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AMA: I work in book publishing
176

booksandstories · 15/09/2022 18:04

Recently advertised for a job joining the team I lead and received 200+ applications so I thought there might be interest in book publishing!

I work for one of the Big Five book publishers and have done for several years.

I work across fiction and non fiction.

Ask me anything!

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SouthOfFrance · 15/09/2022 18:05

Do you have a team of readers?!

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booksandstories · 15/09/2022 18:24

Kind of! We have literary scouts who let us know what is out there.

Then we have proofreaders, copyeditors and a team of managing editorial staff who get the book from manuscript to publication.

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Hintofreality · 15/09/2022 18:25

Who really writes David Walliams’ books?

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APurpleSquirrel · 15/09/2022 18:26

What's the percentage of new writers to established writers?

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GlumyGloomer · 15/09/2022 18:31

Do you ever read direct submissions, or only consider things represented by an agent?

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feckoffbrian · 15/09/2022 18:31

Where would the average Joe Bloggs come across a literary scout?

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booksandstories · 15/09/2022 18:49

Hintofreality · 15/09/2022 18:25

Who really writes David Walliams’ books?

Walliams genuinely writes them himself but there will be a team behind him at the publisher managing the brand, suggesting characters, plot lines etc.

Lots of household names talk through their publishing ideas beforehand with an editor, make sure their stories are hitting the right 'beats' with their narrative etc. Which is why they seem so polished.

Williams is not well-liked in publishing. Many people in the industry don't really mind celebs writing books as long as they are interested in it rather than just making money. Lots of people really like Tom Fletcher (McFly/Christmasaurus) and he works v hard on his books.

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booksandstories · 15/09/2022 18:57

APurpleSquirrel · 15/09/2022 18:26

What's the percentage of new writers to established writers?

I don't know across the whole industry about how many new versus established authors release. I'd have a stab and say 60% might be new authors over a year and the remaining 40% will be either repeating authors.

But the books industry is very like the music industry in that most of the money is made from backlist; so it's much more profitable to put more money into advertising big household names who have written lots of books, because all their other books get an uplift in sales when they release a new title.

It's a gamble to spend money on developing and investing in brand new authors, but book critics are like music critics and love discovering the next big cool thing, so sometimes there is a gap between the things critics highly praise and the books that actually get to number one in the charts!

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Ticketybooboo · 15/09/2022 19:00

How much is print declining year on year?

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FortunaMajor · 15/09/2022 19:00

Some very famous / long standing authors could do with a stronger editor with a sharp pair of shears. Are some authors too much of a cash cow to be upset / told to cut things down?

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OrangeFlowersAreLovely · 15/09/2022 19:01

Who is your favourite author? Are you familiar with Tim Weaver and Linwood Barclay? (My favourites 😍)

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booksandstories · 15/09/2022 19:04

GlumyGloomer · 15/09/2022 18:31

Do you ever read direct submissions, or only consider things represented by an agent?

Yes, I read some direct submissions. The quality massively varies but there are some gems.

All publishers will have some unagented authors, they just might not have open submissions.

Some of the biggest authors don't have agents and do their own negotiations. Likewise some people who have been journalists or already worked in the industry don't have agents as they know the ropes a bit.

This isn't publicised because publishers don't want to get an avalanche of uncorrected, often unedited manuscripts.

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booksandstories · 15/09/2022 19:11

feckoffbrian · 15/09/2022 18:31

Where would the average Joe Bloggs come across a literary scout?

Some examples of literary scouting reports:

Translations (eg a book that's already done well in Italian/French) - this is the most usual
People who've seen stand up comedians/poets/actors perform and thought they might make interesting writers
At book fairs representing publishing from other countries, eg an American phenomenon already published in English
Sometimes a scout might know if a well known person is writing a book, for example, if they hear a musician is writing their memoir they might share directly with an editor and bypass the scout getting an agent

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BiscuitLover3678 · 15/09/2022 19:15

Why don’t they like David Walliams?

what do you think of self publishing?

how did you get into it?

how much do you end up changing?

and last of all, thank you for this thread.

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booksandstories · 15/09/2022 19:15

Ticketybooboo · 15/09/2022 19:00

How much is print declining year on year?

It's doing really well! 2020 was a brilliant year as everyone was sick of Netflix by the summer so print sales were very strong as people read classics they'd never got around to before.

Hardbacks and special finishes were having a surge in popularity in recent years - things like sprayed edges, silver foil and cloth bound books were doing really well.

The cost of paper is rocketing so you might see fewer 'special finishes' on books in the next year but they are in the strongest position they ever have been, much to everyone's surprise!

Ebook sales are down a little bit this year but audio is still growing.

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booksandstories · 15/09/2022 19:17

FortunaMajor · 15/09/2022 19:00

Some very famous / long standing authors could do with a stronger editor with a sharp pair of shears. Are some authors too much of a cash cow to be upset / told to cut things down?

ABSOLUTELY!

Loads of authors need a bloody good edit!

Usually if the previous book has been a monster global hit it's impossible to get the author to cut much out. When you read a book like the Goldfinch by Donna Tartt you can really tell where she should have had a closer edit. It's brilliant but could be even better if it was more concise.

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OnlyYellowRoses · 15/09/2022 19:22

How do you go about getting to be a published author that actually makes an income from it?

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booksandstories · 15/09/2022 19:24

OrangeFlowersAreLovely · 15/09/2022 19:01

Who is your favourite author? Are you familiar with Tim Weaver and Linwood Barclay? (My favourites 😍)

Books wise or personality wise? Wink

My favourite novels in recent years have been Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell, The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker and The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins.

Personality wise, how successful someone is has no bearing on how nice they are. Broadly, crime authors tend to be the most supportive, fun and generous to each other. Literary authors are quite close knit; quite a few run off with their agents or editors, or leave their partners for one another! They are always quite aware of how successful one another is. Non fiction authors are a massive mixed bag.

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booksandstories · 15/09/2022 19:26

OrangeFlowersAreLovely · 15/09/2022 19:01

Who is your favourite author? Are you familiar with Tim Weaver and Linwood Barclay? (My favourites 😍)

Oh and I have read both but don't know either author, but I've met Linwood at Harrogate Crime Fiction Festival and he was very nice!

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Yucca78 · 15/09/2022 19:28

Why are so many children's books written by "celebrities "?

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Bideshi · 15/09/2022 19:31

Straight white men are complaining that no matter how good their work, they can't get published. There does seem to be an element of truth in that. Whats do you think?

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Abra1d1 · 15/09/2022 19:31

I have been published for over 15 years. Had a couple of bestsellers. My current publisher ditched me last autumn. No surprise—I had had three editor maternity leaves in two years and I t

I’ve been ghosted by an editor I approached. Her director is someone I have worked with on one of these bestsellers.

Why don’t editors just fire off a quick rejection?

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IchbineinBerlinerin · 15/09/2022 19:33

How do you "know" a novel is going to do well? Which criteria do you judge it on? (Style of writing, characters, plot etc). I hope that makes sense 😅

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Abra1d1 · 15/09/2022 19:34

Sorry, pushed send too soon.

I was trying to say, why not say sorry, no thanks? I’m a big girl, I’ve been round the block and it would just draw a line under it. Though obviously I’m not hanging around just waiting for them to get back to me and have moved on!

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Thehighlandcoo · 15/09/2022 19:35

I'm an in-house copywriter but do SO MUCH editing and proofreading. I love it and I'm good at it. How would I go about branching off into book editing/proofing?

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