Sunday, 18 April 2010

Publishing is a Business

In my whole life, did I ever picture myself as a business woman? The answer is no. If I were able to go back in time and tell my 15-year-old self, 'Hey, you get to work in the book industry when you're older!' I would have said 'Cool!'. If I'd said 'Hey, you have a 9-5 desk job in a huge business office when you're older,' I would have raise my eyebrows (I can't just raise the one) and said 'You're kidding, right?'

On Thursday, I had a particularly business-like day. I was dressed smart, armed with paperwork full of computer-generated statistics and some preparatory notes, and I had my first commissioning meeting.

I'd been to commissioning meetings before, with the editors I work for. This is when we get together lots of stats, facts and figures and convince the big cheeses of the company that a book is worth publishing. Then we get them to sign the paperwork, that includes the budget and the schedule of the project, and off we trot.

On Thursday, I lead my first meeting. I had never felt more like a business woman in my life. Talking about the statistics of previous sales in the series, and budgets for the expanding series, and reasons why the book would sell. I was pretty damn nervous. Everyone I had to present to were very nice, and I'd gotten to know most of them over my six months at the company, but I really do hate having to do presentations. My editor didn't leave me high and dry, though. He knew a lot more about the book and the series than I did, and was there to back me up when people asked questions I wasn't sure how to answer.

With one amendment to the finance stats, they agreed to commission the book. So I had to re-print all the paperwork and find all the right people to sign it the next day. (I still need three signatures.)

The editor I work for bought me a bottle of wine, which was unexpected and incredibly sweet. He wants me to take over the series in the future, and it's a really good feeling knowing that he's eager to support me advance my career.

I'm still readjusting to this image of myself as a business woman. All my life I've been interested in the creative arts. And I kinda miss it.

(The Director of Salt Publishing talks about the business of publishing in an interview over at Ink, Sweat & Tears.)


  1. Excellent! Congratulations, business lady!

  2. Sophie, business is also creative. It's just creativity wrapped in logic. The ideal is, of course, to find the perfect balance between the right and left sides of your brain; that way you can use both creativity and logic in your work. The best of both worlds! :)

  3. You know what? I really enjoy your ongoing foray into the world of publishing. You're writing a novel without realising it!

    Seriously, it's an entertaining journey you're on.

    Good job with the presentation.


  4. That's so cool. I'm glad to hear you are successful in this and hope it continues to go that way. YAY Business woman Sophie! :)


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