|Hilary Mantel (Photo: Harper Collins)|
After winning the Booker Prize a second time (with the second book of her trilogy), Hilary Mantel also grabbed the Costa Prize. £30,000 prize money. Blimey.
Sally Gardner of course won the Children's Costa for Maggot Moon.
Go, Sally !
Mantel's historic win brought back fond memories of the children's book industry's own double winner earlier this year - A Monster Calls.
Patrick Ness won the Carnegie Medal for writing it and illustrator Jim Kay won the Greenaway for his evocative illustrations (you may view his sketches on my other blog).
(It was Patrick's second Carnegie, after winning for the third book of his thrice nominated Chaos Walking Trilogy)
|Patrick Ness (Photo: Candy Gourlay)|
We children's authors are a generous bunch, cheering each other on (even through our clenched teeth).
Secret resentment? Whatever do you mean?
Seriously though it ain't easy watching the fabulous successes of others. As Celia Rees said at the SCBWI conference last year, a writing career is like Edmund's craving for turkish delight. Having had a taste of the glory of being published, you just can't help wanting MORE.
Celia's words come to me whenever I visit schools and hear children (who've never heard of my book) wax lyrical over Harry Potter, I just have to forgive JK for being the superstar that she is. You rock their world, JK and that's cool.
There is a bit of resentment too for those among us who bypass the curation of traditional publishers (read: self publish) and then do astonishingly well. Such as Amanda Hocking.
|Amanda Hocking (Photo: Amazon)|
Boy, did the publishers change their tune when they discovered that her books were ker-chinging off Amazon tills faster than it had ever taken them to fire off a form rejection.
(I've read Switched - Amanda's troll book - loved the scene when the young troll people watch Lord of the Rings for laughs)
Amanda's (and others) success has made it harder for the sneerers to sneer at self-publishing.
Some multi-published authors, fed up with neglect and the industry's bottom-line obsessiveness, have rejected traditional publishing entirely and opted to go it alone. Read Diana Kimpton's piece on why she decided to self publish despite being the author of 40 books.
(With respect though, some authors are not great at judging whether their manuscripts are good enough to be seen by the outside world - read Amazon isn't Ebay )
And yet after a bidding war, Amanda herself seemed enormously happy that she's finally signed with a traditional publisher. Speaking on Open Book, she sounded positively relieved.
"I find editing much more relaxing and easier with a publisher. I stressed out about it when I did it myself and editing was a never-ending process ... there's so much work involved in self publishing that isn't about writing a book. I'd get stuck trying to make sure that the margins were right on the pages. Every now and then there would be a glitch that would take up hours and hours of me tediously trying to figure it out. I like it better now where they just send me stuff and I approve it - or don't."(yup, I've been listening to podcasts again - this one was Open Book: Literary Trends of 2012)
With some self published authors raking it in, publishers might be a little bit confused.
Look at indy author Hugh Howey whose book Wool was taking US$150,000 a month on Amazon. When publishers finally sat up and took notice, Howey refused to sell digital rights ... and was clearly the winner after agreeing a seven figure deal with Simon and Schuster for print rights only.
Such success has led to "a slight loss of confidence", says Philip Jones, managing editor of the Bookseller.
"Publishers are curators they need to pick the winners and the best books and when Amazon is banging you over the head telling you that you got your decisions wrong, that books you spurned are selling in their hundreds of thousands, then that's going to knock your self worth."
The Open Book podcast came to the conclusion that even if it brings a lot of crap into the market, self publishing's pace, diversity and entreprenuerial verve is good for the publishing industry, if a bit of a wake up call.
The key, says Jones, is for publishers to realize they are in a service industry. "That they have to treat authors better ... and offer a range of services - not just publication into a vacuum as has sometimes happened in the past."
(I can see all those authors who want their publishers to supply free posters and bookmarks and travel budget nodding eagerly)
Jones' fellow guest, James Runcie, head of Literature and the Spoken Word at the Southbank Centre, was hugely optimistic.
"We sometimes despair about the dumbing down of our culture but actually the book is remarkably resilient ... there were a lot of fantastic books published in 2012 ... to think that it's all celebrity memoirs and 50 Shades of Gray is a mistake because there's a lot of really good work out there."