Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The London Book Fair 19-21 April 2010

One of the major events in the book trade calendar is The London Book Fair, which runs from 19-21 April at Earls Court.

According to an article on the Bookseller web site, publishers and agents are expecting an “incredibly busy” London Book Fair with schedules already jam-packed.

For authors it's a good place to meet, to attend some interesting and informative seminars, and to see what publishers are up to. It's not the place though for authors to tout their books with the aim of finding a publisher because commissioning editors aren't always there and if they are then their diaries are already full, but it's good for research, for picking up publisher's catalogues and for getting contact names. There are also exhibitors on self publishing, book packagers, content providers, distributors, and many others connected with the book trade.
You can find out more on the London Book Fair web site. If you pre-register you can get discounts on the entry fee.  And if any of you are visiting then you might catch me in between appointments on Stand J205.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Possible threat to PLR for Authors in Government's Library Review

The following is from the Society of Authors and concerns all published authors.

The Department for Culture Media and Sport has just published 'The Modernisation Review of Public Libraries: a Policy Statement' - the result of a consultation undertaken at the end of last year. The full document can be found here

The Society of Authors has noted with grave concern that the Policy Statement includes proposals for changes to the administration of PLR - something which was not raised during the consultation process.

The Society, along with ALCS and the Writers’ Guild, have written to the Minister expressing their concerns. The letter can be read on the Society of Authors website.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Amazon rule changes to affect marketplace sellers

The Bookseller reports that is bringing in new rules to ensure Marketplace sellers are offering their goods at the same price or lower than on other "non-physical sales channels".

From 31st March, Amazon said it would require "price parity from all sellers", meaning no website - including ebay - or catalogue, third party platform or mobile applications, can undercut the e-tailer. It is giving participants until 1st May to get everything in order. Sellers who are not willing to offer parity "should remove their listings" as they will "lose their selling privileges", Amazon said.

"Amazon is also demanding that other terms, such as customer service, return and refund policies, are "at least as favourable to customers as the most favourable corresponding terms offered by you or your affiliates on any non-physical sales channels".

The move applies to the,, and marketplaces, but no sites outside of the EU are affected.

Marketplace retailers are being directed towards Seller Support, through the Amazon Seller Account page, if there are any additional questions.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Havant Literary Festival Events for 2010

Saturday 17 April: A ‘meet the author’ event in the Meridian Centre, Havant

On Saturday 17 April, a small publishing house based in Winchester - Dragon International Independent Arts - is holding a 'Meet the Authors' event in The Meridian Centre. The four writers involved are all first-time published authors. The first three books are historical novels.

May 1812, by M.M. Bennetts, vividly evokes the events surrounding the assassination of the Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval, shot dead in the House of Commons.

Harbour, by Paul House, is set in Hong Kong between 1937 and 1941. It brings to life the interaction and conflict between colonial, Chinese and Japanese cultures.

Die a Dry Death, by Greta van der Rol, is a story of enterprise and courage, centred on the sinking of the Dutch East Indies vessel 'Batavia' off the coast of Western Australia in 1629. The survivors were stranded on a group of uninhabited, hostile islands, with little food or fresh water.

Pistols for Two - Breakfast for One, by Matthew J. Dick, represents a lighter side to Dragon International’s list, following in the footsteps of great British comedic writers such as P.G. Wodehouse and George MacDonald Fraser.

Facebook users can RSVP to the event and invite their friends at

The event is free. Come along at any time between 10.00am and 5.00pm, meet these new authors.

Thursday 30 September: Tim Butcher

‘Blood River – A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart’ was one of the most brilliant non-fiction publications of 2007. As a journalist for the ‘Daily Telegraph’, Tim Butcher made an extraordinary journey down the Congo River, recreating H.M. Stanley’s famous expedition of 1876. The journey itself was a remarkable feat, but the story of the Congo, past and present, is more remarkable still.

Tim Butcher will be at the United Reformed Church Meeting Hall, Havant at 7.00 on September 30 to talk about his new book ‘Chasing the Devil – The Quest for Africa’s Fighting Spirit’ which will be published on 9 September. This will be a ticketed event.

