Martin Neild

The managing director of Hodder & Stoughton defendsthe publishing house's commission of author Amy Jenkins against criticisms made by DJ Taylor
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DJ TAYLOR is, of course, entitled to his view of Amy Jenkins's novel HoneyMoon, but it is unfortunate that he has allowed this to form the basis of ill-informed generalities about publishing.

Early reports suggest that the public feel very differently, with HoneyMoon selling strongly right across the country and already on best-seller lists. I can see that this must be a bitter pill for "nanny critics" like DJ Taylor who are so convinced that they alone know what is "good for us."

Contrary to Mr Taylor's financial calculations, HoneyMoon will almost certainly make a publishing profit. All publishing is a risk, but careful calculations were made about this book's potential. It is already outperforming forecasts for its publication as a large-format paperback and hardback. Next year it will be published as a mass-market paperback. It would be astonishing if HoneyMoon were not high up the list of bestsellers next year, and we are completely confident of its success.

Amy Jenkins is a highly talented writer with a great and demonstrable popular appeal. It is to her credit that she will not be confined by a currently fashionable genre, and we greatly relish seeing what she will do next.

The implication that advances such as those paid to Amy Jenkins preclude investment in other newcomers is wrong. Hodder & Stoughton publishes more first-time novelists than any other UK publisher, and they are our lifeblood. While the old publishing maxim that 20 per cent of books subsidise the other 80 per cent remains true, the success of HoneyMoon will provide the investment to launch more "newcomers with something to say".

In spite of his protestations to the contrary, it is difficult to view DJ Taylor's comments as anything other than the worst sort of literary snobbery.