by Shelby Jones
What’s happened in the world of publishing over the last week? Here is your monthly roundup of news, announcements, book launches, and more.
“Publishing made me absolutely miserable.”
After months of negotiations, unionised HarperCollins employees have announced that they will go on strike to generate a new deal regarding salaries. Members from the marketing, sales, design, publicity, legal, and editorial departments will walk out in an open-ended strike due to the treatment of staff.
HarperCollins CEO, Brian Murray, cut ties with several members of staff, which Local 2110 president, Olga Brudastova, called “suspicious” due to its timing with the strikes.
Olga Brudastova called the situation “disheartening” due to the union being ignored and denied a final notice by the company.
HarperCollins, which started as a small printing shop in 1817, is one of the Big Five publishing companies. Their successes and failures pave the way for other publishers. How they proceed with treating their staff in the following months will change the way employees and competitors see their company.
“For my mother, for my daughter, for the fear of solitary confinement, for the women of my country, for freedom.”
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who spent six years in jail in Iran, has signed a publishing deal for her memoir.
The currently untitled memoir will follow her journey after she was arrested in 2016 at an airport in Iran. She was accused of spying by Iranian authorities, which she denied.
The book is set to be released in the autumn of 2023 by Penguin Random House. She said: “my story as a hostage is unique, but it is also the story of many other women in Iran in prison who are unknown but have helped me enormously to go through this journey and come out stronger.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s story raises awareness of issues which impact women, such as motherhood, migration, prostitution, and violence, especially in war zones. Her memoir is a rally and vigil for women facing femicide and domestic violence.
Bought by Fig Tree after a nine-publisher auction, Frances Ryan’s book describes living for disabled women and non-binary people. It has sold for a six-figure deal—one of the biggest ever for a disabled woman in the UK.
As an author, journalist, and broadcaster, Frances Ryan says publishers are “coming to understand that there’s a huge audience for stories by and about people who aren’t white, middle-class, or non-disabled.”
Frances Ryan has been named the sixth most influential disabled person by the Shaw Trust in 2021. Her debut book, Crippled, was shortlisted in 2020 for the Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing. Her story challenges assumptions about disabled women.
The Publishers Association and its partners—the Association of Authors’ Agents, Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, and Society of Authors—have underpinned the UK’s £6.7 billion publishing sector.
The UK government has retained this well-functioning regime and the book sector has breathed a sigh of relief due to concerns regarding funding and copyright exhaustion.
#SaveOurBooks is not a well-known campaign, but it gives UK authors and publishers the right to price appropriately for international markets. It stops unauthorised importing of international copies of books into the UK. This campaign is crucial for UK authors when selling their work abroad.
Ambitious, witty, and transformative, Carmen Callil—the publisher of Virago—has died at 84. In the 1970s, a young job applicant asked Ms Callil why she started Virago Press, one of the first publishing companies devoted to neglected or suppressed female writers; she said her goal was “To change the world, darling.”
Ms Callil published contemporary writers such as Maya Angelou, Pat Barker, Helen Garner, Margaret Atwood, and Adrienne Rich. Virago became a pioneer for women, with the colour of that green book backbone enough to send a shiver of pride down an author’s spine.
Callil published her first book in 1999, became a Booker Prize judge in 2011, was awarded the Royal Society of Literature’s Benson Medal, and was named a dame commander of the Order of the British Empire. What a woman!
Her death was announced in a statement by the RCW literary agency earlier this month.
Carmen Callil changed the publishing industry. She was a fearless champion for women writers, generous with her knowledge of literature, and extraordinarily professional in her work. She is incomparable and fiercely influential.
That’s it for now! Keep an eye our for more news coming soon, and keep up-to-date by following us on social media and subscribing to our monthly newsletter.
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