Monday, June 26, 2017

Six things that hit home from my visit to Random House

Editors’ personal taste does not rule

Random House have a consumer intel-team which have a Hot Title meeting every week. There are fourteen people in the fiction team with ten commissioning editors who all have personal taste but everyone also has to consider the list. They have to take in consideration how a new title will work with the list and the books position in the market. There has to be an in-house excitement about the book and they do not consider anything that feels mid-list as Random House has a reputation for publishing high-profile books.

It is harder to market an author who writes for different age-groups

This revelation made my heart sink as I write and have completed a multitude of picture books, two mid-grade books and a YA book. Apparently it is because an author who writes for a multitude of age ranges loses retailer confidence.

It works with more established authors than debuts, especially if they already have an audience. This has not put me off as I love writing for all age ranges. I think my best bet is to push my picture books and then try and work myself up with my readership.

Diversity is key now more than ever

We have always known essentially every child should see themselves in a book. We are also aware that publishers are actively seeking books where the protagonist happens to be ‘different’ and it is not an issue, such as gay, disabled, different culture, etc. I believe, as long as the research is strong, a writer can write as a character not from their own background. Diversity is about showing respect.

Random House have a scheme to encourage writers to tell them in 1000 words where more diversity is needed called the Right Now Scheme. Submissions are taken from different regions throughout the UK.

Gender does make a difference

Girls are happy to read about boys but boys are not happy to read about girls. This is less true for picture books. Boys do not like to read domestic dramas.

Second book syndrome is a thing

Random House never take on one book deals they always agree a second book. This second book is expected in six months and this will be specified in the contract. This can put an added pressure on an author.

Just because you have been taken on by a publisher does not mean you have made it

Every year publishers like Random House sit in a Title Majority Meeting where they discuss each debuts progress. If a book has not made out its advance the author and their book will be cut from the list. This does not do your career any good. Big publishers have to look at the bigger picture and they have to think how they are going to compete in the United States.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Poetry for Performance

I was lucky enough to be invited to submit some poems for a new innovative poetry anthology aimed at Speech and Drama teachers. it is called Poetry for Performance and published by The Playing Space.

The Playing Space is a drama company based in Southgate, North London. They teach speech and drama to children, young adults and adults. 

All the poems were selected because they are ideal for performance. The book has been conveniently divided into age groups:
  • poems for 6–10-year-olds
  • poems for 10–14-year-olds
  • poems for performers aged 14 and over·      

These poems are also perfect for speech and drama exams, verse speaking competitions, festivals and ideal for classroom study at both primary and secondary level. 

The book is available to buy from Amazon

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Graeme Simsion's Research Secrets

Australian romantic comedy author, Graeme Simsion, spoke to me about how you can't beat real-life experience as the best research resource.

His first two novels are, The Rosie Project and its sequel The Rosie Effect published by Penguin Books. His hero is forty-one-year-old geneticist, Don Tillman, has never been on a second date and then he meets Rosie, gets married and moves to New York.

His most recent novel is The Best of Adam Sharp also published by Penguin in the UK. This novel explores a re-kindled relationship and its consequences.

Graeme advocates that when doing research writers should talk to people and not for the facts but for the stories behind the facts. These snippets of information is what can make your writing great.

The feature on Graeme and his Research Secrets is out now in the latest issue of Writers Forum.