Friday, 28 May 2010

Half of UK consumers in the UK use the Internet to buy books

Almost half of UK consumers use the internet to buy books, with four out of five checking online before purchasing, delegates were told at a recent Book Industry Conference. The Nielsen Homescan survey found that the most popular activities on the internet are email, search engines, online banking and the weather and not far down the list was 'buying books' with 52% of UK consumers using the internet to buy books, the same percentage as those who use the internet to buy holidays/flights.

The survey found that when asked if they "often refer to the internet before making a purchase" 42% of respondents said they "agree strongly" and 36% said they "agree slightly".

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Barnes & Nobel to launch self-publishing business

Barnes & Noble is launching a self-publishing business called PubIt! this summer, Publishers Weekly reports.

The company will allow independent publishers and self-publishing writers to distribute their works digitally through the retailer's website and its e-book store.

Publication and distribution will be limited to digital works with no sales through physical Barnes & Noble stores. According to Publishers Weekly,  Barnes & Noble will release details of the royalty model and compensation process at a later date.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

New Publishing ventures Australia, America, and possible opportunities for writers

Bloomsbury have announced that they will launch their own Australian division in January 2011. Current marketing director of Bloomsbury UK, Kathleen Farrar will be managing director of the new unit. Their longtime Australian distributor Allen & Unwin will provide sales and distribution services to the new company.

Sc-fi/horror publisher Night Shade Books is launching Pugilist Press, focused on 'contemporary literary fiction with an edge.'

Juliet Ulman is editor-in-chief of the new line, with Night Shade founder Jason Williams as publisher. 

Launching in the fall 2011, they will publish fourteen to sixteen books year in trade paperback.

Ulman says they are looking for 'tough literary fiction with a certain honesty and texture to it. Think Cormac McCarthy, Harry Crewes, Gustav Hasford, Lionel Shriver, Dennis Lehane, Ernest Hemingway. Writers whose stories are extremely well-crafted, but who deal in a narrative style and subject matter that is direct, gritty, and often painful.'

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

New Independent Publisher to launch this autumn

A new independent publisher will launch this autumn, with a list covering fiction, graphic fiction and narrative non-fiction including topics from current affairs to psychology and history.

Cutting Edge Press is backed by businessman Martin Hay, who is its joint c.e.o. and finance director. Bafta-nominated filmmaker and author David Cohen will also be joint chief executive. Verso author Reuben Cohen, who has previously worked at Sheil Land, MGA and Psychology News Press, is editorial director.

Turnaround will handle Cutting Edge's trade sales and distribution.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Literary Agency PFD Sold to MF Management

Literary Agency PFD has been sold to agent Michael Foster and Matthew Freud who will merge it with MF Management and rename it The Rights House.  As a result, ten of the agency's 32 staff are reportedly going to lose their jobs.

The name of PFD (Peters Fraser & Dunlop) one of Britain's oldest literary agencies, is set to disappear.  PFD is home to the literary estates of J.B. Priestley C.S. Forester and V.S. Pritchett. It also acts for Simon Schama, Roger Scruton and Sir Peter Hall. 

Under the terms of the agreement, Foster will merge his company MF Management with PFD and hold a controlling interest. Foster will be the senior partner at the new company, along with the PFD chief executive, Caroline Michel. Andrew Neil, who headed the consortium that bought PFD in 2008, will step down as chairman and will not retain a stake in the company. Freud, the founder investor in MF Management, will become the largest non-executive shareholder of The Rights House.

Foster's representation strength has been in film and TV, with clients including Chris Evans, Sam Neill, Julie Christie, Billie Piper and Alan Davies. He started MF Management in 2008.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Checklist for writing novels

When revising your novel consider the following:

1. Has the story got shape? Thinking of the novel as a line on a graph does it rise and fall with tension, rising each time to a climax?

