Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Speakers confirmed for Independent Publishers Guild Conference in March

The Independent Publishers Guild has confirmed more speakers for next month's 50th annual conference, with sociology and media expert John B Thompson to appear in the line-up alongside keynote-speaker Waterstones m.d. James Daunt.

Thompson will address attendees about the future of publishing, while Guardian assistant editor Michael White will speak about the state of the economy for small and medium-sized businesses. "How to" sessions on several aspects of publishing will also run, as well as sessions on change management and help with marketing and selling digital content.

The conference, to be held at Heythrop Park in Oxfordshire, will run from 7th to 9th March. The winners of the IPG Awards, run with The Bookseller and the London Book Fair, will also be announced at a gala dinner. Entry for the awards is still open through www.ipg.uk.com.

IPG executive director Bridget Shine said bookings for the event are strong, and could exceed the record of 265, set at last year's event. She said: "The IPG is thrilled to be celebrating its 50th Annual Conference, and we are ready to mark this historic occasion with our best ever event.

"We hope the anniversary will be a chance to look back on the progress of the IPG and independent publishers, but we will also be very much looking forward to future opportunities and challenges and equipping all of our members to sharpen up their businesses and their publishing."

Monday, 27 February 2012

Waterstones to close Epsom Bookstore in March

Waterstones is to close its Epsom store next month, putting 10 jobs at risk.

The last day of trading for the store, based in The Ashley Centre in the town, will be 12th March.

Ten staff members will be affected by the move, although a spokesperson said that efforts would be made to try and relocate them to other jobs. An anonymous member of staff told Your Local Guardian, "We were all really shocked . . . There are not any other book shops around apart from W H Smith. We need a bit more variety, not less."

The spokesperson was unable to comment on the reasons for the closure.

The chain closed its branch in Dorking in September last year and in Milton Keynes and its Lancaster University branch in November.

Friday, 24 February 2012

UK publishers' worried Amazon's e-book removals will spread from USA to UK

UK publishers have expressed concern that Amazon’s use of “power” in removing the e-books of publishers which do not agree to a higher discount will spread to the UK and include print titles.

Amazon.com pulled the sale of over 4,000 e-books in the US after a fracas over terms with the American distributor Independent Publishers Group. The US IPG represents over 500 publishers and had 4,443 digital titles selling on Amazon, which have now been removed after the group would not agree to give Amazon a lower discount when its contract came up for renewal.

The IPG in the US also represents UK publishers such as Absolute Press, Aurum Press, AA Publishing, Anova and Alma, however Absolute and Anova said they sold few or no e-books in the US.

Alessandro Gallenzi, managing director of Alma Books, said: “I am shocked at this use of power and monopoly and I am afraid they will try to do the same here too. It does not affect us because we sell directly to Amazon, but it is what happened with UK publishers a couple of years ago and if their margins are tight, I am afraid they will do it again. Amazon’s system relies on efficient delivery and service of books, though, and this is a big spanner in the works.”

Physical titles of the IPG publishers are still available on Amazon US.

Read more: UK publishers' "concern" over Amazon e-book removals:

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Ian Rankin, Crime Author says: 'Authors need publishers'

Author Ian Rankin stressed that authors "really need publishers", especially "as more content floods the market, of varying quality", as his own publisher Orion celebrated its 20th anniversary at a reception at the Natural History Museum in London.

Rankin, who was one of the original authors to join Orion 20 years ago along with Lady Antonia Fraser and Maeve Binchy, said in a speech to the assembled company that publishers were needed by authors to produce "well put together, well edited, displayed and marketed" stories to "fans of the written word in all its forms". He said: "Publishers need authors but authors really need publishers, especially as more content flood the market of varying quality". He himself had signed another two-book deal with the publisher earlier in the day, he added.

Meanwhile, Orion chief executive Peter Roche said that over the past 20 years, "the world of the written word has experienced its biggest transformation since the invention of the printing press". He referred to many "household names" on the high street having closed in that time, as well as 500 independent bookshops, adding: "The rise of online sales has been relentless."

He said that while print remains at the core of Orion's business, "e-books are here to stay", adding "digital is crucial right across our business", and Orion aiming to have 100% of its backlist titles converted to e-books by the end of 2012. He dedicated the future to Orion's authors, saying: "Our future is in your words".

