EWF14 Panel: Keeping Them Honest

What the program stated:
We are bringing together the top talent behind Australia’s best magazines, books and websites for an incredible industry day aimed at emerging editors. Made for the editing word-nerds and the writers who want to know what goes on behind the scenes.

As part of that I went to a Keeping Them Honest with Matthew Kelly, a one on one group discussion with the nonfiction editor with Hatchette Books. This was an imformative discussion about his life, experiences, how editing fits in the big picture of things and some general tricks on editing.

He has spent more than 15 years in the industry, starting off as a trainee at Allen & Unwin. He has  also worked at Penguin and the ABC.

He stated that throughout the time he has been in publishing, that techniques have changed. Nowadays it is common for a publisher to hunt for a book that is missing in the market, and fit the gap that needs filling. It is important to find what the reader wants, needs and uses.

We were told that Big W are a great book retailer to do business with. The woman who runs the department has had experience working at Dymocks and wants to bring reading to people that may not have a chance to experience it yet, making the books more accessible. For example, Unknown Anzacs by Michael Caulfield (Hatchette) total sales, 30% came from Big W.

The general tips for writers/editors could easily overlap in some instances. These are the most important for each.
Tips for Writers:

  • What is your one line pitch?
  • Be mindful that trends change?
  •  Your story has to be easily communicated
  • Keep space in your brain for the spur of the moment book
  • Employ researchers to do the research

Tips For Editors:

  • A great book has to have an immediate effect
  • The work may be great, but useless if no one knows it exists
  • The publishing world is turned on its head every few years
  • Keep space in your brain for the spur of the moment book
  • Do your market research, talk to sales people and retailers
  • What amount of money can you risk in a book?
  • In some cases, writing quality, doesn’t matter
  • A good book, is better than a bad book
  • Respect the writers work
  • People are interested in stories, not elements that peak their interest
  • Sometimes you have writers in mind that you want to write that story, sometimes you have a story and you have to go and hunt for that author 
  • Be careful that others don’t steal your ideas
  • Try to work with the author during the writing of the book

There is also a huge marketing oppitunities with the internet, however it is good to be mindful of these things.

  • Your book is one of many
  • Creating a reader/author relationship boosts their accessibility

When selling a book:

  • Author tours – not as popular
  • Author events
  • Conventional media isn’t as important
  • The publishers have to be a-tuned to social media

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