Nicholas Clee caught up with Laura Deacon, editorial director at Amazon Publishing UK, in the run-up to the London Book Fair
NC: Some people are unaware of the distinction between Amazon Publishing and the self-publishing service. Could you explain?
LD: Amazon Publishing is separate to Kindle Direct Publishing. At Amazon Publishing, we work closely with agents and authors, publishing both digital and print books, currently under four fiction imprints. Our UK team has editors and colleagues who handle marketing and PR. Some of our authors start out self-publishing and then move to us, and some do both. Mark Dawson and Keith Houghton are examples of authors who publish very successfully under both umbrellas.
NC: What are your imprints? Do you mirror Amazon Publishing US or are there differences?
LD: Given the country size and the fact we have a smaller team in the UK, we publish under fewer imprints here, but under the same imprint names: Lake Union Publishing (commercial, literary and book club fiction), MontlakeRomance, 47North (sci-fi and fantasy) and Thomas & Mercer (crime/thriller).
NC: Some of your bestselling authors sell you their books directly. How great an awareness of Amazon Publishing is there in the agent community?
LD: Our submissions are balanced in authors coming to us directly and agented titles. Like any other publisher, we work closely with literary agents and obviously key events such as London and Frankfurt Book Fairs help strengthen our many existing agent relationships and forge new ones. Our editorial team have a wealth of experience in the wider industry, with many of us having worked in some of the larger publishing houses, so we have carried some valuable agent relationships with us to Amazon Publishing.
NC: You arrived at Amazon Publishing after experience working at HarperCollins and Penguin Random House. What similarities and differences have you encountered?
LD: Each and every publisher is different in some way. As an editor my primary focus is to support and champion the authors on our list, to ensure they feel someone's with them every step of the way and to reach as wide an audience as possible. This focus has been the same wherever I've worked. The dedication and energy of the team at Amazon Publishing is infectious - every single team member is passionate about our books and our authors. I absolutely love that feeling of coming together to support a submission, and working collaboratively and creatively to make it a bestseller!
NC: What kind of books are you looking for?
LD: I like reading different types of books so my tastes vary. I adore fast-paced thrillers and emotive reading group fiction with strong characters. I also enjoy some literary tomes and thought-provoking non-fiction. I'm fascinated by how psychological thrillers continue to evolve and it's so exciting to see an author turn a genre on its head and do something different. One of the first questions I ask myself upon receiving a submission is, "Do I want to recommend this to other people?" If the answer is yes, then genre is irrelevant, that book is for me.
NC: What are some of Amazon Publishing's highlights this year?
LD: We have a fantastic list this year - too many great titles to name here! A few I'm really looking forward to publishing include Her Last Move, another nerve-shredder from John Marrs, coming in the autumn. We also have more psychological suspense from Teresa Driscoll, whose latest novel, The Friend, was published last month. The Retreat by Mark Edwards is deliciously creepy and is out in May. We also have two wonderful novels on our Lake Union list: The Thing About Clare by Imogen Clark and The Lines We Leave Behind by Eliza Graham, both coming in the autumn. For fans of translated fiction, I recommend All This I Will Give to You by the incredibly talented bestselling Spanish author, Dolores Redondo. It kept me up way into the night!
This article first appeared in the Publishers Weekly/BookBrunch London Book Fair Show Daily.