Thursday, 23 December 2010

Wishing all my readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Just a short note to say 'thank you' to the many people who have visited this web site over the last year and to those of you who follow it and have taken the time to comment on various articles.

Over the course of 2010 I have endeavoured to bring to you some news and views from the publishing and bookselling world and from writers.

I'm taking a break now but hope to be back in 2011 (sooner if anything revolutionary breaks). Meanwhile I will be writing the current Inspector Andy Horton marine mystery police procedural novel, number seven in the series.

Happy writing and reading to you all and best wishes for a healthy, successful, and prosperous New Year.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

US health website puts writers at top of the list for depression

Writing is one of the top 10 professions in which people are most likely to suffer from depression, with men particularly at risk from the illness, according to US website Creative people may also have higher rates of mood disorders; about 9% reported an episode of major depression in the previous year.

Irregular pay and isolation contribute to the propensity for writers to succumb to depression, says the site, with nearly 7% of male artists and writers likely to suffer a major episode of the illness.

Fellow crime writer, Simon Brett, who has acknowledged his own struggles with depression agrees.

'You spend long hours sitting on your own,' he said. 'Writing can be wonderful therapy, but you are digging into yourself, and if you are writing fiction and creating characters, a certain amount of self-examination and self-doubt is inevitable.' Many writers are also introverted, quiet people, and find it stressful to have their work assessed publicly, Brett added, saying: 'Now there are reviews on Amazon, for example, that happens even more.'

And like everyone else, writers are subject to the current economic woes. 'It has always been an insecure profession, and now advances are spiralling downwards and a lot of midlist authors have been dropped by their publishers,' said Brett.

There are two points in the novel-writing cycle when authors are particularly vulnerable, he believes. 'Almost every writer I know goes through the same reaction after a novel is finished – there are 24 hours of euphoria and then all the negative thoughts you have shut out while finishing it come out, and either you get drunk or depressed or get the flu.

'The other point is two-thirds or three-quarters of the way through a novel, when almost all writers get what I call the 'three-quarters sag', when the only thing you like less about what you've written so far is the ideas you have for finishing the book. My books are written quite quickly, so it only lasts a week or two, but for people who spend two years writing, it can take months.'

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

New opportunities for Northern Ireland writers with the launch of Publishers NI

Irish Publishing News reports that Publishing Northern Ireland (NI) is supported by three Northern Irish publishing houses; Blackstaff Press, Guildhall Press, Lagan Press.

A website will launch in February and host a series of events across the country promoting writers and their books.

Bronwen Williams, coordinator of PublishingNI, said: "PublishingNI has been established as a valuable network for publishers in Northern Ireland, aiming to reach out to new readers and to create more opportunities for writers here. Through our programme of mini tours, we hope to stimulate sales of Northern Irish books and to increase public awareness of our excellent home-grown writers and their work."

It is funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.
Damian Smyth, head of drama and literature, Arts Council of Northern Ireland added: "The launch of PublishingNI is an important new development for writers, publishers and readers in Northern Ireland. The Arts Council is working with PublishingNI to develop the shape of the literature infrastructure here, through regular tours, readings and engagement with arts venues. We wish PublishingNI every success and look forward to working together in building the literature economy in the years ahead."

Monday, 20 December 2010

Curtis Brown Literary Agency stir up controversy with the launch of their creative writing school

The news item below, which appeared on The Bookseller's web site, has caused quite stir (and that's putting it mildly). I have added my response to it at the end of this article.  You can see all the comments by clicking on the link below or at the end of the article. You can also see Curtis Brown's response to the criticism and further comments.

"The Curtis Brown Literary Agency is launching a creative writing school. Curtis Brown Creative  will run courses in the Curtis Brown offices for three months, from 5th May to July 21st. Fifteen students will be selected in March on the basis of a synopsis and 3,000 words of a novel in progress.

Anna Davis, five-times novelist and course director, said: "We really want to be taking quite a practical industry-led approach to this. We want to give the students an insider's view of things. This will not be about qualifications, it's about the experience."

Successful applicants will pay £1,600, for which they will receive a weekly evening class and a number of extra sessions that will be conducted by "leading writers and other publishing professionals," according to Davis. Each of the students will also receive a critique from a Curtis Brown literary agent at the completion of the course, with stand-out fledgling novelists being offered representation.

Details of the course and how to apply can be found at and it will be advertised more broadly in January.

Jonny Geller, m.d. of Curtis Brown's book department, said: "With the challenging market for debut fiction tougher than ever before, we have decided to take a more direct role in seeking out great new writers. We want to guide novelists at the earliest stages to help produce the talent of tomorrow."

Author's note:  This is a substantial amount of money and because of that will rule out many aspiring authors but then that's probably why it has been set so high, that, and of course the fact that it will generate a sizeable income stream for the agency. Fifteen students paying £1,600 - work it out for yourself.  Wonder what they're paying the authors who are running the courses?  Still some applicants might consider it worthwhile if they manage to get Curtis Brown to represent them.  However representation does not automatically mean they will find you a publisher and if they do then the agency will also be gaining commission. I'll leave it up to you to decide what you think but the comments on both the original article and Curtis Brown's response to it make interesting reading.

All those interested in attending a crime writing course, with insider knowledge of the publishing and bookselling world, knowledge of selling rights, and with access to publishers and agents leave your name on the comments. I'd be interested to hear from you. And I promise it won't cost you anywhere near that much!
Curtis Brown launches creative writing school:

Friday, 17 December 2010

People in Publishing

In the US David Rosenthal begins getting the old team back together for his new imprint at Penguin Group, hiring Sarah Hochman as senior editor, starting January 10. Hochman was a senior editor at Simon & Schuster until August.

At Harper's Avon/Morrow division, Kristine Macrides has been promoted to director of marketing and sales development.

In Harper UK's digital team under David Roth-Ey, Jo Forshaw moves up to director of audio; Isabella Steel becomes digital key account manager, responsible for marketing and promotion of digital titles across the group; Katy Whitehead the new role of head of interactive products; and Friday Project and Fourth Estate editor Robin Harvie adds the role of Digital PR to his portfolio.

Poet, critic, and translator Ilya Kaminsky will take over as director of the Poetry Foundation's Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute on January 1 for a two-year term. Kaminsky will remain on the faculty at San Diego State University, where he will continue to serve as director of the MFA program in Poetry.

In the UK, Gillian Slovo has been elected the new president of English PEN.

Touchstone editor-in-chief Trish Todd will leave that division after 15 years to move over to the Simon & Schuster adult trade imprint at the beginning of February. She will be executive editor, reporting to publisher Jon Karp. She will acquire works of popular fiction, practical nonfiction and autobiography.

Katie Shea has joined Johnson Lit Agency, focusing on literary fiction, commercial fiction, with a strong and sassy voice, heartfelt memoirs, narrative nonfiction, diet, and health & wellness. She was a reader at FinePrint Literary Management and an assistant at Folio Literary Management and Langtons International Agency.

Former Bookseller publisher John Kilcullen has joined the board of directors of the Copyright Clearance Center, the global rights broker. Kilcullen is joined on the board by literary agent Wendy Strothman.

The board now comprises 16 executives. "We're fortunate to have such talented individuals join our board of directors," said Tracey Armstrong, c.e.o. of CCC. "We look forward to leveraging their knowledge and unique perspective on copyright as we carry our 30 years of licensing experience into new markets and services."

Kilcullen is a founding member of IDG Books Worldwide. He is also the former publisher of the Hollywood Reporter and was group publisher of the Nielsen Music and Literary Group which included The Bookseller and Kirkus Reviews. Strothman is a literary agent and the founder of the Strothman Agency. Previously, she was the publisher of trade & reference books at Houghton Mifflin and publisher at Beacon Press.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

US Business Writer to launch imprint through Amazon - is this a sign of things to come?

Time are a changing in the publishing world and this is highlighted by the latest news from US business writer Seth Godin  who is launching a new imprint including print, digital and audio through Amazon.

The Domino Project will publish an initial list of six titles using the e-tailer's Powered by Amazon publishing programme in early 2011. The titles will be available as print, e-books and audio.

Godin is to serve as the "lead writer, creative director and instigator" for the series of "Idea Manifestos".
Godin said he was "thrilled to have the opportunity to break ground and help define what a new publishing model can become", vowing he would "leverage Amazon's strength in what they do best: fulfill to a global audience, across all formats, and help me reach my core audience while increasing discovery among brand new readers."

Godin added: "A book that isn't read doesn't do anyone any good, and too often, the structure of the book publishing industry gets in the way of books reaching people who can benefit from them.Amazon knows what to do to help these books get read."

Godin caused controversy in August, when he announced that Linchpin would be his last title released by the "fundamentally broken" publishing industry.

I wish him well and hope he has great success.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Better World Books which sells books to generate funds for literacy causes launches UK site

US online bookseller and literacy fundraiser Better World Books has launched a UK e-commerce site.

