Tuesday, 30 November 2010

New General Secretary of the Society of Authors Announced

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, 29 November 2010

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

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

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

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

Friday, 26 November 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John also blogs on JohnShore.com.

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

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Rise in sales for UK publisher and UK booksellers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Amazon accused of trying to enlist agents and bypassing publishers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon bypasses publishers for agents:

Monday, 22 November 2010

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

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

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

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

Friday, 19 November 2010

Crime writers Workshop at Harper Collins Offices in London

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

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

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

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Arts Council Funding change to affect Independent Publishers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Booksales down in UK and USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 15 November 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 12 November 2010

Guardian launches masterclass series in writing

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

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

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

More information can be found on The Guardian website.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Publishing Appointments and Publishers results

Publishing Appointments

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

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

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

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

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

Publishers Results

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

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

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 8 November 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 5 November 2010

UK Libraries Under Attack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Lewisham there is a proposal to close five libraries.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Amazon to introduce Kindle e-book lending in the USA

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

People in Publishing and Publishers Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

How authors can increase their exposure on Facebook.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 1 November 2010

Row over e book lending between Libraries and Publishers Association Continues

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

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

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

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

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