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Comment from the book world in July 2012

July 2012

'It's still you and a blank screen.'

30 July 2012

'If your main concern is looking over your shoulder for which writer might be a bigger hit than you, then you're not really concentrating on your core activity. It's not a race and it's not a contest. It's not the Olympics. When I was last shortlisted for the Orange Prize they make you line up in a slightly embarrassing way to have your photograph taken, as if you were a sort of can-can line. And we all held hands behind our backs. I can't really picture the boys doing that.

My perception of myself hasn't changed at all, obviously. Other people's perception of me has. But when you go to work every day it's just the same old struggle. It wouldn't matter if you had won six Booker prizes. It's still you and a blank screen.'

Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies in The Times


I have a readership

23 July 2012

'I like this age (68). Everything still works. I play squash twice a week. And I feel at peace with myself for the first time, in particular with my decision to be a writer. Writing never came naturally and I still have to force my hand to do it. But I have my wife's approval. And I have a readership. And when I finished this book I had this thought I had never had before: maybe this wasn't the worst thing you could have done, the worst life you could have chosen.'

Richard Ford in the Observer


The main threats to the pubishing industry

16 July 2012

I don’t like to talk about threats; I like to talk about opportunities, which is a big difference. I think everyone spending time talking about threats is wasting a lot of time and a lot of goodwill. The publishing industry is undergoing epochal changes because of the digital technology, but the digital technology is also affording the publishing world many opportunities that are unprecedented. You will see that, in the not too distant future, the profitability of these publishing companies will increase because of the digital technologies: no printing, no binding, no paper investment, no shrinkage, no returns, no inventory obsolescence…

You can see already now that in the best publishing houses the profits are going up even in the face of a very difficult marketplace. And in the future it is going to be much more like that. So I look at the digital technologies and the internet as liberating factors that will allow publishers to make a lot of money.

I told a group of Fulbright students recently: "You take Italy, you have 60 million Italians living outside their country, not necessarily Italian by birth, but of Italian extraction, who still speak the language. These people cannot buy an Italian book, but with the internet, through Amazon, they will have access not only to front list but also to the backlist of Italian publishers that before was mostly unavailable. So that should be a bonanza for Italian publishers and, of course, not only for Italian publishers."

Alberto Vitale, former CEO of Random House Inc, in an interview with Publishing Perspectives


You have to put writing first

9 July 2012

‘The writing itself has always felt like a bit of a compulsion. It’s what I do, why I exist. My motivation in general is I can do this and I want to be able to take care of myself, my friends and family. That keeps me going - the idea that I can have career stability and I can look after people I care about…

You have to put writing first. A lot of people want to write, but they don’t put it into action. You need to treat it as a career. Put the time in, write every day – or it’s just not going to happen. If you self-publish, you are a publisher as well. Some writers are good at the promotion and the interaction, others don’t enjoy it. It’s something to be aware of if you’re going into it; perhaps you can get a friend to help you with the publishing side.’

Amanda Hocking, bestselling self-published author of the Trylle Trilogy and the upcoming Watersong series