Friday, 25 September 2009

BBC launches 'real-life' writing competition

"The BBC has launched a competition to find "the greatest real-life stories never told", with the prize of "a publishing deal with a prestigious UK publishing house", as yet undisclosed. The prize, which could go to a maximum of five of the finalists, also includes an advance and royalties based on sales."

Could this be the X Factor for wannabe writers? More details on the link below:

BBC launches 'real-life' writing competition:

Google Books deal postponed after avalanche of criticism

Google Books deal postponed after avalanche of criticism: "

The Google digital library row explained
The judge overseeing Google's controversial agreement with American publishers to digitise millions of books has delayed a hearing into the $125m deal - effectively shutting down the settlement and sending it back to the drawing board.

Instead of proceeding with the internet giant's plans to make millions of in-copyright books available online and take a slice of the proceeds - a deal first announced last year - the groups will now go back and renegotiate the settlement in way that satisfies critics including the US Department of Justice.

A hearing into the existing deal had originally been scheduled for early October, as the court prepared to rule on whether the settlement was fair or not. However, following objections posed by Washington, the groups involved in the deal had said they needed more time to re-work the agreement.

New York district judge Denny Chin, who is overseeing the case, said on Thursday that the parties would be granted their request to return to the negotiating table to work out more details.

'The current settlement agreement raises significant issues, as demonstrated not only by the number of objections, but also by the fact that the objectors include countries, states, non-profit organisations and prominent authors and law professors. Clearly fair concerns have been raised,' he wrote in a two-page order.

He added, however, that there was substantial public benefit to be gained from the deal and that future tweaks would be dealt with as quickly as possible.

'The proposed settlement would offer many benefits to society, as recognised by supporters of the settlement as well as the Department of Justice. It would appear that if a fair and reasonable settlement can be struck, the public would benefit.'

The case had proved one of the most controversial in recent memory, creating a tidal wave of criticism from a wide variety of groups, including authors, publishers, advocacy groups and Amazon and Microsoft opposing the deal as 'susceptible to abuse'.

In Europe, concerns were raised since the deal could have significant global implications, despite only theoretically applying to the US.

Google had tried to head off those criticisms by assembling its own alliance of supporters, including Japanese electronics giant Sony and a number of groups who backed the wider availability of information promised by the book scanning project.

The Californian internet company said that it intended to continue pursuing a deal, while the Authors Guild - which was one of the groups that agreed to the settlement - said the details would eventually be thrashed out.
'We'll continue to work on amending the settlement to address the Justice Department's concerns,' it said in a statement on its website. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2009


Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize 2009 in association with The Daily Telegraph

Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize 2009 in association with The Daily Telegraph: "

The Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize 2009 is endowed by Benjamin Franklin House

Chairman John Studzinski, Senior Managing Director, The Blackstone Group International.

The 2009 Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize asks professional and young writers in 1000-1500 words to interpret the Franklin quote:

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

The winner of the Young Writers Prize will receive £500 while the winner of the Professional Writers Prize will receive £1000. Winning essays will be published by Britain's leading newspaper the Daily Telegraph at

Entries for 2009 must be received by 30 September."

Freelance Transcriptionist

Helen Kirby is an experienced freelance transcriptionist who is currently seeking copy or audio typing work, helping authors or publishers.

She has over fifteen years experience in administration and over five years experience in audio transcription with qualifications in word processing and typing (all passed with distinction) and a touch typing speed of 95 w.p.m.

She is  keen to work for authors (or publishers) on a regular basis typing novels or short stories. References can be supplied.  You can contact her at

Friday, 18 September 2009

The Peculiar World of Book Selling

Authors whether published or not need to have an awareness of how the industry in which they operate works. In our case this is the bookselling and publishing industry. This latest article from The Bookseller briefly examines the market today and gives a prognosis for the year to come.  The comment made at the end of the article also demonstrates how heavy discounting to some retailers can cause problems not only for the publishers but also for booksellers and, I might add, authors who in turn get less for their product. With books being a low value, slow moving consumer good (except in the case of Dan Brown and J.K. Rowling) and consumers expecting low prices for books you can see how margins will be squeezed!

Juden: publishers can 'drive themselves out of recession': "The longer-term outlook for the book..."

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Publishers cutting marketing budgets for books

With many publishers cutting their marketing budgets where does that leave authors?  The simple answer is undertaking a lot of marketing themselves. But then that's nothing new for the majority of writers.  The article below provides an insight into how some publishers are trimming their budgets, their attitudes and approaches to book marketing.  It could  also provide some tips for authors who want to promote their books.

