Event report

Conference 2013 - Publishers Don’t Always Know Everything

Report published 02 August 2013

Diane Allen, General Manager at Magna Books, tells us how publishers don’t always know everything

On one of the warmest days of the year, in a small room without air-conditioning, I was hot, I was bothered, and I was pretty sure I didn’t smell too good.  Fortunately for Diane Allen I was sitting downwind of the fan.

My first novel was published in May as an e-book, by a small Canadian publisher.  Other than that, I know nothing of publishing, and am a total ignoramus.  Everything Diane had to say was interesting and new to me.

Her talk was divided into three:

1. Magna Books is based near Skipton, and is part of the Ulverscroft Group.  The group publishes large print and audio books for libraries.  When Magna receive books from publishers for consideration, they put them out for review to a team of readers, in order to decide whether they will take them on.  I liked this idea, and had pictures of quaint old ladies in the villages round Skipton discussing themes and plot over tea and biscuits.  (I’m sure it doesn’t actually work like this, but I liked my mental picture.)  And Diane, if you’re looking for a new reviewer, I live near Skipton, and enjoy a cracking read 

2. The bad news is, as we all know, libraries are closing.  Diane has had to lay off some of her staff, and this news is depressing.  But the good news is that the Group is keeping up with technology, and is in the process of setting up a digital download platform for audio books.  The group is also interested in acquiring e-book rights for library use, which I found of particular interest.  If you own the rights to your e-book, or at least the library rights, you are welcome to approach Magna, and they may take on your novel.  I think e-books are the way forward for libraries, especially in the wake of library closures.

3.  The final part of Diane’s talk was all about how she wrote her own two novels, For the Sake of Her Family and For a Mother’s Sins.  Since Magna Books deals only with books that have already been published, it came as a revelation to Diane to discover just how much hard work goes in to the making of a novel.  For example, she was gobsmacked to be asked to rewrite a substantial part of her novel, even after it was accepted by her agent.  I sympathise!

I enjoyed Diane’s description of her novels, which are set in my part of the world, in the Yorkshire Dales.  Both are family sagas, and I’m looking forward to checking them out.

Thanks for the informative and funny talk, Diane.  It was good to hear another Yorkshire accent.  Now, just off to check if I own the library rights to The Silk Romance…

Report by Helena Fairfax

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The book-lover's preferred method to woo a prospective partner is to cook a romantic meal, but sending letters or giving books came a close second and third.