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Interview

Children

Readersvoice.com aims to give people a few good reading tips.You might want to check the article list for more reading suggestions.During the Sydney Writers’ Festival in late May, I interviewed two publishers and a literary agent, from the U.K., Holland, and Korea, about the book business, and their favourite books.They were in Australia under the auspices of the Visiting International Publishers program, for the Australia Council for the Arts, which has enabled the publication of more than 100 Australian titles overseas.Also during the Sydney Writers’ Festival, I met Dr Hans Schneider. Later, I interviewed Dr Schneider about his interesting life, and he told me some interesting favourite books, too.So read on…

Publisher of books for younger readers Marion Lloyd had wall-to-wall meetings with publishers, writers, and literary agents during the Sydney Writers’ Festival in late May.
She came to Australia to learn about the publishing industry here, and to buy the U.K. rights to Australian books for younger readers.
Ms Lloyd said her job hadn’t changed much since she started her own imprint, Marion Lloyd Books, at Scholastic, last year.
“Not really, no, I’m still just purely an editor,” Ms Lloyd said.
“I have no management responsibility. I’m just somebody who reads books, picks books, tries my best to buy the ones that I want for my list, and work with a terrifically good team of people.
“I mean, good editors are important but they’re no more important, really, than the people who you have design the books, sell the books, publicise the books, market the books, and all the other parts of the publishing business. So if you work within a good team of people, that’s the best thing.”
I asked Ms Lloyd if she used instinct when she selected books for publication.
“It has to be,” Ms Lloyd said. “It has to be a personal, emotional response – that’s allied to professional assessment of the market and how to market the book in the first place. You still go for the ones that provoke that basic emotional response and there’s no science to it.”
Ms Lloyd talked about the trend of the crossover book, an approach pioneered by Pan Macmillan in the marketing of Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn.
Pan Macmillan bought the U.K. rights to the novel in a fierce bidding war with other U.K. publishers.
Across the Nightingale Floor suited adults as much as younger readers, so, in 2002, Pan Macmillan launched a massive marketing campaign, separately targeting the younger readers’ and adult readers’ markets.

“That was an Australian book by a writer called Lian Hearn, and it was a book called Across the Nightingale Floor, and it was the start of a trilogy [the Otori trilogy],” Ms Lloyd said.
“And I was pitched it…it was sent to me by the agent as a teenage book, a book for young adults.
“And we eventually bought the rights in a very, sort of, fierce competition with our publishing competitors over the rights of that book.
“And we felt it was really one of those rare books that absolutely has an audience which is as wide as it can possibly be, from, sort of, 12 year olds right through to the adult market.”

It was the first book published simultaneously across Pan’s adult and children’s lists.

That way, overall sales of the book would have been greater.

“And that had never been done before. It was a recognition of the wideness of the readership and a very focused marketing strategy to reach both.”
Ms Lloyd started working in the publishing industry at William Collins in the 1970s, “a million years ago”.
I asked her if children’s books had changed since then.
“No, I don’t think books have changed. Certainly the way we package books has changed beyond all recognition.
“I mean, I haven’t published a book for children with a picture of a child on it for years.
“We’re much more sophisticated in the way we package them. Our books look ‘older’ [ie like a book for adults] than they used to.”

Ms Lloyd built up the Armada Paperbacks list in the 1970s, early 1980s.
“It was a great big sausage machine; it was just brilliant in those days.
“I worked out, when I left, that I’d edited an original book every three weeks for about ten years…”
From 1990-93 Ms Lloyd rounded out her book biz experience by working at the UK’s most successful children’s mail-order book club.
“That was a company called the Red House Book Club, which was the U.K.’s biggest, sort of, direct mail, into the home, book-selling operation entirely aimed at parents who were buying books for children.”
Ms Lloyd said that at Red House she was one of the buyers who selected the books, wrote about them in the catalogue, then prepared the mail-out every month.
“It was very different from publishing; it taught me a lot about how people buy books and select books, and how to sell books off the page rather than in the shop.
“I did that for three years. But I did miss being the person who actually made the books rather than selling them, so I went back to being an editor, which is what I love to do best.”
Then Ms Lloyd returned to the recently-merged Pan Macmillan, running its children’s fiction list.
In 2000 Ms Lloyd became Associate Publisher at Pan.
Then, in late 2004, she started her own imprint, Marion Lloyd Books, at Scholastic.
Marion Lloyd said her favorite books of all time included Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell; Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (another crossover book); Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke; His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman; and Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson.