Monday March 18, The Hughenden Hotel, Sydney
The ever lovely and distinguished publisher, Linsay Knight, was the guest speaker at our SCBWI evening tonight. Linsay first started her career publishing dictionaries at Macquarie University, before moving to Scholastic and sourcing books for their educational programs. She then received a call from Mark Macleod who invited her to come play at Random House. These were the days when an editor fell in love with a book and soon after, it came into being. Simple.
Then things changed. The process became driven by Sales, Marketing, strict budgetary constraints and essentially moved to publishing by committee.
As the Head of Children’s Publishing at RH, Linsay was responsible for making budget, whilst buying international titles and maintaining a healthy local list. It became a game of not only selling the book and the story but the author too as one complete package, drawing up estimates of sales and trying to convince the business end of the company that her love of a book would translate to sales. This was not always the case.
But in all the change of how books reached publication, Linsay believes the fundamentals all still come down to this: a strong story that inspires.
Linsay loved what she did, so why did she leave the big corporate world of publishing? Simply, it was time. She wanted to publish more like the good old days and on her own terms (and her husband John, who is also her business partner). Their new publishing company, Pitt Street Poetry, was the brainchild of John, who loves poetry. Their aim is to create beautiful books that are more objets d'art, with linen covers, fine illustrations and classy words. They want to publish books that offer something more than a digital version. They will also be moving into kids’ books in the future.
Finally, here are Linsay’s main points:
- With great change in the publishing world comes great opportunity
- She believes that kids’ non-fiction books have a firm and exciting future
- A huge positive for digital is that books can always be in print
- There is a place for beautiful, hardcover books that offer more than digital versions
- There is a huge and growing market for story…just in many new forms
- There exists a huge opportunity to cross from page to screen(s)
- Authors and illustrators need to be media savvy, inventive and work alongside the publisher to promote their work
- Think big but play small and stay true to the story and characters
Wrapping up a very warm and engaging talk, Linsay happily declared she is very positive about the future of story in many forms. And for that, and her talk, we thank her.
Linsay and John Knight, Pitt Street Poetry