Better World Books collects and sells books to generate funds for literacy causes, with the UK site offering over a million new and used titles, as well as free delivery. A portion of revenues goes to the supplier, as well as to one of its affiliated non-profit literacy partners.

David Murphy, c.e.o., said: "Better World Books has experienced tremendous growth since it first launched in the US. Over the years we've gained a loyal international following thanks to low-cost shipping and a mission that impacts literacy rates worldwide. We've seen particular interest in the UK since establishing operations in 2008, and now we're investing in a website customised for our UK partners and customers."

Better World Books UK operation was set up in October 2008, and is based at its Dunfermline distribution centre. Its non-profit partners in the UK include the National Literacy Trust, READ International, Room to Read, and the National Adult Literacy Agency. Since its opening, the company's UK arm has raised over £100,000 for local libraries and global literacy, re-using or recycling over 650,000 books.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Amazon provides authors with sales information on their books

Amazon is now providing authors enrolled in their 'Author Central' programme access to a small window of Nielsen BookScan sales data for their own books. 

The programme shows the most recent four weeks of sales as tracked by Nielsen, on a week-by-week basis. It also provides geographical breakdowns.

I've been on my Author Central Account at and have found the information easy to access and understand.   It does not cover all books however and neither does it cover e books sales (yet), but it's a start.  It's always useful to have sales information and the more detailed the better because it aids marketing programmes.

I'm hoping that where my books are also sold will soon be providing the same service.

Monday, 13 December 2010

BookArmy will be closing down on 21 December

HarperCollins is closing its BookArmy social networking site, blaming poor advertising and competition from similar sites.  This e mail came through last week with the news that Bookarmy is to close.

"Two years ago, was launched with the aim of becoming the go-to social networking site for booklovers. It has had a great community from the beginning; book enthusiasts who have given great reviews and recommendations, and livened up the forums and groups. However, the decision has been made to close the site, after facing strong competition from similar sites and fewer advertising opportunities in such a tough economic climate.

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank you sincerely for all your fantastic contributions to  It's been a great couple of years, and the team here will miss the site - particularly all of you - immensely. Should you wish to join another book site (sob!) then we've made it easy for you. There is now an Export function on your main profile page, which enables you to take your book lists and upload them to Library Thing, Shelfari or Goodreads. The site will be closing down on Tuesday 21st December."

The site was formally launched in March 2009 offering users the opportunity to discuss and review titles, get recommendations according to reading tastes and sharing books with others.

It is unclear whether there will be any redundancies.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Writers condemn library 'vandalism'

Children's writer Alan Gibbons, founder of The Campaign for the Book, has hit out at culture minister Ed Vaizey for failing to do in government what he argued for in opposition. In an open letter signed by authors such as Philip Pullman and Carol Ann Duffy, Gibbons has called on the Government to "prevent councils inflicting cuts which amount to cultural vandalism".

Gibbons said Vaizey had previously called on the then secretary of state Andy Burnham "to intervene when library provision is slashed in a local authority such as the Wirral".

Library services have been put under threat as local councils work to meet their lower budgets following the Comprehensive Spending Review. At least 25 local authorities have announced new proposals for cost-cutting to their library services since the October review, with fresh details emerging almost every day. Protests are being mounted against these cuts and others to public services where the poorest and the sick in society seem to suffering the brunt of it.

Gibbons, who has organised a long-running campaign to support the library service and reading for pleasure, called the scale of the library closures around the country 'appalling and unjustifiable.' He asked: 'Do we have a problem of ultra-literacy? Does our population suffer from a surfeit of reading? We call upon the DCMS to fulfil its obligations and safeguard a 'comprehensive and efficient' service as enshrined in the 1964 Libraries and Museums Act.'
Kathy Lette warned: 'Closing our libraries will make us a nation of numbskulls – the Illiterati.'

Authors warn Vaizey to act over library 'vandalism':

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Amazon to launch Kindle platform for web

Amazon plans to demonstrate a new version of Kindle for the web that will reportedly also allow independent booksellers to sell Kindle e-books off their own websites.

An Amazon spokeswoman said via an e-mail to Computerworld that the new Kindle for the web will "enable users to read full books in the browser and [enable] any Website to become a bookstore offering Kindle books." The spokeswoman didn't elaborate.

The development came on the same day as the launch of Google eBooks, which will allow independent bookshops to sell digital books via Google's e-books platform.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Giant search engine Google moving into the ebook market

It was rather obvious that it wouldn't be long before giant search engine Google moved into the ebook market, which will let people buy electronic books that they can read in any device with a web browser.

News of the launch generated close to 1,300 news stories overnight. Google eBookswent live in the US, with "hundreds of thousands" of paid-for digital books and 3m free titles. A number of stories reports that the service is a serious rival to Amazon, while the American Booksellers Association has revealed that about 110 indie bookshops will launch the e-books platform on their own websites.

A UK launch is expected next year.

Google Editions will let people buy ebooks from Google or from the websites of independent bookstores, which are still struggling to compete with the two larger rivals and with Barnes & Noble, which has its own "Nook" ebook reader.

Customers would be able to set up accounts for buying books, which would be stored in an online 'library', probably on Google's own servers, and read them on devices connected to the net such as smartphones or tablet computers. Millions of books would be available for free, Google says - probably out of copyright ones or those who have given permission for free usage.

Google has also taken measures to prevent piracy of books, tying them to buyers' accounts and splitting them into small pieces which would be very hard to reassemble into a book.

Read more on this and the media comment

Google to move into the ebook market at end of year:

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Fiction Desk launches new imprint and accepts unsolicited material

The Fiction Desk is venturing into publishing with a fiction imprint. The imprint's first endeavour will be the publication of quarterly anthologies of short fiction from both published and unpublished authors, with submissions now open on the website. The first title will be published in April 2011.

"At The Fiction Desk, we're committed to keeping the door open for new writers, and we aim to source at least a third of the content of our publications from unsolicited submissions."

They don't accept postal submissions. If you'd like to submit a story click here for details.

The imprint is aiming for a 3,000 print run for each title, direct sales, plus a focus on independents.The Fiction Desk, a member of the Independent Publishers Guild will use Central Books for distribution in the UK.

Monday, 6 December 2010

People in Publishing

Marilyn Biderman has opened a literary agency, based in Toronto. Biderman says she will represent genre, commercial and literary fiction, along with narrative nonfiction and memoir and 'the occasional expert as a client as well.'

Orbit has hired Anne Clarke as UK editorial director, reporting to Tim Holman. Anne Clarke will be joining Orbit on 4th January 2011. Also joining Orbit as an editorial assistant is James Long, author of the Speculative Horizons blog.

Random House Children’s Books has restructured its fiction team, making two new appointments and promoting three team members.

Lauren Buckland and Ruth Knowles have both been promoted to commissioning editor, while Natalie Doherty becomes assistant editor. Pete Matthews, who will join the team in January, has been appointed as editorial assistant, working across the whole fiction list. 

In the new arrangement, staff will be split into two commissioning teams, under editorial directors Kelly Hurst and Becky Stradwick. Hurst will manage individual titles and author-led fiction, while Stradwick’s team will concentrate on acquiring new series, major fantasy and US Young Adult brands.

Matthew Benjamin is moving to Touchstone on December 13 as senior editor, reporting to Trish Todd. He has been at HarperCollins, most recently as senior editor at William Morrow. At Touchstone, he will focus on acquiring men's interest, celebrity, pop culture, sports, health, and investigative journalism.

Allison Lorentzen is joining Penguin Books as editor. She will be acquiring both fiction and nonfiction titles, as well as working closely with Kathryn Court on Viking and Penguin acquisitions.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Books key to libraries, says MLA survey

Books remain the main reason why most people use libraries, according to a new research study published by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).

Seventy-six per cent of users go to libraries because of their love of reading, found the study, carried out by Shared Intelligence and Ipsos MORI. Meanwhile 44% go for study, and 17% to find local information, while 14% view the library as somewhere to take their children.

The study also showed that book choice and staff expertise were highly valued by library users. "Both users and non-users often expressed concern about books being 'squeezed out' for other services and although they accepted greater automation, they do not think this should be at the expense of maintaining a knowledgeable and helpful staff base," said the MLA.

The strategic agency added that "while books remain at the core of the public’s expectation for the service, there is clear demand for customer-friendly features such as online book lending, children’s facilities, adult classes, helpful staff, convenient opening hours – and a good cup of coffee".

Seventy-four per cent of current users surveyed described libraries as "essential" or "very important" in their lives, while fifty-nine per cent of non users also thought libraries play an "important" or "essential" role in the community. The study also suggests that the divide between library users and non-users is artificial, with people’s reliance on the service varying as their life circumstances change - for example through taking up study, becoming unemployed, having children or retiring.

MLA chair Sir Andrew Motion commented: "As councils grapple with difficult decisions about where to allocate shrinking funds, this timely research highlights the value attached to library services, even unselfishly among people who are not current users. We all appear to recognise that as individuals there are times we need libraries and times when we might not, but as one community, we benefit from them all the time."

