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Comment from the book world in April 2020

April 2020

'The book is writing itself somewhere in my head'

27 April 2020

‘I often write everything all at once. Memory isn't linear for me, nor is experience, but I try to keep it as straight as I can. A sense of fluidity and shift, and that energy, that is about change. It's really integral to my work, which is not about the past becoming a stable object. The past very rarely settles down. It shifts under our gaze all the time. When we articulate things, the past becomes different and so I resist and sometimes resent writers who say, "What is, is" and "What was, was", because to me it changes constantly....

What I tend to do is to focus on one or two paragraphs or chapters pretty much endlessly for months and months at a time, and it feels like I'm getting nowhere. I feel like I'm never going to get this book done, but the book is writing itself somewhere in my head.'

Anne Enright, author of just-published Actress, Booker Prize-winning A Gathering, The Green Road, The Forgotten Waltz and three other novels in the Bookseller


Boomtime for film and TV scripts

20 April 2020

‘We have been busy, as there is quite a lot of action out there. It is really lively and major buyers, like Amazon, Disney and Netflix, are calling and saying "what have you got?" They've had to close down their productions, so are putting everything into development. And, of course subscriptions have spiked, so they have money too...

There is quite a bit of corona-writing going on, of course. Some publishers are being opportunistic, rushing out lockdown-inspired work, but generally agents are looking for something fresh.'

Catherine Eccles of Eccles Fisher Associates in the Observer


Agenting in Isolation

15 April 2020

‘I've taken on four new clients over the last couple of weeks for various non-fiction projects, and as an agency we're very active in pursuit of new clients and ideas. It's a great time to work on manuscripts and proposals with authors, while we've all got additional time and space. And it's hugely important that, when we all emerge from this, we're in good shape for the remainder of this year, and next...

The acquisitions process has inevitably been a bit slower than usual, but it appears that publishers are getting used to the new reality and things are going more smoothly now. I don't envy their having to conduct editorial and acquisitions meetings via Zoom, let alone a cover meeting. It remains to be seen how things will evolve and whether we'll see deliberate belt-tightening from publishers, but we've done a very good number of deals since lockdown, including the conclusion of a multi-publisher auction for a significant amount of money, so in the main things look in pretty good shape...

Publishers are being brilliantly creative at improvising publicity campaigns online and via social media, and certainly authors at the more commercial end of the market (where supermarkets and ebooks make up a good proportion of sales) have been less affected than those who rely on traditional booksellers...

People are being more communicative and sharing problems and ideas - I've had some really interesting and creative chats with editors and authors. People have more time to focus on what truly matters, with fewer meetings and distractions, and good and original ideas will certainly emerge from this period. We're seeing confirmation, if it was needed, that stories nurture and console us.

Tim Bates of the Peters Fraser + Dunlop agency in Bookbrunch (behind paywall)

Editing in Isolation

6 April 2020

‘We're still getting submissions from agents around the world - it's clear that agents are working just as hard as ever. And when it comes to acquisitions, we've got a great video meeting in place. It's certainly weird, as an editor, not to be able to champion and enthuse in person (it has made me realise what a powerful thing that can be), but we're all aware that next year's schedules aren't going to fill themselves, and luckily the team at Little, Brown are receptive to being enthused at remotely.

New acquisitions aren't just going to give us a publishing programme for next year, they're also brilliant for morale - I've just won an auction to secure my first acquisition for Little, Brown since joining in February, and there really is no feeling like it, for me or for the wider team. This particular novel, which we'll announce shortly, is an unbelievably assured piece of reading group fiction, and we'll be publishing it as our debut superlead for next year. I know we're all looking for good news now more than ever, and it was a real boost to be able to share with my colleagues the good news that we'd won such a standout novel.'

Darcy Nicholson, editor at Sphere, Little Brown in Bookbrunch (behind paywall)

'I'm a writer now.'

2 April 2020

'It was only after two years' work that it occurred to me that I was a writer. I had no particular expectation that the novel would ever be published, because it was sort of a mess. It was only when I found myself writing things I didn't realise I knew that I said, 'I'm a writer now.' The novel had become an incentive to deeper thinking. That's really what writing is-an intense form of thought.'

Don DeLillo, author of 17 novels, including Americana, Running Dog, White Noise, Underworld, Libra, Falling Man and Zero.