Publishing companies function in an industry which is defined by a complex interplay of the creative and the economic. They must be able to recognise and nurture creative talent and they must be commercially savvy enough to turn the creative spark into a profitable product. Too much emphasis on the commercial aspects will stifle creativity and readers will turn elsewhere. Too much emphasis on creativity might mean that a publisher has a fantastic book, but does not make any money from it, thus jeopardising the potential to publish future books.
My time at Vagabond Voices made me think about this predicament. It was an invaluable experience. I sampled many things from rights and contracts to designing websites, from meeting authors to assisting at book launches. I was put in charge of online marketing and introduced the publisher to increasingly potent social media instruments such as Twitter. Yet it was the philosophy of the company that really struck a chord with me. A ‘vagabond’ can be classed as someone who is disreputable or worthless. As a publisher, however, Vagabond Voices is far from disreputable. Testament to its integrity, it has managed in particularly bleak economic times to maintain that which drives people to read and write: an enduring respect for the written word.
Returning to my opening paragraph with this is mind, it must be said that the lasting impression from my time at Vagabond Voices is the notion that the commercial and creative aspects of a business must indeed be in conversation, yet to maintain literary credibility it must be the creative side that speaks with a louder voice.