Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Cashing up, cashing down

The perennial argument about whether people in publishing are paid enough has raised its head again, with that current zeitgeist twist being a well-subscribed Facebook group bemoaning the lack of decent salary. I’ve been there myself – when I started out years ago, my salary was well down on what friends in other industries were earning. It’s a situation exacerbated by the fact that publishing is almost exclusively London based, which doesn’t exactly help in making the money go far. But it’s a situation that’s not going to change in the short term, for simple reasons of supply and demand. I’ve been interviewing for a new assistant in the past couple of weeks, and both the number and standard of applications is remarkable: scores and scores of good, bright, well-educated graduates eager to get their first foot on the ladder. The truth is that for everyone complaining about how much they are getting paid, there are many more people who would love to be in a position to have something to complain about.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Could this device really spell the end of books?

Shouts the Metro in one of many obits in today's press for the printed form. As with virtually every newspaper article that starts with a question, the answer, of course, is no.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Hard Times

The announcement by Picador that from next year they’ll publish new novels as hardbacks and paperbacks simultaneously has led to the predictable pieces about The End Of The Hardback. I’m not sure that’s true, and even it is was, it’d be a shame. The older I get, the fonder I become of hardback editions – there’s something satisfyingly comforting and weighty about them. A bit like vinyl records (which I also love) as opposed to CDs, or those old British passports rather than their modern day flexible replacements. The funny thing is that the newspapers heralding the death of the hardback are the same ones who won’t review anything unless they are out in hardback in the first place. Maybe I’m not the only one who is old fashioned after all.

Friday, 16 November 2007

The Other Side of the Wall

Older readers may remember an advert for Nat West back in the 1980s, where a spotty youth talks the viewer through his job (the cash machine is ‘a bit like a photocopier, except the paper is more expensive’) – and come Friday night, he’s on the other side of the wall, it not being all work, work, work you know. Writing and getting a book published, I guess, is the publisher’s equivalent of being on the other side of the wall. The book I've co-written is Shopping While Drunk, and is now available from all (well, some) bookshops. It’s interesting to see the process from the author’s angle, and so far, it’s a salutary reminder to me why being published by a big house is not always the panacea of publishing: corrections to manuscript? Not taken in. Contact from either editor or publicist on publication? None. Publicity and marketing generated by publisher to support the book? None. Sales last week? 28.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Paris and be Damned

To Paris, to take a selection head-office buyers to meet an author. It’s one of those days where you can’t quite believe everything is going to happen: we’re coming in from London, the restaurant is on the other side of Paris from the station, the author is coming in from Germany and doesn’t have a mobile phone. But somehow it works. It’s almost a hark back to an earlier age: these days, not only are the chains wary of letting people go on such trips, but even when they are allowed to go, prising people from their desks can prove tricky. But when it does come off, as on this trip, it’s very much worth it. As much as you can talk up a book yourself, it’s never the same as letting authors – and their enthusiasm – speak for themselves.