A Song of Fire and Water

There’s a line in All About Eve where Birdy, the cynical old dresser replies to Bette Davis’ characters protestations that Eve Harrington does love her with the line “sure, like an agent with only one client”. 

It came to mind while reading some of the closing remarks to the PRH UK announcement earlier this week:

 “This is our unique opportunity for Penguin Random House UK to come together across our publishing businesses as one company around the consumer. We are in effect creating the blueprint for a publisher as a consumer brand.”  Read more »

Let's abolish editors

It has long seemed to me that my job would be less fun but by and large easier if, instead of pitching books to editors I went straight to the people who make the decisions – the marketing, sales and publicity teams. In place of the laborious and often grindingly slow process of sending out manuscripts to editors who are too overworked and demoralised to actually read anything unless they think other publishers are taking an interest in it, I could take my projects in quarterly and make a pitch to the business team. Read more »

What editors are (really) for.

(This is a transcript of a memo found trapped in the lift doors of a major publishing conglomerate. I have been assured by the publishers that the reddish brown stain smeared across the edge of the original is not blood.)

  Read more »

Infinite Monkeys

 "Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun. Read more »

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The Elephant in the Graveyard

When I attended the HarperCollins summer party this time last year I joked that if one listened hard it was possible to hear Rome burning in the distance. It didn’t feel like a funny joke then and it felt even less funny listening to Victoria Barnsley’s candid and rather witty speech at what was in effect her leaving party last week. Read more »

If agents are selling publishers to authors, does that mean publishers should pay agents commission?

In ye olde days it was simple. Publishers were the marketplace, their only competition was themselves and agents were the conduits through which authors reached publishers.

It was the agents’ job to enrich the feed before publishers selected the final elements to refine and use. It was all reassuringly linear and straightforward. Read more »

Do Publishers Need a Bigger Boat?

If HarperCollins does merge with Simon & Schuster will that be good news for writers? Or, for that matter, readers?

One possibility is that the acquisitions boom of the nineties/early noughties which was fuelled by the last big round of publishing mergers will be disinterred and it will be good times for authors again. Read more »

Is self publishing immoral?

You could be forgiven for thinking that it was given some of the recent coverage it has had. Read more »

Digital goats v Paper sheep?

So there’s been another spat reminiscent of the Stephen Leather equivalent at Harrogate last year. This time involving US self-pubber Barry Eisler.

Apparently agents and publishers don’t like being told they risk being redundant. Quite a few people have commented on this—at considerable length—so I’ll keep this brief. Read more »

Can publishers disintermediate Amazon?

So, RIP the Agency Model. You won’t be missed. What is simply staggering is that publishers thought they could rewrite the laws of capitalism by trying to set the price of a product that they were not actually selling. Read more »

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