My Home Office

It's well over a year now since I moved to a little Greek island to set up as a freelance writer and editor in a home office.

For the first year, I divulged my whereabouts only on a need-to-know basis. Thanks to the magic of, when I'm doing Summersdale work, it looks like I'm working from an office in Chichester. To a lot of agents, if you're not in London, it doesn't really matter where you are - most London agents (most Londoners, in fact) aren't quite sure where Chichester is.

I'd realised that most of my job was done by email anyway, whether I was dealing with someone in the US or Australia or Manchester. As long as I had a good internet connection, I could work from home. On an island, so that when I was finished at my desk, I could get outside and in ten minutes be walking up a hill, or down to the sea.

I work with people for whom 'normal' is to do something like rowing across the Indian Ocean, or skiing to the South Pole, or paragliding across the Himalayas. They weren't bothered that I was going to live on a Greek island. And in fact, a lot of people in the publishing business shrugged and said, 'Oh yes, I know someone else who did something like that.'

It's important to see people face to face a couple of times a year, and I love my trips back to the UK. But being far away from the UK has also forced me to get more connected with people online and to use social media resources more (which is, I suppose, why I'm writing this).

Last summer, a few months after making the move, I acquired a book called COMMANDO DAD for Summersdale after a series of Skype discussions with the authors; it got lots of attention, to be featured on ITV and in the Guardian and Telegraph: I also acquired UK rights to Torre DeRoche's LOVE WITH A CHANCE OF DROWNING, which would never have happened if I hadn't been spending more time on Facebook:

And two weeks ago, in a cafe in Rhodes, I acquired a wonderful new travel book about Sri Lanka by a British author who was at that point in the Andes. She was very relieved to find out that her not being in the UK wouldn't be a problem.


I've been meaning to write a bit more on this blog for a while. Thoughts over a glass of wine at the end of the day, that sort of thing.

An author wrote a very flattering and effective pitch letter to me at Summersdale not long ago, saying how his adventure book would be a perfect fit for our list. The way he described it, it certainly sounded that way. In the end, however, we decided it wasn't for us, and I wrote to let him know. He lashed back with a nasty email saying, among other things:

'I wonder if you didn't find the story compelling because it doesn't have tales of drugs, sex, drunkenness and generally hapless travelling exploits like... most of your other travel publications.' 

It would have been funny if it hadn't been so vicious and mean. The odd thing was, he also said he'd just been taken on by an agent, so he really had no reason to be bitter about the rejection. But if you've ever wondered why publishers often send standard rejection letters, that's one reason why. Still, I like to provide a personal note when I can. 99.9% of authors are grateful for that.

I remember a job I interviewed for back when I was trying to get into publishing in Canada. Well, I don't remember the interview at all, but I remember the rejection letter they sent had a spelling mistake in it (something like 'we recieved a huge number of applicants'). Of course, being young and foolish I had to write back to them and say maybe they should have hired someone who knew how to spell. Ouch. Just as well I didn't end up working in children's publishing, as it's a small world and I'm sure someone wouldn't have let me forget that.

Another author who took my rejection of his manuscript rather bitterly a year or so ago has ended up being a friend. He recently told me he thinks I was right to turn down his first manuscript. I understand how much rejection hurts and niggles - I'm an author, too. But it's part of the process of publishing - it's unusual to find a famous author who hasn't had rejection letters.

Anyway, I wish more of our books had drugs, sex and drunkenness. We'd probably make a lot more money.

Travel Writing Workshop

I'm a travel writer and editor, and I live on an idyllic Greek island. I'm thinking of running a travel writing workshop in 2013, if there is interest.

This would involve coaching new authors on developing your travel notes or manuscript into a narrative travel book or travel memoir (not articles for newspapers or magazines).

I've been publishing this kind of book for more than seven years at Summersdale, and have recently started working for Bradt also on their travel literature list.

I also work directly with authors - feel free to contact me for details.

If we succeed in setting up a workshop on Tilos, participants would need to make their way to Rhodes, and we'd organise transfers, accommodation and meals for the duration.