Friday, 26 February 2010

New Company Publishing Short Digital Books

A new company, Commutabooks, has been launched, publishing special short digital books that are designed to be read in a single commute.The short books and poems can be bought in the Apple App store and downloaded on to iPhones and the iPod Touch. Two titles have so far been released, priced £1.19, with a further four due in the next couple of months.

Tom Evans, creator of Commutabooks, said the first title - his own work, entitled 100 Years of Ermintrude - had been published in January, with reviews describing it as "a great book to commute with".

The books incorporate audio tracks. Evans said the titles worked particularly well for books that have an accompanying CD. "It's really playing to the strengths of the device," he said. "People are loving them - the very nature of the app allows people to email them round and Tweet about them."

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Getting publicity for your book

Getting media coverage for your book, both on line and in printed media, is a very effective way of raising your profile. The secret to gaining media coverage is in pitching the right story to the right media at the right time. Today a news story has to have an ‘angle’ or a ‘spin’ to it. It is not enough to say that you have published a book you will need to build a story around it. You need to think about how you can make your news release more exciting or interesting.  You will need to ask yourself the questions a journalist would ask:

What is different or unusual about this book?
What is different or unusual about this writer?

Remember the ‘human interest’ angle, people like to read about people. Perhaps you have overcome adversity to write your book. Perhaps you have researched it for years while holding down an exciting job,or even a mundane one. Do you have something different or new to say, and something that will be of interest to the readers of that newspaper, magazine or web site?  Develop a journalistic eye and look for the angle, i.e.the element that makes the story appealing and different.

Ten Tips

1. Send your news release to the right media i.e. the media you think will be interested in your story. Don't waste time sending it to the wrong web sites, newspapers and magazines. Do your research beforehand.

2. Television and radio often pick up their stories from the press but if you wish to send your news release to the local television and radio stations then do so. You can either target the News Desk or you may find that local radio or TV stations have a magazine programme, an arts programme, or even a book review programme. Check out their web sites. You can usually sumbit your story via these.

3. Keep your news release short, don't puff it out with unnecessary information.

4. Send a good quality and interesting photograph with the release.  

5. The subject headline of your news story is to interest the journalist or editor, it must encapsulate the story, i.e. what the release is about.

6. The first paragraph is the key to the release. It must contain the whole story: the angle, your name, where based, the title of your book and briefly what the book is about.

7. The second paragraph goes on to give the details already summarised in paragraph one. The facts and figures if necessary. You may only need one paragraph of explanation otherwise two will probably be sufficient.

8. The third paragraph is your quote and the fourth paragraph may contain more practical facts, for example where the book can by bought, giving a contact name and telephone number and the cost of the book.

9. Then write ‘ENDS’ and the date.  Provide contact details for the journalist or editor to get in touch with you, including a telephone number.

10.If your news story doesn't appear don’t take it personally and don’t get disheartened. Keep on sending interesting, timely and relevant news.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

English Pen Literary Cafe at The London Book Fair

In association with English PEN and the British Council, the Literary Cafe will be located in Earls Court 2 at The London Book Fair. This dedicated area offers a chance to listen to authors being interviewed about their work. Foyles, the official LBF bookshop for 2010, is located within the Literary Cafe where authors who are interviewed will also sign copies of their latest titles.

This year's English PEN Literary Café programme offers visitors the opportunity to listen to interviews with a wide range of international authors, attend book signings and literary prize announcements.

Authors featured in the Literary Café include the Authors of the Day:

• Hilary Mantel, best-selling Novelist and Author of Wolf Hall

• Andre Brink, one of South Africa’s key literary figures in the modernisation of the Afrikaans language novel and author of A Dry White Season

• Eoin Colfer, Author of best-selling children’s series, Artemis Fowl

For more information on the London Book Fair  and their seminar programme visit

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

London Book Fair Seminar

The London Book Fair is not just a forum for publishers but authors and all those connected with the creative industries. It is well worth a visit. There are a variety of interesting seminars where you can pick up many tips and learn more about the publishing industry.  It is also a good opportunity to make new contacts.  However, it is not the ideal place to tout your book, editors and agents have pre-booked appointments and won't be able or generally willing to give you time.  The London Book Fair runs from Monday 19 April to Wednesday 23 April at Earls Court, London.

