An insight into the publishing world…

Posts tagged ‘social media’

After You Die by Eva Dolan

This book showed me that I just do not read enough crime/detective fiction. I was hopelessly hooked on this story and it made me feel a real physical hunger for the truth!

 

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The fact that I have not yet read the other books in this series did not affect my reading or enjoyment of this book one bit – it is a fantastic story in and of itself.

Dawn Prentice was already known to the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit. The previous summer she had logged a number of calls detailing the harassment she and her severely disabled teenage daughter were undergoing. Now she is dead – stabbed to death whilst Holly Prentice has been left to starve upstairs. DS Ferreira, only recently back on the force after being severely injured in the line of duty, had met with Dawn that summer. Was she negligent in not taking Dawn’s accusations more seriously? Did the murderer even know that Holly was helpless upstairs while her mother bled to death?

This book is so topical – not only does it deal with the ongoing stigma of disability, but it also explores the ever-increasing problem of harassment on social media and online. It brings detective fiction into the 21st century with a powerful impact and sucks the reader in helplessly until you can do nothing but binge-read it to the end!

I honestly had absolutely no idea who the killer would be right until it was revealed: Eva Dolan carries you with DI Zigic and DS Ferreira down every avenue of enquiry and each one is tense, full of mystery and intrigue. The expert language grips you; makes crime scenes so vivid and creates such real and convincing characters that it feels like you’re inside the village itself and on edge about who the real killer could be. Each suspect – an anti-euthanasia activist; a young, rejected and angry teenaged boy; a frustrated ex-husband and his new wife; a string of casual lovers – has a motive so convincing that it’s difficult to know what you believe. The introduction of each new and relevant piece of evidence is so subtle that when it all slots into place it really makes you realise how talented a crime writer Eva Dolan is.

As well as all of this, I have already developed a strong loyalty and love for the main characters, DI Zigic and DS Ferreira. Learning about their pasts in the book and the contrast of their personal problems adds a whole new fascinating dimension to the novel. I will definitely be going back to read the beginning of this series. A job really, really well done.

Thank you to Eva Dolan – you can follow her on Twitter @eva_dolan – and publishers Harvill Secker for my review copy of this book. I really appreciate it!

 

 

*Blog Tour Stop* TARGETED AND TROLLED BY ROSSALYN WARREN

Targeted and Trolled (1)

I am very proud that Words Are My Craft is a blog tour stop for Targeted and Trolled by Rossalyn Warren.

A feminist campaigner is sent death threats online at a rate of over fifty-per-hour. A woman who shares on social media her experience of rape, so that others might feel brave enough to speak out, is bombarded with abusive messages. More than a hundred female celebrities have their personal nude photographs stolen and published by hackers. The victims of these stories of trolling and internet crimes have just one thing in common: their gender.

Most of us use the internet every day, but we rarely stop and think about the way we are received there and whether the treatment of women online differs from the treatment of men. As a Buzzfeed journalist, Rossalyn Warren has first-hand experience of the sexism and misogyny targeted at women online – the insults about their appearance, the rape threats, and in some instances even stalking.

In Targeted and Trolled, Warren exposes the true extent of the global problem. Informative, empowering and inspiring, this book is both a shocking revelation of the scale of the problem and a message of hope about how men and women are working together to fight back against the trolls. [Synopsis taken from Goodreads]

This book is an absolute essential read for any man or woman in this day and age, especially those who are very active online or with social media. So many people have no idea what is going on in the online world – how dangerous and damaging it can be, and just how many women, both high-profile and not, suffer at the hands of trolls and abusers on the internet.

The book offers examples and case studies of inspirational and influential women who have suffered needlessly for being outspoken or even simply for having a presence on the internet. Brilliantly, it also provides examples of abused women from different countries, including Pakistan, a country in which this problem is not widely known amongst the public. It shines a light on the fact that women all over the world and in every kind of community are facing this abuse and that it should not be something that women can’t talk about or seek help for.

