In her article published in Pretext magazine, “When creativity meets commerce or the relationship between the publishing industry and the individual writers through the eyes of an interested observer”, Rebecca Swift examines the increasing commercial pressures on the publishing industry. The article is currently part of the University of East Anglia curriculum for the MA in Creative Writing.
“I remember the day when modern publishing in the UK ‘changed’. I was twenty-five and proud to be working as an editorial assistant at an independent publishing house that had helped bring about a revolution in the way the public viewed work by women writers.
Enter, one ordinary London afternoon circa 1991: a man in a suit. The kind of man that we dd not often see inside our offices. The ‘buzz’ was this was ‘the money-man’. We in the then large editorial department gathered round to listen to what he had to say. Editors at our company had, the gentleman informed us, hitherto been publishing by following ‘our tummy waters.’
‘Tummy waters’ , the money-man said, as if to a group of primary school children, which included the companies editorial directors, women who had been buying books with flare and commitment for many years, ‘ had to stop.’ He went on to explain the brilliance of his principle thus: ‘If for example, you get in two books and one shows promise but needs editing, and one is in a perfectly finished condition, you would take the one in the finished condition, wouldn’t you? Time after all is money. Editing is after all time. You follow?’ He scanned the room to see if through the fog of our basic, feminine, aquatic instincts we could sufficiently access his logic – as if publishing were some kind of Sophie’s Choice”.