Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Many authors risk seeing a drop in income as result of government cuts

The budget for the Public Lending Rights scheme, which pays just over six pence per loan, is already being reduced by 3% this year and Jim Parker, PLR registrar, said the organisation would be able 'to absorb some but not all' of the 3% cut. This raises concerns about the impact on authors. 'It will be very difficult to sustain last year's rate per loan because of the cut in funding,' he said. Many authors therefore could see a drop in the money paid out on library loans. 

Authors receive just over six pence per loan, up to a cap of £6,600, through the Public Lending Right (PLR) scheme, something many describe as a 'lifeline'. Along with all bodies funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the scheme's budget is being reduced this year by 3%, to £7.45m, and authors are desperately concerned that further reductions will be forthcoming in the autumn, when the government's next spending review is published.

Bestselling crime novelist Peter James, said, 'It does help struggling authors, authors who are not that commercial – for many it is a lifeline, it's quite a large chunk of money.'

Mark Le Fanu, general secretary of the Society of Authors, said that PLR was 'particularly important to the genre of writers who sell to libraries but don't sell in huge numbers in bookshops – saga writers, crime writers, romance novelists'.

'We are hugely concerned. It's a tiny amount in the great scheme of things but it's the only public support given to writers. Now is a particularly difficult time for writers and it's only going to get worse. Publishers are focusing their concentration on fewer bestsellers, there's a squeeze on mid-list authors, and the budget is not going to help,' said Le Fanu, who – together with a cadre of the society's biggest names – will be writing to culture minister Ed Vaizey to make the case for the PLR.

'I absolutely back it to the hilt and would walk through the streets for it,' said bestselling women's fiction author Elizabeth Buchan. 'It's absolutely right and proper that all authors are accorded this money.'

'It means a great deal. It's never been lavishly funded and it desperately needs to stay,' agreed Penelope Lively, the only author to have won both the Carnegie medal and the Booker prize. 'Authors need it. It's a very important extra for a frequently underfunded activity, and more than that it's a return on your work that should be made.'

Some children's authors, too, depend heavily on PLR, said Le Fanu.'Children's writers are not highly paid,' agreed Ian Whybrow, one of the most borrowed authors from libraries with over 100 books to his name. 'I make a living and I sell thousands of books, but I don't make a great big living, simply because of the way books are sold [so] the PLR amount is significant to me.'

A 2007 survey by the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society found that the average income for an author in the UK was £16,531, and that the top 10% of authors earn more than 50% of total income, while the bottom 50% earn less than 10% of total income.

'PLR is very important to people who are having hiccups in their career, and pretty important for newly published authors as well,' said Haddon. 'The division between bestsellers and everyone else is huge. Publishers seem to me to be looking for the next big thing, and if you don't produce huge sales in your first couple of books you're gone. There's never going to be a Dick Francis, who took seven books to get off the launch pad, because your publisher won't stand by you that long. The point about PLR is that actually it will help to feed the author while they're trying to find another voice, or genre, or pen name, because that's what they have to do.'

The DCMS said it would not speculate about future spending decisions.'This week we had a tough but fair budget. All areas have to bear their share of spending cuts,' said a spokesperson.

This is a digest of an article taken from the Guardian.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Tindal Street Press Independent Publisher joins forces with Atlantic and accepts unsolicited submissions for fiction

Birmingham-based independent publisher Tindal Street Press is to join forces with Atlantic Books, with the larger company representing all the smaller's titles through the Independent Alliance from January next year.

Publishing director  of Tindal Street Press Alan Mahar said: "By associating our name with Atlantic’s impeccable trade profile and expertise we will now be able to present our fiction more strongly to the market." Tindal pride themsleves on publishing accessible literary fiction.


Tindal Street Press accept submissions direct. They publish contemporary fiction from the English regions – i.e. outside of London and the south-east. If you are unsure whether your work counts as ‘regional’ then you can call them on 0121 773 8157 or email editorial@tindalstreet.co.uk.


They publish around six adult fiction titles a year but will not consider poetry, children’s, sci-fi, fantasy or romance. To submit a manuscript send a synopsis and the first 3 chapters of a novel, hard copies only by post with a covering letter and return postage to:

Tindal Street Press
217 The Custard Factory
Gibb Street
Birmingham
B9 4AA

Short stories can only be considered if presented as a coherent, complete collection.

Toby Mundy, chief executive of Atlantic, added: "Tindal Street Press occupies a unique position in the eco-system of British publishing and in recent years has established itself as one of the country’s most consistently exciting literary imprints.

"We’re very fired up by the prospect of working with Alan and Luke [Brown, editor] and their colleagues, and helping build their business."

Monday, 28 June 2010

Entries open for the Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary - top prize is a publishing contract for unpublished author

Writer's Bursary 2010 - Deadline 31st August 2010


Legend Press has announced the opening of entries for the 2010 Luke Bitmead Writer’s Bursary. The award was set up shortly after author Luke’s death in 2006 by his family to support and encourage the work of fledgling novel writers, with the top prize being a publishing contract with Legend Press, as well as a cheque for £2500.