It also tackles the stereotype that online trolls are isolated young men. In fact, as the book states, “The reality is, those who commit online abuse can be of any age, race or gender.” The book explores the consequences of there being almost a relaxed sense of morality online. There seems to be a perception amongst trolls that the internet is lawless and that things that are not OK in the real world are fine in cyberspace. People do and say things online that even they themselves would not find acceptable in the physical world. The book also explores other reasons as to why people behave the way they do to women online and whether there are any common character traits which cause people to do so.

It does not discount the fact that men are also subject to trolling and online abuse; rather it effectively outlines the differences between that abuse that women face and that that men receive.  The abuse women receive is gender-centric, whereas when men are abused it is rarely because they are men:

“I really want women to know that when they’re called a slut or a bitch for sharing a comment online, that is very different to a man being called an asshole because somebody didn’t like his opinion.”

Targeted and Trolled backs up its every argument and example with scientific research, case studies and facts and figures. It is both shocking and empowering for women at the same time. It shows us we are not alone and it gives us suggestions as to how we can tackle the problem, and how it is already being tackled by inspirational women all over the world. It is a sobering and fascinating read and is very much needed in today’s society. Whether you’re a man or a woman, read this book and let your voice be heard against this despicable abuse.

A fantastic book. Well done and thank you to Rossalyn Warren for speaking out for women everywhere.

An interview with FutureBook founder Sam Missingham

Anyone who knows anything about the publishing world know that an interview with Sam Missingham is a Big Deal. Having worked for publishing giants such as the Bookseller, FutureBook and HarperCollins, she has forged an immensely successful and influential career in publishing and marketing within the books industry.

I’ve been an admirer and follower of Sam’s for a while now and I was very excited when she agreed to undertake this interview for my blog.

The lovely Sam Missingham

The lovely Sam Missingham

Can you give my readers a brief overview of your career so far?

 Sure.

I’ve spent the vast amount of my career working in magazine publishing. I started at a very small company that published financial technology titles. I learned a huge amount working in a small business with a very entrepreneurial boss. He taught me a few simple but important things – everyone in the company should be able to answer the phone & give a decent answer to any question about the business, also, pretty much every call coming into a business is a sales opportunity – if you understand everything that you sell.

I then worked at Centaur on many of their B2B magazines, including Marketing Week, Creative Review and New Media Age. I launched their community site MAD.co.uk (for marketing, advertising & design professionals). This is where I learned about building audiences/communities and the various ways you can get people to pay for content. And yes I was MAD Marketing Manager for a while 😉

 I took a career break to have my daughter, move town & divorce (why not do all of it at the same time, right?). I then worked for several years as a freelancer/consultant, always working on circulation & subscription strategy work. I worked on consumer magazines at Future Publishing on titles about weddings, cars, photography & design.

Seven years ago I was offered temporary freelance work on The Bookseller, where I stayed for 5 years. This was the most fulfilling 5 years of my career, mostly due to falling in love with the book business and being part of the industry while it transformed so dramatically. I launched the FutureBook community, blog, conference and awards while I was there which I am still very proud of.

One of the most exciting moments of my professional life, was when Charlie Redmayne, HarperCollins’ CEO offered me a job running events. Until that point I had NO experience in books, so I appreciate the leap of faith he made employing me. I have now been at HarperCollins for 18 months and I genuinely believe I have the best job in publishing. My remit is to come up with engaging events and campaigns across our entire list to put more books into more hands. Doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

 You originally studied maths and Russian at university. What lead you down the publishing and marketing career path?

Oh I forgot to mention above that I was also a spy for the KGB for a while. Kidding aside, I enjoyed studying Maths & Russian and although I haven’t used either of them directly, logic and arithmetic are useful skills to have in marketing. I didn’t exactly choose my career in magazines – I graduated in a horrible recession and it was the only job I could get. No regrets.

I genuinely believe I have the best job in publishing

Over the years and in your many marketing roles in the industry, what are some of the biggest changes youve experienced?

 I suppose the most significant and seismic shift would obviously be the Internet. I worked on a magazine charting the very start of the Internet around 1996, a time when businesses were launching websites for the first time. So, everything that has followed; email, ecommerce, social, apps etc. Hard to imagine now.

Youve won and been nominated for a number of big industry awards. Can you possibly pick one or two that you are most proud of and/or most touched by and explain why?