The 2010 Havant Literary Festival Poetry Competition

The theme for the entries this year is ‘Transition’ judged by the distinguished poet Charles Bennett, perhaps best known for his collection ‘How to Make a Woman out Of Water’. Full details of prize money, the rules of the competition and how to enter will be available on the festival website in May, with a final submission date in August.

For readers aged 9 to 15: Derek Landy Sunday April 25th

Derek Landy, author of the best selling Skulduggery Pleasant series will be at the Central Library Portsmouth Guildhall Square on Sunday April 25th to give a talk about his new book - Dark Days, the fourth in the series. This event is organised by The Hayling Island Bookshop and Portsmouth School Library service and starts at 2pm. Tickets are £5, all of which can be redeemed off a book bought at the event for signing by Derek. The first 60 people buying Dark Days will also receive a free publisher’s poster which Derek will also sign. Tickets are available from The Hayling Island Bookshop Tel: 02392 466620.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Publishers start Children's Imprint and titles for Young Adults

Toronto-based Cormorant Books is launching a Children's and Young Adult's imprint, Dancing Cat Books, which will focus on literary fiction, nonfiction and poetry for young adults and middle grades. It will also publish picture books.

Dancing Cat will publish eight books in 2011 and 10 the next year. Cormorant is a respected small press with a good record of publishing first books by authors.

Gail Winskill, publisher of Dancing Cat books, is an industry veteran with 30 years experience with companies such as Scholastic Canada and Penguin Group (Canada).

Cormorant also announced the creation of a new poetry line that will publish four books of poetry a year beginning in spring 2011.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Novelists beware or you might be sued

This story is a bit scary and designed to send shudders up and down the spines of many authors.

Lalie Walker wrote her latest thriller as a tribute to a Montmarte fabric store, but the store's owners say the book is defamatory, so now they're suing her. After reading her tale of a crazed killer who sews fear and loathing among the rolls of taffeta, the owners of the fabric store argue that certain passages in the novel are defamatory, and tarnishes its image.  They are demanding £1.8m in damages.

Strange then that the Louvre did not attempt to sue Dan Brown when The Da Vinci Code portrayed murders taking place in the museum.

The author says, 'I think this is serious. It means that every time you want to write a fiction you have to ask the permission of the owners or the place,' she said. 'Potentially it represents a big threat to our liberty.' She added, gloomily: 'We will all have to end up writing science fiction instead.'"

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Writing realistic dialogue

Writing believable dialogue in fiction is a long way from dialogue in 'real life' which is peppered with a chaos of ums and ahs, you knows, basicallys and many more superfluous words and fillers. If used in a novel or short story these fillers will only serve to slow the flow and frustrate the reader. Likewise in reality we eat, watch television, cook, bathe, spend and waste time on the Internet, visit family, friends and sick relatives, shop and clean. But if included in our fiction it would drive the reader as far away from your novels as possible (unless, of course, it forms a critical part of the story).

In fiction every piece of dialogue in a story is a means to a narrative end. In real life, conversations can be one sided, boring, animated or something used to avoid silence. Developing an ear for dialogue is good but writing it you must keep in mind the tone of the novel and the character speaking.

Alfred Hitchcock said that a good story was 'life, with the dull parts taken out' a viewpoint I am inclined to agree with and dialogue should follow the same pattern: it's human conversation without the ums and ahs.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Quilt Publisher Starts New Imprint

C&T Publisher, the Concord, California based publisher of quilting and other books on the finer arts, is launching a new imprint called Stash.

Amy Marson, C& T publisher, said Stash is aimed at 20 and 30-year-olds, a younger audience than the publisher's core market which is over 50. The books will have lower price points, smaller trim size and include a series of new designers that the house is calling the Design Collective.

The company typically publishes over 50 books per year. Marson said 2009 was a good year with trade sales up 23%. Quilting and other crafts, "helps people relieve stress," Marson said in explaining last year's sales gains. "It gives them peace of mind."

Friday, 19 March 2010

Writing and publishing - the hard graft

Writing is hard graft; getting published can be even harder. Book publishers and agents are inundated with manuscripts. They receive hundreds (if not thousands) each week. So, when your book lands on a publisher or agent’s desk they are looking for a reason to reject it. Rejection is easy, just a standard letter and the book is no longer their problem.

