Poolbeg Press Interview
Posted on 14 April 2009. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
WriteWords talks to Paula Campbell, publisher at Poolbeg Press
Tell us about Poolbeg Press – list, ethos etc
Poolbeg Press is a wholly owned Irish company and was established in 1976. It has become synonymous with discovering and building new Irish writers, particularly in the area of women’s fiction such as Marian Keyes, Cathy Kelly, Sheila O’Flanagan, Patricia Scanlan, and Melissa Hill.
Over the past few years we have began to publish more in the area of popular non fiction. Our ethos is basically if we feel it is a good story and we can do justice to it, we will publish it!
My background is very much steeped in Bookselling. Having studied English at college, I started working in book retail and then moved to wholesaling. I started in Poolbeg Press in the Sales and Marketing department before taking on the role of Publisher nine years ago. Having experience in many different areas of bookselling has been a great advantage.
What excites you about a piece of writing-
A page-turner keeps me excited – a gripping story that I can’t put down – this can be humorous, emotional or quite dark.
Our challenge if we have a book at Poolbeg Press, is to try and get that message across to the public – we are lucky that in Ireland the Poolbeg Press brand is pretty well known – people who buy our books generally know what to expect.
and what makes your heart sink?
A badly presented manuscript! One that has an indecipherable handwritten scrawl threatening me that if I don’t respond in 24 hours we’ll loose a great opportunity.
Specific do's and dont's for chicklit writers?
The market for women’s fiction is so overcrowded at the moment that a manuscript really has to have that “Wow” factor. My advice to new writers is to make sure that the manuscript is properly presented, that you include detailed synopsis/summary of the plot – that it is well thought out. Belief in what they are writing is essential, and that they are not trying to write to a formula. Above all do not harass the publishing house!! Realistically, we get about 2,000 manuscripts yearly to Poolbeg Press. With day to day business going on all the time, it does take time to get a response back – don’t call every week – it can take a few months to get back with a response.
Who are your favourite writers and why?
It is difficult to single out individual authors on the list – but looking at this year schedule there is certainly a great mix of writing styles and storylines – I really like Claire Allan’s ability to mix great humour with dark realism, she is not unlike Marian Keyes in that way. I love the quirky familiarity of Sharon Owens, the originality of Anna McPartlin, the welcome humour of newcomer Emma Hannigan’s Designer Genes.
How would you sum up what the company does/intends to do – what makes it stand out?
Poolbeg Press will continue to nurture and discover Irish writing talent. Over the years, our company has produced such names as Marian Keyes, Cathy Kelly, Sheila O’Flanagan, Patricia Scanlan and Melissa Hill – we hope that by the end of next year we will have created the next household names. I think what makes us stand out is our accessibility to authors. We work as a team. We are responsible for bringing authors through the publishing process from signing to publication, and above all we make sure to have a great time while we doing it!
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