 Well, I’m proud of all of them. But being runner-up for the Pandora award for outstanding contribution to publishing takes some beating. Also, I was a runner-up to Dame Marjorie Scardino. How cool is that?

In your view, what role has social media and digital played in attracting more people to reading and the industry? Why has it been so effective?

 Wow, not sure I can do that question justice as the impact is so huge and varied. In very simple terms, social media has removed the barriers/gate keepers between readers and authors. It has also facilitated an open and engaged conversation amongst all book-lovers. Authors can now talk directly to librarians, bookshops to agents, book marketers to readers. There is certainly still a way to go for publishers to fully maximise the opportunity social offers, but that’s the fun and challenge of continual change.

 In terms of digital, it would be impossible for me to understate the impact Amazon has had on the book business. Not least creating an ebook ecosystem that actually worked. They are a phenomenally impressive business, a week hardly goes by where they haven’t launched a new program, service or tech innovation.

Digital has had impact across all areas of our business in areas too many to mention; in no particular order, significant shifts in the last 7 years: the Ipad, apps, Wattpad, KDP, mobile, YouTube – the list goes on

For those unfamiliar with virtual events  how do they work and what are the benefits? What have been particularly successful and challenging about the ones you’ve launched?

Yes, these have been great fun. The virtual festivals replicate literary festivals, but are delivered on social media. I have organised virtual festivals in romance, crime and SciFi, delivering engaging programs for readers/fans. I suppose the thing that is significant about these festivals is that they are publisher-agnostic, open and inclusive and global – everyone is welcome. As far as know, no other publisher has run events/campaigns where they have included other publisher, organisations and indie authors. My view is we all have the same aim – more books into more hands and working together genuinely puts the reader at the heart of what we’re doing. How many readers buy books from just one publisher, for example?

There have been a few highlights during these festivals, one being Margaret Atwood’s Twitter Q&A – she is a goddess. We also had Agatha Christie’s publisher answering questions about what it’s like to publish the Queen of Crime. Fab.

You have worked as Head of Events & Marketing for two of the biggest publishing organisations in the UK today The Bookseller and FutureBook. What has been the most rewarding part of these experiences?

Launching FutureBook and building an engaged community as the book industry transformed. During this time I made many friends across the industry, many of whom were gracious and supportive when quite frankly I knew nothing.

 Most rewarding part of publishing? The people, by a mile.

In very simple terms, social media has removed the barriers/gate keepers between readers and authors.

How important is collaboration in this industry?

 Extremely, as mentioned in my previous question. A rising tide lifts everyone, yes?

How does it feel to be a huge influencer in the publishing industry and what qualities do you feel are essential for a person to become successful in this area?

 Huge influencer is overstating things. The qualities I try to bring are enthusiasm, a genuine passion for books and the business, a broader interest in news and trends with a little irreverence, perhaps. One thing I am particularly passionate about is supporting students and people at the early stage of their careers. I see that has my responsibility and also very rewarding. Nothing better than seeing someone fly.

What would your advice be to someone interested in the industry in terms of attending literary and publishing events?

 Id recommend you attend London Book Fair  lots of free events and also talk to people in the coffee queue. Making contacts is the NUMBER ONE thing that will help you at every stage of your career. Also, Byte The Book, Book Machine and SYP all run excellent events throughout the year.

Youve worked on both newsletters, magazines and now books. How important do you feel working on a variety of publication types to be when building a publishing career?

 Not sure the publication types is the important bit. What is more valuable is working in different types of businesses. As I have said many times, retail experience is extremely useful, particular bookshops. But honestly, the skills you learn dealing with customers directly cant be underestimated. I grew up in a flower shop and also spent many years working in shoe shops and waitressing.

Working in other entertainment and digital businesses would also be useful. My philosophy is that no skills are ever wasted, so gain as much experience as possible.

Who are some of your favourite and more approachable authors and publishers that you have worked with and why?

I had the privilege of running an event with George RR Martin & Robin Hobb last summer. One of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. Spending an evening with George RR was how I imagine hanging out with Mick Jagger would be. A total rock star. He invited all of the Game of Thrones cosplayers back to his room after the event – you’d could see the real connection with his fans. Robin was an absolute delight too.