Luke is the author of White Summer (the first novel to be published by Legend Press) and co-author of Heading South.

Submissions are open until 31st August 2010, with the winner announced in the week of 27th October 2010.

Luke was just 34 when he died and was considered by all that had read his work as one of the UK’s most talented up-and-coming writers. His first published novel was the cult comedy White Summer – published by Legend Press in May 2006, just five months before he died. Legend Press, in agreement with Luke’s family, also published the comedy romance novel Heading South which Luke had written with co-author Catherine Richards. The heartfelt dedication in Heading South reads: ‘In memory of Luke, who’s talent, wit, drive and smile will be greatly missed but always remembered by everyone who met him.’

Guidelines and criteria:

Submissions from writers will be accepted between 13th May 2010 and 31st August 2010, with the winner being announced in the week of 27th October 2010.

Only adult fiction is eligble for this bursary, no children's books or non-fiction.

The judging panel will consist of Luke’s mother and sister, Legend Press and best-selling authors Zoe Jenny and Sam Mills.

Entrants must be age 16 or over. There is no upper age restriction for entry but all submissions must be from first-time, non-published authors – particularly those who are talented but whose personal or financial circumstances are making it especially hard for them to focus on writing as a career.

Novels must be already completed before entry. Unfinished manuscripts will not be accepted. Please submit 3-4 sample chapters initially by email to bitmeadbursary@legendpress.co.uk along with a personal statement outlining why you would particularly benefit from the bursary. This will form a key part of the judging process.

You can find out more about Luke and the Memorial Fund at http://www.lukebitmead.com/

Friday, 25 June 2010

Books are big export business for the UK but US chipping away at UK Export Market

According to figures produced by HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) books and printed matter account for the 16th largest export sector trading outside the European Union out of a total of 97 different categories of goods which include drinks and spirits, mineral fuels and inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals, stones and jewellery, machinery, nuclear machinery, vehicles and aircraft..

The total year to date value of books and printed matter exported, excluding April 2010, accounts for just over £365m. This compares to the total year-to-date value of the UK’s trade-in-goods exported, which was £26.3bn. For April alone, books and printed matter accounted for nearly £103m-worth of exports, out of a total of £9.7bn. It's nice to think authors are doing their bit for the British economy!

The Publishers Association (PA) said the figures "provided a rosy picture in comparison to the overall export trade", having grown 2.49% in April, while the value of overall exports decreased by over 4%. Simon Juden, chief executive of the PA, said,"UK publishing has always punched well above its weight in export terms, exporting more than any other media sector, and it’s pleasing to see this excellent performance continuing."

Meanwhile it's reported that US publishers are increasingly seeking rights to territories that are traditionally the preserve of UK publishers, in lieu of global deals.

India is top of the contested territories, while Singapore, Malaysia and South Africa are also significant. In most cases, US publishers seek non-exclusive rights, meaning that although UK publishers can still export, they must compete on launch dates and price.

William Morris Endeavor Entertainment agent Cathryn Summerhayes said: "There is a noticeable move towards American publishers hoping to buy world rights in the first instance, and when unable to do that, to ensure India and South Africa, and smaller territories like Singapore and Malaysia."

She said Americans were "wising up to the fact it's a lucrative market" given difficulties in the UK and US home markets. "With territories where we are seeing decent sales growth, like India, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, it's important that rights are granted to the publisher who is best placed to exploit them. Historically that has been UK publishers and for the time being that will continue to be the case."

Thursday, 24 June 2010

New crime imprint and editorial changes

Little, Brown US has announced their new crime imprint called Mulholland Books. It will launch in spring 2011 and intends to grow to 24 books a year by 2012, with a new hardcover and one paperback each month. Mulholland Books will be run by editor John Schoenfelder and Miriam Parker will serve as marketing director.

Canada's McClelland & Stewart announced job cuts and changes in responsibilities.Executive editor Lara Hinchberger will acquire and edit non fiction and senior editor Anita Chong takes on responsibility for overseeing their Emblem trade paperbacks.

Interweave has hired Allison Korleski for the new role of acquisitions editor in their book division, starting June 21, responsible for overseeing all book acquisitions at Interweave. Most recently, she was a trade book buyer at Barnes and Noble for the last 12 years.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Society of Authors to defend Public Lending Rights from government cuts

Society of Authors chair, Tom Holland, has called for the protection of Public Lending Right at a time of spending cuts.  He said the Society would "fight to defend" PLR, calling it "a miniscule amount which will barely be noticed by George Osborne".

The Bookseller magazine reported in May that the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport is to face a £88m (3%) cut in this year's budget, with the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), Public Lending Right (PLR) and Arts Council all taking a 3% funding cut this year.

