review copies, the ones form readings and offers at conferences. At this point the physical book almost becomes a souvenir.
I also use the local library.  
What I think about
I’m afraid I can’t quite shut the editor head up. It’s also still there when I go to the theatre or the cinema. I notice a cliché here, an awkward expression there and find the odd character but thinly drawn. I also notice excellent writing and sometimes understand why a particular book has been published.
I review self-published books for one organisation and most of them a reasonable. Some are good and some are even very good and better than some conventionally published books I’ve read. Other self-published books I’ve reviewed have been dire and I’m always wary of self-published books: how can we know which ones are safe to read?  Maybe this is the biggest argument for seeking conventional publishing.
Reading now and soon
I’m reading a young adult thriller in German by Monika Feth. No one writes quite like her. I hope more of her work will be translated into English soon. She uses several different viewpoints but he characters are richly drawn and her stories gripping.
After that I’ll be reviewing a young adult book for Armadillo Magazine. I also have a pile of seven library books to read – three young adult, two adult and two children’s. I have twenty books form signings to read and about thirty non-fiction – some to do with some historical research I’m doing and some I’ve picked up at conferences about writing.