What Publishers Get Up To Behind Closed Doors

The Arts


They hold meetings, of course – but usually they don’t include the people who drive their business, the authors. Not so Quercus, whose annual sales conference I’ve just attended at London’s Cafe de Paris – they believe in involving their authors heavily throughout the publishing process, and in doing so seem to be quietly revolutionising the long-accepted approach to publishing.

The evening featured eleven authors (myself included) each explaining what they’d written to a club full of the very people who might most be interested, which seems a perfect approach to me. They were a shockingly talented group, a doctor, a pianist, a psychologist, an actor and so on. Some were interviewed, some gave mini-lectures, all broadened and challenged the idea of how writers traditionally behave around publishers.

Part of the altered approach shows just how deeply technology is now incorporated in publishing; as important as the booksellers were the teams behind the creation and marketing of e-books, online book clubs and online offers giving access to authors. You don’t have to love e-books to see that social media is a fantastic tool for opening up communication between writers and readers.

Our evening ended with Bill Bailey talking about his birdwatching book. He pointed out that on Amazon his ‘You may also like…’ box offered a birdwatchers’ mug printed with ‘I Like Tits’ for roughly the same price as his book, prompting him to wonder if he should go into the mug business rather than the book trade.

But it’s clear where Quercus’s loyalties lie; with books in all formats and the writers who create them. My LK Fox novel, ‘Little Boy Found’, comes out July 6th as a special offer e-book first, then goes to print. ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’ will appear from Quercus in October.