 On Twitter, there are a number of authors I think rock; Ian Rankin, Joanne Harris, Jill Mansell, Lindsey Kelk to name a few.

You can follow Sam on Twitter: @samatlounge

Check out The Bookseller and Futurebook sites.

The Print vs. Digital Argument – Should Sentiment Be Ignored?

So here we go again: the Digital vs. Print debate. I fully understand that there are many, many posts on this subject, and I can’t even pretend to know in depth or to have studied intently the data and statistics behind this huge publishing topic. I have read numerous articles from a large number of sources, all more equipped with and informed by numbers that I personally don’t have. But I guess I’m not pretending that this article is going to be backed up by lots of figures and graphs, etc. I want this post to be a little more personal, sentimental and emotional than a market analysis.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that any amount of my friends can be used as a sizeable enough sample – but just like the topic and nature of my post, I don’t want to look at this like a scientific or quantitative experiment. I want to look at it from a sociological and qualitative point of view. And I’m taking a look at the world directly around me. To this end, I asked my friends on Facebook which they preferred: digital or print?

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Out of 23 friends who answered, all but two of them said they preferred print. But again, it’s not really the numbers that mean anything, but rather the reasons behind their decisions.

What I’ve noticed that with all of the responses I received is that those who answered that they prefer digital, or prefer print but still like digital, gave purely convenience and practical-based reasons. For example, one friend has severe arthritis and using a Kindle makes reading far easier for her than reading print books. Another friend has vision impairment and finds the ability to adjust font size a real help. One preferred to be able to carry around large numbers of books without using up a lot of space.

Those who preferred print, however, tended to give reasons that were rooted in emotion and senses. And that’s the general theme of my post.

6 or 7 people claimed to love the smell of books. 3 people mentioned that cuddling up to read a good book somehow ‘doesn’t feel as cuddly’ when you’re holding onto plastic and metal. Many said that you can’t beat going into a good book shop and buying a physical copy, and that it reminds them of their childhood. One friend stated that ‘you can’t beat a gorgeous cover and pages to turn.’ (It’s also worth pointing out that print was also deemed to more ‘practical’ than digital in a number of ways, too – you can’t leave it hanging around on the beach, it makes people’s eyes blurry, charging is a pain). Two of my friends – Kevin Duffy and Mark Moreau, both of whom are publishers – also professed their love of print.

print v digital

Sentimentality and emotions play a big part in the book-lover universe. In my view, there is only so far that convenience can take priority over sentiment and emotion. We need our comfort, senses and emotions in life in order to make life worth living. In a world where I am reading more and more about Big Data and having to look at readers as statistics and figures, it just kind of helps the sentimental girl in me to look at things from this kind of perspective. To engage with other readers and take a look not at how their buying habits combine with others to form a large dataset (as critical as they are in today’s business, I admit) but rather at their emotions and their feelings toward the print book and its counterpart.

I would also like to discuss this subject on a publishing business/community level as well. I’d want to talk about this year’s London Book Fair.

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At the London Book Fair, I attended the Real ‘New’ Publishing talk with a panel of publishing professionals – Katharine Reeve, the Course Director for Publishing at Bath Spa University, Caroline Harris, the co-founder of Harris & Wilson, Vince Medeiros, publisher at TCOLondon Publishing, and Miranda West, publisher at the Do Book Company. The purpose of their talk was to discuss what independent publishing companies are doing differently to traditional publishers, and also how they are preserving the creativity in this creative industry:

A new generation of independent publishing companies, starting from scratch, are doing things rather differently. They are creating highly-desirable publications, putting editorial and design, innovation and creativity at the heart of what they do, and setting new trends and communicating with their audience.

Each publisher spoke of the importance of preserving the print book in an increasingly digital age.

Katharine Reeve kicked off proceedings by discussing the changes that are happening right now in the publishing world. Publishers are having to experiment with new, different formats to get their voices heard and their products noticed – among those are social media, talks and events, multi-channel marketing and, most importantly, experimenting with different types of print.

The print book is still dominant, she said. And there are a number of publishers who are using that to their advantage. As well as this, new publishers don’t have that awkward transition from print to digital with their backlists – they can start both from scratch and make their products an art form.

