|The lovely Jo Cotterill|
It's at times like this I'm glad I have friends who are more organised and together than I am. And one of the very best of those is the lovely Jo Cotterill, whose powers of togetherness quite frankly astonish me at times.
One of the reasons I'm particularly glad of this right now is that some months ago Jo and I were invited to be guest programmers for the Chipping Norton Literary Festival, or ChipLitFest as it's affectionately known. It's been an interesting process, largely involving me going, "Er... where are we on things again?" and Jo sighing and opening her folder and telling me exactly where we are on things and what additional things we need to be doing.
But one of the most interesting aspects of the whole things has been seeing the publishing industry from a different angle. I'd always imagined the process of booking an author for a literary festival to be something like this:
LITERARY FESTIVAL BOOKING PERSON: Hello! We'd like to book some authors for our literary festival, please!
PUBLICITY PERSON AT PUBLISHING HOUSE: Certainly! Here is a long list of suitable authors, none of whom is John Dougherty!
Instead of which, it's been more like this:
LFBP [in this case, me or Jo]: Hello! We'd like to book some authors for our literary festival, please!
LFBP: Hello! Further to our last email, we've decided we'd like to invite the fabulous Author X to our festival. Are they free?
LFBP: Er... Hello! Did you get our email about Author X?
PPAPH: Oh - sorry. The person who deals with Author X was on holiday. They're back now. I'm sure they'll be in touch soon.
LFBP: Oh, good.
PPAPH: Sorry! Been busy. I'll ask Author X if she's free.
LFBP 1: You know, I do have Author X's email address...
LFBP 2: Do you want to just contact her? We have tried the proper channels...
LFBP: Hello! Has PPAPH asked you about appearing at our festival?
AUTHOR X: Er... no.
LFBP: Well, would you like to?
AX: Yes! Yes, oh god, yes!!!
I'm not sure why this is, but I suspect in part it's got to do with publishing houses publishing more books with fewer staff. Anyway, if there's a lesson in here, it's probably that more than ever, professional writers need to take as much responsibility as they can for their own promotion. But also, perhaps, that writers and publicists both need to work together and keep channels of communication open. Oh, and that there may be established ways of doing things in the industry, but there are no 'right' ways.
|Photo by Jemima Cotterill|
John's Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face series, illustrated by David Tazzyman, is published by OUP - who will also be publishing Jo Cotterill's & Cathy Brett's Electrigirl in the spring.