Roy Clare, MLA chief executive, said: "This study helps point to where the library service should be heading at a critical moment as costs need to be cut. It suggests that it is better to plan for the longer term to provide a convenient modern service, with comprehensive book stock, digital access, helpful staff and a range of activities, than to maintain the costs of less-welcoming buildings with steadily reducing opening hours and declining stock."

Books key to libraries, says MLA survey:

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Online book retailer The Book Depository has launched a special discount for Irish book buyers

The Book Depository, which already offers free worldwide shipping, is offering an extra 10% discount to Ireland-based buyers if they use a specific code when purchasing. The offer is also exclusive of VAT.

The code is valid until 17th December. Earlier in the month, Irish book chain Easons launched a three for two front of store Christmas offer, while Irish online bookstore Kenny's, which also offers free shipping, has a range of discounted titles.

The Bookseller reported last week that the Irish book market has slumped by more than 16% in value and volume terms this year. For the year to 30th October, Nielsen BookScan figures revealed sales down by more than 16% to €103m. The country is currently facing an economic bailout.

PS. The Book Depository also has some great offers on my crime novels and thrillers.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Independent Publisher Maverick Books to launch new picture book list for four to eight year olds

Independent publisher Maverick Books, based in Pulborough, is building a picture book list aimed at readers aged four to eight years, rather than the traditional preschool market. The company will launch a range of six picture books for older readers in spring 2011.

Managing director Steve Bicknell said: "Our picture books will offer slightly more challenging subject matter, something with a bit of an edge, and that is deliberate. Children sometimes want to be surprised or scared."

Maverick is working with debut or new authors and international illustrators. It is publishing straight into £5.99 paperback formats for the UK trade market and is also in talks with a potential distributor in the US. Internet blogging and instore events will be used to drive sales through high street retailers, Bicknell said.

Maverick accept submissions. They are  looking for:

- Storybooks (rather than educational)
- Age range 4 to 8
- No more than 1500 words
- A short cover letter telling them about yourself

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

New General Secretary of the Society of Authors Announced

Nicola Solomon of law firm Finers Stephens Innocent is to be the new general secretary of the Society of Authors, replacing Mark Le Fanu who leaves his post at the end of March.

Solomon had been solicitor to the Society for over 20 years, and "a long and committed advocate of the rights of authors," the Society said.

Le Fanu said the Society was "lucky to have secured someone of her calibre and will be in excellent hands." He added: "She has wide experience of intellectual property law and is well known for her practical and constructive approach to solving problems. Her passionate support for the profession will ensure that the Society provides a first-class service to members, as well as having an influence on national policies affecting writers."

Solomon said that Le Fanu would be "a very hard act to follow", saying he had left the Society "a brilliant staff and an energetic and enthusiastic Management Committee of distinguished authors".

Crime author, Pauline Rowson, says, 'I'd like to add my thanks to Mark Le Fanu for all his hard work at the Society of Authors over the years. The Society has helped me enormously with queries about contracts, rights and other related matters, and provides a voice for writers, which is much needed in these difficult times when writers livelihoods are being threatened.'

Monday, 29 November 2010

Quercus to launch a new sci-fi, fantasty and horror fiction imprint in January 2011

Quercus is to launch a new fiction imprint in January, with Gollancz associate publisher Jo Fletcher joining to set up the new list. Jo Fletcher Books will  publish sci-fi, fantasy and horror. Fletcher has spent the last 16 years at the fantasy and science fiction imprint of Orion and has worked with authors including Terry Pratchett and Charlaine Harris.

Fletcher said she had enjoyed an "amazing time" at Gollancz. She added: "I don’t know what could be more exciting for an editing publisher than to be setting out with a blank slate and the backing of Quercus, with all its enthusiasm and vibrancy, and the inordinate success it’s had over the last few years."

Mark Smith, chief executive of Quercus said: "Jo has proved a formidable talent in finding great storytellers in the fields of SF, fantasy and horror for over two decades and we are all very excited by Jo’s decision to launch her new imprint with Quercus. We look forward to Jo Fletcher Books becoming another critically important and commercially successful imprint under the Quercus umbrella."

Friday, 26 November 2010

John Shore: Why You Want a Big Book Publisher to Reject Your Book

This article was written by John Shore and appears on his blog but worth repeating here:

"Yesterday I was in a coffee shop. A woman sitting near me was reading a book about how to write a book proposal. In the course of a chat we'd started about something else, I said, 'Say, I know all about book proposals. Want any help?'

But it turned out this would-be author had no more interest in learning about book proposals than I have in learning about how to prepare tongue. She was only perusing the book because a friend had given it to her.
She was, she told me, put on this earth to write the book she was, and God/the cosmos would take care of getting her masterpiece published. The idea of actually caring about selling the book was, to her mind, entirely too crass for consideration.

And, actually, I hear from a fair number of would-be authors who feel about their aborning books something in the neighborhood of what this woman feels about hers: that God/the cosmos has put the writing of their book on their heart, and that once it is finished, the stars will properly align, and their book will become the bestseller it was always destined to be.

Mind if I rave for a bit? You don't? Great!

If you're an aspiring book author, you should know that nobody in book publishing -- no agent, no editor, no publisher -- gives one quick puckered kiss how you feel about your book. Thinking that they should 'care' about your book at all is like expecting a car salesman to be emotionally attached to the cars on his lot. He's not. What he cares about is selling the cars on his lot. That's all he cares about them. That's his job. That's how he eats.

Drive away with the four-door sedan. Put a down on a sporty coupe. Make an offer on a minivan. Do something that involves that car salesman making sure money, and you'll be the object of his care and concern. Don't, and he'll leave you so alone you'll feel like a leper in a game of tag.

It's the same with agents (the first in a long line of people who'll have to be impressed by you and/or your book before it'll ever see light of day). Look to them like someone who can bring them some money, or keep looking.

This is not to say that agents, et al, don't care about whether or not a book is intrinsically good. Of course they do. They love good books. Who doesn't love a good book? But you know what sort of book people in the book business really love, what kind makes them whip out a three-book contract faster than a car salesman can whip out his business card? A book written by an author with a platform, that's what.
Ah, the platform. Have a good one, and you'll be like Sarah Palin selling kisses at a Tea Party rally. Don't, and you'll be like Nancy Pelosi in the same booth.

Are you wondering if you have a good platform? Well, do you have a nationally syndicated TV or radio show? Do you have a wildly popular blog? Do you travel all year giving massively attended seminars? Are you the pastor of a mega-mega church? Are you famous, in other words? If so: nice platform! If not: nice platform shoes don't cost that much money, they're fun to wear and go away.

Agents and publishers want authors with a platform -- period. Why? Because authors with a platform can sell their books directly to their audience. In other words, they can guarantee sales.

Check the stupid on this. Publishers only want authors who are so famous they can sell 40,000 copies of their own book directly to their own audience. But anyone who is so famous that they can sell 40,000 copies of their own book directly to their own audience needs a publisher like Willy Wonka needs a Whitman's sampler. If I could sell my own book to my own audience, why would I give any publisher full rights, forever, to that book, ninety percent of whatever I made selling that book -- and then give an agent fifteen percent of whatever was left over for me? Why? Why would I do that? Why would anyone?

And still all anyone in the book industry cares about is platform, platform, platform. That's what they want; that's what they're concerned about; that's what matters to them. It's like a drowning man calling, 'More boulders! Throw me more huge boulders!'

Which is why the book industry is sinking so fast half the people in it have already bailed into lifeboats and are frantically rowing for shore.

Oh: and e-book sales for 2011 will hit one billion dollars.

If you want to publish a book, publish it yourself. Unless you're famous, you'll have to anyway -- and if you are famous, you'd be fourteen kinds of dense not to."

John also blogs on

Read John's (free) How to Make a Living Writing.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Rise in sales for UK publisher and UK booksellers

Publisher Constable & Robinson has reported a 14% year-on-year rise in sales to £3.7m for the six months to 31st July, with profits up 33.2% to £0.5m during the same period.

C & R are a UK based independent publisher with an excellent reputation and one of the few to take unsolicited manuscripts from authors.

Chairman Nick Robinson said he was "very pleased" with the performance, which came after a record year of growth in sales (24%) and profit (41%) in 2009, and "in a tough trading environment". C&R launched its new fiction imprint Corsair in the spring.  He added that the company had plans to build on its growth through the remainder of this year and into 2011, saying: "As ever, at the core of our success are our authors and we continue to encourage our editors to attract varied, commercially vital and unique titles to their lists."

C&R also entered into a new sales representation agreement for Europe with Walker Books last September.

Meanwhile on the UK High Street, spending at UK booksellers was up 4% week-on-week last week, to £37.9m—the strongest seven days since Christmas week last year. This was up 1% on the same period last year, the second consecutive week of year-on-year growth, the first time since the beginning of September this has happened.

