EIGHT STEPS TO PUBLISHING SUCCESS
experience copyediting a new book got more shares and Twitter traction than any of our other posts this month).
Cashflow is everything for a small business. But it can also be critical for authors.
We wanted to be economic: free of unneces- sary costs so we could publish in response to quality and our publishing instincts— not forced to double, then triple, our title count just to feed overheads taken on before we could justify them. We have managed much—a whole launch list created from the same sum I once spent on a single corporate brainstorming weekend. We have enjoyed much support from freelances and suppli- ers who have charged us considerately, in order to support a new independent. And I am embarrassed to admit I even took public transport at Frankfurt for the first time last year. (An anecdotal straw poll has, however, reassured me that I was far from alone in such past extravagance.) We also wanted to reconsider the royalty
statement and calendar, and this is indeed under way. My discussions with authors and agents have been as much about how to pay as what to pay. Flexibility is a negotiating point for us. We have just agreed our first deal, with the intention of paying royalties more than twice a year. I would like this to become standard. We have also sought advice from agents on how to design and structure our new royalty statements.
Don’t be sidetracked into trying to give your company the attrib- utes you wish you had.
I also wanted a catalogue that was so cool it was like a hipster zine that would be displayed on the counters of independent bookshops and passed among friends . . . Tis was a stupid idea. I take full responsi- bility. Where the time to do it was to come from—or the coolness—I have no idea.
Te independent publishing community is thrifty, thriving and supportive.
Turnaround Publishing Services has opened up new markets and vistas for us. But even on an ordinary day, remote working poses challenges. Not everyone’s confidence and morale can stick it and regular interac- tion is essential. Luckily, my four Septem-
ber colleagues also work remotely. Tey are less likely to be stuck in a meeting and more likely to be available for a chat than most office-bound publishers. Also, there has been a real shift in affordable workspaces so there are options for the future there too.
Working alone is a challenge. (It’s not ideal in times of crisis or bereavement, either.)
In Te Shift: Te Future of Work is Already Here, Lynda Gratton writes of the essen- tials of the modern workplace. Alongside the skills required to work and manage remotely, she places huge emphasis on the importance of a support network, a posse of entrenched professional friends who will unquestion- ingly turn their minds and energy to help wherever it is needed. We have benefited from supporters from
the beginning—agents willing to experi- ment and advise, printers prepared to extend terms, freelance editors keen to see the list work, old colleagues happy to give creative feedback. But when I found myself caught in three months of critical familial hospital visits and illnesses, I needed more: a close team to take over projects as well as a wider posse to offer support . . . and lug boxes around at launch parties.
A good intern is transformative; take the time to plan, prepare and develop such talent.
We have tried to be good employers to the wider freelance community, but what I have been struck by is how much we have needed and benefited from the raw energy, cultural and technological perspectives, and sheer willingness of a couple of recent graduates. While we cannot pay much, we try to give them an interesting stay and a proper sense of how their work and projects fit into the larger process and industry as a whole. If there is a theme, it’s that the people we work with—authors, colleagues, freelances, Turnaround, co-publishers in large print or US editions—are September’s most precious commodity. To publish better than the rest, to give an author’s most precious commod- ity (their book) the best chance, we need terrific people. So we would love to hear from anyone who is interested in working with us, from freelance editors to marketeers, from interns to commissioning editors in other areas. Get in touch by emailing info@septem- berpublishing.org
20 SEPTEMBER’S ISSUES
Barefoot at the Lake Bruce Fogle
Fogle’s memoir provides an escape route into the sunny semi-wilderness of a lakeside summer cottage in 1950s Canada and an account of one particular summer when his eyes were opened to the complexities of girls, adults and the natural world.
The Perfect Stranger P J Kavanagh
First published in the 1960s and now reissued and repackaged, this comic portrait of a soldier, a poet and a man in love was described by author David Nicholls as: ‘A wise, sad, wonderfully written memoir that’s ripe for rediscovery.’
One Hundred Acts of Minor Dissent Mark Thomas
Thomas has been campaigning for nearly three decades: One Hundred Acts of Minor Dissent is his account of a year spent living provocatively— from successful campaigns against multinationals to protests against local park planners, from arts and crafts using porn magazines to raising cinema workers’ wages.
Ways to Walk in London Alice Stevenson
mindful walking is how Stevenson, an established illustrator and artist, navigates London and survives its challenges. In Ways to Walk in London she writes about and illustrates moments of beauty and urbanity, contemplation and revelation, finding hidden doorways, decorated arches and meaningful manhole covers across the city.
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