Read more: Rankin tells Orion: 'Authors need publishers':

Monday, 20 February 2012

Constable and Robinson go on the road with Walker Books

Constable & Robinson and Walker Books are planning to host a number of joint "roadshows" around the country this year, in order to handsell their titles to as many booksellers as possible.

The roadshows, which will involve the independent publishers presenting their upcoming titles to a mix of Waterstones and independent stores, will start in London in May. They will then travel to Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol. The publishers cited the plan as in support of "the new Waterstones structure of regional hubs and independent booksellers".

C&R group sales and marketing director Martin Palmer said: "The aim is to reach as many booksellers by taking presentations to them to showcase both our lists in venues where they can relax, meet publishers and local authors in an informal setting with food and drinks."

Walker Books sales director Jane Harris said: "It's a great way to engage with our ambassadors for handselling our lists, and sharing our knowledge with booksellers and introducing local authors, which can make a huge difference to our industry, and we are delighted to be extending our level of collaboration with our friends at C&R."

Constable and Robinson are happy to take unsolicited manuscripts but please follow the guidelines on their website.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Self-published author society prepares to launch this spring

A non-profit body representing the interests of self-published authors will launch this spring. Author and former literary agent Orna Ross is readying the The Alliance of Independent Authors for launch internationally, with its website set to go live within weeks.

She said: "We will be speaking up on behalf of independent authors, and making links with booksellers, wholesalers, agents and legacy publishers, so people have an idea of what our creative needs are. It requires a change of attitude both in writers and in other players. In the past, the author was a resource to be mined, but indie authorship is about meeting the publisher as a partner."

The organisation intends to have an international membership, and hopes to attract 500 members in its first year, organising a biannual conference and monthly meetings for members, as well as providing a helpline, newsletters, and advice on issues such as payment and contracts. It will be funded by membership fees.

Ross previously ran writing school and literary agency Font in Dublin, and published two novels with Penguin before becoming a self-published author. "The real significant change [in the industry] is how are publishers and agents going to add value now? We all need to rethink that . . . I think we are only starting. It's a truly revolutionary thing," she said. She added that independent authors have the opportunity now to build a career for themselves over time, using the internet to develop and market their work globally. The "moment in the sun" given to an author by a traditional publisher is "not enough" for the majority, she said.

The society's name has been altered from The Society of Independent Authors, after representations from The Society of Authors that the similarity between the two names could create confusion.

SoA deputy general secretary Kate Pool said that increasing numbers of their traditionally published members now also sometimes self-publish. Self-published authors can join the SoA as associates, becoming eligible for full membership if they sell more than 200 copies a year, or if they are also published traditionally.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

How much thinking/planning is done prior to writing a novel? Pauline Rowson explains the methods used for her crime novels

I am always thinking about and collecting ideas for future DI Horton crime novels or for a thriller, even when I am writing one. I will jot these down, or cut out an article from a magazine or newspaper, or copy or bookmark something I have seen on the Internet that could be of use. I keep all the paper copies in A4 ring binders in alphabetical order and often flick through them if and when I get stuck while writing a novel because invariably it will spark an idea.

When starting a fresh crime novel I often have the basic idea in mind. I will start to flesh this out using spider grams to work up the basic plot lines and character outlines in pencil on recycled bits of A4 paper. This will be by no means the finished plot or all the characters who might eventually appear in the novel, and often I create some characters that won’t appear in the novel at all because when I start to write it they are no longer relevant. I don’t know how the novel will end or who ‘done it’ that becomes apparent as I write.

I like to start the creative writing process as soon as possible, knowing that the first couple of chapters will change drastically by the time I come to do revisions. But until I start writing and putting words into the character’s mouths and have them acting and reacting they don’t come alive. I then research further as I write. So on average I spend about month working on the outlines before I start writing.

Then it usually takes me another eight months before finishing the crime novel.

I have just completed number eight in the DI Horton series and have started working on the outlines and characters for the next DI Horton, number nine.

A Killing Coast,the seventh in the DI Horton marine mystery series was published in hardcover in January.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Hachette Parent Company Lagardere report fall for net sales in its publishing division

Hachette parent company Lagardere has reported a 5.9% fall for net sales in its Publishing division in 2011 to €2.03bn (£1.68bn), with a 4.5% drop in UK revenue in the fourth quarter compared to the same period in 2010. E-books accounted for 6% of the publishing division's total net sales in 2011.