With Marketing Budgets Slashed, Co-op and Web Take Priority

"With the recent economic downturn, book advertising — in the traditional sense at least — is on the decline. The majority of US publishers have cut their marketing budgets by 50-70% over the last year. What’s more, while some ad prices have been depressed, prices have not dropped far enough to make them a viable way to advertise most books: a full-page color ad in a leading national publication still costs somewhere in the range of $100,000, while a single 30-second spot on a network television morning talk show goes for a cool $50,000 price tag — prices steep enough to blow even the most generous book marketing budget in a single shot."

Posted using ShareThis

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Are Writing Classes A Waste Of Time? Joseph Finder

Some extremely useful information in the article below for writers, written by Internationally acclaimed  author Joseph Finder. 

For Writers | Joseph Finder

Shared via AddThis

Short Story Prize

Here is a chance for all short story writers to make a name for themselves and win some BIG bucks! Good luck.

Sunday Times launches £25k short story prize: "Writers Lynn Barber, A S Byatt, Nick Hornby..."

Monday, 14 September 2009

DJ Taylor: Dan Brown is going to be the ruin of us all

A good article that has some valid points for authors about the crazy world of publishing and book selling.

DJ Taylor: Dan Brown is going to be the ruin of us all: "

Over the next few days an extraordinary farce will start to be enacted in bookshops and supermarkets the length and breadth of the UK. I refer, of course, to the long-awaited publication of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, officially released tomorrow, but already available (apparently) in fragmented form on the net. The element of farce attaches itself not to the contents of the novel but the way in which it is being brought to the punter.


Friday, 11 September 2009

Kilgarriff blames Boyars closure on 'discounts'

Below is an interesting article on the demise of one independent publisher, which is to cease trading next year. It explains how the book trade affects independent publishers who cannot afford to pay the fee the large retailers require to promote their titles. Many people don't realise that when they see a book promoted in one of the major high street retailers such as W.H. Smiths, Borders or Waterstones the publisher is paying for that promotion. I was at a meeting of publishers last year where a publisher relayed that he had been asked to pay £70,000 to Smiths for them to promote one title in their stores. Of course, the independent publisher couldn't afford this. Many independent publishers rely on creating word of mouth for their titles and on-line promotions to stimulate demand, and authors today need to do a considerable amount of marketing to raise their profile and generate book sales.

The titles that the public see continually promoted and available on supermarket shelves are there because the publisher has paid to get them there. This doesn't mean they aren't good books-many are. The publisher will pay for the promotion because he or she is pretty confident they will get a return on their investment. This is business after all. Sometime they get a return and sometimes they don't!

Kilgarriff blames Boyars closure on 'discounts': "Marion Boyars is being wound down because of..."

Publisher Marion Boyars driven out of business

Publisher Marion Boyars driven out of business: "

Pioneering independent is to be wound up, with many back catalogue titles to be licensed to Penguin
One of the UK's most adventurous independent publishers, Marion Boyars, is being forced out of business after more than 40 years by the adverse climate of today's book trade.

The publisher of authors including Ken Kesey, Georges Bataille, Nobel prize winner Kenzaburo Oe, Ivan Illich and Shel Silverstein, Marion Boyars said this morning that it had sold licences in 38 literary titles to Penguin Classics, and that it would be winding down its operations once it has completed its autumn programme.

'I didn't go bust but I would have, maybe by March,' said publisher Catheryn Kilgarriff, daughter of Marion Boyars, who started the firm in the 1960s as Calder and Boyars, running it jointly with John Calder. When the firm split in 1975, it became Marion Boyars, and when Boyars herself died in 1999, Kilgarriff took over as managing director.

'As an independent with no backers, we don't have any resources, so I owe it to my family to stay in the black,' said Kilgarriff. She blamed the closure on the changed structure of the book trade, which is now 'all about discounting', on the lessening influence of press exposure, and on the proliferation of literary prizes, diluting the effect which a shortlisting can have. 'Even if I get a book on a shortlist I couldn't afford the fee, so I no longer wanted to win prizes,' she added.

Having been in profit since 2002, she 'wasn't willing to lose what I'd built up – and I would have,' so she decided to wind down operations, and was pleased to find a home for 38 books with Penguin. These include a host of Bataille, Silverstein and Heinrich Böll titles, Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Hubert Selby's Last Exit to Brooklyn and Henri-Pierre Roche's Jules et Jim, as well as two books by bestselling Turkish author Elif Shafak.

'I feel like it's a good solution,' said Penguin Classics publisher Adam Freudenheim. 'I've been aware that some small publishers have been finding it a difficult market, particularly over the last 18 months. A lot are thriving, like Canongate, but the next tier down are in a difficult place. This is a wonderful list, and I'm glad we're able to publish so many in Penguin ... I feel really excited about it – it's a great opportunity for us. It's sad for Catheryn and Marion Boyars, but they had a good run.'