Below are details of one of the seminars.  You can find details of exhibitors and seminars on the London Book Fair web site.

Seminar  - Opportunities for All - Audio Publishing in the Digital Age

Ali Muirden, co-founder of digital audio publisher Creative Content, is to chair a seminar at the London Book Fair on Tuesday 20th April at 5.30pm - 6.30pm.

"Opportunities for All - Audio Publishing in the Digital Age" will focus on how all publishers - from small start ups to global publishing groups - can benefit from the opportunities that are becoming available worldwide via the digital marketplace.

A panel of audio industry specialists will examine and discuss how digital distribution has given new life to the audio industry and helped grow global sales in the last few years and what opportunities this now presents for all publishers worldwide.

Mary Beth Roche, Vice President and Publisher of Macmillan Audio US, will focus on the growth in digital audio sales in the US market and discuss what future developments are expected.

Davy Nougarede, Director at Heavy Entertainment, an independent producer of audio books, will show what publishers can learn from other media industries and how it can be adapted for the audio book industry.

Emilie Marneur, Content Director at, will talk about the digital retail market and what opportunities are opening up for large and small publishers alike.

Ali Muirden, co-founder of digital audio specialist Creative Content, will discuss how small publishers and start ups can publish profitably in the digital market place.

The seminar will take place in the Cromwell Room, Earls Court 1 and is open to all Book Fair visitors.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Margaret Atwood's rules for writers

Margaret Atwood's rules for writers: courtesy of the Guardian

1 Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can't sharpen it on the plane, because you can't take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.

2 If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.

3 Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.

4 If you're using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick.

5 Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.

6 Hold the reader's attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don't know who the reader is, so it's like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates A will bore the pants off B.

7 You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there's no free lunch. Writing is work. It's also gambling. You don't get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you're on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don't whine.

8 You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You've been backstage. You've seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.

9 Don't sit down in the middle of the woods. If you're lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.

10 Prayer might work. Or reading ­something else. Or a constant visual­isation of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book."

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Writing Courses from Cornerstones

Savvy Writer - May 7 2010

Cornerstones is running a one-day workshop on 'How to be a Savvy Writer', 7th May. This includes sessions on: how to make your writing work for you financially; the fundamentals of self-editing; and a 'day in the life of an agent' with David Smith from the Annette Green Literary Agency. We don't use your work in this workshop, so take a day off, put your feet up, listen to industry experts, and meet other writers. Price is £95 inc. VAT. Max. 30 spaces so please book early. For a programme or to book contact

Picture Book Workshop June 18 2010

Covers the essentials of crafting a story through to submission. This will be held at the Society of Authors and run by award-winning writer Julie Sykes. Celia Catchpole Literary Agency will talk about what agents look for, with a Q&A session. We use your work during class and this is reflected in the price of £375. The 10% discount for early bookers ends 19th April. Maximum 12 writers. For a programme or book via:

Children's Books - March 4 2010

Helen Corner will join a panel of agents and publishers for an evening session on how to make your mark in the world of children's books. This Children's Book Circle (CBC) event will be held on 4th March at the Penguin offices in London. For more information or to book a ticket visit:

Friday, 19 February 2010

What do writers really earn?

What do writers really earn?:

In 2008 the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society in the UK commisioned a survery to examine author’s earnings.

Here’s what they found:

  • The average (mean) annual earnings of a writer: £16,531
  • The typical (median) earnings of a writer: £4,000
  • 60% of people who saw themselves as ‘professional authors’ required a second source of income
  • The average (mean) annual earnings of a writer (25-34): £14,564
  • The typical (median) earnings of a writer (25-34): £5,000
  • The average (mean) annual earnings of a writer (35-44): £24,533
  • The typical (median) earnings of a writer (35-44): £18,000
  • The average (mean) annual earnings of a writer (45-54): £35,958
  • The typical (median) earnings of a writer (45-54): £14,250
  • The genres that earned the most money (highest to lowest): TV writing, Theatre/film writing, Audio, internet and other, Books – fiction, Books – academic/educational, Books – children’s fiction, Newspapers/magazines and Books – non-fiction.