I think that was also an underlying theme in this discussion – that the print book, or pamphlet, or newsletter, or whichever format publishers are playing around with these days, can still be made into, and considered, an art form. The finished product means something to the owner.

Miranda West of Do Books Company acknowledged customers’ appreciation of well-crafted, well-designed books. She pointed out that smaller publishing houses can think more about layout and the creative look of a book. They have complete creative freedom, and can use this to create a strong brand and a strong identity. Overall, she emphasised that books – and print books especially – can change lives and inspire, as well as being genuinely useful.

Vince Medeiros of TCOLondon explored the idea of print and how it was majorly disrupted by the economic crisis and the growth of digital. But he also stressed that print and physical literature and books can give the reader things that digital will never be able to achieve. Magnets and heat sensitive paper are just a couple of his ideas for ways to be creative with print. He explained that these kinds of things can inspire a level of excitement that digital just can’t touch.

The London Book Fair at Olympia.

The London Book Fair at Olympia.

Books are the perfect medium, he argued. Even some of the largest companies, like Apple, are producing print publications for their employees. And why print books? Because they add value. The scarcity of a finite print run gives them value. They are tangible. We can physically interact with them.

This is not to say that print lovers and those who are still advocates of the print book are not moving with the times. Embracing print does not mean ignoring digital, and vice versa. As Caroline Harris of Harris & Wilson discussed, in these turbulent times publishers need to start positioning themselves as ‘brands’, and in order to achieve this publishers need to create a beautiful and well-crafted book or publication, and then build an online community by supporting the publication with extra media channels. It’s about publishing professions being responsive and agile. It’s about taking a look at the current climate and trends and being able to adapt your business to keep up with that, without losing the core focus and love of the print book. We can keep our love of the print book at the heart of what we do – it’s just that we can’t put all of our eggs into the ‘Just Books Basket’ any more. Business needs diversification.

Her final point was that print books have even more value now, and are more desirable precisely because the general reading society perceives there to be a threat. Again, sentimentality and emotion kicks in here. We want to preserve what once made our culture so great.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I did get a sense here that the general argument was that we’re not necessarily now living in a ‘digital first’ era, but rather publishers are using digital in order to strengthen the particular book or publication. In other words, the whole thing becomes a brand rather than a product. And a brand can produce a core idea or value in many different formats. For this reason, and this is just my own point of view, I think that while this is true of business, one format will not kill the other. We need sentimentality just as much as we need convenience. One does not necessarily trump the other.

My overall argument here is that the reason I don’t believe that print will go the same way as other outdated formats and become completely obsolete is because, while there are still humans out there, there will always be some level of sentimentality. And I believe there is enough sentimentality and love out there to keep the print format alive. It may be smaller than before, and it may be facing opposition – but this publishing enthusiast believes it will always be around. Call me old-fashioned.

Or maybe I’m just a bit sentimental.

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Me and my book shelf – can you tell which format I prefer?

What do you think of this ongoing argument? Which still has your heart – print or digital?

Introducing Content Marketing Executive Kathryn Palmer

My colleague at Emerald Group Publishing very kindly agreed to interview with me for my blog – I always want to offer my readers a look at publishing from a number of different angles. Kat works in the marketing department of the company and works closely with me day to day on our portfolio of titles. Here she provides a look at marketing in the publishing industry and the challenges of marketing academic research…

My Emerald Group Publishing colleague, Kat Palmer

My Emerald Group Publishing colleague, Kat Palmer

What attracted you to working for an academic publishing company?

Education has a huge, everlasting impact on our lives – whether you received a good or bad education has an influence on your career choices, development, and to certain extent happiness.

To be a part of an organisation which influences the best research for higher education students, as well as developing our knowledge and growth both economically and socially across the globe had huge appeal for me!

How much does it differ from your last company and in what ways? What was the most challenging part of moving on to such a different company?

It’s almost completely different; my previous company was B2B focussed selling document management solutions, so saying it was a bit of a culture shock joining Emerald is an understatement!

I think the biggest change has been my day-to-day job and the audience I’m now working for. At my previous company, I was doing lots of everything focussing on lead generation from paper-heavy organisations. Here, I am working solely for our academic audience (users and creators) in a much more strategic, focussed manner.

