FINDING NEW VOICES
DEFINING NEW GENRES
What a year – both gone and to come!
A very simple act has put a very big cherry on top of what was already a wonderfully delicious 2014. Yesterday one of Urbane’s newly signed authors preordered a copy of another author’s forthcoming book. Why on earth should that matter so much? I mean, it’s just an order for a book, calm yourself man! Well, to me it encapsulates everything I’m trying to achieve with Urbane Publications – it is support, interaction, community and collaboration in vivid action. It is an author not just engaging with a publisher for their own ends or to pursue their own goals, it shows a willingness to engage with Urbane’s wider remit, and their fellow writers. You can’t put a price on that kind of support.
Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but frankly that’s my prerogative. It’s been such a rollercoaster of a year – and it’s one of those rollercoasters where you don’t ever want to lose the excitement of the next dip and rise, rather than the ride that makes you pray for your soul (and a strong stomach) as soon as the bars come down. At the start of 2014 I walked away from a well-paid director role at a leading publisher for the very reasons I took the role in the first place – to try and make a difference in an industry that offers so much potential and opportunity. Why did I leave? Because instead of embracing opportunities offered by changes in the channels and the way readers engage with books (and authors produce them), many organisations seem content (and arrogant) enough to do what they’ve always done, slashing costs along the way and doing everything possible to place themselves at the centre of an ‘us first ‘ publishing universe.
I wanted to put the focus back on the creative force behind the words – the authors – and the driving force behind each book’s success – the readers – partnering with both to produce the perfect publishing collaboration. And the reactions to this aim of collaboration and shared goals has been astonishing, ranging from the outright cynical (very few pleasingly) to the incredibly enthusiastic recognition from so many that something had to change and authors needed to be at the heart of it. It’s been wonderful to engage with so many positive people who have wanted to know more and be part of ‘The Third Way’! From fending off lazy accusations of vanity publishing, to the wonderful success of selling 1,000 copies of The Diego Masciaga Way in the first month, that rollercoaster ride has been serving up nothing but challenges and thrills. There have been so many amazing people that I’ve met in what has been such a short journey and I’m going to do more to recognise them in the coming months. For the very few people who let themselves down over the past few months, there have been hundreds whose words and actions have shown that I was right to believe this is about relationships.
Of course the challenge for 2014 was not just in doing all the fun things that setting up a small business demands (I have gone through SO MUCH coffee it’s terrifying) but in building support for that message of collaboration, for believing it and creating that belief in others, in finding the right partners to develop it further. And that depended first and foremost on working with the right authors, authors who saw the benefits of care, content and collaboration and were willing to explore the possibilities for a publishing model that put them at the heart of the process but still offered them support, advice, enthusiasm AND a service. The response has been astonishing, as I hope the frontlist, both existing and forthcoming, testifies. And that author order for an Urbane title was my proof that my partners get it, that they understand why collaboration matters. It’s the perfect springboard to launch into 2015.
And there’s so much to look forward to in the coming year, and it is all driven by PEOPLE, by YOU. I’m in the very privileged position of publishing Steven Berkoff’s next work, as well as developing some incredible new voices in fiction. There’s also the launch of the self-development list, and a whole range of eminent business leaders sharing their words through the Urbane brand. And a long held ambition will come true with the launch of the Urbane poetry list! And what do they all rely on and revolve around? People. The authors, the service partners, the readers, each and every one of them absolutely vital to Urbane’s 2015.
I’m afraid you’ll also read and hear more of me in the coming year as I find more time to comment on the industry and business I love so much, and try and bring more and more profile and recognition for Urbane’s authors and collaborators. More importantly I want to engage more directly with readers, reviewers, commentators, with writers, and to understand what you want from books and publishing. There’s so much excitement ahead, can’t wait to share it with you.
Matthew, 31st December 2014