Source: What are Words Worth? The ALCS commissioned research carried out by Bournemouth University.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Publishing new appointments

In the USA from Publishers Lunch, the following new appointments have been announced:

"At Yale University Press, Chris Rogers has been named editorial director, effective immediately. He joined Yale University Press in 2005 as executive editor for history and current affairs, after serving as publisher of the higher education group at Oxford University Press.

At HarperCollins, Kyran Cassidy has been promoted to vp, associate general counsel, reporting to Chris Goff. He has been with the company for 10 years, and "continues to play an essential role assisting in the implementation of the company's digital publishing strategies."

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Writers' Guild to launch books co-op for self published authors

The Writers’ Guild has announced it is set to open a book co-operative to its members who have self-published one or more works. The functionality of the service will enable members to both post books on the website and sell them through it, with links to their own websites.

The co-operative will have a joining fee and subscription, but as yet these have not been fixed as the scheme is still in its early days. The Guild recently released information to its members, saying “it’s like the windows or shelves of a bookshop. Anyone who goes online will be able to see what members of the co-operative have on offer and will be able to order and pay for the books they want.”

Current details regarding The Writers’ Guild Books Co-Operative can be accessed at and is set to be launched in the next few months.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Public Lending Rights for Authors and Latest League Tables

Public Lending Right (PLR) is the right for authors to receive payment under PLR legislation for the loans of their books by public libraries. Payments are made annually on the basis of loans data collected from a sample of public libraries in the UK. Over 23,000 writers, illustrators, photographers, translators and editors who have contributed to books lent out by public libraries receive PLR payments each year.

PLR systems have been established in many countries around the world. British authors can benefit from PLR payments in those countries which have a reciprocal agreement with the UK. Five countries - Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, France and Ireland - now make PLR payments to UK authors via ALCS.

The Rate Per Loan is 6.29 pence and there are proposals to extend PLR to audio books and ebooks lent out by public libraries in the Digital Economy Bill which is currently going through Parliament.

In the latest payment of PLR just received, Catherine Cookson, for years the most ­borrowed writer from the UK's lending libraries, has been overshadowed by the giants of American popular fiction.  She dominated the library charts for years – but there is no trace of her among the 100 most borrowed books of 2008-9. She is still, however, the 10th most borrowed author of the decade – largely due to the 'astronomical' ­numbers in which her books were borrowed in the first half of the noughties, according to Jim Parker, the registrar of the Public Lending Right (PLR).

Instead, the top three adult authors for July 2008-June 2009 were all Americans: the thriller writer James ­Patterson, followed by the romantic novelists Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele.

Thrillers, romance and crime novels were the most popular genres in ­libraries, according to the PLR's research and, although many of the top names are familiar: John Grisham, Joanna Trollope and Ian Rankin – the league table of books borrowed from libraries differs significantly from bestsellers.There is no Dan Brown, crime novelist Stieg Larsson, or Stephanie Meyer among the top 100 books.

Patterson retains pole position (in raw numbers, his book Sail was borrowed 80,000 times). But in general, children's authors show their supremacy, taking second, third and fourth position and occupying 13 of the top 20 slots.  Of the children's authors, Tracy Beaker author Jacqueline Wilson, the perennial favourite, has been tipped to the top position over 2008-9 by Daisy Meadows, the pseudonym for the four authors of the Rainbow Magic series of fairy stories. But Wilson is still the most borrowed author of the decade, followed by JK Rowling and Cookson.

In the combined adult-children list for 2008-9, children's authors Francesca Simon, Mick Inkpen and Julia Donaldson came in on Wilson's heels.  Classic children's works retain a foothold: Enid Blyton comes in at 13 in the combined children's/adult list and Roald Dahl is at number 17.

Literary fiction is absent in the adult league table and non fiction is also barely represented.

On the PLR's list of most borrowed classic titles, the top slot is occupied by JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, with three different editions of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird in the top 10.

Daphne Du Maurier is also on the classics list: 10 of the top 20 books are hers. Five are by Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer also figures.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Writing Workshops

WRITING THE ZEITGEIST with HENRY SUTTON Sat 6 Mar 2010│10am – 1pm, then half hour 1-1 in pm│£50 / £40 conc.

If you’re writing about the hustle and bustle of modern life, then this is a great chance to listen and learn from someone who’s got it right and also to get crucial one-to-one feedback on your own work.