2. Are there twists and turns

3. Examine your sub plots - what difference would it make if you took one out?

4. Are they sufficiently interwoven?

5. Do the events of the novel grow out of one another?

6. Is there cause and effect

7. Is there sufficient conflict?

8. Is there sufficient variety?

9. Is there a change of pace?

10. Are quickly moving scenes preceded by and followed by quieter ones?

11. Is the plot clear?

12. Is the story credible?

13. Have you surprised the reader?

14. Is there a change of scene and time?

15. Does the novel begin effectively

16. Does it end on a satisfactory note?

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Business Books and Erotic Fiction

Wales-based independent publisher Accent Press is to launch a new business imprint this summer.

Hazel Cushion, managing director of Accent, and a former winner of Entrepreneur of the Year award, said: "We have launched Inspire Books to meet the needs of would-be entrepreneurs looking to make a new start and those people already in business looking for new ideas to keep up their motivation."

Accent is a member of the Independent Publishers Guild. The mainstream publishing arm uses the ACCENT PRESS imprint and aims to encourage and develop new writing talent. The second division specialises in producing a range of charity books including celebrity cookbooks and the Sexy Shorts range.Curriculum Concepts UK Ltd is the name of  the educational division which produces teacher resource materials and Xcite Books publishes fresh, new erotic writing aimed mainly at female readers.

They are not accepting new submissions at present for Accent Press but they are actively seeking submissions for their erotic imprint, Xcite Books.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Questions to ask yourself about your novel when revising and editing

Revising and editing your novel is an essential part of turning out a polished piece of writing. Here is a checklist that might help you.

1. Every scene or linking passage must be there for a reason.

2. Why is this scene included?

3. What about it will make the reader read on?

4. Does it start at the right point?

5. Does it end at the right point?

6. Is there a good blend of narrative, description and dialogue?

7. Look critically at too long explanatory passages – show your readers what is happening and what your characters are thinking, don’t tell them.

8. Look carefully at viewpoint through which you describe a scene – whose head are you inside? How would he or she see it?

9. Look at wording and phrasing. Take each sentence one by one – does it say what you intended it to say? Is it elegant or clumsy?

10. Prune unnecessary words – e.g. George shouted angrily.

11.Watch for phrases and words you overuse.

12. Are there too many characters?

13. Are they alive enough?

14. Are the characters actions realistic?

15. Are the main characters sympathetic?

16. Do the characters grow and change?

17. Have you overwritten?

18. Does it entertain and interest the reader?

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Author Solutions signs third deal to create self-publishing division with Hay House

Author Solutions has signed its third deal with a traditional publisher to create a self-publishing division, inking an agreement with Hay House to create Balboa Press. According to Hay House CEO Reid Tracy, the publisher receives “thousands of manuscripts annually, but we can publish only 100 products a year.”

Similar to agreements with Harlequin and Thomas Nelson, Hay House will monitor the self-published titles to look for potential Hay House authors.

Author Solutions Creates Imprint with Hay House

Monday, 17 May 2010

Web site to help market books dropped after concerns about costs

A book recommendations website, part of a trade-wide marketing campaign, was dropped after concern was raised about the costs of development and ongoing post-launch fees. The campaign based around the book recommendations website was culled because the website,, would have cost £200,000 to develop.  There were also worries that there was no guarantee of a return on the investment and that there could be additional marketing costs following the launch. One estimate was that the final fee could have run to a "high six figures", far ahead of the initial scope of the plan.

However, marketing consultant, Damian Horner, the architect behind the initiative, said the campaign should not be allowed to drift away. He said: “The need for a generic campaign is becoming more urgent than ever—every year more people are moving more to online purchasing—there is no getting away from it. Rather than bury our heads in the sand, we need to get involved. Two industries pulling together on one site is much more powerful.”

