Well-connected in Toronto, London and New York, Sam Hiyate is full of tales about the arcane world of publishing. Predicting which books will succeed is a gamble, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn how much money publishers keep invested in author advances. A strange twist: When Vikram Seth (A Suitable Boy) had not completed his current opus in ten years, his publisher took the unprecedented step of asking for the advance back. His agent got the money from other publishers to pay the first one off, and Seth is now contracted to them.
My favourite publishing story concerned David Gilmour's The Film Club, a book his agent says he "made him write," promising that he could sell that story to get him into print. Once it was out, Gilmour's earlier work would be easier to publish. The book became an international success, and Sam recalled how he jumped on his bicycle to ride over and surprise his client with his first three figure royalty cheque from hot sales in Germany. The book also did well in Brazil.
Sam has recently established an online literary community called Don't Talk to me About Love, where readers, writers and agents can connect online. On Sunday at Harbour Centre, he is offering a full day course in conjunction with SFU publishing experts. Writers will learn the top reasons why manuscripts never make it out of the slush pile, as well as best practices in building an online presence and more about the latest in the evolution of publishing.