Monday, 23 November 2009

Problems for Borders means problems for authors

The news about Borders UK being up for sale and struggling to find a buyer, which could result in them going into administration this week, is bad news for the staff, authors, publishers and readers.  Unfortunately it is a sign of the times both economic and the way the entire publishing and bookselling industry is changing.

Borders UK hopes to sell about 36 of its 45 bookshops and if it does then at least there will still  be a book chain on the high street along with Waterstones and W.H. Smiths, although I tend not to think of the latter as a bookshop and can't recall the last time I actually bought a book there.

Books etc, is holding closing-down sales at its remaining eight stores, which are due to shut their doors early in 2010.

It is reported in the media that Borders is talking to HMV, which owns rival Waterstone's, who are only interested in buying a handful of stores, and probably then to cherry pick the locations.

If Borders goes into administration this sounds like Woolworth's all over again and publishers will receive a high level of returns therefore denting their blance sheets, which in turn will mean reductions in commissioning new titles and author cutbacks.

The growth of cheaper books and the rise of online book stores has hit all bookshops. It's also affected publishers and authors.  There is one silver lining in this cloud though and that is online bookshops offer readers a far greater choice than any bricks and mortar shop can (always given that the reader has access to the Internet) and it also means that many more authors can have their books show cased.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Good Samaritan Wins Publishing Deal

Good Samaritan Wins Publishing Deal: "Here’s a story to bring hope to the hearts of everyone struggling to win a publishing deal.

Ex-soldier and international banker, Mark Powell, had written an action thriller, “Quantum Breach”, and was suffering the long agony that we are all familiar with, having racked up over a 100 rejections.

One evening he was driving home from work in Singapore when he spotted a damsel in distress attempting to heave a spare wheel out of the boot of her car. He stopped to help and once the wheel had been changed they got talking. She asked what he did. He told her he was an author and she told him she was a managing partner in a law firm that acted for the publisher Marshall Cavendish.

A few days later the Good Samaritan found he had a publishing deal for “Quantum Breach” and his second book, “Deep Six” is now close to completion.

The moral of this story? Never give up trying and never pass up a chance to do a stranger a favour.

Heart-warming tale, no? "

Something for Crime Fiction Fans and Writers

National Crime Fiction Week

National Crime Fiction Week will take place in 2010 for the first time. The Crime Writers' Association of Great Britain (CWA), (of which I am a member) is organising a celebration of crime writing during the week of 14-20 June 2010.

During the week members of the CWA will take part in readings, discussions, readers' group events and workshops all over the country. So keep an eye out here for events. Or you can see my events on my official web site at or my blog

The crime genre is very broad so there should be something for every crime fiction fan, and for those who write crime and who are seeking publication.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Harlequin Adds Self-Publishing Line

Harlequin Adds Self-Publishing Line: "Following the same model as Thomas Nelson's recently-announced WestBow Press, Harlequin has started a self-publishing line. Like Nelson, they are outsourcing most of the work to Author Solutions as their partner. Unlike Nelson, they aren't afraid to use their own name for the line, which is called Harlequin Horizons.

As they say on the site: 'The intent behind creating Harlequin Horizons is to give more aspiring romance writers and women's fiction writers the opportunity to publish their books and achieve their dreams without going through the submission process with a traditional publishing house.

'However, we understand you may aspire to be published with a traditional house - a noble aspiration. While there is no guarantee that if you publish with Harlequin Horizons you will picked up for traditional publishing, Harlequin will monitor sales of books published through Harlequin Horizons for possible pick-up by its traditional imprints.'
Harlequin Horizons site"

Monday, 16 November 2009

Writing Workshop with James Scudamore: Character and Setting

Writers Centre Norwich
Saturday 5th December 2009 │10:00am – 16:00pm│£50 / £40

“The writing is exemplary: you feel the hand of a natural at work....” Praise for James Scudamore’s Heliopolis – The Guardian, 2009

Keen to avoid the Christmas madness and get some writing done? A creative writing workshop from Booker longlisted author James Scudamore, examines the two key components of fiction - Character and Setting.

