Mensch Publishing 2020
I have received 96 submissions since Mensch was announced. I have replied to every one, more than ninety, in the negative but I hope politely. The vast majority were for novels and should probably have been self-published (nothing wrong with that). In the end I managed to publish four authors in the first year. Guy Kennaway, William Waldegrave, Rachael Claye, and Lee Janogly. I think I can safely say there is no common thread apart from them all being people I wanted to work with and have enjoyed publishing. And I also signed up authors for the future – Olivia Fane, John Willis, Vanessa Branson, Ben Fenton, Mark Whitaker.
The hero of Guy Kennaway’s Time to Go was his mother, Susie Kennaway. She died peacefully in February 2020 having suffered a severe stroke from which she did not want to recover. As luck would have it, she had paid a rare visit to London just a week or so ago for the publication of the paperback of Guy’s and her book, Time to Go. She had a marvellous time with her family, friends and the media. She drank, ate, smiled, told stories, showed anger at things she thought wrong. She was Susie. She will be enormously missed.
I’ll simply list them. Do go to your local bookshop or more likely to Amazon to check them out (and preferably buy them in one of the available formats).
Time to Go by Guy Kennaway
Three Circles into One by William Waldegrave
Little Women adapted by Rachael Claye
Getting Old: Deal with it by Lee Janogly
Why Sex Doesn’t Matter by Olivia Fane
Churchill’s Few by John Willis
Secret Letters edited by John Willis
One Hundred Summers by Vanessa Branson
Whilst Mensch is small and cannot afford glitzy advertising campaigns we can punch above our weight with publicity, driven by the indefatigable Ruth Killick. Highlights were Lyn Barber’s Observer interview with Guy Kennaway, Emily Maitlis’s Newsnight interview with William Waldegrave, and the Mail on Sunday’s serialisation of Getting Old. Coverage in Australia and India has overall been great, North America was much tougher apart from a piece about Mensch in Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global website.
Disappointments (I have a few, too many to mention)
No runaway best sellers – to be expected but hope springs eternal even if, in the words of a great guru, hope is not a strategy. I haven’t been able to avoid returns from retailers and I haven’t been able to reach the whole English-language world as well as the books deserve. And I had no idea how hard it is to deal with a very large Internet bookseller effectively.
Reasons to be Cheerful
The Mensch bank account is slightly stronger now than when I started. I think I have proved that you can publish fast and effectively (albeit with a lot of blood, sweat and tears), that size is important but flexibility is more important, that you can publish great books without editorial and/or marketing meetings. I am still on speaking terms or better with all the authors. The books will continue to sell and will be an asset for years to come. My hair is no whiter than when I started.
And finally thank you to all those friends and colleagues who have made this possible. I started to name you but realized it would simply be a long list of little interest to anyone except those whom I forgot. Just to say, I am grateful for your overlooking and/or repairing my cock-ups, for your professionalism at all times. And of course to those authors who trusted me with their precious books. May 2020 smile on you all. I wrote this before COVID19 struck. What a year.
Guy Kennaway’s bestselling tale of family life and death was released in paperback on 23th January 2020.
When his 88-year-old mother asked him to buy heroin so she could end her life, the author Guy Kennaway decided there was only one thing to do – write a book about it. Available now in e-book and audiobook.
William Waldegrave’s brilliant analysis of the state of Britain today and its future is published in paperback, e-book and audio. This review in the New Statesman and his superb interviews on New