Across the group, net sales were reported down to €7.6bn (£6.3bn) to the end of 2011, a 3.9% drop. In the fourth quarter, the three months to end December 2011, net sales across the group were down a reported 9.1% to €1.9bn (£1.6bn), with publishing sales down to €537m (£446m) on the fourth quarter of 2010, a drop of 3.4%.

In the statement on its publishing division, the Paris-based company said the "unfavourable base effect of Stephenie Meyer sales” had vanished by the year end.

Lagardere said in English-speaking countries the year was dominated by "the rise of the e-book and problems for a number of distributors", citing the bankruptcy of Borders in the US and Red Group in Australia. It attributed the 4.5% drop in UK publishing sales, to the "tougher international market conditions", and said the "solid performances in the Adult trade" did not offset this.

E-book growth continued in the fourth quarter for the group, with e-book sales accounting for 20% of adult trade in the US and 10% in the UK at the end of December 2011. Separately, Hachette UK said sales of its e-books were in excess of £21m in 2011, up nearly 500% on 2010, and it put its market share of e-book sales at approximately 20%.

Across the full year 2011, e-books made up 6% of Lagardere Publishing's total net sales, but it reported that new e-readers launched in the autumn in France have not yet "triggered a breakthrough in the market".

The group will release its full-year results on 8th March.

Hachette UK sales drop 4.5% in fourth quarter:

Monday, 13 February 2012

Penguin Looks For New Library Partners

Penguin announced that as of February 10 it "will no longer offer additional copies of ebooks and audiobooks for purchase via Overdrive" and is severing their ongoing relationship with the vendor. Libraries will continue to have access to titles they have already purchased, and Penguin is negotiating a "continuance agreement" with Overdrive to service the products that have already been sold. The move is an outgrowth of the publisher's suspension of sales of new titles to libraries in late November. At the time they said that "due to new concerns about the security of our digital editions, we find it necessary to delay the availability of our new titles in the digital format while we resolve these concerns with our business partners."

Read more: 
Penguin Withdraws From Overdrive; Looks For New Library Partners:

Friday, 10 February 2012

People in Publishing

Octopus has appointed Richard Milbank, previously non-fiction publishing director at Atlantic Books, to the newly created role of publishing director.

Before working at Atlantic, Milbank was publishing director, non-fiction, at Quercus. In the role at Octopus, he will be commissioning both non-illustrated and illustrated non-fiction in areas including popular history, culture and science, and general reference. He will report into group publishing director Denise Bates and will take up the post on 19th March.
Bob McDevitt, previously publisher of Hachette Scotland, has joined leading Scottish literary agency Jenny Brown Associates.

McDevitt is based in the agency's new office in Corbridge, Northumberland, along with fiction and sports writing specialist Mark Stanton, as the agency develops "new opportunities in the north of England".

McDevitt, who has also worked at Waterstones and Ottakar's and left Hachette Scotland in November last year, will be representing commercial fiction, crime writing and non-fiction.

He will be JBA's sixth associate, joining Lucy Juckes, Allan Guthrie, Kevin Pocklington, Jenny Brown and Stanton. The agency's primary office is in Edinburgh.
Hachette Ireland has promoted commissioning editor Ciara Doorley to the position of editorial director, effective immediately.

Doorley has worked for Hachette Ireland for seven years, with responsibility for commercial fiction list authors including Ciara Geraghty, Fiona O'Brien and Martina Reilly.

Cornerstone marketing director Claire Round will leave the company to join HarperCollins as the new associate publisher of Harper NonFiction and Collins in April.

In her new role, Round will be responsible for “providing a stronger connection” between editorial, sales and marketing as well as managing the marketing and PR departments.

Round will report jointly to Carole Tonkinson and Hannah MacDonald, publishers of Harper NonFiction and Collins respectively.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Public Lending Right (PLR) to UK Authors Drops For Second Year Running

The Public Lending Right (PLR) payment made to authors by the UK government each time their books are loaned through the public library system has dropped for the second year running.

The rate per loan has dropped to 6.05 pence, down from 6.25 pence in 2009-2010, and 6.29 pence the year before (2008-9).

Jim Parker, PLR registrar, said the drop was the result of the 15% cut to funding made by the government across the next four years. The pot of money backing the PLR payments drops from £7.22m in 2011-2012 to £6.96m in 2014-15.