Sales hit 2010 high as Jamie reigns supreme (again):

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

What are they doing to our Library Service? Cuts and job losses condemned by leading authors

Writers Philip Pullman, Kate Mosse and Will Self have criticised government cuts that could see up to a quarter of librarians lose their jobs over the next year. Widespread library closures are expected as councils cut their services and look to volunteers in an attempt to balance budgets hit by the coalition's spending review.

Mosse said 'frontline support for literacy' was being cut, while Pullman declared that the librarian 'is not simply a checkout clerk', and Self condemned the 'crude calculus of cost-benefit analysis' involved.

North Yorkshire is considering reducing its 42 libraries to 18 over four years, while Leeds is proposing to axe 20 smaller libraries. Cornwall, Brent, Lewisham, Hammersmith and Fulham, Richmond, Barnsley and Warrington are also planning closures.

In Buckinghamshire, 14 libraries could become volunteer-run; in Gloucestershire, 12 will be closed if volunteers do not step forward. Camden, Westminster, Oldham, Southampton and Cambridgeshire are among the councils whose plans include greater use of volunteer staff.

Recent statistics from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy showed a drop of nearly 1,000 in the number of paid library staff in the 12 months to March 2010, a 3.4% fall to a total of just under 25,000. Over the same period the total number of volunteers in UK public libraries rose 7.7% to 17,111.

Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, said, 'The librarian is not simply a checkout clerk whose simple task could be done by anyone and need not be paid for,' he said. 'Those who think that every expert can be replaced by a cheerful volunteer who can step in and do a complex task for nothing but a cup of tea are those who fundamentally want to see every single public service sold off, closed down, abolished.'

School libraries have suffered greatly in recent years, Pullman said. 'Of course these things have to be paid for, which means putting taxes up; and the delusion that has gripped every politician in the western world for 30 years or so now is that when you lower taxes, the commercial world will take care of everything. The destruction of the library service is part of a wider malaise.'

Kate Mosse, author of current bestseller The Winter Ghost, said: 'I do not understand how the government can talk on the one hand about the disgrace of adults whose reading is not at an appropriate level for their age, yet consider cutting this frontline support for literacy.'

Writer Will Self said: 'Libraries are a cultural resource of universal benefit that shouldn't be subjected to the crude calculus of cost-benefit analysis. What they should do is provide access to as many books as possible for as many people as possible.'

A spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the use of volunteers was one of the 'radical efficiency options' local authorities should be considering. 'Local authorities have a legal duty to provide a public library service to their communities, who should feel empowered to comment on what they want from their local service and get involved.'

Read the full article on the Guardian here: Library cuts and job losses condemned by leading authors:

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Amazon accused of trying to enlist agents and bypassing publishers

Amazon has been accused of trying to enlist agents as a force against the agency model following a meeting with agents and discussions at Frankfurt Book Fair in October.

A meeting with about 60 agents, organised via the Association of Authors’ Agents, followed a series of individual meetings Amazon recently held with author representatives. PFD chief executive Caroline Michel was among those who met Amazon at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

News of the meetings came as Amazon France chief executive Xavier Garambois warned this week that e-books should be at least 30% to 40% cheaper than print versions, or else the market would not take off.

One agent who attended said Amazon seemed to have two aims: “They were keen to try to enlist agents as a force against the agency model—and I have to say they failed on that front—and there was also an element slightly of ‘let’s get to know each other a bit better as we’re going to be working together’.”

He said Amazon spoke about wanting to work with publishers rather than directly with authors but added: “It felt like they were just going through the motions.”

Talking about Amazon’s attitude towards publishers, he said: “Amazon has spent so long driving the process, they’ve pushed discounts up, and it’s hard to feel that publishers have acted in any way to put Amazon or the supermarkets back in their box. I don’t think they have much respect for them [the publishers].”

Another agent who was at the meeting said: “The publishers that are big in our lives are understandably nowhere as important to Amazon as they are to us.”

Amazon also spoke about its own publishing programme, which offers a deal to self-published authors who are generating word-of-mouth sales on the site and bypassing agents and traditional publishers.
One agent said: “You wonder what kind of deal the author is signing. It is a very opaque process, but I’m sure it will become less opaque.”

Agents reported, meanwhile, that Amazon had been on a charm offensive at the Frankfurt Book Fair, with members of the US office including Naggar and Justin Renard, Kindle Content acquisition manager, arranging meetings with agents. Agents were asked for content directly, with the offer of 70% royalties.
“I had a meeting with a man from Amazon and he was awful,” said one agent. “He said, ‘I will not and cannot mourn the death of the local bookshop’.”

PFD’s Michel met Amazon executives at Frankfurt to explore placing e-book content with the retailer. She believes that Amazon’s detailed customer data offers provided the basis for a compelling marketing offer.
She said: “I do see publishers as the prime route but we have to make sure we look at other routes too.”

Amazon bypasses publishers for agents:

Monday, 22 November 2010

President of US Independent Publishers Group tells UK Publishers that e-books need print books

Print titles are essential to the success of e-books, according to Mark Suchomel, president of the US’ Independent Publishers Group. Speaking at the recent Independent Publishers Guild conference in London, Suchomel said that a "blended" approach was necessary between print and digital.

He said: “You cannot promote e-books without having the book in print format. There is only one trade reviewer [in the US] requesting e-books.” He also argued because of reviewers’ bandwidth limitations and the possibility of piracy, sending e-books to reviewers was not sensible. He claims that a “shared” marketing strategy is ideal as print book publicity and marketing drives e-book sales. He said publishers must keep the territory distribution of e and print together. “The publisher markets the content, the consumer decides on the format”.

Splitting distribution will mean as digital sales increase, the publisher will spend less on promotion for the print, and hence print and digital sales will dip, he said. He added as a distributor of UK titles in the US, IPG will not accept print titles without the digital version.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Crime writers Workshop at Harper Collins Offices in London

Crime writers Meg Gardiner and Claire Seeber will be tutors at the latest authors workshop run by authonomy, HarperCollins' social networking site. The workshop will take place in HarperCollins' offices in west London on 11th December.

Among the others teaching will be Darley Anderson agent Camilla Wray, HarperCollins publishing director David Brawn and editors Kate Bradley and Rachel Rayner, as well as Observer crime critic Peter Guttridge.

HarperCollins said the day would cover characterisation, plot and suspense as well as a question and answer session. The one day course costs £150 and more details can be found here.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Arts Council Funding change to affect Independent Publishers

Independent publishers are expressing unease over Arts Council England’s new national portfolio funding criteria with one publisher calling the funding uncertainty "dangerously destabilising".

The director of literature strategy at Arts Council England, Antonia Byatt, moved to reassure literature organisations seeking ACE funding that they will not lose out to other art forms. Se said that although there were no specific quotas, ACE would be looking to maintain a balance across the arts with "equally as much of an emphasis on literature as on other art forms."

The system put in place following the Comprehensive Spending Review’s 30% cut to ACE funding and the creation of ACE’s new strategic framework, means funding applications have been thrown open to new applicants, with previously regularly funded organsations asked to re-apply. Funding decisions will be based on how each organisation fulfills ACE’s five longterm goals, focused on promoting artistic excellence, reaching communities, the arts as sustainable and innovative, building a diverse arts workforce, and bringing arts to young people.

Byatt said ACE Literature would balance funding between literary organisations, but would prioritise poetry, translations and literacy programmes.

Jeremy Poynting, managing editor of Caribbean-writing specialist Peepal Tree Press, said there was an ongoing argument with ACE as to the value of independent presses publishing fiction when so much was available through the mainstream. "Publishers like us to do things that commercial publishers don’t," he said, citing regional publishing as an example.

Stephen Stuart-Smith, director of Enimarthon Press, expressed concern for publishers whose editorial programmes operate years ahead of publication. "It is dangerously destabilising. It undermines our confidence in our programme," he said.

Tony Ward, managing director of poetry specialist Arc Publications, said that although the new system could be seen as a progressive step, losing out on funding would be a huge blow.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Booksales down in UK and USA

Spending at UK booksellers was down 1.5% year-on-year in October although this was an improvement on September when sales were down on 2009 by 3.2%.

Book sales in October dropped by £2.3m year-on-year, to £144.7m, according to Nielsen BookScan data. Volume sales were down 3.3% (562,000) to 16.7m, however the actual selling price was up 1.8% (15p) to £8.65.

Genres down year-on-year include sci-fi, which may be due to Terry Pratchett's Unseen Adademicals (Doubleday) being classed as sci-fi last year whereas this year's I Shall Wear Midnight (Doubleday Children's) is a children's Discworld novel.

Crime is also down year on year, due to Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol (Transworld) selling huge numbers in hardback last year.

Historical fiction is down year-on-year due to the success of Hilary Mantel's Booker-winning Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate) in 2009 and both children's fiction and children's annuals have too seen a slide year on year.

Genres seeing a rise in sales include the food and drink category, thanks to Jamie Oliver's Jamie's 30-minute Meals (Michael Joseph) and biography & memoirs with celebrities appearing to be bouncing back in 2010.

