Publishing has undergone many changes in recent years, due to the increasing influence of technology and the effects of the recession.
However, when it comes to the industry’s consumer base, the facts remain the same: with research showing time and time again that women make up the majority of the book market.
So who are the women at the forefront of publishing in Ireland and what is it like to work in publishing these days?
Lisa Coen and Sarah Davis-Goff founded their publishing company, Tramp Press, in 2013. The pair previously worked together in Lilliput Press, where Davis-Goff discovered the award-winning writer Donal Ryan.
“Sarah was covering someone’s sabbatical at the time and I was doing an internship. Neither of us remember who had the idea first but we kept talking about what we would do if we had our own publishing house. We decided to go for it when we left at the end of 2012. We set up a website and spent a year getting the company running before we launched last April,” says Coen.
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Coen says that most of the changes in publishing have been beneficial.
“There is a lot more mobility now. We don’t have an office and we don’t need one. Sarah and I work from our homes and are constantly in contact through email, so that’s cut out a huge expense. Publishing has been cleared out after the recession and those who are left are the real die-hards, which can only be a good thing. The days of signing an author for a two-book deal, then dumping them when things don’t work out, is a thing of the past.”
Although women are the main readers of fiction, Coen has noticed a reluctance within the industry to publish female writers.
“A lot of really good writing by women is overlooked. The first book we published was by a woman and we were told it would be hard to sell. The reality is that we are on our third reprint. The industry is telling people what they want but readers are buying books simply because they are good.”
Vanessa O’Loughlin has been part of the literary scene in Ireland since 2006, when she was one of the first people in the country to set up fiction-writing workshops.
“I had previously worked in event management so I decided to set up my own company, Inkwell, and offer writing courses with well-known authors. I based the courses on a corporate model and they were really lovely days out.
“Inkwell changed during the recession, as people weren’t doing as many courses as they would have liked to. We evolved into a publishing consultancy, now called The Inkwell Group, and we work on a one-to-one basis with authors.”
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“Publishing is an exciting place to be at the moment, as there are different opportunities opening up every day online. Digital publishing and self-publishing offers a great opportunity for writers to get their work out there, as due to the constraints of running a publishing house, not every good book can be published.”
O’Loughlin says that editors’ resources have been stretched in recent years and that their expectations and standards have risen as a result.
“Publishing houses have had to trim their cloth due to the recession and the reduction in book sales. So now, when a writer submits a manuscript, it really needs to be publisher-ready. Editors just don’t have the time to search for a glimmer of genius.”
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One of the biggest developments to shake up the publishing industry in recent years has been self-publishing. Research carried out last year at Kingston University in the UK, showed that 65pc of self-published writers are women.