The Publishers Association and Booksellers Association remain “very keen” on a trade-wide marketing campaign despite putting the initiative on “pause” due to concerns over the costs and effectiveness of the current proposal.The BA/PA Liaison Group’s committee will discuss new ideas that arise out of next week’s Book Industry Conference at a meeting in June.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

A couple of tips to help you start writing that novel

Many people love writing and many would like to tackle writing a novel but are not sure how to do it.  The Internet is packed full of writing advice and there are conferences and courses where you can pick up some valuable tips.  Of course, this is no substitute for actually doing it. So here are a couple of tips for anyone wishing to dip their toes in the water.

Start writing

No excuses. Start writing.  Make time to write.  That could be early morning before you go to work or get the children up, lunchtimes, evenings or just a couple of hours at the weekends, but you must write.  Rather obvious, I know.  When I was working full time and running my marketing and training business I could only write on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. But I was fortunate to be doing that and religiously I would write, because I loved doing so. I didn't have a word count.  I just did the best I could for that day. During the working week I used to keep a Dictaphone in the car and when stuck in traffic jams used to dictate ideas into it or work out plot lines.  I also used to carry a notepad and often used my lunchtime to write notes and work on the outline or jot down character descriptions. So no time was ever wasted.

Write the first draft quickly

The first creative draft is often the most enjoyable and the most painful because you have so much in your head that you want to get down on to paper or computer screen and yet you might have gaps in the plot and in character development.  I also like to research as I write so that will hold things up a bit.  However, the key is to get an outline down as quickly as possible probably within four months. This will be a very rough draft with incorrect spellings, missing words and the character motivations and descriptions not fully formed. The key is in letting the creative juices flow, just brain dumping them on to the page.

Don't give up on it

You'll  have good days and bad days but don't give up. Set yourself a goal to finish that first draft no matter what. Also give yourself a time frame to work to: four months, a year, two, whatever suits you.  If you get stuck either write through it, go for a walk, do some gardening or cleaning, knitting, sewing or anything you enjoy but which also lets your mind continue working in the background.  Then return to your writing. And keep writing.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Usborne launches Young Writer competition 2010 - so get writing children

Children's publisher Usborne is repeating its Young Writers’ Award, which was created last year to celebrate its fifth anniversary of publishing fiction.

The Young Writers Award 2010 once again aims to give children the opportunity to write a story with a real author. This year the five winning children will see their stories published as an e-book app, which will be available to download from the Apple iTunes App Store, in partnership with media company Sleepydog.

Usborne authors Sophie McKenzie, Steve Skidmore & Steve Barlow, Diana Kimpton, Keith Brumpton and Anne‐Marie Conway have each written a "story starter", ranging from murder mystery to fairytale adventure. Children must complete the story, with the finished work being 1,000 words or fewer.

As well as being published in e-book form, winners will also get the opportunity to travel to the Usborne House to meet the authors, an author visit to their school, £100-worth of Usborne books, and a year's free subscription to and Young Writer Magazine.

Megan Larkin, Usborne fiction director, said: "One thing that connects all the authors on the Usborne Fiction list is their brilliant storytelling ability, and this award is a great way to celebrate this fact but also to encourage the practice of such an important skill."

Friday, 7 May 2010

Supermarkets and Internet Bookselling 'most dramatic' rise

Supermarkets and the internet have shown the most dramatic growth in market share over the past two decades at the expense of "book and stationery stores" and direct mail booksellers, according to the latest data from Book Marketing Ltd. Dedicated books stores have also increased their market share over the twenty-year period.

The research company, which has examined the changes in the trade over the past 20 years in its Books and Consumers surveys, showed the sharpest drop in where adults bought books was in book and stationery stores. While approximately 41% purchased books in such retailers during 1989, only 24% did in 2009. Direct mail booksellers were also affected, having attracted 21% of adults buying books in 1989, but only 12% last year.

Supermarkets, meanwhile, saw their share of the market grow from just 9% of adults in 1989 to 20% last year - the biggest climb for retailers already in existence 20 years ago. The internet has grown from nothing in 1989 to having 18% of adults buy books through the channel last year.

