Angry Robot 5: Amanda’s 5 Things Wot I Learned From PublishingBy Caroline
Tuesday 1 July marked 5 years from Angry Robot’s first books - Lauren Beukes‘ Moxyland and Kaaron Warren‘s Slights - and throughout this week we have celebrated with daily staff blog posts and giveaways! Author guest posts and other cool giveaways have popped up on various sites – and continue to - so do keep an eye out for our #AngryRobot5 on Twitter for new posts.
On the blog this week we’ve had Senior Editor Lee Harris with his Top 5 Reasons Angry Robot Rules; MD Marc Gascoigne with his 5 lessons learned; Publicity Manager Caroline Lambe with her 5 Favourite Angry Robot Characters; and Mike Underwood, US Sales & Marketing Manager, with his 5 Favourite Angry Robot Covers.
The final slot belongs to our very own Amanda Rutter who, on her last day at Angry Robot / Strange Chemistry, is giving away her 5 Favourite Angry Robot Books, and writing about her 5 Things Wot I Learned From Publishing.
It’s an emotional day for me: my last day working for Angry Robot and being the editor for Strange Chemistry. I wondered about what my blog post should be for a little while (you almost got Lee’s 5 Worst Puns – but I decided I just couldn’t inflict that level of pain on you all!) Finally, I decided to do a little farewell in the form of the 5 things that I have learnt while working in publishing.
My God, you have to be patient! I came from an accounting background, where things were required yesterday, where the monthly accounts would be closed in five days, where emails were replied to instantly. Everything was snap, snap, snap. And then I walked into publishing… In my first month, everyone got sick of the refrain “When can we…?” When can we release this gorgeous cover art that we’ve received for a book, when can we announce an author, when can we put books up on Netgalley, when can we, when can we, when can we… It has taken me pretty much the whole of this two years and seven months with Strange Chemistry to settle down and realise that publishing moves at its own special pace. Authors, you think you can’t handle the wait times? Well, I haven’t been finding it easy either!
2. You just know.
People say that you always just know when you meet the person who you are going to marry. That women just know when they put on the wedding dress that is perfect for them. That you just know when you walk into the house that is going to become your home. The same is true for books you end up taking to acquisitions. Every single one of those books that went out through Strange Chemistry, I adored. I got shivers when I started reading the first few pages. I stayed up late to finish them. I could already see how I might advise the author to tighten this section, or maybe move that chapter. I was entirely invested in those books before they went to acquisitions. I just knew.
3. You can do everything right, but…
You can acquire the most brilliant book in the world, you can put a stunning cover on it, you can see positive reviews flooding it, but… it doesn’t sell. For whatever reason, it doesn’t appeal to readers. I have taken books to acquisition that I am so passionate about. I have watched the whole team get excited and think that this book, this could be the one that really sets the world alight. I have watched the reviews come in and been so joyful that people share my opinion of the book, and delighted that I have been able to put this story out into the world. But something just doesn’t click. Perhaps the timing of the release. Perhaps the marketplace. Perhaps there was a sporting event on and people weren’t reading as much that month. We’d all love to know how to bottle the success of certain books, but you just can’t anticipate how a novel will be received. Of course, it does make it all the more precious when a book fires the imagination of the reading public.
4. How many publishing people does it take to change a lightbulb?
Probably just one, we’re quite capable in many ways! What I’m really talking about here is the sheer number of people involved in bringing a novel to a bookstore. I had this lovely naïve view of an editor reading a book and then putting a nice cover on it and ta da, it was done. Maybe not *that* naïve, but I had absolutely no idea of who is involved.
First you have the author, then the agent, then the acquisitions editor, then the publishing team who help agree the acquisitions, then the art director, then the cover artist, then the marketing person, then the publicity person, then the copy editor, then the proofreader, then the designer who lays out the book, then the production team who send the book to print, then the sales reps who get out there to sell in the book… There are so many different layers to publishing a novel that editors are, in fact, project managers. And I was doing this for, at one stage, two books a month, twenty two books a year (none in December, smartarse, before you start counting on your fingers!) It’s no wonder that your regular editor is often working til late in the office, then going home to read manuscripts in the evening, so that all of these tasks can be fulfilled!
5. Publishing people are the best!
I have had the best two years and seven months, and that is without a doubt down to the people I have met through this job. My fabulous colleagues (who I am going to miss beyond words); my incredible authors (who I wish all the very best in the future); the agents (who have been professional, caring and somehow managed to balance author and editor with aplomb); the freelancers (who have done such a sterling job behind the scenes to make the books as tight as they can possibly be); and the book bloggers/reviewers (who have shown such passion for all the Strange Chemistry books). I salute you all. You have made my job easy. You have made my job fun. You have made me enjoy every single day that I walked into this office and sat down at my desk and realised that I was bringing stories to the world. Thank you!
And now, before I go away and weep a little – it IS an emotional day, after all – I bring you my prize pack for this blog post. I am offering one person my five favourite Angry Robot books. These would be: Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, Sixty-One Nails by Mike Shevdon, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke, The Corpse-Rat King by Lee Battersby and The Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle.
To win, just let me know, in the comments, your five favourite books of all time. The winner will be picked at random and entries close on Monday 7 July at 12.01pm BST.