Meanwhile US book sales hit a 2010 low in September, with revenue falling 7.7% to $1.51bn.

Publishers Weekly, quoting US Census Bureau figures, said the decline followed a 6.5% drop in August.

Overall US book sales are down 2.6% to $12.31bn for the first nine months of the year.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Harlequin Mills & Boon Imprint Mira to Launch New Teen Imprint in New Year

Mira is to launch a teen imprint in 2011, Mira Ink, in a bid to expand into new markets. Mira Ink will launch in January with four new young adult series.

Tim Cooper, digital and marketing director, said: “We are hugely excited about the launch of Mira Ink. We have an outstanding list from some talented authors that we think teens are going to love.”

He said the publisher had been looking at ways to expand and as the teen market is seeing growth it made sense from a business perspective to push into it. Earlier this year Mills & Boon launched the New Voices writing competition, with the winner to be published by the romance publisher.

Cooper said: “In our search for new talent and new voices we have found great talent in the teen arena.”

He added, “We have 13 [titles] fully scheduled in the calendar, but we have a number of others working through the editorial process at the moment so it depends on how it goes. We may add more to the schedule.”

Mira Ink will publish all books in its list simultaneously with the e-book versions, which form part of an online campaign to promote the list with a Mira Ink website, a Facebook fan page and YouTube channel. Cooper added that the launch will be supported by a full marketing and PR campaign “from social media through to specific online sites and trade activity”.

Monday, 15 November 2010

New Dark Ages Arrives with More Libraries Hit and Authors striking out at Government

More local authorities have announced job losses or closures, in the latest set of library cutbacks.

Buckinghamshire county council is proposing to cut its council-run libraries from 26 to nine, according to local radio station Mix96, a huge cut back that will affect staff, public and authors.  The council, which is looking to make savings of £90m over the next four years, is consulting on a plan to move a number of libraries to community-run status, if volunteers can be found and if not then these will probably close. The move to community-run status is part of the new structure for its library service.

Libraries are also set to be affected by major spending cuts at Stoke-on-Trent city council, according to the BBC. Two libraries and the mobile service will have their funding pulled as part of a council bid to save £33m in the next year, the BBC said.

In London, writers including Charlie Higson, Will Self and Helen Dunmore have joined former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion in condemning plans by councils that could see 130 London libraries closed.

The Evening Standard reports the authors urging officials to reconsider the cuts to a service used by some 3.4m Londoners 52m times a year.

Helen Dunmore, the inaugural winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, said: "It will weaken literacy and weaken communities. They are not a frill, they are a vital part of society. They are a core service at the time of so much uncertainty and unemployment.

“I've always been moved by the enthusiasm of library staff and the way they go beyond the call of duty. Once that is destroyed you cannot build it again.”

Among the councils that will see services cut are Lewisham, Wandsworth, and Hammersmith and Fulham, with Camden and Westminster councils planning to use volunteers to run some services. In addition, twelve members of staff in Hounslow have been made redundant, according to a report in the Hounslow Chronicle. The job losses follow the closure of an ICT skills centre, said by authorities to be underused, and a restructure of library staff across the borough

Will Self said: "Libraries should be one of the aspects of public services that doesn't come under cost-benefit analysis. They exist as a public service and that should not be negotiable. I think they should have never let the internet into libraries, it diminishes the perceived value of the book stock. Now everyone thinks you just have to Google Plato, you don't have to read The Republic."

Higson said: "“Librarians are not just people in libraries making sure the books are in alphabetical order, they do a lot of fantastic work in schools and for literacy."

Friday, 12 November 2010

Guardian launches masterclass series in writing

Guardian News is holding a series of masterclasses led by world-renowned figures. They will cover a range of disciplines including writing, photography, gardening, cooking and music.

Among the leaders will be screenwriter William Nicholson (Shadowlands, Gladiator), Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and international photographer David Montgomery.

Other masterclasses will be conducted by food writer and chef Tom Parker Bowles and the garden designer Alice Bowe.

More information can be found on The Guardian website.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Publishing Appointments and Publishers results

Publishing Appointments

The managing directors of Cornerstone, Ebury and Random House Children's Books are among the new appointments to the board of the publisher. Susan Sandon, Cornerstone m.d., Fiona MacIntyre, Ebury m.d., Philippa Dickinson, RHCB m.d. and group HR director Neil Morrison have all been appointed with immediate effect.

Gail Rebuck, chair and c.e.o. of Random House Group, said: "This new structure ensures that we harness the strengths and talents at board level of all those with responsibility for our major UK profit centres and aligns us with the board structure of our colleagues at Random House Inc."It also highlights our commitment to talent management; recognising the importance that people and culture play in our business planning and organisational strategy."

Lindsay Sagnette will join Crown as senior editor, acquiring hardcover fiction, reporting to Molly Stern and starting November 15. She was most recently an editor at St. Martin's, following stints at Riverhead and Grove/Atlantic.

Jeanette Perez is being promoted to senior editor at Harper One, acquiring primarily non-fiction in the areas of personal growth, health, lifestyle, and memoir.

Kristin Daly Rens has been promoted to senior editor at Harper Children's imprint Balzer & Bray.

Publishers Results

Harlequin Mills and Boon's parent company Torstar has reported a 18.7% growth in profit for the third quarter, with its publishing arm seeing "stable" sales. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for the group was $50.8m for the quarter ended 30th September, up 18.7% from the quarter last year. Revenue was $352.7m for third quarter, up $9m from the third quarter of last year. Book publishing operating profit for the quarter was $23m, up $0.1m on the third quarter last year.

Profits increased amid a fall in sales in Simon & Schuster's global third quarter results.Publishing revenue in the three months to 30th September was down 6% to $217.7m from $230.4m the previous year. For the nine months to 30th September, sales were down from $573.5m to $559.1m.
While S&S did not strip out UK figures, for the first 36 weeks of the year Simon & Schuster's UK sales were up 21% to £18.7m, according to Nielsen BookScan. This is the largest sales growth of any of the top 10 publishers in 2010.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Up to 25% of books will be sold in digital format by 2015

Between 15% and 20% of the book reading public will own electronic devices and up to 25% of books will be sold in digital form by 2015, according to a new French study.

The study showed that multimedia tablets such as iPad should account for between two-thirds and three-quarters of total sales and ereaders such as Kindle the remaining third to a quarter.

The study was conducted among 3,000 people in six countries—France, Germany, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States and carried out by management consultants Bain & Company. The findings were revealed at the weekend during the third cultural forum in Avignon.

The switch to digital will be more rapid in Korea and the United States, where ebooks now represent about 5% of the market, and will be slower in countries like France, where the network of different types of retailers selling physical books remains extensive, said the report’s authors, Patrick BĂ©har and Laurent Colombani.

Apart from helping revive interest in reading - more than 40% of device owners say they read more than before - the shift to electronic is occurring through online sales for books, whereas it occurred through piracy for music. Electronic and print should continue to coexist for some time, as 41% of respondents said they remained attached to paper.The electronic sector could represent between 20% and 28% of book industry profits in the future, the report said.

Read more and the comments from the book industry at Digital sales 'worth 25% of market by 2015':

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Government targets authors with cut in PLR rate for first time in nearly 20 years

The British Con-Lib Coalition government is again proving it has little commitment to improving literacy levels and is intent on its mandate to dismantle a reading culture amongst the public not only by cuts to the library service but by proposing the first cut in the money authors earn for each book loaned by public libraries in almost 20 years. The last cut also came from a Conservative government in 1991.

If approved, the reduction in the rate per library loan will happen in the next annual round of payments (February 2011). The DCMS has written to authors' organisations with the reduced rate, 6.25 pence per loan.

The rate previously stood at 6.29 pence per loan. The DCMS will consult with interested parties for eight weeks before finalising the rate in the New Year although the outcome that any consultation process will have an effect is unlikely.

PLR Registrar Jim Parker said: "It doesn't come as a huge surprise as we had a 3% cut in funding this year, like other organisations, and there was also a rise in the number of library loans made."

A DCMS spokesperson said the last cut to the loan per rate was in 1991, when it was cut from 1.39 pence to 1.37 pence per loan.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Romantic Novelists Association protests against PLR move and other authors are urged to add their voice to it

The Romantic Novelists Association has written to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt protesting at the plan to transfer the administration of Public Lending Right funding for authors to a larger body because  folding the current PLR into a larger operation "will almost certainly lead to higher running costs" which would "adversely affect hard pressed authors.

The body administering the Public Lending Right has been based in Stockon on Tees for the past 30 years and has been run efficiently and effectively for all that time. But Hunt announced last month that it would be abolished as part of its cull of quangoes, with its responsibilities transferred elsewhere.

Novelist Katie Fforde, current chair of the RNA, has written to Hunt to tell him the move would not be cost-effective and would therefore impact on payments to authors. She says, "The current PLR office is a most efficient independent body for administering government money," Fforde told Hunt. "It has shown itself a master at reducing overheads and is incredibly efficient."

