BBC World News America correspondent Katty Kay spoke at the eBook Summit on being a journalist and an author. Her book, Womenomics, co-written with Claire Shipman, came out in 2009, so she hit the book market at exactly the moment when an author had to figure out social media, blogging, and self-branding. She spoke at length about her work straddling traditional media and new media. She said, “I think mostly now people are writing books alongside other jobs,” and noted that the only way she could have written her book was with the stability of her BBC job.
Her book was contracted in 2008, in the midst of a period of great change in publishing. According to Kay, her ties to TV enabled her book deal: “part of the reason they gave us a good contract was we had access to traditional media.”
She also spoke about balancing the need to support a family and to promote a book using social media. “I Can’t do my full time job, and be blogging, Facebooking and Twittering,” she said. She advises authors to “define what you’re good at and what you enjoy and what you need to do,” though she noted you don’t need to be perfect at all of it.
The subject of making a living came up throughout the interview and during the Q&A. One audience member essentially summarized the panel, saying, “Don’t quit your day job” if you want to be an author.