The Society of Authors is a non-profit making organisation, founded in 1884,to protect the rights and further the interests of authors.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Books escape VAT in Chancellor's budget but increase for audio and e-books

The chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has announced that books or other printed material, will continue to be exempt from VAT but digital and audio books are to suffer the increase in VAT from 17.5% to 20% from 4 January 2011.

Bridget Shine, executive director of the Independent Publishers Guild,(IPG) agreed. "We are pleased ─ and relieved ─ that there will be no VAT on print books and we welcome the reduction in corporation and small companies tax."However, she joined with those who were concerned over the increase in VAT on audio and digital books, confirming the IPG planned to lobby the government over the discrepancy.

Trade relieved over VAT, despite 'catastrophic' increase for audio and e-books:

Richard & Judy return with new book club in the UK

Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan are returning to the UK book world with  the launch of a new book club this time joining forces with the chain bookseller W H Smith.

W.H. Smith will run "The Richard and Judy Book Club" this autumn, next spring and summer. The retailer and television duo who announced the club to publishers on 17th June have met with a mixed response. The book club will not be backed by a television show, which must surely dent it's reach and therefore sales potential, instead six books are to be promoted instore this autumn under the R & J banner. A single title will be highlighted every two weeks.

In the spring and summer of 2011, eight books will be promoted over a 16-week period. The books for each club will be chosen by Richard and Judy as well as WH Smith's buying team. Pricing of the titles has not been confirmed but a WH Smith spokesperson said it was "likely" the new book club would be TV advertised. Advertising is OK but anyone working in Marketing and PR knows it's not as powerful as editorial and in television terms that means programmes. It will therefore be interesting to see the level of sales generated. I suspect they won't be anywhere as high as previously in the R & J Book Club heyday, but hopefully healthy enough figures for the lucky authors whose works are selected (and the publishers).

The other reason why this announcement has not been fully embraced by the publishing world is that it is extremely difficult for smaller and independent publishers to even get their titles stocked in W. H. Smith because of the vast amount of money they charge to publishers for doing so. Therefore it is likely that only the major league publishers will have their submitted titles chosen to feature, and it's not clear whether or not there will be a cost for submitting them.

However, Rachel Russell, W H Smith books business unit director said: "W H Smith customers were some of the biggest supporters of the previous Richard and Judy Book Club and we know that they, like us, will be delighted to see a new selection of Richard and Judy's recommended reads in W H Smith stores this autumn."

Finnigan said: "I'm absolutely delighted that we are involved in a Book Club again. People keep telling us how much they've missed it—and so have we."

Madeley said: "We've taken our time on this—we wanted to get all the details exactly right. Our first selection of recommended good reads should be in W H Smith stores across the UK in three to four months. They'll be clearly marked and displayed. We're thrilled that the Richard and Judy name is once again associated with books."

Monday, 21 June 2010

Government scraps promised library measures and campaign to support libraries begins

The new culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has decided not to implement £2m (per annum) of library spending commitments set out in his predecessor Margaret Hodge's Public Library Modernisation Review policy statement in March.

Hunt is scrapping the measures as part of a £73m saving being made by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Free internet access in all libraries and the promotion of library membership as an entitlement from birth have been abandoned. Meanwhile the extension of the Public Lending Right to non-print format books (estimated at £300,000) has been suspended and is to be considered instead at the spending review in the autumn.

Meanwhile a “substantial” coalition of library users and campaigners from across the country is set to launch a joint campaign to support and improve the public library service in the face of these and more anticipated spending cuts.

Tim Coates, who leads the umbrella campaign group Libraries for Life for Londoners (LLL), said the coalition was already at work preparing the new campaign, which will launch in July. The campaign is aimed at lobbying councillors in support of frontline library services, encouraging them to give priority to services, libraries and books despite inevitable spending cuts.

“We have engaged media and marketing specialists and lobbyists and are formalising our structure,” Coates said. “We will call for all groups to join us, and we have written a charter, jointly with the MLA [Museums, Libraries and Archives Council], which will be the basis of the campaign,and which describes what library users want from public libraries.”

Coates promised to publish the campaign charter within weeks, saying: “We shall seek the public libraries that people deserve.”

BookTrust director Viv Ward and Society of Authors Mark Le Fanu responded quickly to express their support for the campaign, which followed a call by Booksellers Association chief executive Tim Godfray earlier this week for a cross-industry initiative to save library services in the face of the spending cuts.

Friday, 18 June 2010

New writing project asks authors to eavesdrop - best to be published in October

A new initiative encourages writers to pen poems, stories and flash fiction based on overheard conversations, with the best to be published in an anthology in October.

On 1 July, writers across the UK are being asked to eavesdrop and to (discreetly) collect snippets of conversations. Once they've done their collecting, the Bugged initiative wants them to write a new piece of work based on what they've heard – poems of up to 60 lines, stories up to 1,000 words, flash fiction up to 150 words, scripts up to five minutes long – with the best to be posted on the Bugged blog, and the very best to be published in October in a printed anthology.

