PG 6 RACHEL GILBEY SHARES HER INSIGHT ON REACHING OUT TO BLOGGERS
PG 18 INDIE BOOKSELLERS ADVISE PUBLISHERS ON THE SUPPORT THEY NEED TO SUCCEED
PG 20 PREVIEW ALL YOU’LL NEED TO KNOW FOR LONDON BOOK FAIR 2016
NEW EDITION CONTEMPORARY
Author Rob Sinclair shares how he broke through the digital noise and became a bestseller
ISSUE 28, MARCH 2016
NEW EDITION, MARCH 2016
HAPPENI GS March, April,NMay
News In Brief 5
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Welcome to the March 2016 issue of New Edition, our publishing magazine for authors. This quarter, blogger Rachel Gilbey shares her insights on engaging with online reviewers. Author Rob Sinclair discusses the tricks of the trade he used to make his spy series an international bestseller. Kate Appleton reveals her - and soon to be your - new favourite Friday night literary gig. Josh Hamel asks what publishers can do to help better support independent bookshops - by sensibly asking the retailers themselves(!) We preview the sights and sounds of this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s London Book Fair. Plus there are author interviews and more!
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Blooks: The Art of Books that Arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t
The Grolier Club, New York www.grolierclub.org The exhibit showcases the wonderful, antique collection of Mindell Dubanskyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s book-shaped objects. Instead of being filled with paper and ink, this odd collection is filled with objects ranging from flasks and recipes to matches, board games and even Polly Pockets. The show will run until March 12th.
Oxford Literary Festival
Christ Church College, Oxford www. oxfordliteraryfestival.org/ Over 350 writers flock to the famous University City to discuss all affairs literary, political, historical, environmental and culinary - to name just a few - for the eight-day Oxford Literary Festival.Visitors can also book guided literary walks, lunches and dinner parties with prominent authors, in addition to a one-day creative writing course.
Midwest Literary Walk
Chelsea, Michigan www.midwestliterarywalk.org/ The Midwest Literary Walk is a free annual literary event held the last Saturday in April aimed at highlighting the power of literature in everyday life. Authors appearing include Claire Vaye Watkins, Paula McLain and more. Books will be available for purchase and signing.
Chicago, Illinois www.bookexpoamerica.com The largest gathering of booksellers, librarians, publishers and book industry professionals in North America heads back to Chiicago. For those interested in attending, early registration ends April 26th.
News In Brief Literary world remembers Harper Lee, Umberto Eco The world mourned the loss of two literary giants on 19th February in Harper Lee and Umberto Eco. Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is a U.S. national institution selling more than 40 million copies worldwide, and earning her the Pulitzer prize. “The world knows Harper Lee was a brilliant writer but what many don’t know is that she was an extraordinary woman of great joyfulness, humility and kindness.” Michael Morrison of Harper Collins said. “She lived her life the way she wanted to – in private – surrounded by books and the people who loved her.” Umberto Eco, a celebrated Italian intellectual, will be remembered as a master of Italian culture, became famous in 1980 with the publication of The Name of the Rose. “He showed how not only to understand culture, in general, but to create new culture that way,” George Lakoff, a professor of cognitive linguistics at the University of California told BBC World.
Barnes and Noble reveal plans for prototype store Although Barnes and Noble have not released any of the specifics, such as location, size or opening date, the compnay has announced there will be a new bookstore opening in 2016 and that it will be a “digitally influenced prototype “ Barnes and Noble c.e.o. Ron Boire made the announcement at the eTail West Conference in Palm Springs, California. “One of the challenges of that store is going to be the digital experience,” Biore said. “I don’t think until you’re fully connected – mobile, desktop, and store – that you’re going to be providing the full experience. That’s our goal.” The Barnes and Noble website and e-commerce will be playing an integral part in the attempt to launch a digital-physical bookstore, according to Boire.