The benefits of marketing in the trade publishing industry are obvious to the general consumer. Why is marketing so important in the dissemination of academic research?

Humans have always wanted to know more, and to have the ability to find out more about their interests or specialist area and share it with other likeminded people; leading to a circular learning-understanding-sharing system.

But in a world where information online is growing faster than people will ever be able to read it, marketing is key in ensuring this process continues – if it weren’t for meta data, PPC, campaigning, positioning or communication, that research may be lost in cyberspace and the potential to learn a little bit more about the world can easily be lost.

The purpose of marketing in academia is to ensure this knowledge is found, read, understood and shared.

Marketing is a bit like watching a series on TV – miss one episode and you’re not quite sure how the story has developed.

What would you say are the most essential qualities that a successful marketing professional must have?

Understanding your audience and what they want is the first commandment for any successful marketer. You may get some success just ‘trying stuff out’, but if you want marketing to positively impact the growth, prosperity and reputation of your organisation, you must know your audience inside-out.

What do you enjoy most about your job and what do you find the most challenging?

I love the buzz in the office on a Friday afternoon after a successful week; I love the challenge of ensuring everything we do considers the customer first; and I love that my passion for creative writing is fulfilled every day through the work I produce.

The most challenging aspect for me is always wanting more – more analytics, more insight, more customer satisfaction. I don’t perceive these challenges as negatives though, more opportunities to help achieve a better relationship with our stakeholders.

The best companies in the world are the ones with the strongest relationships with its customers, no matter how big or small it is; and it’s a never ending, constantly evolving target. There is no bigger challenge, or opportunity, than that.

How important do you feel it is for academics and scholarly authors and editors to engage in social media and why?

I think it’s absolutely essential; people will do things for those they know, can communicate with and feel connected to. If scholarly authors want their research to be found and read across the globe, social media offers the perfect platform to create meaningful relationships with their audience through social media channels like Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. These global relationships would have been much harder, if not impossible, to develop before social media existed.

What recent marketing innovations and tools have excited you recently?

Marketing automation, big data, written and graphical storytelling as a form of marketing communication, the evolution of social media in marketing…. There isn’t much that doesn’t excite me about marketing developments, to be honest.

It’s a constantly evolving industry (like most) and moves and develops incredibly quickly, which is what keeps the job exciting, and helps me to stay motivated and innovative in everything I do.

The best company in the world is the one with the strongest relationships with its customers.

How do you keep up to date with the marketing industry and its developments?

I read a LOT; predominantly online research using Google Alerts, industry newsletters and webinars. I’m very committed to spending time finding out what’s happening in the industry in order to develop my own skills and help meet company goals.

It’s a bit like watching a series on TV – miss one episode and you’re not quite sure how the story has developed. It’s the same with marketing; you stop looking for the latest developments and trends and suddenly your marketing activity ceases to be as effective as it could be, if only you’d paid proper attention!

You can follow Kat on Twitter @KatPal24 and her portfolio subject at Emerald @EmeraldMktg

To find out more about Emerald Group Publishing, visit www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com

Introducing Independent Publisher Martin Goodman

Today’s guest on my blog is the Publisher and owner of Barbican Press, the publishing house based in my native city of Hull and the company for which I undertook a social media internship last year. I first met Martin Goodman at a Head In A Book event (run by Head In A Book, Hull, discussing the Tony Hogan book by Kerry Hudson) at Hull Central Library last year. From there we began talking and I secured an internship in which I ran the Twitter and Facebook activity for Barbican Press over the course of a month. Of course, I knew of Martin before this, but I hadn’t had a chance to meet him before then. I’m very grateful that we have a formed a good working and personal friendship and I love seeing Barbican Press go from strength to strength. Here in this interview, Martin talks publishing, teaching creative writing, and Barbican Press.

Martin Goodman: Publisher and Professor

Martin Goodman: Publisher and Professor

Tell me a little bit about your background and career.

I was born in Leicester and determined it was time to become a professional writer aged 12. By the end of my first week I had filled a folder and realized I was overproducing – more than the market could bear – and so determined to bide my time. I felt it would be later in life before my writing started to connect, so I kept writing but kept it to myself or sent it out and had it come back. My first novel came out in 1992 – On Bended Knees, shortlisted for that year’s Whitbread Prize. And I keep on going. I moved into academia in 2007 and am now also Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Hull.

