For our April First Friday Club we were joined by Angela Meyer, publisher at Echo Publishing, an imprint of Bonnier Books UK. Angela spoke with our CEO, Jane McCredie, about her journey, the publishing process, and how to improve your chances of landing your manuscript on a publishers desk.
Apart from publishing, Angela has recently had her debut novel, A Superior Spectre, published by Peter Bishop Books. She has completed her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Western Sydney. And she has been posting all things literature on her blog, Literary Minded, for over a decade.
Our Membership intern, Geordie Timmins, sat in on the session.
Angela’s journey to role of publisher at Echo Publishing began with her first job at the local Dymock’s bookstore in Coffs Harbour.
It was here she learnt valuable information about the ebb and flow of the literary market. Meeting new people and learning what they liked to read, Angela gained insight into the books society seemed to crave.
Yet, growing up in a regional city for Angela was not without its difficulties. ‘Where I grew up, nobody I knew was into this world [of literature],’ she reflected, ‘it was all quite alien.’
Unable to find a surrounding network of fellow readers and writers, she found solace in the internet. Through the creation of her blog, Literary Minded, Angela finally found a way to connect to this unknown realm.
Only after studying her PhD in Creative Writing, did Angela find her way to Echo Publishing. Everything came together, Angela admitted, saying ‘The job at Echo [Publishing] came along at the perfect time.’
Publishing here and there
As an imprint of Bonnier Books UK, it comes as no surprise that Echo Publishing has a range of titles selling across the world. In fact, Angela herself was the one responsible for bringing the phenomenally acclaimed Tattooist of Auschwitz, out of Australia and into the rest of the world.
However, the world of publishing is different across the pond. Whereas Australian publishers are looking for books that can win prizes, and sit proudly in bookstores, UK publishers are shaped by the more commercial ‘supermarket sellers’, she said.
This is a reminder that, at the end of the day, publishing and selling books, is indeed a business. There is a certain degree of marketing and commercial consideration that goes into every prospective book.
Despite this, it is not all doom and gloom. Angela was quick to remind the audience that overseas publishers are looking for Australian authors. ‘Publishers want to read Australian stories,’ she said, laughing, ‘by that though, they usually mean the outback.’
Before you submit the manuscript
Gone are the days of mailing in your manuscript hardcopy to all the publishers in the area. Now, for the most part, it is all done online, and with this comes an application process. This process is an integral piece of the how-to-get-published puzzle, and without the proper care, even the best manuscript may only find the bin.
Angela stressed the importance of reading the submission guidelines and researching the publishing house you are submitting for. This will shape your application towards exactly what the publisher wants to see.
‘It’s important to know what kinds of books they publish, so read some of their titles – and not just the best-sellers.’ Angela said. This way you will know whether or not your novel actually fits the bill, and you will be able to demonstrate this knowledge accordingly, making your application feel a lot more genuine.
And being genuine is, in itself, such an important part of your submission. Angela warned not to be overly confident either – an arrogant tone will leave a bad taste in the mouth of the publisher before they even look at your manuscript.
The all important hook
When reading a manuscript, the opening pages are the most important for the publisher. Entrap the reader, display the tension of the narrative right off the bat. You want the reader to read on, you want to make them care.
Make the reader desire more, make them want to dive into the world or into the characters head – that’s the hook that will get the publishers attention.
‘It doesn’t have to be action,’ Angela said, ‘it just needs tension.’