“That is what this man was about.” Pape Satan Aleppe: Chronicles of a Liquid Society (La Nave di Teseo), a collection of essays is Eco’s last book and was released in February.
Author launches prize for small presses and indie pubs Neil Griffiths, the award-winning novelist has decided to set up a new literary prize celebrating “small presses producing brilliant and brave literary fiction” in the UK and Ireland, after realising that the best books he read last year were all from small publishers. The award will be called The Republic of Consciousness and will be first awarded in January 2017 (the first shortlist will be named in December 2016). No more than one novel per publisher can be submitted, per year, and the award is aimed at independent publishers with five or less full time employees. “The winner will be chosen based on two criteria, perfectly expressed on the Galley Beggar website as ‘hardcore literary fiction and gorgeous prose,” according to the award’s website Griffiths, is putting up £2000 towards the prize fund and is hopeful other authors will contribute, with a goal of ultimately raising £10,000. The fund will be split between the winning publisher and author, as judged by a group of independent booksellers.
NEW EDITION, MARCH 2016
Bloggers Wanted Every author knows the potential power of book bloggers; good reviews can be game changers. But where do you even start? Blogger Rachel Gilbey shares her insights for writers looking to get noticed online.
pproaching a book blogger is similar to approaching a publisher. Don’t expect instant acceptance, but once you find the best bloggers for your book, you build a fantastic relationship and they will bend over backwards to help you out in future. With that in mind, here are some fantastic ways authors can start working to get promotoed through these fantastic avenues:
Find a blogger The best recommendation I can make is to search Google and social media for bloggers who are reviewing books in the same genres. While it is probably best not to go in all guns blazing, especially as bloggers get approached many times a day to promote different books, these are great places to start. Begin by following their blog and perhaps sharing some of their posts. Get your name into their subconscious, start up a dialog on social media, if you can, without pushing your book onto them, and then after a short while, approach them about your own work. Show that you care about their work as much as you want them to care about yours.
Follow the review policy It is especially important to take the time to read a blogger’s review policy. Within that page, you will usually get a good idea of what genres they do read, what they explicitly don’t read and often the sorts of information that is required from your approach. It is a complete time sink to approach someone just because they have a blog without making the effort to make sure your book would be a good match for them. For example, generally I wouldn’t recommend offering a blog that predominately features children’s books your romance, as the target audience would be completely wrong. Check whether the person accepts ebooks or physical copies. If they don’t read ebooks, don’t offer them one. Equally if you get a blogger happy to take ebooks, then double check what file format they prefer and try to supply what their preference is. Most importantly, please don’t send your book unsolicited. As a side note to authors writing series, please mention in the initial email whether reading past
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books in the series is recommended, if you would be willing to supply review copies of those books, or if the new book works as a standalone.
Make a good first impression Try to make a good first impression. Proof read your email first, make sure you are addressing it to the blogger’s name and not just their social media handle and double check that autocorrect functions haven’t changed your title to something similar, but that doesn’t exist.
Personalise your message From the bloggers point of view, it is very easy to tell the difference between a mass mail out to someone who is trying to reach out and personalise their approach. To increase your chances of success, take the time to look at the person’s blog and, with your initial paragraph, comment on something you really liked about their site. Our blogs are like our children, so praise is always appreciated (the more sincere sounding the better).
Be patient I know I speak for a lot of book bloggers when I say we are blogging in our spare time. We all have huge to-be-read piles, both of books we have agreed to review, and most likely those bought in the hope we will ever free up the time to read them. So when I say please be patient when dealing with bloggers, I know it is always appreciated. Not everyone will reply to contact form submission or email in a timely manner, and many won’t reply unless we can offer you a positive outcome. Equally unless you have a very good reason for needing a review by a certain date, I would recommend not being too demanding on when we
get to your book. Repeatedly being asked when the review will go up, is most likely to alienate the average blogger (or at any rate delay our intention to review your book), as we do this for fun and extra pressure is not fun.
