Readersforum's Blog

February 28, 2012

Anthony Horowitz: Do we still need publishers?

Anthony Horowitz. Photograph: Andy Paradise / Rex Features

At an event hosted by children’s booksellers The Book People last week, the author gave a talk questioning the role of the publisher in today’s literary world. This is an edited version.

The title of this talk is, “Do We Need Publishers Any More?”. I was going to call it “Thank Christ We Don’t Need Bloody Publishers Any More” – but I felt that sounded too partisan.

Relationships between writers and publishers are of course very strange and change all the time, rather like a see-saw.

I remember my first meeting at Walker Books. The first question they asked me – and I swear this is true – was what mug would I like my tea in: the one with the teddy bear, the tennis racket or the pink one with the flower? And when I left the building, they asked me if I’d be OK taking the tube on my own. I was 33. I was married with a child. But they clearly saw me as some sort of demented child myself.

Cut forward 20 years: I’ve grown up, and they’re nervous of me. There’s Alex Rider. I’ve created a brand. Walker also resent me ever so slightly because now I’m the one with the SMA powder and the changing table. To a certain extent, they need me and that’s probably tricky for a publisher who might find life so much easier without writers.

Meanwhile, across the river, I have my adult publisher, Orion – and they also have problems with me. Relations between us have been strained ever since they published my Sherlock Holmes novel, The Mouse of Slick, with no fewer than 35 proof-reading errors. Their proof-reader tried to kill herself. She shot herself with a gnu. Even so, we’re doing another book together … a story of murder, suspicion and revenge.

But the truth is, I have other options.

Click here  to read the rest of this story

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