Lightning's Pack retires from full-time publishing after final deal

Lightning's Pack retires from full-time publishing after final deal

Lightning Books editor-at-large Scott Pack is retiring from full-time publishing after signing his final book, Sour Grapes, by Dan Rhodes.

Sour Grapes is billed as “a hilarious satire on the literary world which takes no prisoners as it skewers authors, agents, publishers and reviewers alike. It is bound to cause a storm when it is published, as the literati find caricatures of themselves within its pages.”

Pack acquired world English language rights to the novel direct from the author, in his last deal before retiring from full-time publishing.

He said: “I cannot think of a better book with which to bow out. I have occasionally annoyed others in the industry by commenting on how incestuous, biased, privileged and, frankly, ridiculous the whole thing is so I am thrilled that Dan has written a book that says all of that in a much better, and much funnier, way than I ever could. He also happens to be one of my favourite authors and it is an honour to publish him, even if I am buggering off as soon as I have done so."

Pack was previously head of buying at Waterstones from 2000 to 2006 before moving into publishing where he worked as publisher of the Friday Project imprint at HarperCollins, and the Aardvark Bureau imprint at Gallic Books. He was also an associate editor at Unbound.

He said he would be focusing on other activities including his work as a specialist subject question setters for "Mastermind", where his questions have covered everything from the Booker to Taylor Swift, and teaching an editorial module for the publishing MA at Oxford Brookes.

Pack told The Bookseller: “I do a lot of freelance editing, which will continue, and I host workshops and talks and Guardian Masterclasses. But I am fortunate that all of these are things I can, to an extent, pick and choose and therefore decide how busy I want to be in any given week or month. 

“That is not the case with publishing, where you pretty much have to be available every day as there is always something that needs doing for the book that has just come out, or the one that is going to print, or the one you are editing, and I simply decided I didn't want to do that any more. I will miss working with authors but I won't miss politely begging people for cover quotes, watching Waterstones order zero copies of an award-winning book from Australia or New Zealand, or seeing major publishers receive 90%+ of the books media coverage!”

Pack has also been commissioned to write a book of his own and will continue working with Abandoned Bookshop, the reissue imprint he co-founded.

Dan Hiscocks, founder and publisher of Eye Books, said: “It’s been great to work with Scott Pack closely over the past four years. He has been instrumental in making our fiction imprint, Lightning Books, recognised and established in a very competitive world. His insight and experience will be missed, but we now have the team to drive our imprint forward, as well as a very exciting 2022 list which we can’t wait to share.

“Before that, we are proud to be publishing Sour Grapes, which is a fitting swansong to Scott’s illustrious career. It’s sure to ruffle a few feathers and, like Scott himself, to have an impact after he has left the room.”

Sour Grapes will be published in hardback and e-book formats in November 2021.

The book's synopsis explains: “When the sleepy English village of Broad Bottom hosts its first literary festival, the good, the bad and the ugly of the book world descend upon its leafy lanes. But the villagers are not prepared for the peculiar habits, petty rivalries and unspeakable desires of the authors. And they are certainly not equipped to deal with Wilberforce Selfram, the ghoul-faced, pretentious enfant terrible who wreaks havoc wherever he goes.”

Rhodes said: ‘I’ve been lurking in various dark corners of the book racket since 1994. I always swore I would never write about it, but here we are with Sour Grapes. If nothing else, it’s conclusive proof that I can’t be trusted.”