Individual RNA members, led by the example of novelist Freda Lightfoot, have also been writing to their MPs to protest on the issue.

The Secretary of the Society of Authors, Mark Le Fanu also criticised the PLR plan. He said: "It seems an entirely political gesture that will do nothing to bring about greater efficiency, transparency and accountability, which is what the minister said the quango cut was for. It's pretty hard to see how closing down an office run so efficiently - and which has already made redundancies to save money - and moving it to another body would be any help whatever. It seems simply a numbers game to be seen to get rid of another quango. We've told the DCMS we think it is pointless."

Authors in the UK are being urged to add their voice to this protest.

Friday, 5 November 2010

UK Libraries Under Attack

Nottinghamshire council is lopping 75% of its £1.6m annual book budget for libraries and cutting opening hours at close to half its 60 libraries, a Nottingham Post report states. Over 80 full-time equivalent posts are set to go at the library service, as the 28 libraries with fewer than 35,000 visits per week are turned into "community partnership" libraries open eight to 10 hours per week in a bid to save £3.3m over four years.

Meanwhile two libraries and the mobile service could go in Warrington, says the Warrington Guardian. The council is considering the move, together with cutting back on its reference books, in a bid to save £180,000. Martin Gaw, head of the library service, told the newspaper: "The option is not an attractive one for any of us but we all know the circumstances we are in."

20 Leeds libraries could be axed as part of a shake-up of the library service. As reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, under proposals, 20 of the city's smaller libraries could be closed, from a current network of 53. The council is to consult over the next few months before a final decision is taken next year.

Richmond council is also to consult on its libraries, according to a report in the Richmond and Twickenham Times.

Hertfordshire has begun a consultation on efficiency savings, proposing a cutback of a third in library opening hours in a bid to avoid closures, according to a BBC report.

Council leader Robert Gordon said he planned "to stagger opening hours so that, even when your most local library is closed, another relatively local one will be open."

Meanwhile Cornwall Council is set to discuss budget proposals today (27th October) involving potentially radical cuts to its library service. A document leaked to the BBC last week suggested the proposals could reduce Cornwall's service to as few as "nine key locations", with a potential 60 posts made redundant.

Five staff members are likely to go in the West Sussex library service, according to a report in The Argus.

Other staff posts could suffer demotion, as part of a proposed restructure aimed at saving £318,000 a year.

Fifty-eight full-time equivalent jobs are set to go at Hampshire library service, amid further cuts and protests about threats to library services. However, no libraries will be closed, and opening hours will be increased in some libraries so that they no longer close at lunchtimes. The latest Discovery Centre, in Basingstoke, will open on 30th November.

In Harrow's library service 34 jobs  are going following a restructure caused in part by the introduction of self-service machines, according to a report in the Harrow Observer. Eleven libraries will be affected by the job losses.

Oldham's libraries are to have a 25% funding cut over the next five years, according to a report in the Oldham Chronicle.

In Lewisham there is a proposal to close five libraries.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Amazon to introduce Kindle e-book lending in the USA

Amazon is to introduce e-book lending for customers to loan titles to other Kindle users in the USA. However, the retailer has said an e-book will only be lendable if the publisher or rights holder allows it to be.

Amazon said the feature will be introduced this later this year. Each book can be lent for up to 14 days and the lender cannot read the book during this period.

It is unclear whether the service will be introduced in the UK.  The move could be seen as a way of targeting Barnes & Noble's Nook e-book reader, which also offers e-book lending.

Amazon also announced in the same posting it would be making Kindle newspapers and magazines readable on Kindle apps.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

People in Publishing and Publishers Results

Collins senior commissioning editor Helena Nicholls is being promoted to editorial director, following Sam Richardson's departure at the end of November to join Hodder Education.

At the Simon &Schuster imprint, Michael Szczerban has been promoted to associate editor.

Sales growth of 5% at Penguin and 7% in education at Pearson.

Penguin said physical retail markets were tough offset by "strong publishing" and rapid growth in e-book sales, which had increased threefold year on year. It now has 16,500 e-books available.

In its professional education business, sales were up 17%. Pearson said: "Market conditions in our professional publishing business remain challenging but we are benefiting from good growth in digital sales."

Sales in Pearson's international education business were up 8%, which was driven by strong demand in developing markets for assessment services, as well as English language learning in China. However, Pearson said developed markets and school publishing remained soft. In North America, sales were up 5% thanks to higher education and digital.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

How authors can increase their exposure on Facebook.

Arielle Ford has launched the careers of many NY Times bestselling authors including Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Neale Donald Walsch & Debbie Ford. She is a former book publicist, literary agent and the author of seven books. To learn how to get started writing a book please visit:

In this article she is talking to  Amy Porterfield, a social media consultant and co-author of Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies (March 2011). Her passion is helping people find their 'sweet spot' in the social media world to turn their brand into viral gold. To get more Facebook strategies, visit

Arielle: There's no denying that Facebook is hot and to build a platform, gain media attention, or land a book deal, Facebook must be a part of your marketing mix. Because there is so much competition on Facebook, what do authors need to do to get noticed amongst all the online noise?

Amy: These days it's not enough to put up a Facebook page and hope potential readers find it. Unfortunately the Field of Dreams model of 'build it and they will come' doesn't apply here. With over 500 million active users on Facebook today, you need an edge, something extra that will create viral exposure and set you up as the go-to expert to potential readers and publishers.

The fact is that fans want an experience they can't find elsewhere when they visit your page. They want to be acknowledged, taken care of and entertained. (A tall order, but very doable!)

Arielle: How can authors create an edge on Facebook as well as set themselves up as an expert in their niche?

Amy: One way you can stand out from the rest and also strengthen your connection with your fans (and not spend a dime doing it) is by creating 'signature experiences' directly on your Facebook page. A signature experience is something you create inside of Facebook that offers massive value and sets you up as an expert or trusted source. To create an experience, first think about your fans. What interests them? Do they want to be entertained? Educated? Perhaps both?

Arielle: Can you give me some examples of signature experiences on Facebook?

Amy: Sure! There are a several types of signature experiences that I think have worked really well.

One of the best examples I have personally been involved with is 'Expert Fridays.'  I'm a regular contributor for and I'm also the Community Manager for their Facebook Page. Within about six months we've grown to almost 20,000 fans. How did we do this? Beyond showing up daily, delivering great content and listening to our fans, we also created our own signature experience called 'Expert Fridays.'

Every other Friday we feature a social media expert and they answer our fans' questions, directly on our wall, for one full hour. Fans post questions and the expert posts their answer in real-time. Fans love it!

It's a win/win for everyone involved. As the Page owners, we are able to add immense value for our fans, the guest expert gains exposure to a new audience and our fans can reach out and get support on the areas that interest them most. Here's a link to a recent Expert Friday post.

Another great example of a signature experience is a 'Member of the Month' campaign. The key here is to choose an active member from your fan base and spotlight him/her on your Page, preferably by creating a special tab and dedicating a space for their bio and photo. When people are acknowledged, they want to share it with their friends. This is word-of-mouth marketing at its best! Check out his example of a 'Member of the Month' experience.

Arielle: Those experiences sound like a fantastic way to stand out on Facebook and also give great value to your fans in the process. I can see how authors can really carve out their own space on Facebook by using this strategy. For authors interested in creating a signature experience, do you have any tips to help them get started?

Amy: Yes, I have 3 great tips to share:

1. Be consistent and do them regularly. This will keep your fans coming back for more.

2. Make these experiences unique to your brand and also of great value to your fans.

3. Keep them simple. If you add too many bells and whistles, you might make the experience too complicated and lose your audience.

Overall, signature experiences are so valuable because you are increasing your viral visibility and strengthening your relationships with the people who matter most. After all, that's what Facebook is all about!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Row over e book lending between Libraries and Publishers Association Continues

The controversy surrounding the Publishers Association's guidelines on e-book lending continues with the Booksellers Association weighing in on the argument in favour of the PA. The PA recommends that users visit a library to borrow a digital title rather than access titles remotely because some libraries had overstepped their agreements on library lending.  The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals has accused it of being "restrictive" for library users.

The PA's guidelines have split opinion among librarians, publishers and retailers since they were unveiled last week.

Annie Mauger, CILIP chief executive, said: "This is a restrictive move for library users in the digital age. Libraries are working so hard to ensure ease of access through all media to their services and to books and the geographical restrictions on e-books are not good for the development of digital access to libraries. The best way to solve this is to keep talking."

Library consultant John Dolan said there were "kaleidoscopic ways" in which the web was changing distribution and the contact between creator and audience. He said: "There's a different future ahead—both print and digital—and it needs to be shared. For libraries, if we don't design that future, others will."

Read more: BA backs PA over e-lending, CILIP calls it 'restrictive':

Friday, 29 October 2010

People in Publishing - appointments and moves

Ryan Doherty has moved to Random House Trade Paperbacks as an editor, reporting to Jane von Mehren.

At Simon & Schuster, Kate Ankofski has been promoted to associate editor.