Dedicated bookshops also had a successful 20 years, representing a third of adult book purchases last year, compared with 26% in 1989.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Waterstone's rate of decline has slowed

Waterstone's like-for-like sales in its fourth quarter performance has declined by 4.8%. The result shows that the rate of decline has slowed since Myers' took over as m.d. in January, with Waterstone's outperforming the Total Consumer Market over the period.

The company's market share "was going in the right direction", Myers said, singling out fiction as a key area for the retailer in the 16 weeks to 24th April. Total sales fell by 4.3% during the same period. The performance is ahead of the Total Consumer Market, as measured by Nielsen BookScan, which has dropped 6.3%. Parent HMV Group described the result as an "improved trend" that came despite the harsh weather at the beginning of the year.

For the year to 24th April, sales at Waterstone's fell by 6.2% on a like-for-like basis and 6% on a total basis. While its last trading statement, for the 10 weeks to 2nd January, showed that like-for-like sales fell by 8.9%. The full-year result means Waterstone's will report sales of about £515m, when its preliminary results are issued in June, down from £548.3m a year earlier.

Myers explained the current book market was difficult, and had been affected by poor weather at the beginning of the quarter and good weather towards the end of it.

"The prospects for the book market are quite unclear and we are cautious about our outlook," he added. "I'm interested in the outcome of the election and how that will affect the pound in people's pockets. But from a Waterstone's perspective we have made a good start to our new strategy."

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

UK Publisher Performance and Book sales figures - 2009

UK publisher performance in 2009 proved to be "resilient", with growth in the value of export sales helping to take the edge off a double-digit decline in sales of non-fiction titles and reference books and an overall decline in the number of books sold by 9%.

In total an estimated 763m books were sold in 2009, with an invoiced value of £3,053m, according to the Publishers Association. Unit sales were 9% lower than in 2008, but value sales remained level thanks to growth in export sales. Home sales stood at £1,850m in 2009, down 2% on 2008, while unit sales declined by 6% to 463m in 2009. UK publishers sold 300m units overseas in 2009, worth £1,203m, which was 13% lower by volume, but 4% up by value compared to 2008.

Non-fiction and reference books was the worst performing sector over the year down 10.1% to £780m, with UK sales down 12.6%. Within this sector hardbacks fell 12.1%, paperbacks dropped 7.2%, while reference sales declined 11.9%.

By contrast the value of fiction sales rose 7% to £559m, up 5.5% in the UK and 11.2% overseas, despite a 2% drop in the number of books sold.

The sale of children's books declined in volume by 2.3%, but increased in value by 3.2%, driven by a 9.7% rise in the value of export sales.

It was a difficult year for educational publishers, with sales of school books down by 7.6% by value and a huge 30.9% in volume. By contrast the academic/professional market grew sales 5.9% to £900m, despite a 9% drop in volume.

Digital sales grew 19.9% overall but were up 190% for consumer publishers, leading the PA to estimate digital sales worth £150m, with digital sales of general consumer titles worth £5m. It put a figure of £2.1m on consumer e-book sales, a jump of near 500% on the 2008 number.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Compensation offer to Agents, Publishers and Exhibitors affected by the flights ban at the London Book Fair

Exhibitors and table holders at the London Book Fair in April affected by the flight ban caused by Iceland's volcano ash cloud are to receive a 30% discount at next year's event, the 40th aniversary of the London Book Fair says exhibition director Alistair Burtenshaw, while international visitors, who were unable to attend this year, will get free entry at 2011's fair.

LBF now estimates that total attendance numbers were down by around 32%.  After the Fair a petition signed by over 100 publishers was presented to Burtenshaw requesting "a fair and just compensation for our losses" because of the poor international attendance at the event. The petition asked the fair for either an immediate refund of a minimum of 30% of stand rental costs, or the same amount discounted for the 2011 event.

Children's publishers fear a significant fall in export sales following the cancellation of meetings at London Book Fair.