The judges are National Poetry Day director and Glastonbury festival website poet-in-residence, Jo Bell, and novelist and playwright David Calcutt.

Example riffings off eavesdroppings are provided here by Bugged, if you need help getting started.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Nathan Bransford: The Rejection Letter of the Future Will Be Silence (And Why This is a Good Thing)

One of the more challenging aspects of being a literary agent is dealing with the incredible deluge of submissions that pour in every single day, twenty four hours a day, from all corners of the globe and for every type of project imaginable. I don't keep precise stats on the number I receive (it's hard enough just to answer them all), but in any given year I receive somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 query letters from aspiring authors. Out of those tens of thousands I reject all but a tiny handful of them and take on perhaps three to five clients a year, whose work I then shop to publishers.

Contrary to the myth that an agent is sitting at a desk cackling as they read the submissions from the supposedly untalented masses, I loathe sending rejection letters. Loathe loathe loathe. Not because it's tedious, but because honestly: who am I to be telling someone they're not worthy of publication?

Well... who am I? I'm a literary agent, and my job hinges on having a good batting average at the sorting process and pulling gems from the virtual pile. I have to use my knowledge of the industry and hopefully some skill to find what will ultimately sell to a publisher.

But as I search for the diamonds, every day I have to pass on the life's work of cancer survivors and abuse victims and war heroes and many more people who spent hours upon hours of their life writing a novel in the faint hope that it would someday find publication. I don't enjoy sending these rejection letters, and I never forget that on the other end of the letter there's a person out there whose day I'm probably ruining and whose dreams I'm chipping away at. What makes these books unworthy, other than the fact that it simply wouldn't be profitable to publish them in print?

The lack of commercial viability of 99% of the books written every year necessitates all this rejection. I can only take on the books I think I can sell to publishers, and aspiring authors receive this judgment in the form of a rejection letter. But the very nature of commercial viability in the publishing world is changing quickly with the transition to e-books, and I think it's ultimately a change for the better.

The Print Funnel

In the print era, there was a good reason to create a funneling process rife with rejection: making a book and getting it to readers is a costly process. It requires extensive and expensive infrastructure (production, printing, warehousing, shipping, retail) and realistically there were only a finite number of books a publisher could publish and still have a chance at making a profit.

All the other books that, rightly or wrongly, were viewed unworthy: they disappeared into drawers, never to see the light of day. While many of the vanished manuscripts were likely passed on for good reasons, who knows what masterpieces and gems were lost to bad guesses?

Luckily, the e-book era is changing all of that. Anyone can upload their work to the Kindle or iBooks or insert e-book store here and make their work available, and thousands of authors are currently doing just that.

Contrary to another publishing myth, I'm not an agent that's opposed to self-publishing, nor do I see it as anything close to a mortal threat to the world of literature and publishing. People fret as a swarm of books hit the market, many of poor quality, but I don't see any reason to fear the deluge at all.

Let's face it, folks: the deluge is already here.

The Digital Deluge

Walk into any large suburban bookstore and you'll find tens of thousands of books to choose from, more than you could possibly read in an entire lifetime. Head on over to your friendly neighborhood online superstore and you'll find hundreds of thousands more. We're already faced with (literally) millions of options when it comes to choosing a book. And guess what: faced with all that choice we are still able to find the ones we want to read.

No one sits around thinking, 'You know what the problem with the Internet is? Too many web pages.' Would you even notice if suddenly there were a million more sites on the Internet? How would you even know? We all benefit from the seemingly infinite scope of the Internet and we've devised a means of navigating the greatest concentration of information and knowledge the world has ever seen.

So what's the big deal if a few hundred thousand more books hit the digital stores every year? We will find a way to find the books we want to read, just as surely as we're able to find the restaurants we eat at and the movies we want to see and the shoes we want to buy out of the many, many available options.

Infinite Choice Instantaneously

I grew up in a tiny farming town, and for me a fun afternoon consisted of standing in a rice field and shooting things with a BB gun. I didn't have a beloved neighborhood bookstore to peruse, and as this was pre-Internet I certainly didn't have a lot of choice in what I was able to read. My choices were basically limited to what was stocked at our small-but-awesome library and whatever I was able to wrangle from the small-and-not-awesome mall bookstore over 30 miles away.

Not only did my experience growing up give me the skill to shoot dirt clods with the best of them, it also gave me a tremendous appreciation for the importance of choice (because let's face it, nothing gives you an appreciation for choice like not having any). I probably would have bankrupted my parents if I had regular access to a Barnes & Noble growing up, but I would have loved it!!

And now we have even more choice than a big bookstore. Instantaneous access to every book you could ever want to read: how could this possibly be construed as a bad thing?