Samhain Publishing has hired Heather Osborn as editorial director, reporting to Christina Brashear, starting November 1. Most recently she has been head of Tor Romance.

Children's book editor of the New York Times Book Review Julie Just will join Janklow & Nesbit as an agent in November.

Phaidon Press, which recently hired Amanda Ridout as managing director, has now appointed David Davies as chief executive officer, starting November 29 and based in London. He is currently managing director at Bauer Media, running a portfolio of magazines.

Also in the UK, at Atlantic Books, Margaret Stead has been promoted to publishing director, reporting to Toby Mundy.

Mary Choteborsky has been promoted to editor, publishing manager, for Crown Archetype, Crown Business, Crown Forum and Harmony Books; and Heather Lazare has been promoted to editor, publishing manager, Crown Trade Paperbacks.

Sourcebooks has hired Deirdre Quinn Burgess as an associate editor focusing on gift books and calendars and Jeffrey Benson as a project editor, overseeing project-management and manuscript development aspects of their college guide, study aids, and reference titles. He was most recently an editor at Wiley working on college textbooks.

Karen Thompson has been promoted to editor at the Simon & Schuster adult trade imprint, both acquiring her own list as well as looking to "maximize and revitalize parts of the backlist.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Independent publishers could go out of business because of Arts Council funding cuts

Independent Publishers are warning that because of the dramatic reduction in Arts Council funding as result of the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review some of them could go out of business

The culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has asked the Council to pass on cuts of no more than 15% over four years to the organisations it funds, absorbing the rest itself, and the council's chief executive Alan Davey wrote to organisations yesterday to say it was his intention 'to try and limit any cut in the first year to less than 10%'. But Davey also stated the cuts would 'inevitably have a significant impact on the cultural life of the country'.

Gary Pulsifer of publisher Arcadia, which specialises in translated fiction, said in the Guardian: 'I honestly think a lot of arts organisations will go to the wall.' Pulsifer said Arcadia would be cutting back on the number of translations it publishes – having already seen cutbacks because overseas national literary organisations have reduced their support for English language translations of their books.

Eric Lane of Dedalus Books, which also translates literary fiction, said the cuts had come at an especially tricky time. 'The market is narrowing at the moment. Waterstone's is the major outlet in terms of bookshops and if they don't give a book core status, it almost guarantees it will be a commercial failure,' he said. 'Small sums of public money make a big difference.

Chris Holifield of the Poetry Book Society said the cutbacks would have a 'significant' effect.

The Arvon foundation's director Ruth Borthwick lamented the effect that the funding cut would have on the accessibility of the organisation's creative writing courses. 'We will be able to offer less support to people who can't otherwise afford to come,' she explained. 'Although we will do everything we can to bridge the gap through fundraising, once again the poorer people are going to suffer more than anyone else.'

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Guidelines for libraries on e book lending received with disbelief and anger by librarians

The Publishers Association has set out an agreed position on e-book lending in libraries that will see library users blocked from downloading e-books outside of the library premises but librarians have warned that publishers have "declared war on libraries" with the new position on library lending, which was announced by Faber c.e.o. Stephen Page at the CILIP Public Library Authorities conference in Leeds.

Page said that all the major trade houses had agreed a baseline position through the Publishers Association placing restrictions on library e-lending, including a ban on remote downloading. He said guidelines had been developed because of concerns over free e-book lending offered by some libraries to lenders "wherever you are" which are in breach of publisher contracts.

The Overdrive library e-book lending system widely used by UK libraries currently allows members to download e-books onto their home devices remotely by using a passcode supplied by the library.

Under the new scheme, library users would have to come onto the library's physical premises to download an e-book at a computer terminal onto a mobile device, rather than downloading the book remotely. The scheme would also see the fee paid by a library to buy a book covering the right to loan one copy to one individual at any given time, and would require "robust and secure geographical-based membership" in place at the library service doing the lending.

Page told the conference that the PA's new position on e-book lending had been forged after some library authorities mismanaged their lending.

"Recent activities by some authorities" had necessitated the move, said Page. "Some services were lending for remote downloads, without geographical restrictions. This was in breach of contracts between the library and aggregator, and between the aggregator and publisher, and was advertised to the general public as 'free e-books, wherever you are, whenever you want'. Under this model, who would ever buy an e-book ever again?," he asked.

Luton's head of libraries Fiona Marriott, writing on The Bookseller's website, commented: "I've had to read this statement five times, as I can't actually believe it! In Luton we work with Overdrive - we offer one e-book per customer at a time, and I have always been in favour of this model. The rights to the book have been agreed, and we limit the service to customers in our area - they have to come into a library to join. I have turned down people who live in Scotland, Blackpool, China and even London. If other authorities aren't playing by the rules, then deal with them, not us."

She added: "I can't believe the PA has declared war on libraries in this way, with absolutely no consultation - we have blind and visually impaired customers who consider this service as a lifeline, they say it has given them back the independence of reading choice, and they would be livid at this statement!"

Other librarians are up in arms about the statement with one commenting,"So all the people libraries were targeting that don't and can't get into their local library to access stock, will now not bother coming to the library to download their e-books either."

Library staff also questioned how to reconcile the technical issues involved with the PA plan with Overdrive's widely used library e-lending system.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Final call for Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award

The submissions deadline for the £30,000 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award is 30th October at 1 p.m.

The prize, now in its second year, awards for a single short story from a fiction author who has had work published in Britain or Ireland. The winner will receive £30,000 and the five shortlisted writers will receive £500 each, as well as having the chance to appear in the Sunday Times.

The judges for this year are novelist, screenwriter and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, columnist and broadcaster Daisy Waugh, writer and journalist Will Self, literary editor of the Sunday Times Andrew Holgate and author A S Byatt.

The longlist will be announced on 20th February and the shortlist on 13th March. The winner will be announced at a special event at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival on 8th April.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Government refuses to enable Digital Economy Act to allow authors legal entitlement to PLR on e books and audio books

The Government has renegaded on the Digital Economy Act, which was enabled under the Labour Government, to allow authors to receive Public Lending Rights (PLR) on e book and audio book loans. It is hoped that the Society of Authors (SoA) will continue to lobby the government on this issue particularly in light of the fact they have already recognised PLR to be a legal right of the authors.

The PLR budget is to be reduced by 7% over the next four years as part of the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review. The cuts will see the fund reduced from £7.45m in the 2010/11 fiscal year to £6.956m by 2013/14.  However, the PLR, the administrative body which has operated effectively and efficiently for over thirty years is to be abolished as part of the cuts.

The Society of Authors commented: "While any reduction in spending on PLR is much to be regretted, at first sight it appears that PLR has fared relatively well, certainly compared with many other organisations sponsored by the Department for Culture Media and Sport."

Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state, had heeded the representations made to him by the society and other organisations. The SoA added, "He has recognised that PLR is a legal right and is one of the department’s ‘front line’ services which ought to be given priority." The SoA said it remained "opposed to the dotty proposal that PLR should be transferred to another body".

Friday, 22 October 2010

How Many Copies Do Novels Sell?

This article below comes from Bubblecow and makes interesting reading for new writers and those seeking a contract with a publisher.

"We live in a world dominated by best sellers. A new writer can be forgiven for thinking that the mega-success of writers such as Dan Brown, J. K. Rowling and Stephen King represent to norm. The reality is very different, with debut novelists struggling to even get reviews, never mind selling millions of copies.

So, how many books can a new non-best selling novelist really expect to sell?"

 Click here to read the full article: How Many Copies Do Novels Sell?:

Thursday, 21 October 2010

People in Publishing

Children's book editor of the New York Times Book Review Julie Just will join Janklow & Nesbit as an agent in November.

Phaidon Press, which recently hired Amanda Ridout as managing director, has now appointed David Davies as chief executive officer, starting November 29 and based in London. He is currently managing director at Bauer Media, running a portfolio of magazines.

Also in the UK, at Atlantic Books, Margaret Stead has been promoted to publishing director, reporting to Toby Mundy.

Mary Choteborsky has been promoted to editor, publishing manager, for Crown Archetype, Crown Business, Crown Forum and Harmony Books; and Heather Lazare has been promoted to editor, publishing manager, Crown Trade Paperbacks.

Sourcebooks has hired Deirdre Quinn Burgess as an associate editor focusing on gift books and calendars and Jeffrey Benson as a project editor, overseeing project-management and manuscript development aspects of their college guide, study aids, and reference titles. He was most recently an editor at Wiley working on college textbooks.

Karen Thompson has been promoted to editor at the Simon & Schuster adult trade imprint, both acquiring her own list as well as looking to "maximize and revitalize parts of the backlist.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Amazon To Sell Short-Form 'Singles' For Kindle believes that an uncommon length of reading material - longer than a magazine article but shorter than a book - will be a popular format in electronic form for its Kindle e-book reader and with this in mind is launching Kindle "Singles," a section of its electronic bookstore dedicated to pieces that are 10,000 to 30,000 words or 30 to 90 pages.

