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Guest Speaker: Liam Murray Bell

December 9th, 2016 | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Guest Speaker: Liam Murray Bell
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Today’s guest speaker is Liam Murray Bell, published author and Creative Writing lecturer here at Stirling University. His first book, So It Is, was published inImage result for so it is liam murray bell 2012, followed by The Busker in 2014. Both books were published by Myriad Editions, a Brighton-based publisher who focus on debut authors. Myriad is partly funded through the government, and they aim is to take a new author and establish their career. Bell stated that he chose this publisher with great care, as his first book So It Is was also his PhD thesis, and so wanted to ensure that the critical aspects of the work remained. Bell also stated the importance of face-to-face meetings with his publisher. His editorial process took around six months, and involved many different meetings with his editors.

Bell also highlighted the importance of reviews in newspapers like The Guardian, as they led to a spike in book sales. When So It Is was shortlisted for Scottish Book of the Year, this too had a massive effect on the sales of the title, and was hugely rewarding for a debut author. Bell stresses the importance of reviews, and events at book festivals for a new author. He tells us it was extremely rewarding to have an interview in The Herald (particularly because his parents read it). Bell’s contract for So It Is also stated that Myriad would take a look at the manuscript for his second book. They agreed to publish it, and Bell states that the advance for the book was not particularly large, and he was only able to work on the manuscript full time due to funding from the English Arts Council.

Bell also related to us the benefits of working with a smaller publisher. Working with Myriad for The Busker meant he could be involved with other aspects of the book – including the cover design. The publisher commissioned an artist to do three different designs, and Bell’s opinions were taken on board when choosing which one they would use. While discussing the editorial process for The Busker, Bell highlights the difficulties that can arise. The editor and the author must have a good relationship in order for the process to go well.  The edits take several months and not everyone necessarily agrees. He stresses  that a good editor should point out or discuss what the problem is, and allow the author to find the solution by them self. If the editor was to fix it themselves, it would not be cohesive with the rest of the book. He tells us that one of the hardest parts of the editing process is that as an other, you have to try and open your mind to discussion, not just automatically tell the editor they’re wrong. Bell argues that a good editor should question every single aspect of the book. This forces the author to justify each character and aspect of the plot, ensuring the book is the best it can possibly be.