The Sound of Silence

Clay Shirky, author of HERE COMES EVERYBODY, notes that we're moving from an era where we filtered and then published to one where we'll publish and then filter. And no one would be happier than me to hand the filtering reins over to the reading public, who will surely be better at judging which books should rise to the top than the best guesses of a handful of publishing professionals.

I don't see this transition as the demise of traditional publishing or agenting. Roles will change, but there are still some fundamental elements that will remain. There's more that goes into a book than just writing it, and publishers will be the best-equipped to maintain the editorial quality, production value, and marketing heft that will still be necessary for the biggest books. Authors will still need experienced advocates to navigate this landscape, place subsidiary rights (i.e. translation, film, audio, etc.), and negotiate on their behalf.

What's changing is that the funnel is in the process of inverting - from a top down publishing process to one that's bottom up.

Yes, many (if not most) of the books that will see publication in the new era will only be read by a handful of people. Rather than a rejection letter from an agent, authors will be met with the silence of a trickle of sales. And that's okay!! Even if a book is only purchased by a few friends and family members -- what's the harm?

Meanwhile, the public will have the ultimate, unlimited ability to find the books they want to read, will be unconstrained by the tastes of the publishing industry and past standards of commercial viability, and whether you want to read experimental literary fiction or a potboiler mystery: you'll be able to find it. Out of the vastness of books published the best books will emerge, driven to popularity by passionate readers.

Sure beats shooting dirt clods.

Nathan Bransford is a literary agent in the San Francisco office of Curtis Brown Ltd. and the author of JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW, which will be published in 2011 by Dial Books for Young Readers. He blogs at http://blog.nathanbransford.com/.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Editorial contacts for Simon & Schuster Pocket Books Reshuffle

Simon & Schuster has moved its Pocket Books paperback publishing under the control of its editorial team.


Mike Jones, non-fiction editorial director, and Maxine Hitchcock, fiction editorial director, will now be in charge of paperback publishing for their respective areas. Both report to S&S publishing director Suzanne Baboneau.

Ian Chapman, S&S Managing Director, said, "These changes will inform our overall approach as to how we acquire and work with authors, our relationships with retail partners, and the consumer marketing campaigns that are so critical to the success of our individual titles, our continuing authors, and Simon & Schuster UK as a whole."

Chapman added that S&S' turnover is 13% up year on year, compared to the wider market,which is down 6%.


Two go in S&S reshuffle:

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

With hundreds of thousands of books how to make your book/s stand out from the crowd and generate sales

With hundreds of thousands of books already available and a possible explosion of material in the years ahead, the challenge for authors (and publishers) will be how to make the book/s stand out from the crowd and generate sales.

The big publishers spend the majority of their marketing budgets pushing the top names, (the big sellers) with a lesser percentage spent on those who are breaking through, (unit sales of about 200,000) and then diminishing money on those who are ‘the ones to watch,’ with nothing left over for the others. The new authors (unless the publisher has spent an inordinate amount on acquiring the titles) are left to their own devices. The biggest challenge therefore, as an author, is getting your name out there and unfortunately not all publishers will help you to do this or allow you enough time to build your 'name'. If you're not selling from day one then you could find yourself being dropped after your book contract is fulfilled. This doesn't mean that your book was bad or that your writing was poor. On the contrary both could be brilliant. But in a world that wants quick returns on investments you simply ran out of time.

Books are a low cost item (generally) and not a fast moving consumer good (FMCG) so they don't generally fly off the shelves unless you happen to be a celebrity, or a big named author already. Selling books whether you are a bookseller, author or publisher is very hard work and usually for the majority of titles a slow trickle until hopefully (in some cases) that trickle becomes a stream, then a river and at last an almighty flood. But making that happen all takes time, persistence, marketing and money.

Sitting in your garret compiling your masterpiece and then letting your publisher get on with the business of marketing and selling your books is not an option. If you want your books to sell, not only do you have to produce the work that people want to buy, but you also have to be a clever and persistent marketer.

Branding can help to create and reinforce an identity for a product or service and place it in the minds of the customer, thereby boosting sales. With books the branding can include: the author, the publisher’s type of list, the fictional character, or as in my case the setting of my crime novels, marine mysteries, against the backdrop of the sea.

Reinforcing that brand will involve the packaging, the cover design, the size of the book, the title, typography, the quality of the paper, the marketing i.e. where the book is advertised, what kind of advertising is undertaken, the images used, the style of copy writing, the marketing message. And what reinforces the brand is the consistency of communicating all the above, across all the marketing channels; something that many publishers sadly aren’t very good at because they don’t employ professional marketeers, and often don’t have the money or the time to do it correctly and consistently.

That’s all very well you might be saying but this branding is the publisher’s responsibility surely, what can I do about it? OK, so you might have little say over the packaging of the book or the advertising or lack of it but there is still a lot you can and should do to market yourself and your book/s.

