I attended the HLF2016 The Publishing Process event with Kevin Duffy at 1.30pm on Saturday 5 March in the Diamond Jubilee Lecture Theatre at the University of Huddersfield.
'You've written a book - so what happens next? How do you write a synopsis or approach an agent? In this essential event for aspiring writers, Kevin Duffy will talk you through the publishing process and answer your burning questions on the best way to get your book published, whether family memoir, literary novel or genre fiction.
Kevin Duffy runs Bluemoose Books, an independent publishing house based in Hebden Bridge, which has published a number of award-winning authors.'
Kevin started the event by explaining that he has been in the publishing business 20+ years. Commercial/Marketing Directors need to sell 20k units but you can still be published. His advice would be:
Write because you have a story to tell - don't follow trends or genres as it has to be believable and finish what you've written.
The traditional method is through an agent, to a big publisher such as Transworld, Hachet, Penguin etc., which you will find details of in the Writers and Artists Yearbook (it will let you know what authors/genres they publish).
Then there is self-publishing, usually via Amazon on a Kindle KDP. You will need to have a jacket and will sell 82% on social media, Festivals etc., but if you published via a small press they will do that for you as you should be writing 80% of your time, not promoting what you have already written. There are 4/5 genres that work for self-publishing, sci-fi, crime, erotica, saga and vampire but it doesn't work for literary fiction.
POD: Print On Demand, e.g. Lulu.com £750 for an ISBN, basic typesetting and page numbering, uploading plus jacket and print it, but you have to drive people to that site and you'll get 25/30%, Amazon take 30% of the cover price.
The Society of Authors has the standard author contract and it is £89 to join. 10% of net income coming into the publisher, foreign rights 75% author and 25% publisher. For example, Nod a dystopian novel based on a MC who is the only one who isn't going mad due to 28 days without sleep in Vancouver, was shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke award and he sold the rights to Hungary, US, Australia, South Africa etc. 21st century Fox 15% (85% film rights).
If you get signed, you will be signed for 2 years, assigned an editor for 12 months (authors/editors have own international awards) but debut writers no longer get big advances. The Netbook agreement, e.g. a £8.99 book costs that, but now booksellers can sell at a discount.
Bluemoose publish 6 books a year and receive 500+, read 2/3 a week, which equates to 100/200 a year and of them, they publish 4/5 a year. A lot of the Man Booker prizes are being won by independents.
Kevin's recommended tips on writing is to not keep going back to it to try and create the perfect sentence as an independent will work on the editing etc. before they publish.
In 1986 512 pages was average book, a 4 hour read, now 70-100,000 pages for a University of East Anglia for writing degree.
Literary fiction is not genred, it is more about characters and their development within the story, character-led rather than incident led. Bluemoose like different.
In terms of marketing, it would be 2 months before publishing when they would sent it to the big newspapers to review them, then tour of northern libraries, e.g. Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, with 10/15 in 3 months.
Independent publishers give a little bit of feedback even if they do not accept.
Penguin/Random House merged 18 months ago and they need to grow 10% each year so they can't take risks, 67,000 copies sold is the magic number, but independents can. Bluemoose like to sell out their first print run but they sell more digitally. Another independent for children's fiction is Nosey Crow.
Quite a lot of the session was taken up with questions from the audience and Kevin was available to speak to in the foyer following the talk, where Bluemoose books could also be purchased.