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Meri Paterson Posts

To publish good books or profitable books, that is not the question

Last weekend I went to a party with some non-publishing folk, which is a rare occurrence and never fails to make me feel like a circus animal. People ask you what you do, and then exclaim ‘How exciting!’ and ‘That must be interesting!’, and then ask you uncomfortable questions you don’t have the answer to. Like, ‘Do you think publishers should publish books that make money or books that are good?’ This actually happened, and after only about a minute of warm-up. Hardly fair.

I said on instinct that I thought the former, but then they turned the screws on me and we ended up agreeing on a compromise: Publishing profitable books allows publishers to publish good books, so they should publish both. But now that I’ve given it some more thought I would like to go back to my earlier, less forgiving view. See, a couple of things nagged at me about the compromise…

Business, Work & Careers

Publishers, graduates and the morals between them

A week ago I went to the annual Society of Young Publishers (SYP) Conference in Oxford. SYP organise a lot of interesting events aimed at people who are starting out in publishing, and the conference programme was quite heavy on employment-related seminars as well.

I happened to be part of some interesting discussions about graduates and what they can expect in the employment front. The word ‘moral’ came up twice and made me prick my ears up as it was used in a rather matter-of-course manner, whereas I rarely think of employment in terms of morality. I will try to now!

Business, Work & Careers

Spell-checking and other neglected submissions basics

This post is part 2 in a series of posts about submitting an unagented book proposal directly to a publisher. Start reading here!

This part is about making sure the basics of your submission are right. Some of it may seem like common sense and too obvious even to mention, but it’s worth reading through as a checklist even if that’s the case. Sending any kind of application is a tense business and it’s easy to overlook something ‘too obvious to even mention’ because you are so preoccupied – ironically – with trying to get everything just right.

Business, Work & Careers

Rising to the challenge

By Florinm
By Florinm

 

A few recent developments in publishing have made me think that publishers are not very good at responding to competition, and additionally there seems to be an attitude of martyrdom whenever a perceived threat to their livelihood emerges on the scene. New technological developments, for example, nearly always get a cynical treatment in publishing news, even if they will make publishing easier or cheaper, or have advantages to the book-buyer. The status quo is not only sacred, but seen to be a kind of birthright.

Business, Work & Careers

How to get an editorial assistant to show your book to their boss

John C. H. Grabill [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
John C. H. Grabill [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This series of posts is intended for unagented authors who are thinking of submitting their book directly to a publisher, or have already done so with no success. I read submission emails and letters every day, and have noted down some common annoyances (and delights). They are based on my personal experience and may not apply to all situations, but I hope you’ll find it useful nevertheless.

Business, Work & Careers

Publishing is an employers’ market

(c) MSMcCarthy Photography
(c) MSMcCarthy Photography

The other night, my friend was telling me about a get-together for young IT professionals he went to. He met several interesting people with various orientations and specialties. Someone had a business idea about doing A, and another one was really good at B; a third was pitching his side project to venture capitalists.

I listened and compared this to how events for young publishing professionals sometimes turn out. There’s usually more women, for one thing, and they’re more light-hearted occasions somehow – you often end up part of a comradely chat with a group of people quite like you, talking about your quite uniform experiences of working as an assistant.

Would that be fair? Those evenings are fun and lots of names and numbers get exchanged, but they’re not usually very productive in terms of new partnerships or businesses getting the first spark.

Business, Work & Careers

Competitive recruitment starts with disclosing salaries

In August, job site Adzuna.co.uk published the results of their analysis of salaries on 500,000 job ads, and it turns out that only half of all employers disclose salaries on job adverts. The rest say things like ‘competitive’, ‘very attractive’, ‘dependent on experience’ or ‘available on application’ – alluring phrases which really just mean that there is a salary, but it’s a secret.

Business, Work & Careers