On Saturday 10 November, two exceptional women visit Zürich to lead workshops at WriteCon 2018. Say hello to this pair of literary pioneers—Alison Baverstock and Louise O’Neill—and learn how they found where they belong.
“I am both a publisher and academic, an important combination in a profession-orientated field like publishing studies. I have researched and written widely about the publishing industry and my books are both widely translated and used world-wide within industry and academia. I jointly set up the MA Publishing program at Kingston in 2005-6 and have been here ever since. My industry-related research has explored self-publishing and marketing in publishing, and is now concentrating on the changing role of the author.”
What do you see as the three key changes in publishing since 2010?
The first must be the rise on rise of digital, which has both revolutionised the speed and reach with which content can be made available.
The second is the rise on rise of self-publishing, which far from being a mark of shame is now a badge of proactivity. The third is the breaking down of publishing structures and the launch of so many new ones – new companies, new services and new formats. It fascinates me to see how many different ways in which content can be shared, supported and commented upon.
As an author who’s had a great deal of success via traditional publishing, you seem to have a positive view of self-published authors. Why so?
I decided to investigate the growing significance of self-publishing and researched and wrote a book for Bloomsbury called The Naked Author. I was really surprised to find such a contented group of people – all really pleased to have finalised content that mattered to them. I also like the atmosphere between self-publishing authors. They tend to be mutually affirming and encouraging – and very good at sharing access to suppliers they have found it good to work with.
- The Naked Author – A Guide to Self-publishing (2012)
- How to Get a Job in a Museum or Art Gallery (2010)
- Marketing Your Book: An Author’s Guide (2009)
- How to Get a Job in Publishing (2009)
- Is there a book in you? (2006)
“No hyperbole here but Louise O’Neill is the best YA fiction writer alive today. Her first novel, Only Ever Yours, was lauded from every corner of the literary world as an astonishing piece of feminist fiction … compared to Margaret Atwood … while five-star reviews popped up across the web. O’Neill is different because she is refreshingly honest in her writing, skewering modern concepts of beauty, objectification and patriarchy. Her books are also pleasingly adult (so much so that her first book was recently re-released as an adult novel) and it’s heartening to see a YA writer who treats their readers so maturely.” (Extract from The Guardian)
Did you set out to write fiction for young adults?
“I first came to YA fiction as a reader in my twenties. The YA market as it exists today wasn’t anywhere near as extensive or as popular when I was a teenager. I went straight from Narnia to reading Margaret Atwood and Jeffrey Eugenides (with a brief detour to the magical land of Sweet Valley). In my final year of university, I took a module in children’s literature— as you can imagine, my parents were delighted at the thought they were funding my efforts to analyse the subtext in picture books—and that was my first real introduction to how powerful and subversive fiction for young adults could be.
That being said, I didn’t necessarily intend to write for young adults. The voice of the main character, Frieda, came to me as a sixteen year old girl’s, and I wrote the story the way I felt it should be written. It was only when I started approaching agents that it became clear that Only Ever Yours was going to be targeted at the Young Adult market. Of course, very often there is a crossover where adults pick up a YA novel, and I have definitely seen that with my novel—so much so that my publisher has decided to re-publish it and re-position it for the adult market. It will be interesting to see how that works out.”
- Only Ever Yours (2014)
- Asking For It (2015)
- I Call Myself A Feminist (2016)
- Almost Love (2018)
- The Surface Breaks (2018)