The book industry moves at three speeds: slow, dead slow and stop. If you are writing to be topical now e.g. the next Harry Potter, by the time you've finished the novel, or even if it is accepted, Harry Potter will be history. Don't write to be popular, write what you want to write, and often what you enjoy reading.

You might be an excellent writer with an excellent book proposal or manuscript but that won't guarantee you publication. Books are published and sold as 'categories' ( look in any bookshop or on line bookstore) so your book needs to fit into a 'category.' It also has to 'fit the list' of that publisher or imprint i.e. the style and type of book they publish. Then it has to stand out in that list enough for it to be sold into the trade (booksellers and libraries) in order for the publisher to make a profit. And an instant profit at that!  Gone are the days when publishers used to nurture talent over several books before an author had a breakthrough novel.  That doesn't mean to say that publishers always get it right - they don't. They might think they have spotted 'talent' but the book can still fail to 'sell through.' This can be because of lack of marketing, (which is often the case and is why authors need to do as much marketing as they can themselves) but it can also be because the publisher has misjudged the market. And if your book is published but fails to sell its expected quantity then you will be dropped even though there is nothing wrong with your writing or your book.

Most book deals are made with authors the publisher and/or agent already knows, proven writers make their life simpler. How to get known and break in to this circle is the difficult part. Approaching and getting published by one of the smaller publishers might help you start to build a track record and learn more about the industry.  Small publishers can also be very innovative - they have to be to make enough money to survive. But you will need to market yourself. The same goes if you decide to self publish. Then you will also need your product (book) to be professionally produced, which means professionally edited and typeset, with a stunning eye catching and relevant jacket, priced to suit the market, printed by a respected and professional book printer and the book the right size for its 'category'. 

Most books sell less than a thousand copies. Most writers make almost no money.  If you are in it for the money then think again. There are easier ways to make your fortune. Writing, like getting published, is hard graft but if you love writing then write on...and enjoy!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Marketing Books

For a marketing strategy to be successful it needs to be consistent and continuous. Read an e book Week is now over for another year. My crime thriller novel, In For The Kill, was offered as a free e book for one week only, between 7-13 March 2010. Some authors wouldn’t agree with giving away free copies of their novels but sometimes it is a good way to raise one’s profile and introduce your work to people who might not normally come across you or be inclined to pick up one of your novels to read.

Analysing the early results of this marketing activity, it seems to have been successful. In For The Kill was mentioned on the Read an E Book Week web site, on several blogs, in the book trade press, and of course on my own blogs and social network sites, including Twitter and Facebook, thereby generating traffic to my official web site. Traffic to my official web site increased and over 400 copies of In For The Kill were downloaded and many more web pages viewed with some new readers signing up to my regular e newsletter.

Analysing the long term results of this activity is a little more difficult because even if I (or my publishers) were to see a boost in sales you’re never exactly sure where those sales might have originated. Participation in Read an E Book Week was just one part of an overall continuous marketing strategy conducted by my publishers and myself; it goes alongside the fact that this month (March) I have had one of my Inspector Horton crime novels, Deadly Waters, featured in an Exclusively Independent Bookshop initiative; I’ve been selected as one of the crime and thriller Authors of the Month on top online book retailer website, The Book Depository; I have a book tour in the north of England; my books are in the station BookSwap initiative on South West Trains; and I have three books published – the new Inspector Horton crime novel, Blood on the Sand, in hardcover, Dead Man’s Wharf in trade paperback and The Suffocating Sea in mass market paperback.

All of which brings me back to the point I first made here: for any marketing strategy to be successful it needs to be consistent and continuous. This requires constant hard work, and continually looking for opportunities to promote the books.  So, over the coming months there will be more marketing activity here in the UK and in the USA with reviews, my appearance at the London Book Fair (19-20 April) at CrimeFest ( 21 May), more talks and media interviews, National Crime Fiction Week (14-20 June) and lots more. And meanwhile I continue to write.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Business Authors could benefit from Wiley alliance with Bloomberg for Imprint

John Wiley has formed an alliance with Bloomberg to publish business books under the Bloomberg Press banner.

