19 February 2011
My stage-one approach to the publishing industry (more of an all-guns-blazing charge, really) didn’t produce a hit. So I spent a weekend pulling together my communication tools, bought, assembled and fired-up a laser printer, then drew a deep breath and started to network.
The most useful part of networking turned out to be sitting down with published writers and interrogating them about their experiences.
They included Roger Mortimer, father of my dear friend, the actress Katherine Manners. Roger published three action-packed adventure stories about swashbuckling mice in the nineties and noughties. He related his experiences with respect to the royalties earned, what the publishing house promised him, what they delivered and who had control over which creative decisions.
I hosted a dinner for William Sutton, a Scottish writer whose first novel is a crime-busting adventure set in nineteenth-century London. Gnarled and vibrant, the first of Earth’s super cities to spring-up in the wake of the industrial revolution is filled with Dickens, Marx and new-fangled underground trains. William discussed the experience of writing about it, while living in the modern super city of Sao Paulo.
I spent an evening in the pub with Lorelei Mathias, who has so far published two romantic comedies (including the first ever novel about speed dating) which sold in massive numbers. They were complemented by a cutting-edge book trailer, which Lorelei made herself and that was discussed on the Today programme (no less).
My old mentor, Simon Cann (who has published 11 books and ebooks) and I spent an evening in Spitalfields Market, while he talked me through the logistics of the mainstream and print-on-demand publishing worlds. From a nuts-and-bolts-of-getting-published-products-into-people-hands point of view, Simon is the most technical author I spoke to.
I drank coffee in a Piccadilly health food shop with Ray Frensham, an old industry hand and author of a best-selling guide to screenwriting. He talked about the culture of literary agents, the cycle of new editions, the importance of the London Book Fair and the bureaucracy, time frames and numbers involved in publishing deals. He also told me how to licence my required cover art.
The lay of the land. The art of the possible. The rules of the game. Many different courses mulled over, enabling me to better plot my own.
Population of London, 1861: 2,800,000
Population of Sao Paolo, 2007: 10,900,000