What drove you to start up your own publishing business?

I know what sort of publishing house I need as a writer – one inclined toward quality and risk – and so choose to provide such a house for others. I was external examiner for D.D.Johnston’s The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub when it was up for its PhD. D.D. had determined to write a novel that would be unpublishable by the industry, and I knew it was too brilliant not to share – and so kickstarted the company then.

Do you focus on a particular kind of literature, or publish a wide range?

Our slogan is ‘writing from the discomfort zone’ – ours are the sort of books Picador used to bring out in the 70s. One of our writers sees our books as being ‘dark with a sense of humour’. There’s also some regional focus on great writing coming from Hull.

Mainstream publishers can’t generally risk the sorts of books we bring out because they don’t tick all the mainstream boxes; they don’t come with a sure return.

What are some of the biggest challenges you faced with starting your own publishing company?

Getting anybody to notice. After four trips to an independent bookstore they agreed to take an individual copy of two titles. Getting a book shortlisted for Scottish Fist Book of the Year resulted in three copies being bought in for Scottish stores. So bookstores need to know and support us, as do reviewers. We target and send out scores of copies for reviews, then watch them come up for sale on ebay.

Previously, huge publishing conglomerates have dominated the industry. With the publishing industry changing and evolving at a rapid rate, what do you think the independent publisher needs to do in order to stay in the race?

Don’t join in. We can’t win that race. The trick is to keep independent virtues – have faith in the offbeat and determine that other readers are out there and in fact longing for the sort of books with a difference we can bring out. Mainstream publishers can’t generally risk the sorts of books we bring out because they don’t tick all the mainstream boxes; they don’t come with a sure return.

When looking for an outstanding piece of writing, do you have a set, firm criteria that the manuscript must meet? What do you look for? Or do you generally let your gut feeling decide how you feel about a manuscript?

The writing is immediately clear, and opens up a striking and alternative world view. Beautiful prose plus a striking intelligence.

What are your short and long-term goals for Barbican Press?

We have to make a profit in 2015. We need to see our books in bookstores, picked up by overseas agents and customers, and achieve reviews and prizes. All accomplishable. Long-term the goal is to have readers seek us out as their choice brand.

What is your proudest moment for your company?

Honestly it’s each time an author trusts us with their book and we bring it into the world. And they are happy. That’s the crux of what we are about: releasing genius works that might otherwise have languished.

What is your biggest personal achievement?

In Barbican Press terms, where I am very much a hands-on editor, it’s probably supporting Hana Sklenkva on her translation of Martin Vopenka’s THE FIFTH DIMENSION, a book destined to become known as a modern classic which would have stayed obscure otherwise.

Are there any general or universal misconceptions about writing and publishing that creative writing students tend to bring with them into the classroom?

Students generally aim to write better, which is the proper focus. As a long-time published writer, starting a publishing house showed me all the misconceptions I had had. I had never appreciated all the steps and costs and work that go into bringing out a book. I had never given full credit to the extent of a publisher’s commitment.  Writers always deliver books that are special to them, but don’t necessarily give thought to what will make those books stand out in a preposterously crowded market.

How do you find managing your workload as a writer, publisher, and lecturer?

Full-on. I keep the writing side going by starting at 5am. 5-8 became my creative slot. Then I let the day hit me with whatever it wants until it’s time for bed.

Who do you see as a big influencer in the industry? Anyone you feel people should be keeping their eye on as the next big success?

I honestly believe any of our writers could break through in a big way. Such blazing optimism comes in handy. Creative writing departments are going to have an increased say. Most writing of note coming out of the US has some creative writing school allegiance, and that will happen increasingly here. And deservedly so, since so many writers are sacrificing so much and working so hard on their writing with expert tuition over many years. The best ones are using the opportunity, freed from commercial pressures, to break bounds and come up with books that are vibrant and unique.

The Fifth Dimension, one of Martin's proudest achievements.

The Fifth Dimension, one of Martin’s proudest achievements.

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