Under the agreement, Wiley will publish books under the Bloomberg Press, a Wiley imprint name and will also do Bloomberg BusinessWeek-branded books. Bloomberg bought BusinessWeek magazine from McGraw-Hill last year.

Wiley said it will publish the Bloomberg material in traditional print books, e-books and other formats. The deal calls for Wiley to take over the entire Bloomberg backlist, publish books already in the pipeline, and to sign new titles, said Joan O'Neil, executive publisher, Wiley. She said Wiley will work Bloomberg Press to publish books"As one of the foremost book publishers for professionals, Wiley is the ideal custodian of the Bloomberg and Bloomberg BusinessWeek brands, and we are delighted with this new relationship," said Bloomberg News editor-in-chief Matthew Winkler.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Reading helps you to write

Reading is essential for writers not only can it help inspire you but it can also instruct you on how to write.

Reading improves a writer's vocabulary. If you come across a word you don't understand then look it up. You may wish to use this word in your writing. Ditto if you come across a phrase you like then jot it down.

Novels also give writers a sense of 'how to do it'. They offer templates that can be borrowed and adapted. 

Find an author you admire, read that author's work but as a writer rather than a reader; examine how the author creates narrative structures and characters, how he or she develops tension and writes dialogue. How he manages to get his characters from one place to another, a task that new writers often find difficult to accomplish.

Novels can also help to trigger memories from your own personal experience, and provide you with ideas.

Learn from the masters in your chosen genre. Read the novels you enjoy again and again, you learn something new each time.


Monday, 15 March 2010

Ten Rules For Writing

I pinched this idea from a recent article in The Guardian, where authors gave their ten rules for writing. It prompted me to pen my own ten rules, which I first posted on my author blog, but I thought it worth repeating here.

1. Always have a pencil and paper with you, in every handbag, shopping bag or pocket. Or carry a Dictaphone so that you can write or record ideas as they come to you.

2. Travel by public transport as often as you can; you see and meet some great characters for novels.

3. Earwig other people's conversations in cafes, bars, buses, trains. You can collect some wonderful ideas for stories and some fantastic anecdotes.

4. Watch people's body language, it adds colour to your characters.

5. Write for yourself first, it will help you to find your own distinctive voice, rather than trying to write to suit your publisher, agent, readers and ending up with something watered down and weak.

6. Don't read reviews, or if you do learn to take the rough with the smooth and then carry on writing for yourself and for enjoyment, not to please a reviewer.

7. Back up everything, regularly.

8. Have a spare computer, laptop or netbook and if one fails, and you've backed up, you can always continue writing.

9. If you get to the stage in your novel where you're bored with the story, then your reader will most certainly be bored too.

10. Writing is hard work. You don't get a pension plan, and you don't get a regular salary cheque. ­Nobody is forcing you to do this: you chose it, so don't moan, enjoy it and if you don't enjoy it, don't do it.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Good news for Irish writers

A new Irish children's and young adult publishing list, Little Island, is to be launched later this month. Little Island will be an imprint of New Island books.

Six titles will be published initially, with further titles planned for later in the year. The company plans to publish novels by new and established Irish writers and to give Irish readers access to a range of children's titles in translation.

The imprint will be headed up by children's author and editor, Siobhán Parkinson. Little Island will be officially launched on 18th March.

New Island is happy to accept unsolicited manuscripts for consideration.  They publish a wide range of titles from fiction and poetry to history, humour, travel and more. Visit their web site for details of their lists and how to submit your work.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

New Imprint for Science writers

Good news for science writers with the launch of a new imprint from Penguin called Current which will publish science books for a general audience. Adrian Zackheim, president and publisher of Penguin's Portfolio and Sentinel imprints, will oversee Current.

Current will publish books in "every subcategory from quantum physics to neuroscience." The  not so good news is that the imprint will release only five to eight titles a year, as part of a boutique model, so getting your book accepted could be very difficult!

