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Random House Group UK to offer authors as speakers

Random House is diversifying into author management with the launch of an international speakers service, in association with The London Speaker Bureau. Authors including Sebastian Faulks, Louis de Bernières, Irvine Welsh and Donna Leon are now available to hire for conferences, panel discussions, keynote addresses and after-dinner speeches.

The service is being promoted through www.randomhousespeakers.co.uk, and units are already active at Random House US, Canada and Germany. The move, however, puts the publisher in competition with literary agencies such as Ed Victor and Conville & Walsh, which have also launched speaker bureaux. It also shows how willing publishers are to diversify; Faber and Bloomsbury have recently set up complementary businesses such as creative writing courses and author events.

Random House is starting with a group of 13 authors, including travel author Tim Butcher, sustainability specialist Steve Benbow, architectural historian Dan Cruickshank, Guardian economics editor Larry Elliott, children's nutrition expert Annabel Karmel and Conran Group c.e.o. Roger Mavity. Science writer Fred Pearce, French political scientist Dominique Moisi and nature writer Richard Mabey complete the starting line-up.

Vintage Publishing managing director Richard Cable said: "The success of the Random House Speakers Bureaux in the US and Germany has shown that publishers are ideally placed to work with our authors in this area. The expertise and dedication we bring to publishing our authors will be extended to this new venture and provide our authors with a valuable new service."

A spokeswoman for the publisher said it predicted that the bureau would lead to increased book sales as a result of introducing the author to a new audience, and said it planned to expand the service to include more authors after the launch.

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This is an interesting development. If other publishers follow suit, does this mean that authors will eventually find clauses in their contracts obliging them to organise all speaking events through the publisher and give them a cut of their fees?

This is an interesting development. If other publishers follow suit, does this mean that authors will eventually find clauses in their contracts obliging them to organise all speaking events through the publisher and give them a cut of their fees?