Meet Arabella Stein
At an event at Seven Stories in Newcastle last week with Chris Chatterton, I was taken out of the daily round of emails, meetings, phone calls, negotiations, trips to A&E with my 8 year old daughter for a nail that DIDN’T go through her foot, and reminded very simply and yet powerfully of exactly why I do what I do, and wouldn’t for a moment want to do anything else…
It’s because I watched an Aardvark come alive — possibly an anxious Aardvark, possibly not, but very definitely one with a story to tell, and if he was feeling anxious (the Aardvark that is, not, I hope, Chris) allow an emotion to be translated into a language that a child of any age can understand — and this with unforgettable warmth, humour and immediacy.
Only in children’s books, can you then have a very serious conversation about said Aardvark not only with his creator, but also with publishers, and the crucial sales, marketing and publicity teams, and then via booksellers, librarians, teachers and parents and through social media, traditional press coverage et al, get that Aardvark, and his point of view to children. For whom books are still bought or lent.
And that’s magic.
I was brought up in publishing — it’s a compelling career path, and having a father who was an agent, a mother who was a publisher, an aunt who is a scout etc whilst I did do other jobs, none of them ever seemed much more than an experiment. I think it’s because publishing still feels that it has a real purpose. Books are wanted in the world in whatever format they come and whether on the adult or children’s side, acquiring books or selling them, representing an artist or author who can bring to life something is never going to be about selling ‘product’.
It’s frustrating of course that there isn’t a formula, nor a guarantee of success. The brilliant book that doesn’t work. The less than brilliant one that does. But with books, because it is always subjective about which book is brilliant — there’s an on-going conversation that matters.
Books are discussed, shared, loved, cancelled, re-printed, remaindered, core stock, out of stock, award-winning, loss-making, rewarding, forgotten. But it’s rarely due to a lack of effort, commitment, time or enthusiasm. Plus you can always sagely state the obvious. And much as I’m not a fan of what I think is a hugely over-used phrase within our industry, pretty much all of those involved are passionate about what they do. Would be good if we could use a different word though. I’m going to be Aardvark about books in future.
More about Arabella:
“With a growing portfolio Bright have appointed Arabella Stein as their new Senior Agent. Previously Editorial Director at Pan Macmillan, Fourth Estate and Paperback Publishing Director at Bloomsbury, Arabella was then a director at the Abner Stein Literary Agency for over 12 years representing a variety of prize-winning and bestselling authors…” Click to continue reading
Clockwise from top left: Sebastien Braun, Jarvis, Carly Gledhill and Ada Grey.
You can follow Arabella on twitter @Arabella_Stein