Adult fiction authors would be the most likely to notice a drop in their total annual PLR payment because of the fall in the number of loans of their books through the public library system as well, Parker said. Overall library loans dropped 2.9% to 300.2m in the year 2010-2011, down from 309m the year before. However payments to children's authors are likely to have held steady because loans of their books grew marginally to 96.9m last year.

The full PLR statistics on author library loans will shortly be published.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Nominate your favourite crime author for the CWA Dagger in the Library Award

The Crime Writers' Association (CWA) Dagger in the Library, 2012 gives readers and librarians the chance to nominate their favourite crime author for this prestigious award.

Nominations opened on 1st January 2012 and close on 31st March 2012 so there's time to get your vote in.

Sponsored by the publishers, Random House, the Dagger is awarded to a writer nominated by library users and chosen by a panel of librarians, all of whom work with the public.Unlike most other literary prizes, the Dagger in the Library is awarded not for an individual book but for the author’s body of work.

The nominated authors must be alive, preferably working in Britain. The award is for a body of work and entries from reading groups or individuals are submitted through libraries. Nomination forms may be downloaded from the CWA website by clicking the links at the top of the right-hand column.

Groups who nominated the winning author will be entered into a draw for £300 to be spent on books and all groups whose nominated authors are shortlisted are entered into a draw for two tickets to the award announcements

Details of long-listed authors will be announced in April 2012. Shortlisted authors will in May 2012. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in Summer 2012. For further information visit the CWA web site or have a chat with your local librarian and ask them to nominate your favourite crime writer.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Saqi Books launches non-fiction imprint

Independent publisher Saqi Books is to launch a new non-fiction imprint, with plans to publish between four and eight trade books a year.

The Westbourne Press will publish books concerning current affairs, sexual politics, memoir and history.

Westbourne Press publisher Lynn Gaspard said: "I am absolutely thrilled. The Westbourne Press is a list I wanted to establish as a by-word for topical and engaging writing. Our titles will challenge our worldview and spark debate, whether it be about gender politics, women in the Arab world, or race and class relations in the UK."

Saqi Books was set up in 1983 and specialises in books that bring the cultures of the Middle East and the West together. It launched a literary fiction imprint, Telegram, in 2006.

Saqi Books accept unsolicited manuscripts without an agent. More details are on their web site.

Send, in the first instance, a two-page synopsis along with the first few chapters (c. twenty pages), and a table of contents to:

The Editorial Department
26 Westbourne Grove
London W2 5RH

Please do not send complete manuscripts unless requested to do so. A stamped addressed envelope (or international reply coupons) should be enclosed if you would like material returned. They do not accept submissions by fax, e-mail or on disc.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Write about what you are enthusiastic about and what you like to read says crime author Pauline Rowson

It is often said that you should write what you know about, but I don't entirely agree with this. I believe that you should write what you are enthusiastic about because it will show through in your writing and even if you don't have first hand experience of it you will want to research it, live it, breathe it.

I find researching for my DI Horton crime novels and thrillers fascinating including all the forensic bits!

I also believe in writing the kind of novel you like to read because not only will you enjoy the experience but again it will be apparent in your writing.

When you embark on a writing career it is not always obvious what you should write. Some people begin with short stories, others throw themselves into a novel. But just as in painting where it takes you a while to find your style, in writing it takes a while to find your voice. This only happens by trial, error and experimentation.

When I first starting writing I began with writing historical sagas. Over time I found that a criminal element kept creeping into these sagas and I also discovered that I preferred to write from the male point of view. It was a while before it dawned on me that I should be writing crime novels with a male protagonist. It should have been pretty obvious because I have devoured crime and thriller novels for years and am a great crime fiction fan. But that time and writing wasn't wasted. I learnt a lot along the way. When I was shortlisted for a prize for the first chapters of Tide of Death introducing my DI Andy Horton I knew that I had at last begun to find my voice.

That first novel was published in 2006 and I now have published seven DI Horton marine mystery crime novels and two thrillers.

The seventh DI Horton, A Killing Coast, was published by Severn House in the UK on 26 January and will be published in the USA on 1 May 2012.

I have just finished writing the eighth in the DI Horton series and hope to continue writing both crime and thriller fiction for some time to come.