WRITING EAST ANGLIA with JEREMY PAGE Sat 20 March 2010│10am – 4pm│ 50 / £40 conc

If you are writing, or want to write about the East Anglian landscape then this  could be perfect for you. Jeremy Page will share his expertise in writing about the region, helping develop your ideas, and looking at how they can be developed in various prose formats. If you read about his novels Salt, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best First Book, and The Wake, winner of the Fiction and Poetry category at the East Anglian Book Awards, you will see why Jeremy is just the right man for the job.

Also to come - highlight on the prose fiction a six week short course titled Writing a Novel with Rachel Hore.

Click here for our full programme of Writing Workshops or contact
call 01603 877177.

Writers’ Centre Norwich is a registered charity, charity number is: 1110725. 

Monday, 8 February 2010

Read an E Book Week 7-13 March 2010

Read an E-Book Week was first recognised in 2004 and has been growing ever since along with the number of exciting new e reading devices now on the market.   It is a not-for-profit week set aside to inform the public about the pleasures and advantages of reading electronically. Authors, publishers, vendors, the media and readers world-wide join in the promotional week to promote electronic reading.

Check out the web site for all the partners participating in Read an E Book Week and you might even see my name half way down the page. 

I am happy to announce that one of my crime thriller novels In For The Kill is to be featured in Read An E Book Week from 7-13 March 2010.

If you want to become involved in Read An E Book Week, please visit their web site.

Friday, 5 February 2010

The Poole Literary Festival 29-31 October 2010

The Poole Literary Festival plays host to a wealth of literary talent - writers, poets, performers and artists along with a few surprises. Plus, the launch of Britain’s first New Media Writing Prize, in partnership with Bournemouth University.  So, if you’re ‘hooked on books’, this could be the place for you.

Check the web site for further details.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and Penguin Group (USA) announced the third annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA), an international competition seeking fresh new writing voices. One of the great new aspects of the contest is that self-published novels are now eligible to be submitted. There will also be two categories this year, Young Adult Fiction, and General Fiction. One Grand Prize winner from each category will receive a full publishing contract with Penguin including a $15,000 advance. Contest details are listed below, and further information and official rules can be found at

To get tips on how to enter or sign up, visit

What is the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award?

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is an opportunity for emerging fiction writers to join a community of authors on, showcase their work, and compete for a chance to get published. Sponsored in partnership with Penguin Group (USA) and CreateSpace, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award first launched in October 2007 and received more than 5,000 initial entries. In the inaugural contest, Amazon customers voted and named Bill Loehfelm the winner with his novel, Fresh Kills. Several of the other Top 10 finalists also received publishing deals with Penguin.

The 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award started out even bigger than the first contest, with over 6,500 authors signing up. After narrowing the field, the top 500 excerpts were available to Amazon customer to read and review while Publishers Weekly reviewed the full manuscripts. From that information, Penguin selected 100 semifinalists that which were then reviewed by a group of Penguin editors who the three finalists. Excerpts from Ian Gibson (Stuff of Legends), James King (Bill Warrington's Last Chance), and Brandi-Lynn Ryder (In Malice, Quite Close) were voted on by Amazon customers, and in a ceremony in New York, James King was announced as the 2009 winner.

What are the grand prizes?

The grand prize winner in each category will receive a full publishing contract with Penguin to market and distribute the Grand Prize winner's winning manuscript as a published book, including promotion for the published book on and a $15,000 advance.

How do interested authors enter?

The Submission period is now open, and will stay open until February 7th, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. (U.S. Eastern Standard Time), or when the first 5,000 entries have been received in each category, whichever is earlier. There is no entry fee.

Monday, 1 February 2010

The battle between Amazon and Macmillan

Courtesy of

A Sign of Reason: "Well, it looks as if Amazon has blinked first in its big e-book battle against mega-publisher Macmillan. An announcement posted this evening by the “Amazon Kindle team” reads:
Dear Customers:

Macmillan, one of the “big six” publishers, has clearly communicated to us that, regardless of our viewpoint, they are committed to switching to an agency model and charging $12.99 to $14.99 for e-book versions of bestsellers and most hardcover releases.

We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles. We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books. Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it’s reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don’t believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative.

Kindle is a business for Amazon, and it is also a mission. We never expected it to be easy!

Thank you for being a customer.