Ben Schrank is President and Publisher, Razorbill (Penguin) and a published author too – we are delighted to welcome him as our speaker at BookMachine New York. With under a week to go until the event, we caught up with Ben to find out more.
1) You’ve been at Penguin for nearly 7 years now, what sort of changes have you seen during this time?
Penguin hasn’t changed much—I came because the company embraces and engenders creativity and that’s still true. But children’s books have exploded, which has created a lot more competition. A new YA imprint launches every week, which has glutted the market. However, I’m excited about Lizzie Skurnick books,
2) As well as working in publishing, you’re a published author. How do your two areas of work complement each other?
I always look at any issue from the author’s perspective, from the publisher’s and sometimes even from the agent’s. I hope this helps me play fair with everybody. When we ask writers for things, I’m also able to function as my own built-in reality check.
3) Your talk at BookMachine is about collaborating with non-publishers. Any hint as to what you might talk about?
4) What would you suggest as a top tip for aspiring writers wanting to get published?
I’m happy to say that I still believe a good story wins the day. Great Internet skills, terrific networking capability, brilliant teeth—none of it matters if you haven’t written a terrific story. Aspiring writers should focus on their craft and not worry so much about the other stuff.
5) Finally, what do you think people hope to get out of a publishing social event? How do you think they’re useful?
I think people should hope to meet people they like and want to collaborate with them. If that happens, they’re sure to wake up in the morning feeling that the evening was well-spent.