Penguin Launches Science Imprint:

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

New Publishing Imprints

In the USA

Lerner Publishing's Carolrhoda Books is launching a young adult line this fall in the USA. Carolrhoda Lab.  Editor Andrew Karre will acquire and edit six to eight Carolrhoda Lab titles each year

In the UK

Mark Booth's new imprint at Hodder & Stoughton launching this autumn will be called Coronet--reviving a name that was closed in 2004 and previously published authors ranging from PG Wodehouse and Ian Fleming to Fay Weldon.

Booth, who left Century last year to set up the imprint, said he was "glad to revive the old imprint name."The launch list will kick off in September. Booth has been acquiring titles since he arrived last September, along with Charlotte Haycock, who joined him from Century shortly afterwards.

He said, "Charlotte and I want the books we publish to contain new ideas and quickening use of language you can’t find anywhere else. As other media compete more and more for the time we used to give to reading, this becomes more important."

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

People and Appointments

From Publishers Lunch a couple of new appointments that could be helpful.

In the USA Agent Jud Laghi has formed the Jud Laghi Agency. He will continue to be affiliated with LJK Literary Management, where he was a senior agent, and will share office space and collaborate on projects with Kirshbaum and his colleagues. Laghi says, 'I'll continue to represent primarily non-fiction projects, especially narrative, popular culture and business, along with literary fiction and thrillers. And I'm excited to both see, and partake in, what new opportunities will arise for authors in our rapidly evolving industry.'

In the UK, Harriet Wilson will join Harper Children's UK as editorial director, reporting to fiction publishing director, Rachel Denwood. Working alongside editorial director Nick Lake (who will focus on teen and YA), she will 'commission and develop authors and series across the fiction list with a particular focus at the younger end.'

Monday, 8 March 2010

Publisher plans more hardback fiction titles

Templar Publishing, the company behind the Ology series, has launched into fiction with a commitment to hardback publishing and distinctive formats. The company plans to publish 10 fiction titles this year, ranging from early readers to young adult.

For more details click on the following link Templar branches into hardback fiction:

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Writer in Residence-Restricted to Women Aged forty plus

The Hosking Houses Trust is seeking to appoint one or more writers for its twelfth arts residency. The appointment is for a minimum of two months and a maximum of one year and applications are now invited.

The appointment is restricted to women aged forty or more.
The appointee must write in English and have the legal right to be in the UK.
It is required that the appointee has a contract for publication or performance of the intended work.
The appointee is expected to have published significant work on any subject, or to have worked, broadcasted, taught, lectured or acted extensively in the English language. This Residency is for a woman who could use the opportunity to start or complete interesting or innovative work about any subject whatsoever (see below) that might otherwise be postponed, abandoned or take a long time to complete.

A monthly bursary of £750 is available for the Resident Writer (£9,000 for the year).
Occupancy of Church Cottage (a small cottage dating from about 1700), adjacent to the churchyard in the village of Clifford Chambers, two miles from Stratford-upon-Avon. It is fully furnished and equipped, is private and comfortable. The Cottage has a tiny garden (cared for) and there is access to the River Stour and use of a rowing boat. The property is not adapted for the severely disabled but, if such a situation occurred, alternative accommodation would be offered. The occupancy includes payment of all bills and services (electricity/gas/water/council tax/water-rates/insurance/repairs) except for telephone and internet fees.  Pets/animals are welcome.

More information and criteria on

Closing date for applications: Monday 12th April 2010

Interview date: Monday 19th April 2010

Friday, 5 March 2010

Romance Imprint Expanding

Grand Central's romance imprint Forever will expand from 36 titles per year to 48 in in 2011. As part of that expansion, Selina McLemore has been promoted to senior editor and will become second-in-command to editorial director Amy Pierpont. Alex Logan has been promoted to associate editor, adding romance authors to her list as well as acquiring more for GCP and 5 Spot.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Amazon wants physical base in Canada

The UK trade magazine, The Bookseller, has revealed that Amazon is seeking to set up a physical base in Canada and has applied to the government to open a "new Canadian business".

The move could lead to a huge shake-up of Canada's book trade. does not have a physical operation in the country, but sells books through its domain Moving into the country would mean the company could ship to Canadian consumers more quickly and cost-effectively. But to operate there, Amazon must receive permission from Canada's heritage ministry.