Research in the UK by the Next Big Thing, (2008) sponsored by IBS Bookmaster, has shown that people get their information about new titles from in store displays, (28%) but how does an author get an in store display if the publisher is not committed to the title and not prepared to pay the chain bookseller for it? With Waterstone’s recent change of policy to help support local titles and authors there is an opportunity for authors to take the matter in hand and go direct to their local Waterstone’s managers. Ask them to support your book by stocking it and perhaps promoting it with an in store event. Don’t wait for them to come up with ideas but suggest them yourself and make sure you tell everyone about it both on line and off line. Even before the recent announcement of Waterstone’s to ‘go local’ though I have always found them willing to support book signing events and have organised signings in many Waterstone branches across the south of England.

W.H. Smith is a different kettle of fish. There are no such opportunities with this giant chain because of the high costs to the publisher for carrying and displaying titles in store so generally only the big named authors will continue to make it on to the limited shelf space. But if you feel like approaching them then why not? You never know, you might have a very innovative local branch manager.

Then there are independent bookshops and, if an author is fortunate enough to have one of this dwindling breed in their neck of the woods, direct contact and support from the indie is extremely worthwhile particularly if that indie is expert in hand selling titles to customers. Again you can suggest a book signing event. I’ve done several with my local independent bookshop including two eight hour stints on board the Wightlink Ferry.

So what else can you do? In second place in the survey consumers claimed they got information from a newspaper or magazine book review (14%). Again, it is extremely difficult for a new author, or an author who has not made the big time, to get a review. Reviewers tend to favour non-fiction and literary novels. However, media coverage in local and regional media, or in specialist magazines, isn’t so difficult, but don’t wait for the publisher’s publicist to do this, because they won’t. Remember they are tied up with their big name authors. So authors need to build their own media list and send out their own press releases. They need to look for unusual stories and angles to generate media interest, and give radio interviews wherever possible. And if you don’t know how to write a press release or give a radio interview then put yourself on a course and learn how to do it. It could be one of the best investments you make. Or perhaps the publisher could run courses for their authors. Now there’s a novel idea! I’d be happy to oblige.

The next biggest data driver, according to the research, is recommendations from friends and family (12%) followed by Internet recommendations (9%). Combined this adds up to 21% and in my calculation has got to be worth pursuing. They are areas of marketing that are both available and accessible to any author.

Book specific and genre specific web sites are an important part of the author’s marketing plan as are the social networks such as Twitter, Facebook etc. And with the proliferation of bloggers they’ve also got to be a target area, not to mention creating your own blog and/or website to showcase your work and interact with your readers and potential readers.

Generating word of mouth and raising your profile and that of your books takes time, effort and persistence, which can be frustrating, but it can be fun and rewarding. It is also an essential part of being an author and an extremely valuable investment in your career.

So:

1. Don't rely on the publisher to market you or your book. Do it yourself.

This is no time for modesty false or otherwise. Publishers don't have the time, resources or money to commit to marketing many authors but instead concentrate on their BIG names, their 'cash cows!' Draw up a marketing plan from the moment (or even before) your book is to be published and stick to it.

2. Keep marketing from day one and use every opportunity you can to promote yourself and your book.

This can be through a press release to the media. Send it to local, regional and specialist media. Put it on-line, on your blog, website and/or social networks. Send it to specialist blogs and web sites. Send it to radio stations and offer to do interviews.

Get recordings of interviews or record them yourself and put them on your blogs, websites and on You Tube.

Give talks in libraries, both local and around the country, to help spread the word about your books. Libraries are great at promoting authors and have ready and willing readers. You can also sell your books at your talk and generate income. Contact other organisations, for example Women’s Institutes, retirement organisations, schools (if appropriate depending on your book) book festivals etc. and offer to give talks. Promote the event beforehand on your blogs/websites and get someone to take photographs at these events and put them on the Internet afterwards.

Contact local bookshop/s and ask if you can do a signing. You will need to market the event yourself, don't expect people to turn up, even some of the big name authors are left at book signings staring at the bookshelves with no one to talk to.

3. Keep it going.

Marketing is a long slow process. What you do today might not have an immediate impact but eventually it will begin to work. Give it at least eighteen months before you start to see any real benefits.

4. Be patient and persistent.

5. Always look for opportunities and seize them where you can. Never stop marketing.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Retailers asking large amounts of money from publishers for bookshelf space this Christmas

The public are often unaware how certain books end up being featured in supermarkets, and many wonder why the same authors are featured again and again, which is generally the big named authors like Patterson, Cussler,etc. The reason is that publishers have to pay a vast sum of money to supermarkets and the chain W. H. Smiths in order to get their titles on the shelves and because of this the publisher is, of course, going to play safe and put their A list authors there in the hope they will recoup this  money from sales. Some internet booksellers, such as Amazon, also have the same policy.

It's summer so therefore it must be Christmas and publishers are now gearing up for their Christmas negotiations with retailers and those retailers are understood to be asking for higher sums in promotional spend, following a general pattern of a 15%–20% rise year-on-year over the past few years.

