The Conway Hall, (built in 1929) where the event was held, is a strange little place tucked away off Red Lion Square (itself a delightful little park complete with tea shop, sleeping tramps and scavenging down and outs, who didn’t bother a soul) and based in Holborn, London. Whilst around this tiny oasis of greenery are new and swish modern buildings Conway Hall is like something from ‘The 39 Steps’ (the Robert Donat version, 1935). In fact, I think they must have filmed the sequence there where Donat is pretending to be the politician and giving a speech. I half expected to see Madeleine Carrol enter with the bogus policemen to apprehend him and for Hitchcock to call CUT. But for those of you who aren’t familiar with the film then Conway Hall looks and feels like a parish hall from a small village in England – wooden floors, big wooden stage, wood panelling and a high gallery around the hall. Above the stage in big letters are the words ‘To Thine Own Self Be True’ I agree wholeheartedly. Only problem is many of us don’t know who our own self really is!
But I digress. The AGM wasn’t that well attended, about thirty of us all told, and I made a nuisance of myself by asking two questions: one, when was the members’ forum going to be ready on the SOA website? And two, could the SOA send out an e newsletter and/or alert when there was some important news to relate, a petition to sign or something we should know about – like a publisher going bust!
The only other question was asked by a Julie Walters look-a-like. Or rather I should say the character she played in Acorn Antiques, I forget her name. In fact, when this lady announced in a pronounced stage voice that she was also a member of equity I did indeed have to do a double-take. She had the stoop to perfection. In addition, she sported the Dame Margaret Rutherford cape, a peaked cap, and had that way actors have of scanning the room and pausing to make sure everyone is looking at them before speaking in an overloud voice which can be heard a mile away even if underground.
Then came the manic rush for the free glass of wine after which we all traipsed back to the main room for the question time with the panel of experts who were (pay attention, these are clues to the questions below) Jonny Geller, the Managing Director of the agency Curtis Brown; Alexandra Pringle, the Editor-in-Chief of Bloomsbury Publishing, (they of Harry Potter fame), and Graham Rand, Commercial Director of the book wholesalers, Bertrams/THE. He is also President of the Booksellers Association.
Suddenly the hall was packed with about two hundred people, and rather than bore you silly with the details of what was said, (although you might very well be bored by now by reading this) I thought I’d select a few quotes and leave you to decide who said what. If you guess correctly then I will send you a FREE signed copy of my novel IN COLD DAYLIGHT. Leave a comment with your answers or e mail me at email@example.com
‘If a publisher wishes to back a book with money then we’ll get behind it more.’
‘EPOS is a nightmare. People can’t lie anymore.’
‘The Author has to become a Brand.’
‘Choice is based on personal taste. If you’ve got enough people who like it in house then we’ll take it on.’
‘Publishers will get hit in the recession and will have to put up prices (of books) and/or work hard with the distributors to change prices.’
‘There is a lack of choice. Publishers are only chasing Big Brands.’
‘Publishing is a mature market and self publishing can’t compete in it.’
And, leaving the best bit until last, the final GEM!
‘None of us know what we’re doing; if we did we’d be more successful.’
Causes Pauline Rowson Supports
Fire Fighters Benevolent Fund, http://www.firefighterscharity.org.uk/text.asp?PageID=2 Motor Neurone's Disease Association...