Here are some of the things I have learned about the publishing biz in the last few years:
- Never quote song lyrics in your work. Organising permission is an expensive pain in the bottom. In fact, never quote anything that’s still copyrighted. Stick to public domain quoting.”My luve is like a red, red rose . . . ” Permissions, on the other hand, are like a deep, dark cesspit.
- Assistants, be they in editorial, publicity, marketing or wherever almost always know more than you do.
- A good agent is worth their weight in mangosteens.
- Vampire books are sure fire winners. Especially when there’s love in ’em. Also monkey knife fights work well in any genre. And girl books with pink covers. Everyone should aspire to write a pink book—especially Lili Wilkinson.
- Much of what I learned from researching the world of science fiction publishing does not apply to my new world of young adult publishing. (This is even truer of uni press publishing.) When I switch to writing adult historical romances I imagine I’ll have to go through another steep, steep learning curve.
- Even when you’re published, you can’t get out of writing synopses.
- The novel is not dying. (And, nor are panels, Gwenda!)
- Librarians and booksellers are your friend. No matter how high or low they are in their profession, you need them. Besides they’re almost always fun to hang out with. Especially if they’re cricket fans.
- Sometimes your editor has as little idea as you do of how various other departments of their company works. Particularly contracts and royalties.
- Most of the people who work in publishing (especially in editorial) are there because they love books, not because they want to make money.
- Nobody cares about your book as much as you do. Nobody.
I’m off to Bologna tomorrow for the SCBWI conference and then the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. I expect to learn many more publishing pearls of wisdom. In the meantime, do any of you lot have some to share? Or recommendations for monkey-knife-fighting books?
Posted: NYC, 22 March, 7:50PM.