Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An interview with Matthew Price - Author and Publisher

I'd like to introduce you to Matthew Price, a children's book author and publisher. Recently his publishing house, Matthew Price Limited, set up an office in the United States and several Matthew Price books are already available. Curious to learn more about Matthew and his work, I interviewed him.

What prompted you to set up a publishing house here in the United States?
Our children had gone through high school in the States and didn't want to come home! What choice? We had to move and move we did with absolutely everything.

Is the publishing world in the United States very different from the one in the U.K.?
Yes and no. The principles are the same, the taste is different in some ways. How do you decide which books to publish? Mostly gut instinct as a father, but also as a former children's book editor, and as a former children book buyer.It is unusual for a publisher to also be a writer.

Do you think that your experiences as a writer make you a better publisher? Yes, in some ways, it's very inconvenient in others! The compulsion to write gets in the way of being an efficient manager. On the other hand, it makes me much more empathetic to what writers and artists go through. The number one complaint from authors is that publishers don't communicate enough with them. As an author myself I view the editorial and publishing process with an authors eye. I am gentle with my editorial comments, and keep the author informed during all phases of production and marketing. That allows us to have wonderful, long term relationships with our authors.

Your company motto is "Education through delight" and you have produced several books for young children that fit this bill. Do you think you will publish books for older children too?
It's possible, but I want to get the younger books established first. This is our area of strength.

What do you think we need to do to make sure the unhappy economy does not have a dire effect on the children's book industry?
Traditionally children's books have not suffered as much as adult books in a recession. None of us is recession-proof but all we can do is try and publish only those books that we believe in wholeheartedly. That is what we should do all the time anyway, so maybe this difficult time will help us to concentrate our minds!

I have read that you "grew up in a bookshop." Where was this, and what was it like?

What I meant by this is that I grew up in the book trade in a bookshop. My first job was in Dillon's University Bookshop in London and I spent five years there, ending up as the children's book buyer. It came to be the basis for all my editorial instincts. As an experience for a publisher, it was invaluable. When I got my first job in a large publisher and we would discuss a book, I would sometimes say: "Well, I couldn't have sold it in the bookshop," and people would glare at me, because in England it was very unusual to go straight from a bookshop into an editorial job and they had not had this experience.

Do you have plans to write another book?
Yes. What will it be? I honestly don't know. I have foresworn writing many times but it always seems to come back and get me.What do you like most about being a publisher? I have to confess, I love the whole business. I love working with authors and artists. I love working with other publishers. I love working with reps, librarians, booksellers, the professionals of the book trade. We have very strong international links and I love to discover people all over the world who love the same things I do. I even love the wheeling and dealing.What do you like most about being a writer? I love to put something new where there was nothing before. I think what I mean by this is that I love to create something original.

Take a look at my review of Matthew's Book, Room for one more.


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