Amazon said it is soliciting the pieces outside of the publishing industry and is looking for serious writers, thinkers, scientists, business leaders, historians, politicians and publishers to 'join Amazon in making such works available to readers around the world.'

It said "interested parties" should contact

Read full article here:

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Orange has told publishers it has new plans for the Orange Fiction Prize in 2011

Orange, sponsor of the Orange prize for fiction, has told publishers it has new plans for the prize in 2011,which includes a year-long digital promotion for new writers. The £10,000 Orange Award for New Writers, which has run since 2005 is to be dropped.
Naomi Li of Orange's PR representatives M& C Saatchi, confirmed that Orange intended to expand its Orange Book Club, and feature an online promotion for new writers all year round.

Li said. "But we're launching a website at Christmas, and a Facebook group ... We'll sell e-books, and the Orange prize website will be revamped and integrated into the site."

Publishers said they were being kept guessing about the exact nature of Orange's plans, but that signs were good.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Public Lending Body which administers library loan royalties for authors to be abolished

The Public Lending Rights (PLR) body, which has been administering the library-loan royalties scheme for authors has been named as one of the organisations to go in the government's culling of quangos. The PLR functions will be transferred to another body, as yet unnamed.

Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, has said that authors' library-loan royalties will continue but he also said: 'Spending Review decisions will determine the size of the author fund and an announcement outlining funding over the next four years will be made later this month.'

In a letter to the Society of Authors this morning, Vaizey sought to reassure worried authors, 'As a condition of the transfer we will require the [new] body to commit to ringfence the fund for making payments to authors.'

PLR registrar Dr Jim Knight said there would be 'no change' in the author payment system this year. 'We are going to operate the system to the end of March 2011. Over 2011-12 we will sort the details of transferring our functions to a new body,' he said, adding that 'a lot of detail' was still to be established about the transfer.

Mark Le Fanu, general secretary of the Society of Authors, said: 'The whole thing is totally unclear.'

Friday, 15 October 2010

Survey shows slow take up for British downloading e books

The majority of Great Britain has yet to download an e-book and say they are unlikely to do so in the next six months, according to a new survey by Book Marketing Limited called Understanding the GB Digital Consumer.

The initial stage of an online survey, conducted between 18th August and 1st September, from a sample of 4,085 adults revealed 19% of adults claim to have downloaded e-books, book extracts or chapters. While 18% have downloaded free book content, only 7% have downloaded paid-for content.

Digital content is consumed the most by men, the young, those in higher social grades and students. The survey found heavy book buyers paid for on average six e-books during the past sixmonths. The survey also found despite the growing popularity in iPhones and iPads, laptop and desktop computers remain the most popular way of reading e-books.

The full findings will be anounced at the Publishers Association Conference Creating the Future: the Digital and E-book Market in 2011 on 9th February at Hamilton House in London.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Publishing is no longer a growth industry claims author and new media guru

Douglas Rushkoff has said that the publishing industry is no longer a growth business and needs to drastically reduce its scale in order to sustain itself in the future.

Speaking at the Tools of Change conference on 5 October in Frankfurt, Rushkoff said the publishing business could not now grow fast enough to support the corporate structure of large media groups. He told delegates: "What we are contending with is the fact that not as many of us are needed as used to be. Publishing can get on better if it only needs to support about 40% of the people it currently employs."

Rushkoff said he had published his latest book, Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age, independently because he no longer needed a Random House, or an Ingram, or a Barnes & Noble, to reach his customers. He said he was now able to offer his book direct at a lower price to customers. "And I can publish it straightaway, and not wait two years for a publisher to publish it."

Read the full article here: TOC: Rushkoff says book publishers need to reduce in size:

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Opposing views at conference that said publishers and authors must think more about readers

Some interesting points and opposing views from a conference held to 'help publishers explore the ways that books, film, television, games and other content industries use to get their content to consumers.'

More than 300 people attended the the inaugural StoryDrive conference with speakers from online and gaming companies.

Kathrin Passig, author and journalist, said: “In the book business we are not used to talking to the reader or thinking about the reader as our customer. This is a lot more difficult for creatives (authors) than we may imagine. It is a bit intimidating.

“It is not only the publishing houses who will have to deal with the changes but the creatives. We’ve got to think about what the public wants and not what the publisher or the bookseller wants.”

Tim Renner, producer, author and journalist at Motor Entertainment, disagreed. He said: “It is absolutely not what an artist should think about—an artist is not providing a service.”

Passig accused publishers of not taking into consideration what the public wants and focusing instead on making money.

“No one wants hardcover editions, people hate them, they just buy them because there is no other edition at the time,” she said.


Tuesday, 12 October 2010

People in publishing

Europa Editions has launched Tonga Books, a new imprint focusing on dark, literary titles that will be acquired and curated by Lovely Bones author Alice Sebold. Its first title, scheduled for a Fall 2011 release, is You Deserve Nothing by Iowa Writers Workshop student Alexander Miksik.

In the UK Hodder & Stoughton has launched a new fiction imprint, Mulholland Books, focusing on suspense fiction and will publish in partnership with the imprint of the same name at Little, Brown US.

Mulholland Books will be headed up by Anne Clarke as editor, with Nick Sayers as publisher, Katie Hall as digital marketing executive, and Kerry Hood as publicity director. The imprint will publish titles in the suspense fiction genre including crime novels, thrillers, police procedurals, spy stories and supernatural suspense and will launch simultaneously in the UK and the US next spring.

Nicole Rudick has been named managing editor of The Paris Review. Previously she was managing editor for Bookforum.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Authors get 70% royalty rate for UK e-books from Amazon and 65% from Barnes and Noble is now offering a 70% royalty rate for its Kindle Digital Text Platform, allowing authors to sell their e-books directly to customers.

The royalty rate is based on the list price of the book, which must be between £1.49 and £6.99 and 20% lower than the physical book's price. Delivery costs are based on file size and pricing is set at 10p per MB. Amazon said a median file size of 368KB would lead to delivery costs of 4p.

Greg Greeley, Amazon vice president for European retail, said: "The 70 percent royalty option for Kindle Digital Text Platform has been available for a few months for sales to US customers. We are excited to be able to announce the launch of the 70 percent royalty option in the UK. Now authors and publishers worldwide can offer more content to Kindle customers in the UK and make more money from the books they sell."

In the US Barnes & Noble has launched its PubIt! program, allowing individual authors, self-publishers and small publishers to upload their ebooks for direct sale through Nook/BN.

BN is offering a royalty/revenue share of 65 percent of list price for titles between $ 9.99 and $ 2.99 (slightly lower than Amazon on the surface, though there are no 'delivery' charges, no surcharges based on file size, and no provision that BN can lower the price and pay royalty on that basis). They pay 40 percent of list price on ebooks selling for more than $ 9.99, as well as $ .99 to $ 2.98 (slightly higher than Amazon's 35%). PubIt ebooks are automatically included in BN's lending and 'read in store' programs.

The company says that "content will be available for sale within 24 to 72 hours after upload." Barnes & Noble also promises special support for the PubIt titles, including a dedicated bestseller list, "special promotions" in their ebookstore, and additional focus on "select content" in their in e-mails and newsletters

Friday, 8 October 2010

Publishers Results

Edinburgh University Press has almost trebled its net profit, with sales and rights income up 16% to £2.7m. Pre-audited accounts from the academic publisher for the year ending 31st July 2010 show an increase in profits to £430,000 from £154,000 in 2009.

Sales in the UK increased by 28% year-on-year and by 20% in the US. E-book sales increased by more than 100%, although the publisher said it was from a small base.

Quercus has confirmed that it nearly tripled its sales to £15.01m in the first half of the year. In an interim management statement for the six months ending 30th June, the company reported that it had profit before tax of £3.3m, compared to a pretax loss of £0.26m for the same period last year.

In its statement, it said the trade division performed significantly above expectations, predominately driven by the success of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. However, Quercus said its trade list excluding Larsson grew by 24% during the same period.

Illustrated publisher Frances Lincoln's pre-tax profits have more than doubled to £680,000 in its latest set of financial results.  Revenue, including sales from its third party distribution division, increased 3% to £7.46m for the 12 months ending 31st March 2010, producing pre-tax profits of £680,000. Pre-tax profit in the 08/09 financial year was £257,000.

Meanwhile Scholastic has called its first quarter results "solid" despite sales falling by 7.8%, with trade revenue rising 9% and international revenue up.Turnover in the first quarter ended 31st August was $290.9m versus $315.6m in the prior year period. The children's publisher stated it "typically records a seasonal loss in its fiscal first quarter, when most schools are not in session and its School Book Clubs and Fairs generate minimal revenue".

For its children's book publishing and distribution segment revenue was $72.8m, compared to $76.2m in the prior year period. However trade revenue rose 9% due to a "successful front-list".International sales for the quarter was $81.9m, up from $75.6m in the prior year period, reflecting a $3.2m foreign exchange benefit, as well as strong sales in Australia and Canada.