James will work with you on exercises that examine the decisions involved when placing a character in a particular place and time; how to evoke that place and time without signposting too much, and whether or not there are settings that are out of bounds for certain writers.

Learn from a novelist who has won the 2007 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award with The Amnesia Clinic, and has had continuing success with his second, Heliopolis, recently longlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize.

For more information or to book email or phone 01603 877177

Friday, 13 November 2009

The International Market for Books

I attended a conference yesterday on the International markets for books organised by the Independent Publishers Guild of Great Britain and held in London. While it didn’t cover every single market in the world – how could it, I’d probably have been there for days – it examined North America, China, India, Ireland, Africa and the Caribbean, and Australia. Here is a digest of some of the key points I picked up.

The recession hit America hard. OK, so we all know that. As a result many publishers cut back their lists or put a freeze on new titles, but the feeling now is they have gaps in their lists and are starting to look at buying again, which is good news for authors and publishers. Key areas are crafts, leisure and hobbies, and children books. The other good news is that fiction sales are steady and USA publishers are still buying fiction.

The Australian market is growing both in volume and value. Australians are keen readers and heavy book buyers and have a thriving literary festival culture which is financially supported by the government. Wish I could say the same for the UK! There are festivals in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane with a huge writing festival in Sydney each year with over 80,000 attending. That is truly amazing. The festivals attract authors from all around the World. Print on Demand has just arrived in Australia and Australians are keen early adopters of technology so that, and the advent of e books, should make for some interesting developments in the years to come. There are lots of thriving independent bookshops in Australia which makes for a vibrant book market and publishers are interested in adult non fiction, children’s books and fiction, so a pretty comprehensive list.

Bookselling in Ireland sounds fascinating and fun. Again, like Australia there is a flourishing independent book selling culture with many small chains and small individual booksellers. All Irish children need to buy their school books from shops, rather than the state buying and providing them as in Britain, which means that people go into bookshops from a very young age (4) and therefore are not intimidated by entering them in adult life, which is often the case in the UK. Irish publishers favour Irish authors and so too do Irish readers, but there is still the chance for both fiction writers and children’s authors to sell their books in Ireland. If you have any past or present connections with Ireland then you should exploit it to promote your books and to get publicity. There are many radio stations, local and national, and as the Irish listen to a great deal of radio this is an excellent medium to spread the word about your book/s.

The Indian economy, like China’s, is still growing, so can present opportunities, although the markets in both these countries and Africa are fraught with piracy issues. In India there is increasing interest in buying fiction along with an insatiable appetite for business books, educational and children’s books. The major UK publishers, and some independents, all have a presence in the publishing capital of Delhi.

With regards to the Chinese market, rights deals was discussed rather than exporting British titles to China, which is understandable given the uniqueness of this market. I sold rights to two of my communication books and a business book by one of the authors I used to publish.  The transaction, though not worth a great deal of money, went very smoothly.

Here is the finished product - it's called Be a Champion and was taken from my books: Being Positive & Staying Positive and Communicating with more Confidence' and Brian Lomas's book Stress and Time Management

In China the print runs are modest, the prices are low and piracy happens. It takes time to build up relationships and breaking into this market should be viewed as a long term strategy. China likes fiction, especially best-sellers and those novels that have been turned into films. They also like business and personal development books, lifestyle and children’s books.

Finally Africa and the Caribbean. Africa is a vast and diverse country with infrastructure problems and civil unrest in many countries. However, there are some hidden gems in the book market if one searches for them. Markets vary enormously depending on the economic climate. Sales to Botswana are almost ninety percent down for one publisher because of diamond mine closures while markets in Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda and Uganda are coming up, as is Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Senegal. In the Caribbean the book market is heavily influenced by America with American titles preferred over British. Both Trinidad and Belize with their oil are growing countries and potential markets for the future.

All in all it was an interesting day and a fascinating insight into the book buying culture of these different countries.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Publishing Industry and the X Factor

Publishing Industry like the X Factor by Andrew Crofts

This is a really good article by an experienced ghost writer and a 'must read' for all writers who aspire to be published.