I've just staggered home, laden with goodies from a fantastic afternoon and evening with the folks at Simon & Schuster.
We were make welcome in their lovely offices on Grays Inn Road. Ally and her colleague Amanda did a presentation, highlighting some lovely new upcoming books for the next few months.
Really pretty shinies from well know authors as well as debut novelists were covered too.
Then we had the fiction panelists who came on:
Suzanne Baboneau - Publishing Director
Maxine Hitchock - Fiction Editorial Director
Sarah-Jade Virtue - Special Sales Manager
They chatted enthusiastically about Simon and Schuster as a whole, their ethos and how they bully colleagues - in a good way - into reading books they are really excited about. I was fortunate enough to grab a seat right in the front - am tired of not being able to see / hear people properly - and so got to snap a few shots whilst they were chatting.
I found the talk very interesting indeed. Ally asked Suzanne what sells a book to her when she reads a manuscript. Suzanne didn't hesitate for one second to say "premise". If a book has a strong premise and the writer can carry that through, all the way to the end, then she's sold. She singled out Tom Rob Smith here, saying she had a frisson of excitement when she started reading his manuscript. She said that overall they look at what authors have to offer as they are always keen to nurture relationships with their authors, wanting them for the long run.
Maxine said that sometimes, the first page doesn't sell a book and that you have to persevere with it. But what carries a story for her is the characters and world building, getting lost in them and through them.
Sarah-Jade said that as a long-time reader of "chick-lit" she has gone through various stages but most importantly, she wants to fall in love with the main character in a book. Her reading styles have changed, as she's grown older and it also meant that different stories now appeal.
After the panelists answered a handful of questions from their rapt audience, we all scooted next door for snack, books, talking, drinking and uhm, more books.
From left to right: Suzanne, Maxine, Sarah-Jade
A table LADEN with books by Paige Toon (MY new BFF), Chris Carter and Tara Hyland.
Loot 1 - I am particularly excited about the JL Bourne books and also Christopher Golden's Of Saints and Shadows.
Loot 2 - Am looking forward to reading Infidel as well as Place of Secrets. These are my first Philippa Gregory's since I read almost all of her books in one go during a summer not too long ago. I was thee-ing and thou-ing for ages afterwards.
Loot 3 - A bit of YA, chicklit and travel writing. Also a bit of literary action and well, thriller action.
I am really pleased with the treasures and will be doling them out to Sarah and Mark respectively and of course keeping some for greedy little me.
Thanks to everyone over at Simon & Schuster who looked after us today and who were such gracious hosts. We are all very excited about your upcoming books and feel very special indeed for getting the chance to hang around at your offices.
I know that Jenny from Wondrous Reads, Carolyne from Book Chick City, my friend and soon to be published novelist Caroline Hooton, Amanda from Floor to Ceiling Books and a whole host of others had a fantastic time too.