Just back from the joys of IATEFL. The conference itself will have been tweeted, blogged and Facebooked to death by now, so I won’t mention it again, except to say
(a) thanks to Jo, Kerry, Lucy and everyone else at Macmillan for a stonking party on Weds (so glad no one fell into the Clyde…as far as we know…)
(b) that Glasgow is a brilliant city and if you weren’t there plan your weekend away now.
So forget IATEFL until Liverpool 2013. What I want to flag up here is how to get just rewards for your creative talents.
In the world of fiction writing, the path to recognition for budding authors is not to start off with a magnum opus and send it off to three dozen publishers. That might have worked in the nineteenth century, but not now – and if J K Rowling had adopted that route she’d still be a single mum scribbling away in fast food restaurants. What people do is find an Agent (Christopher Little, in JK’s case). The Agent has all the right contacts and so can match your work to an appropriate publisher – and, far more important, an appropriate Editor within that publisher. The Agent, being a skilled and experienced negotiator, should work out the best deal for the Author, including things like merchandising, film and digital rights. That’s what happens in the world of fiction writing. It hasn’t happened in ELT – until now.
At the Macmillan party over a pint of cider I chatted with Nick Robinson about his Big Idea.
You may know Nick – he’s a hugely talented writer and editor, commercially astute and great at networking. Nick has just launched the first (as far as I know) agency for established and new authors. He’ll assess your skills and ideas, and – as he knows publishers – will be able to link up the right person in the right publishing house with You, the writer, on a project which is ready to go. This doesn’t cost anything – except, of course, a proportion of your fees (and he’ll be able to secure a better deal than you would, anyway). If you’re a publisher, you can fast-track your requirements rather than desperately looking for a talented writer for that new ESP title on Golf you’re putting out. (Actually, English for Sport would be a pretty cool ESP series). If you’re an established author it’s worth getting in touch too – you may think yourself as having sold your soul to OUP, but there’s nothing to stop you writing for Macmillan – or, on old titles, taking back your rights and selling the material elsewhere.
Of course it may be that you haven’t been published before, and you’re desperate to learn more about the writing and publishing process, and the personal business side (jolly stuff like VAT and Tax). Watch this space on that one…!