So long, farewell...

Dear Liberties Press colleagues, authors, friends, supporters, and general blog readers!

So far on our blog we’ve had a range of posts, on our launches, media campaigns, insights into our authors and their books, competitions, general Liberties Press news, but rarely posts from Liberties staff on any of our own news. I hope you’ll now indulge me as today is my last day working in this wonderful publishing house, and I thought it would be fitting to leave a note…and perhaps start a tradition of staff posts?

Like most of my colleagues, all actually until our Rights Agent Caelen came along and ruined our statistic…but aren’t we glad to have her!, I first came to Liberties as an intern in 2008 and from then until joining as Publicity & Marketing Assistant, and later becoming Publicity & Marketing Manager, no two days have ever been the same. I am utterly biased but Liberties Press is a wonderful, independent publisher with an exciting range of books and with such broad topics covered in our titles, there was always something for each member to be enthused by. In the last four and a half years, I’ve read and learned about many topics, some it’s fair to say I perhaps would not have read otherwise, but it is the best possible way to broaden the mind and push the boundaries of what I thought ‘I liked to read’.

Undoubtedly I am very proud of our books, and especially when they tell important, unheard stories such as Julieann Campbell’s Setting the Truth Free: The Inside Story of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign; Tom Clonan’s Blood, Sweat and Tears: An Irish Soldier’s Story of Love and Loss; and the O’Flaherty’s fascinating surrogacy experience in Baby Ava…and they’re just titles from this past year. It’s incredibly difficult to choose ‘favourites’ or ‘best moments’ as every book brought such wide-ranging experiences: from learning about the history of the Girl Guides in Gillian Finan’s A Hundred Years A-Growing and getting to work with Sonia O’Sullivan as she helped to promote the title, to arranging a live band, Ham Sandwich, to play at the launch for Tony Clayton-Lea’s 101 Irish Records
from launching Joe Murphy’s debut novel 1798: Tomorrow the Barrow We’ll Cross in Drogheda’s Martello Tower on a rainy, atmospheric November night to the night we launched Patrick Scott's retrospective book in IMMA with Maria Doyle Kennedy singing a song written in his honour, and celebrating Michael D. Higgins’ New & Selected Poems in the National Library of Ireland with a throng of media and attendees. Recently we've also had our first launches in Northern Ireland and UK launches, both for Julieann's book, and the always-amazing Lara Marlowe was celebrated in New York.

I am going to miss so very much about Liberties Press and not just in-house. Throughout my work here I’ve met and worked with such a range of journalists, producers, bloggers, agents, launchers, reviewers, distributors (CMD, anyone?), bookshops, designers…and there have been many wonderful experiences. To leave now at the end of 2012 is to undoubtedly leave on a high: we have had our first authors on The Late Late Show – in January with Julieann Campbell to mark the 40th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, and most recently in November the O’Flahertys discussing their surrogacy tale; we celebrated our first No 1 in the Nielsen Book Charts with Melanie Verwoerd’s remarkable life story When We Dance; our first award with the UK recognising the comical, dark crime-fiction writing genius that is Declan Burke for the magnificent Absolute Zero Cool; our first launch at the inspiring Listowel Writers’ Week festival with Barry Cassin’s I Never Had A Proper Job... 

Looking back on the last few years the milestones continue, one of our authors became the head of state, our very own President Michael D. Higgins; being in a position to honour the much-missed and admired Garret FitzGerald as we launched Just Garret with his family following his passing; and somehow beating the weather in May of last year to host an outdoor launch for Shirley Lanigan’s The 100 Best Gardens in Ireland!

I feel like a parent choosing favourite children, but these are just some of the many, many moments that pop into my mind; every author brings something different and every book a new experience. I wish all our authors the very best and look forward to watching them grown and will be keeping an eye out for their next books…keep writing, always!

A highlight outside specific books would definitely be attending my first London Book Fair completely by accident, thanks Eyjafjallajökull… I was stranded in Coventry, Seán and Peter were stuck in Dublin so with a few hours notice, I found myself on a train to London (also a first as I’d never been to the city before!) to attend the book fair…in at the deep end but thankfully I didn’t sink! Since then I’ve been to the London Book Fair another twice, and this year to Frankfurt. Such wonderful experiences…a book lover’s heaven, even if utterly exhausting! Not technically outside books, but I have to include the past two years at the Irish Book Awards here: any night that involves ball gowns, books, dancing, and ends with Bobo burgers in town goes down as favourite memories, for sure. This Christmas’ inaugural Mulled Wine & Mince Pies evening for our authors, which was so well attended despite the miserable weather, was a lovely gathering and one I hope continues! I also cannot forget to mention the wonderful Literary Festivals I've attended over the years...with Doneraile a particular highlight for Alice, the travelling Saxo, and I!

Watching our publishing house grow, and as our MD Seán O’Keeffe bucked the recession and created jobs, has been a fascinating time. When I started, there was only one employee in editorial and one in publicity; just under five years later, there are more than double the numbers in each area with our own Rights Agent and Sales Rep having joined us. Not many companies are making such leaps and bounds, and I take my hat off to Seán (and my colleagues for all their work) in doing so.

The hardest goodbyes unquestionably belong to my Liberties family here: Alice, Caelen, Christina, Clara, Dan, Therese, Seán…mugs of tea and slow claps all around! Anyone is lucky to become part of what we call our extended family and I look forward to being Liberties Press’ No 1 Supporter (sorry Seamus Dowling, you’ve been usurped!) and being the crazy relative who lives across the water and visits with lots of presents (hmmmm…maybe without the presents part!) at special occasions. My favourite memories by far involve you lot and all I have to say is cricket balls to them all...that, and the Terminator.

So to each and every one of you that I’ve met throughout this job, I wish you all the best and a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

Yours in books,
Caroline