Love is the Shaping Axe

For years I have had a post-it note stuck to my office computer monitor. A phrase jumped out from a book proof in my postbag one day and the idea seemed important enough to keep by my side as a reminder, so:   LOVE IS THE SHAPING AXE I wrote in caps.   My personal life at…

The Gap Between Things: Not Writing

If I write this, before I know it I won’t be not-writing any more: I’ll be writing again.  It’s been so long since I put words together into sentences and those sentences into something that isn’t a business email, I’ve become nervous of it – but right now it’s easy to be nervous of everything…

Change: Who could have imagined?

“Who could have imagined this” we say, as we realise we won’t be hugging our fathers on Father’s Day. But isn’t it striking how badly we failed to imagine everything about the world of Covid-19? Even in February, as the news was filled with reports that thousands of people were falling sick and dying in…

Risk and Reward: high advances

When the news breaks that a publisher has paid a huge advance for a new or emerging author, it sends a message to the industry. It signifies that – despite excruciating pressures on retail and variable results for debut fiction in particular – publishers still believe that they know how to make and find great…

2018: A Commitment to Storytelling

I called for an industry behavioural code back in January because it seemed to me that a written statement was the only sufficient and appropriate response to the results of The Bookseller’s survey into sexual harassment in the book trade. The books business is founded on shared beliefs: in the importance of free expression, the…

2017: Year of the Storytellers

As book people shall we recognise that last year was an important year for storytelling? For personal storytelling, because 2017 was a year in which many people’s stories were spoken out loud or written down for the first time. I am referring of course to the accounts given by those who have suffered sexual harassment…