Behind the scenes – serpentstail pr Rebecca Gray

I meet rebecca via twitter she works for serpents tail ,who publish some wonderful books including a lot of world fiction .I asked Rebecca for a interview via e-mail she agreed ,I want to do a series of interviews with people working behind the scenes at piblishing house to get the books we all love published .any way here are rebeccas answers .

Many thanks for doing this Rebecca ,want to do some behind scenes of people in publishing for blog to show hard work you do .

black water rising

  1. introduce yourself and what is it you do at Serpents tail Rebecca ?  I split my time between editorial and publicity. My job has changed quite a bit over the last few years, because as I’ve done more editorial work for Serpent’s Tail, my publicity work has become more focused on Profile, which is brilliant. I’ve discovered that as well as the fiction I’ve always loved, I’m also a huge fan of popular science writing (Michael Brooks’ 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense especially) and all sorts of things I would never have read on my own. That’s one of the great joys of publishing I think, you’re always pushed to have an open mind.
  2. what is the P.R process that goes into publishing a book ? It very much depends on the book, but extends from announcements when the book is bought to working with the author all through publication and beyond. Publicity has always had the potential to just go on and on, but with the growth of the web there are now so many possibilities that publicists need help from authors more than ever. So while we approach the press, TV, radio, blogs, festivals and so on, what we can’t do is the kind of networking that authors can do online – that has to be authentic. The most obvious example is Stephanie Meyer, but Kate Pullinger and Michael Brooks have a really positive online presence too. The other thing is that it’s invaluable when authors contribute their own ideas and, when relevant, are willing to talk about how real life influenced their writing.
  3. what has been you biggest success with serpents tail ? We Need to Talk about Kevin is definitely our biggest seller of all time, and the book that has had the most attention. It’s the kind of book that lingers with you long after you’ve finished it and definitely made me think differently about parenthood. But there are masses of books that we’re deeply proud of or that have garnered a lot of attention, or both. We’re just putting out our first four classics, with more to follow, which I hope is a big statement about those books we’ve published over the years which really stand the test of time (which, by the way, is really a test of what readers love – obviously we think all our books are classics in the making). One of those is …Kevin and the other three are The Book of Disquiet, Shoedog and Devil in a Blue Dress. I could carry on like this all day, mentioning David Peace’s Red Riding quartet, Attica Locke’s Black Water Rising on this year’s Orange shortlist, Jonathan Trigell’s Boy A…

    We need to talk about kevin

  4. Is there a book that got away so to speak ? Depends whether you mean one that someone else bought or one I wish we’d got more attention for. The former would be Jasper Jones, which Windmill are publishing now-ish I think, and which I really loved and offered on. They offered more money and in that situation you have to be philosophical – so few writers get big advances that you can’t grudge it when they take the money, although I would have loved to be publishing it.
  5. what is your favourite book you’ve been involved with ? There are too many, without even thinking about those writers I worked with before I came to Serpent’s Tail, but Amanda Smyth’s Black Rock will always have a deservedly special place in my heart, primarily because it’s beautiful and sad and really a perfect novel, and partly because it was the first book I edited.

    black rock amanda smyth

  6. what is your favourite book /writer ? I know it’s utterly pathetic, but I’m not really a list person. My mind just goes blank.  Without my shelves to prompt me, I’ll tell you about some old favourites, with the conscious exclusion of work-related titles: The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen is heartbreaking and skewers the agony of not fitting in; The Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins made me cry until my face and neck were greasy with tears; Jilly Cooper is a genius – especially Rivals; Cold Comfort Farm and I Capture the Castle are essential to any shelf; Dorothy L Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey rocks; The Woman in Black made me nauseous with fear (A Good Thing); Lisa St Aubin de Teran’s The Hacienda is an extraordinary memoir by a woman far braver than me; and a token man – Tim Guest’s memoir My Life in Orange makes a tragic childhood immediate and an amazing source of insight. Plus every child should read Carbonel the Witch’s Cat – a more perfectly arch and wry cat never lived.

Want the Serpent’s Tail ones now too?

  1. what impact will digital publishing have on serpents tail do you think ? Oh, save the easy ones for last. I honestly have no idea – hopefully it’ll mean greater diversity, with people reading print and/or online, every book ever published being available to buy electronically, narratives that don’t even look like novels with music and pictures and links, greater word of mouth, people being able to self-publish if they can’t find a publisher but also a longer-term consolidation of the importance of publishers, whether of writing or music or journalism. I have this idea that the self-starting (this is a word I would never normally use but it seems to fit here) can co-exist happily with the professional (deliberately not saying corporate), and that when we all get used to the ‘brave new world’, there’ll still be an appetite for people who devote their careers (in publishing, often their lives!) to finding great books and giving them the best treatment, from editorial to marketing. If anything, the wealth of material to choose from will make this even more necessary. I feel that this is already happening now – there’s a good feeling about the fact that people who love reading can now be in touch with authors and people in the industry via social networks. However, I feel I’m on shaky, too-Utopian ground, so if you want to talk more about this, you could request an interview with our digital publisher…

many thanks Rebecca .

April 2010


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