According to an article in The Bookseller magazine, Asda's top promotion price this Christmas is thought to be £70,000 on ratecard, though a spokesperson for the retailer would not confirm or deny the figure. One publisher put the overall retail spend needed to launch a top-flight Christmas title at £150,000. That's a great deal of money.  Another predicted "tortuous" negotiations for the weeks ahead.

The Bookseller reports, "One sales director said market dynamics had also increased retailers' power ahead of Christmas. He said: "It looks like there are monopolies appearing on the high street and online for certain categories of books and therefore people can ask what they want. It's only if you publish the book they've got to have that you can push back."  Wouldn't it be nice to have one of those!

It doesn't take much imagination to work out which authors will be featured over Christmas but it would be nice to have one or two surprises.  For greater choice though it might be worth a visit to your nearest independent bookshop, where space is not paid for and where variety is the spice of life.  They are also usually expert at helping you choose exactly what book Aunt Mabel might like.

And as this is Independent Bookseller's Week in the UK, what a good way to support them. It is also National Crime Fiction Week, so here I am here below signing copies of my marine mystery crime novels at my local independent bookshop: The Hayling Island Bookshop.


Crime Writer Pauline Rowson book signing.


Publishers gear up for Christmas talks:

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Places left on a mystery and fun day out for writers

There are still places left on a unique and innovative day out for writers organised by Write-Invite where you are sure to go away with new ideas and stories.

The day runs from 10am - 4pm, and includes writing, researching, learning about impending competitions, drinking coffee, eating, meeting new writing friends, perhaps a bit of eaves dropping - contact 012 92 291463 to ask for details or to book.  The day costs £10 and you will also have a chance to win money! Two 'mystery' venues to wet your appetite.

Contact by e mail or phone to book and for details of where to meet.

Friday, 11 June 2010

People Moves and Appointments in Publishing

Thomas Nelson is expanding its children's publishing team: Molly Kempf is joining the unit as editorial director (she was a senior editor at Scholastic).

Mackenzie Howard has been promoted to acquisitions editor for children's books and gift books; and Jennifer Deshler moves over to vp of marketing and publishing process for children's and gift product.

Ullstein Buchverlage has appointed Barbara Tolley & Associates as their exclusive US scout from July 1 for all their imprints: Ullstein, Ullstein paperback, Allegria, Econ, Graf, List, List paperback, Marion von Schroder and Propylaen.

Jane Starr Literary Scouts has been appointed US scout for Bastei Lubbe and Baumhaus Verlag in Germany."

At McGraw-Hill Professional's business group, Stephanie Frerich and Leila Porteous have both joined the unit as editors.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Promotions and Submissions at UK Publisher Canongate

Canongate has promoted non-fiction editorial director Nick Davies to the role of publishing director for non-fiction.  Davies joined the Scottish publisher in 2007.  He will continue to work alongside publishing director Anya Serota, and is already a director of the Canongate board.

Unsolicited Submissions

Canongate also accept unsolicited manuscripts  for fiction direct from authors who do not have an agent.  You can find out more on their web site. Submissions need to be posted and should include a synopsis, sample chapters and a stamped, self-addressed envelope.  Send to Submissions, Canongate Books, 14 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TE. They do not publish children's books and are not currently accepting submissions of poetry.  They do not accept unsolicited submissions via email.

Canongate promotions also include Ailah Ahmed to assistant editor, reporting in to Anya Serota.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

iPad Launches Self-Publishing Option

Apple is now offering an alternative to the traditional publisher. The company this week opened a new portal for independent authors to self-publish their books for the iBooks Store open to iPad (and soon iPhone) customers.

Apple’s iTunes Connect program has a section where authors can self-publish their work under certain formatting requirements. The books must be made in the ePub format like the rest of the offerings in the iBooks Store.

Apple’s iPad launched simultaneously with the iBooks Store, and several major publishers such as Penguin, Harper Collins and Hachette Book Group, have signed up to publish their books on the iPad. Apple later announced in March that the iBooks Store would be available for iPhone users as soon as iPhone OS 4 launches in the summer.

With iBooks and the iPad, Apple’s biggest target is Amazon, who hosts its popular Amazon e-book store and sells the dedicated Kindle e-reader. Amazon, too, allows authors to self-publish books through their market."

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Most writers identify with Iris Murdoch's writing insecurities

Writing is a lonely business and writers are usually plagued by insecurities. First there is the desire to be published and the crushing  disappointments of facing rejections.  Then, when published, come the doubts about whether or not anyone will buy your book and if so will they enjoy it?  Next are worries about getting further commissions, and even when you have successfully had published a series of books the insecurities continue with each new novel - is this one as good as the previous one or better?  Will the reviewers like it? Will the readers enjoy it? Therefore, a new archive of letters by Iris Murdoch which reveal this renowned writer's insecurities is reassuring to writers and is no surprise.

