Friday, 28 November 2014

PUBLISHERS, GOOD AND BAD TIMES by Enid Richemont

To  continue the theme of publishers who nurture, or don't, my experience with Walker Books, my first publisher was very positive - in fact, I thought of them as my second family. Newspaper articles were written, at the time, about the experience - always positive - of being a Walker author, about being called, often at weekends, with exciting sales news or small publicity titbits, of the creche, of the private taxi service if you were working late with an editor (one of my most treasured memories was of being driven in a black cab from Vauxhall to Muswell Hill on an icy clear night, with all the lights of London town around me, and me feeling like a queen).

Oh, and the parties - the unforgettable parties (do they still happen?) - the barn dance one where they brought in bales of straw, to celebrate their entry into the American market, the Halloween one where someone who shall be nameless turned up in a VERY explicit devil costume, and, of course, the Crystal Ball...

Times have changed. By the early Naughties, all the books I'd published with them were out of print (these now form the core of my Kindle ebook collection). I tried, like a rejected child, knocking at their door with new offerings, but they didn't want to know. They had newer, grittier, younger authors. I was doing moderately well with other people, but it wasn't the same, and I was beginning to get rejects along the lines of ( and do they pull these things out of a hat?) - 'not quite right for our list', 'published something similar', or the always mysterious put-down, 'It's too quiet, I'm afraid'. So, like a squawking little chick ousted from the nest, I've been flapping along in the last few years, but I have to confess, it's been interesting, but challenging, especially now, without my beloved one-man IT department, the modest but unforgettable David Richemont, who was formatting "THE MAGIC SKATEBOARD" for me on the day he died (our daughter, Jude, helped me complete it for him).

As a total non sequitur, if you're in London at present, and love the challenge of Fringe theatre, don't miss seeing "STREAMING", the Pipeline Theatre's gritty play at The Pleasance, Islington. It's already attracting great reviews, and it's on until November 30th, so you have just two days (and it might well be too late). I do have to declare a vested interest - one of the young actresses is our amazing grand-daughter, Anna Munden.







7 comments:

Dennis Hamley said...

Gosh, Enid, that post rang a bell with me, though most of my more extreme publishing moments came with Scholastic. I went to Walker just as that legendary period was coming to an end and they must have stopped parties by them because I was never invited to one. But I did once get a black cab off them, from Vauxhall to Paddington, a breakneck drive which just let me catch the last train to leave before rush hour officially started and I'd have to pay a supplement on my Senior Railcard. Saved me a fairly large sum too. But I felt less royalty, more fugitive.

Lydia Bennet said...

ah yes the wining and dining you read about for authors, such as Jessica Fletcher! when my then husband and I co-wrote some language books which suddenly turned into best sellers we did get tea and biccies once at publishers' HQ and we did once get a Pizza Express pizza on expenses. So I know what it is to live the high life!

Jenny Alexander said...

Parties, lunches, high teas - ah yes, those were the days! But it all felt more desperate back then, before we had the option of going inde - you had to be 'in' and stay 'in', or else basically you were nowhere at all. I met a friend at a party back then - very high profile author indeed - who spent the whole night complaining to everyone she could collar that she hadn't been invited to another big publisher's party the week before, and did that mean she was now officially out of favour?

Catherine Czerkawska said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catherine Czerkawska said...

I've never had any 'nurturing' from publishers which perhaps explains why I can do without it now. My first publisher invited me to lunch which turned out to be half an M & S meat pie. There was a bunch of flowers from my publisher when my second novel was published (but that was all they did) and a couple of lunches with different agents - one of which actually turned out to be a not very good takeaway. (That should have told me something...) Is it me, I wonder? Do I seem too capable? The very best thing was from my artistic director at the Traverse - a very boozy celebration and the most wonderful bouquet I have ever seen - masses of long stemmed yellow roses in individual glass vases. But that's theatre for you!

Enid Richemont said...

Walker Books were SO nurturing back then - it was part of who they were. At SoA parties/meetings, people envied me for being published by them, and then, suddenly, it was over.
While I was with them, their two most influential people died - Sebastian Walker, who founded it, and Wendy Boase, my amazing editor, who died very unexpectedly, and at the peak of her career, of skin cancer. Nothing was ever the same after that.

Katherine Roberts said...

I once had a limo meet me at the airport in San Francisco and whisk me to the fabulously charming St Francis hotel...

Not had a uniformed chauffeur in ages, but I think these things still happen if your books sell? You just need to sell a few more (a couple of million more) copies than before to trigger the red carpet treatment.