Lifting the lid on the publishing world

Michelle Hodgson - Festival Director

Lifting the lid on the publishing world

Author events are great fun. I should know – I’ve been to hundreds, mostly in a professional capacity, when I worked in book publishing. As Director of the Huddersfield Literature Festival, which takes place from 14-17 March 2013, I’m responsible for organising them.

A career in publishing

Over a 12-year span, I worked for a number of major publishing companies, working my way up to Publicity Director of Little Brown. On my very first day as Publicity Secretary at Macmillan Publishers, I was invited to a booksellers’ dinner. On my second day, I was asked to help out at a launch party in the House of Lords. Eventually, I was organising my own events, including a launch party for 200 people in the Flight Gallery of the Science Museum to celebrate the publication of Damon Hill’s My Championship Year and a launch for Whoopi Goldberg’s book at the Museum of the Moving Image.

There was a lot of hard work – we were in the office early every day, writing press releases, getting books out to reviewers, contacting the media and putting together author tour schedules. When I first started in publishing, we didn’t have mobile phones, email or even computers, which is hard to imagine today.

Author events and book launches

Over the years I took many authors to literary festivals, dinners and bookshop events. At the best events, there would be hundreds of people turning up to meet their favourite author; the flip side of the coin was having only four people turn up to an evening reading and having to eject one of them because he was sniffing glue.

Authors on TV

The publicity department is also responsible for setting up author interviews with newspapers, radio programmes and TV shows. When someone is in demand you can pick and choose where to send them, but it was hard work having to break it to an author that no one wanted to interview them or review their book.

Huddersfield Literature Festival 2013

So what are my hopes for HLF 2013? We already have a fabulous list of authors confirmed, including Kate Atkinson, Jodi Picoult and Joanne Harris, and I know that they will put on a great show. We are also planning creative writing workshops and events with local authors.

All we need now are the audiences – and that’s where you come in. We need bums on seats to make the festival a success and show everyone that Huddersfield is a town that supports and values books. When events are supported, authors and publishers get to hear about it – and we can ensure that we get offered more fabulous authors in following years.

So please visit our events page and get your tickets booked nice and early. If you’re a true dedicated bibliophile, then you might want to become a VIP Festival supporter: for £25 you get a package including free entry to all of the author events (apart from creative writing workshops), a limited-edition Festival T-shirt, a paperback book and a mention on our website.

Look forward to seeing you there.