He will be publishing the majority of the titles under the Penguin Modern Classics imprint, with the intention to bring them all out by the end of 2011.

Kilgarriff said that the rest of the Marion Boyars backlist is now available for acquisition, in particular its drama and social science titles. The independent press will continue to operate throughout the autumn, for which it has a full line-up of titles, including the Spanish prize-winning author Luis Leante, who is coming to London in September to promote See How Much I Love You. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2009 Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions More Feeds

Tough times for Authors

I've put two links below to informative articles for authors, both published and those seeking publication. The comments others have made about the articles listed also make interesting reading.

It is very tough for many businesses and individuals at the moment and extremely tough for most authors with the exception of the BIG sellers. It's not just because of the recession though, and although the economic climate is responsible for cut backs in the publishing world the book industry is continuing to change at a very fast rate and will continue to do so with the advent of new technology and readers habits.

Authors taking pay cuts of up to 50%: "Authors have seen their advances drop over..."

Publishers cancelling books to cut costs: "Authors are being told their books are not..."

Monday, 7 September 2009

A useful web site for writers

WriteInvite is an initiative to invite absolutely anyone to write. Everyone likes to hear a story, and tell one too. WriteInvite welcomes writers of all ages, experiences and styles to get involved in their short story writing competitions.

"The relaxed, informal vibe we try to create is intended to encourage you to be free in your writing, to enjoy competing against others and ultimately to have fun!! WriteOnSite takes our popular WriteInvite competition format and throws it open to the world!"

Want to compete? Find out more...

Friday, 4 September 2009

Google Books: Authors Guild comes out swinging at Amazon

Google Books: Authors Guild comes out swinging at Amazon: "

With the deadline drawing closer in the dispute over the Google Books settlement (representations to the New York court overseeing the case have to be made by the end of this week) the battle between the two sides is growing more fierce by the day.

Yesterday Amazon took a pop at its rival, while today Google held its own press conference with organisations that support its deal with US authors and publishers - which I reported earlier as an attempt to sidestep the substantial issue of whether they have the right to act on behalf of all authors and publishers in the states.

Now, however, one of the groups that proposed the settlement in question - the Authors Guild - has come out with both arms swinging, as well as a couple of feet too. On its website, the guild took a shot at Amazon in an angry post entitled 'Amazon accused someone else of monopolizing bookselling'.
Amazon's hypocrisy is breathtaking. It dominates online bookselling and the fledgling e-book industry. At this moment it's trying to cement its control of the e-book industry by routinely selling e-books at a loss. It won't do that forever, of course. Eventually, when enough readers are locked in to its Kindle, everyone in the industry expects Amazon to squeeze publishers and authors. The results could be devastating for the economics of authorship.
Amazon apparently fears that Google could upend its plans. Amazon needn't worry, really: this agreement is about out-of-print books. Its lock on the online distribution of in-print books, unfortunately, seems secure
Fierce words. With a seething rant like that, perhaps the AG is even prepared to get its teeth in on the action as well as its limbs.
And it's fair to question Amazon's motives. I can't imagine they're acting from entirely pure motives. But that doesn't necessarily mean they're wrong, does it? And although Amazon does dominate the book selling market almost entirely, we have yet to see that there is any legislative or contractual monopoly that makes it so - just a rapacious and scarily effective business.
There is also the question of whether this case is worth worrying about, since it only applies to American organisations. The German government certainly thinks so, objecting to Google's $125m deal when it offered its own representation to the court. But why? For a start, once something's on the internet in one country, we all know that it's everywhere.
And the settlement covers all books published in the US, wherever the author is based. In fact, I think it also applies to books about the US - at least on this morning's conference call one of the speakers pointed out that Google has already started scanning lots of books in Latin America (and it's been scanning books at the Bodleian in Oxford for years).
If you want a view from the front line, you could do an awful lot worse than this post by British author Nick Harkaway, who points out why he's concerned.
I think that this deal is a mistake. I'm not comfortable with being in a standardised bundle which can't be negotiated, and I'm not happy being in a long-term relationship with Google without ever having dealt with them directly.
I'm troubled by the Book Registry, the business of the secret clause and the lack of control over ads. I'm not happy with the monopolistic aspect of the Settlement.
But above all else, I think the way this has been done – by bypassing standard practice and arranging an opt-out situation, by cutting a private deal rather than legislating, by linking a fight over past infringement to the creation of an information/literary powerhouse (not that Google wasn't already a powerhouse) is alarming. It's not how this stuff should happen, and it shouldn't stand. We should not endorse it.
Worth reading in full. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2009 Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions More Feeds