The correspondence between Iris Murdoch and French novelist Raymond Queneau spans 29 years and sheds new light on Murdoch's insecurities about her ability as a writer.

One of her early works featured a "bogus scholar" and another idea for a novel is cribbed from a book about telepathy which she eventually abandons.

The Telegraph states, "The letters reveal a woman riddled with self-doubt who was at times filled with "hatred and contempt" for her prose and wondered if she would "ever write something good". Recognise that feeling?

She was thought to have attempted between four and six novels before her first book, Under the Net, was published in 1954. Most writers experience many false starts and often write for years without publication, learning their craft and finding their style.  Iris Murdoch looked to Queneau for intellectual stimulus and practical help.  It's good to have a mentor in all walks of life, including writing.

She talks about the difficulty of judging her own work and her suspicion that what she has produced is "worthless." Again, many of you reading this will identify with the sentiment.

In her letters she says, "While I am writing it, it's always surrounded by such an aura of creative aspiration & joy, clairvoyance and what not, it seems better than it is. Then afterwards the light is withdrawn & it seems quite dead and worthless. Just now I'm still in the clairvoyant stage & knowing the secrets of the seas."

Reading about Iris Murdoch's insecurities will, I hope, help many writers, both published and those seeking publication, feel that their own doubts are quite natural and come with the territory.

You can read the full article here. Iris Murdoch's early works and her struggle to 'write something good' revealed:

Monday, 7 June 2010

Award for Unpublished Writers Launched by Sony

Sony UK is sponsoring a new award at the Dylan Thomas Prize, with the winner’s novel to be published on its site. It is the first time that the company has published an original novel.

The Sony Reader Award for Unpublished Writers will use e-book formats for the entire process, from submission to publication, and is aimed at unpublished British novel-writers under the age of 30. The winner will also receive £5,000. The shortlist will be released in September, and the winner announced on 1st December 2010.

Although I've put a link to the Dylan Thomas Prize  I can't find a link to the rules for submission for the Sony Award. And it seems the closing date for entries to the 'normal' Dylan Thomas Prize was 31 May, so I am assuming this Sony Award is a late entrant, as it has only just been announced to the press.  You might like to contact the Dylan Thomas Prize organisers via their web site for further details.

Whether the winning novel will be published as a PDF or e-book via a publishing house has not yet been confirmed.

Sony  has also said that digital book sales will overtake print sales earlier than it had previously thought. According to Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading business division, e-books sales will overtake print sales within five years. But then I guess he would say that.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Writers best work to be submitted to literary scouts

BubbleCow a helpful web site for writers, has announced they will be acting a scouts for a selected group of UK and US agents, at no cost to the writer.

Bubble cow which provides advice to writers and offers a literary consultancy service is in the process of finalising a number of arrangements with UK and US based literary agencies, which will enable them to pass on selected manuscript for their consideration.

The service is only open to manuscripts that have been fully edited by BubbleCow.  For details visit their web site.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Winchester Writers' Conference 25th - 27th June 2010

I have attended many Winchester Writers' Conferences over the years both as a delegate and latterly as a speaker and workshop leader and can recommend it to anyone keen to improve their writing skills.  It's also a great opportunity to make new contacts, meet agents, authors and publishers.   There are 43 workshops, 60 lectures and 500 one-to-one appointments.

The conference covers novel writing, adults and children's books, poetry, scripts for a radio or television play and non fiction.  You can also pitch your work to literary agents and commissioning editors.

There is also a series of week long workshops running from 28th June to 2nd July. For more information visit http://www.writersconference.co.uk/weeklong.htm

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The vast majority of consumers are dead set against buying an e-book

The Booksellers' annual survey Reading the Future 2010 into readers and book buyers habits, preferences and views provides some interesting facts including the finding that the vast majority of consumers (68%) are unlikely or dead set against buying an e-book reader. Three-quarters of readers are not aware of the Amazon Kindle and three in every five have never even heard of a Sony Reader.

Those were some of the findings in the innovation and technology section of Reading the Future, The Bookseller's third annual survey into what readers and book buyers are thinking, and consequently where the trade is heading to next.

The survey conducted by Next Big Thing  is a wide-ranging look at the industry which includes the genres that are likely to go up or down, the key factors that drive purchases, from recommendations, to marketing, to television, and where customers like to go—and will continue to go—to buy their books. 

Click here to read the in depth article.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Poetry Prize Launched For Unpublished Poets

Pan Macmillan imprint Picador is on the look out for new talent with a prize for poetry.

The Picador Poetry Prize will be awarded for a representative selection of previously unpublished work. The winner will receive a small advance and have their debut collection edited by poetry editor Dan Paterson, before being published on the Picador poetry list.

The judging panel, chaired by Paterson, will include poets Jackie Kay and John Stammers and Guardian online literary editor Sarah Crown.

Submissions will close in September, with the winner announced in December.