EP 36 – Sara Cywinski – How to get your comedy / humour book noticed, sold and published by eBury Random House.

Ask The Industry Podcast Comments

EP 36 – Sara Cywinski – How to get your comedy / humour book noticed, sold and published by eBury Random House.



Total run time: 1 hour 21 mins 30 secs.

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About the Sarah Cywinski…

Sara Cywinski is Senior Commissioner of Comedy, Humour & Gift Books at eBury Random House (the worlds largest publisher). She’s previously written books including Kate:Style Princess and been an “ideas generator” for books at John Blake Publishing. She’s been at eBury for nearly 3 years and enjoys combining her love for social media with discovering the new big thing in writing.

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Here’s a list of questions we covered…

Author at John Blake Publishing

  • What mistakes / lessons have you learned as an author? [1 hour 09 mins 09 secs]
  • What mistakes / lessons have you learned as a book commissioner? [1 hour 09 mins 09 secs]
  • Were you an agent at John Blake or employed as a writer?
  • When you “dream up” a book idea, who gets final say over it? The readers / the publisher / you? [1 hour 3 mins 46 secs]

Random House…

  • What’s the process of taking a book idea to print (or digital)? [2 mins 45 secs]
  • How does Random House view people who decide to self publish? [9 mins 27 secs]
  • Does it help / hinder a pitch to Random House if you’ve already self published a book? [11 mins 36 secs]
  • What are selling more, digital or physical books and what’s the future for both? [13 mins 20 secs]
  • How would you describe the role of a publisher? And what other people are involved in the process of making a book (agents / editors etc) [17 mins 35 secs]
  • Where do you start looking for an agent? [21 mins 50 secs]
  • What is a good way of getting noticed by Random House without sending something weird to the office? [25 mins 40 secs]
  • What part does the publisher have in picking / deciding on the title/ book cover? [30 mins]
  • How to make an eye catching book cover? [34 mins]
  1. Why Fonts Matter
  2. 99 designs [video explanation]
  • As an author, do you work for Random House or do you have them signed up as contractors to write? [42 mins 40 secs]
  • What does Ebury think of “additional” content around books (blogs / podcasts etc) and how is that going to impact the future of the industry? [43 mins 40 secs]
  1. Dan and Phil book
  2. Dan and Phil trailer
  3. Tim Ferriss Trailer
  4. The 4-hour body
  5. How To Win Friends and Influence People
  • How many books do you published in a year? [49 mins 32 secs]
  • How long does it take for a book to go from an idea to the bookshelf? [50 mins 55 secs]
  • When is the best time to bring out a comedy / humour book? [52 mins 45 secs]
  • Your job now is to commision books, which as I understand it means you find a book you think is worth publishing and buy the rights to it, is that correct? [55 mins 50 secs]
  • How much and what should an author send Random House? The whole book? An idea? [1 hour 6 mins 04 secs]
  1. Ctrl Alt Delete
  • What’s the process for getting the book translated and what chances are there of selling it overseas? Do you need to get it translated into American? [57 mins]
  • Particularly relevant for ebooks, is there a way of working out where sales are coming from. Sometimes you get a spurt in sales but it seems impossible to tell where the book has been mentioned. [58 mins 28 secs]
  • What control do you have over the price of the book and is there best practices for creating special offers or giving it away free?  [1 hour 0 mins 4 secs]
  • How many books do you need to sell to get into the “best sellers” list? [1 hour 08 mins 00 secs]
  • Are the writers employed by Random House or do you just buy the rights to a book? [1 hour 2 mins 40 secs]
  • What happens if you give an author an advance and they miss the deadline? Do they have to pay it back?  [1 hour 1 mins 43 secs]
  • What is the typical deal like for an author or are all deals specific to the individual writer?

Social Media and the internet… 

  • How Random House scouts for authors using social media [0 mins 0 secs]
  1. Dan and Phil book
  2. Girl Online
  • At what point do you start to think someone on social media has a big enough audience to approach them? [1 min 25 secs]
  • How do you discover new talent online? [6 mins 09 secs]
  • APE : How To Publish A Book
  • What do you think of Amazon opening a bookshop? [1 hour 11 mins 19 secs]
      • Amazon’s books being barred from shops
  • Do you think Amazon has too much power? [12 mins 25 secs]
  • Are publishers taking more or less risks on new writers? [1 hour 13 mins 35 secs]


  • Favourite authors you’ve worked with? [1 hour 12 mins 30 secs]
  1. Dan And Phil
  • Best bit of advice you’ve ever been given? [1 hour 16 mins 55 secs]
  • Bit of advice you’d give to a budding author with and an author without an agent. [1 hour 18 mins 30 secs]



Simon Caine is a comedian, author, podcaster, writer and social media manager. He's the host of the Ask The Industry Podcast (iTunes link) , writer of jokes for Twitter and teller of gags on the London comedy scene. He's also the person writing this and it is taking all his willpower not to make a "Simon Says" joke.
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