The application is subject to a confidential inquiry by the Canadian government, which will assess whether it breaks Canada's tough cultural protection rules, which are designed to prevent American influences from overpowering Canada's culture.

Amazon spokesperson Mary Osako confirmed that an application had been made, but declined to say what it planned to sell through the new company and services. "We're always looking for new ways to serve our Canadian customers, but it's premature to discuss our plans as we await a ruling on our application," she said.

The move could prove to be a boon to Canadian publishers, but it would also hit the country's retailers.

Amazon launched its Canadian site in June 2002, amid protests from Canadian booksellers who argued that the online store violated regulations that prohibit foreign ownership. The Canadian government ruled that this was not the case since did not have a physical business in the country.

Author Sparkes wins TV book award

Just had to post this and say many congratulations to my friend and fellow writer, Ali Sparkes. I know how incredibly hard she has worked to achieve this. But then writing is hard work over many years. Well deserved. It's a great story.

Author Sparkes wins TV book award: "A tale of two cryogenically frozen children from the 1950s brought back to life in 2009, by author Ali Sparkes, wins the Blue Peter book of the year award."

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Bloomsbury on line writing competition returns for World Book Day

I realise that not many 8-16 year olds will be reading this blog but in case any of you have children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews who like to write then Bloomsbury's online writing competition for children is back for a second year, and will launch on World Book Day (Thursday 4th March) with a new look website challenging young writers aged 8 to 16 to create stories using 247 words or fewer.

Each month a different Bloomsbury author will pen a tale within the word limit on a certain theme, and then the children can submit their entries and a winner will be chosen.The first author to take part will be Mary Hoffman, with a story on the theme of time travel. Bloomsbury said that last year the competition received over 100 entries each month.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

A Country Primed for Crime

From the Rap Sheet:

A Country Primed for Crime: "To demonstrate their tremendous enthusiasm for crime, mystery, and thriller fiction, the British are planning their first National Crime Fiction Week, to run from June 14 to 20, 2010. On a new Web site, put together by the UK’s Crime Writers’ Association, CWA chair Margaret Murphy explains that
CWA members will take part in readings, discussions, readers’ group events and workshops all over the country. Your favourite authors are already planning Murders in Libraries, Bodies in Bookshops and Strawberries and Crime at Village Fetes. So if you have an idea for an event, drop us a line and we’ll do our utmost to put you in touch with a writer who fits the bill.

A key part of National Crime Fiction Week will be the announcement of the winner of the Young Crime Writers’ Competition, organised by the CWA in partnership with library authorities nationwide. Entries will be judged by members of the CWA.

The crime genre is very broad: spine-tingling suspense, historical novels, cosy crime and edge-of-the-seat thrillers all share shelf space in bookshops and libraries. Add into the mix non-fiction--increasingly popular with readers fascinated by forensic aspects of crime--and events organisers can create a programme of events that will tempt the most fastidious palate.
The Crime Fiction Week Web site is here.

An early schedule of associated events can be found here.


Announcements: "David Patterson has left Holt, where he was an editor, and starts today at Foundry Literary + Media as an agent.

Irish bookselling chain Hughes & Hughes declared bankruptcy. Ulster Bank appointed David Carson of Deloitte as receiver. The company blamed a variety of factors, from reduced air traffic which suppressed business at its successful airport bookstores to higher rents and the internet.
Irish Times

Gordon Wood won the American History Book Prize for Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, which includes the title of American Historian Laureate.

Mexican author and guerrilla movement scholar Carlos Montemayor, 62, died on Sunday. He was best known for his novel War in Paradise.

The Lambda Literary Foundation has launched a new online webzine and blog community for LGBTQ writers and readers.

Author Solutions has added ebook distribution for Barnes & Noble's estore."

Monday, 1 March 2010

Free titles and more during 2010 Read an E-Book Week

Free titles and more during 2010 Read an E-Book Week: "

The annual Read an E-Book Week was created in 2003 to promote the advantages of reading electronically. During the 2010 installment, scheduled for March 7-13, dozens of e-book sellers and publishers will offer free downloads of select electronic titles."

You'll also find one of my titles featured in this, a crime thriller novel called In For The Kill.