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Comment from the book world in April 2012

April 2012

'That writing stuff is only half the battle'

16 April 2012

'Before my first book, Cityboy, was published I had foolishly assumed that an author's job was to write books. What a naïve buffoon I was! Having had three books published, it is now clear that writing stuff is only half the battle... at best. Unless you are already an established author or have written something so outrageously fantastic that it makes Catch-22 look like insipid balderdash you need to get out there and promote the hell out of it. As American literary agent Bill Adler says: "If you, the author, won't promote your own book then it may be destined to a lifespan between that of butter and yogurt."

I like to think there was a time when a book's subject matter, timeliness and innate brilliance would dictate whether or not it succeeded, but I'm almost certainly deluded. I suspect that Charles Dickens was buttering up newspaper editors over a plate of whelks 150 years ago. Christ alive, Chaucer was probably hassling trendy nobles to tell their aristo mates about his latest poems (the 14th-century equivalent of re-Tweeting). Whatever their modus operandi was, one thing is now not in doubt: if you don't play the game then you can kiss goodbye to any hope of securing another book deal...

But the tragedy is that you can't just have these webby things sitting there twiddling their electronic thumbs in cyber space - you've got to work hard at forming an "online community". You have to tweet every day, interact with people who tweet you, post exciting nonsense on your Facebook page, and update your website/blog every week at least. Frankly, it's a bleeding miracle any aspiring author has any time left to actually write books!'

Geraint Anderson, author of just-published Just Business in Bookbrunch

'Authors work alone'

9 April 2012

'Oddly enough, despite the explosion of new formats and new media, the fundamental things apply. Vanity Fair confirms that the grammar of writing and publishing is unchanged. Authors work alone in their private space. Eventually, their work is ready to be seen by readers.

Despite Amazon and Google and the collapse of the big book chains, there remains in the book world a highly dedicated cadre of enthusiasts (book editors) who, in a difficult and possibly hostile climate, will do their damnedest to put good new prose in front of the public. This process, like horse racing, involves a mixture of luck and judgement and involves a high degree of risk, sustained by the publisher acting as the patron and banker. A lot of books fail. When one works, some people make a lot of money, and everyone is happy.'

Robert McCrum in the Observer

Making books into films

2 April 2012

'I think that with certain books the characters are inevitably a lot richer - well it depends on which book I suppose - but the stories are more evolved and nuanced than they are in other forms, or with original ideas. I love to read so I thought why not do that which you love...

Because it is so competitive, most certainly for new material, you want to try and get things as early as possible. Often, by the time the book has been published the film rights have been sold. Sometimes the time that is necessary to decide if something is a film or not is lost because everyone is hunting something down, but clearly the key is to find a good (screen) writer and of course a good director to adapt...

I think there are probably some writers who are more cine-literate than in the past and there are many who write, thankfully, in a very un-cinematic way. What's also the case is that the market for books into films has increased and the awareness of the possibility of a book being turned into a film is much greater than it used to be. I think there are some people who write books with the idea that they maybe will become films and I think that is a pity.'

David Heyman, producer of the eight Harry Potter films, in the Bookseller