Bring something else to the table There is all manner of additional content you could offer a blogger. Everything from cover reveals, giveaways, guest posts, being interviewed, spotlight features or just even asking if they wouldn’t mind doing a promotional post are great ways to get your book featured. Even a blogger who is snowed under with review requests may be more willing to format a post, if supplied with pre-prepared content. Generally if you mention you are open to these various forms of promotion, you may be more likely to find people willing to feature you on their blog in some way.
Remember your book won’t be for everyone One last tip: if you do have the misfortune to receive a negative review from a blogger, try to resist the possible temptation to retaliate. Be the professional author that you are, and accept that not everyone likes the same books and launching into a campaign against the blogger in question is not going to do you any favours, especially when it comes to attracting attention for your next book. Remember that there is a huge blogging community and we do talk to each other about our experiences, good and bad, with various authors. If you go out of the way to have good interactions with bloggers, then there is an increased chance we will tell others, and as a result you may have more people interested in dealing with you. -While following these steps won’t guarantee your book will be picked up, you will greatly increase your chances and could even begin fostering a devoted audience that will be waiting on pins and needles for your next project. You can read more of Rachel’s work at rachelsrandomreads.blogspot.com where she reviews chick lit, women’s fiction and the occasional thriller.
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Hunting a Bestseller Since the release of the first book in his Enemy series in 2014, Rob Sinclair has gone on to become a bestselling author in both the US and UK, with over 100,000 books sold. Whether it be social media savvy or knowing the value of a good promotion, Sinclair details all of the tricks and tips that helped get him there.
wo years ago, after a long period of rejection from agents and publishers alike, I took the decision to self publish my first novel, Dance with the Enemy. My life has changed immeasurably since. I’ve given up a high-flying career to pursue my dream of being a full-time author (and a more recent dream of becoming a Hollywood screenwriter!). The first two books in my Enemy series have won critical acclaim from readers and bloggers across the world. And sales of those first two books flew past 100,000 last autumn, even before the recent release of the third book in the series, Hunt for the Enemy. I’m not sure whether I’d say I’ve ‘made it’ - for starters there are plenty of self published authors who have sold WAY more books than I have - but I’m undoubtedly pleased with the steps I’ve made so far. As every self published author knows; writing the book is one thing, getting it into the hands of readers is an altogether different beast. So is there a winning formula for success? No. I don’t think so. But there are some tried and tested routes that can give you an edge. The biggest single piece of advice for any author is simple: NEVER GIVE UP. But then it’s that tenacious quality that led many of us to self publish in the first place, right? In any case, here are some of my own thoughts and
snippets of advice as to how I went from 3,000 sales in April 2015, prior to my second book being published, to over 115,000 by October 2015:
Social media Everyone knows that social media is important for indie authors, but few can really explain why, or how to use it to maximum effect. I’m certainly not suggesting that my approach has been perfect or without problems but it has made a difference. The key advice: Be interesting. Be personal. Be bold... Ok, I’ll admit it, when I was first building my social media profiles I was a big fan of direct messaging potential readers. Many authors think this is too in your face. Spamming. I don’t. Because I only ever messaged people who had already followed me, and I always personalised such messages. Over a period of twelve months, I built over 50,000 Twitter followers by seeking out people who were already following other established authors. To every single one of the over 50,000 who followed me back I sent a personalised direct message. I made thousands
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of sales this way and I’m still in regular contact with many of these followers, and continue to send messages out to those I know are interested in my work whenever promotions come around. The big problem? The approach when I was building my follower base was taking anywhere from 3-5 hours every single day. Not sustainable long term, but it was a great way to build early interest in my work when I really had no other sources of sales. Plus I’ve got a great group of followers and readers now who I might otherwise never have met and who have already stuck with me through two further book releases.
Bloggers and reviewers Everyone who has published an ebook knows of the importance of online book reviewers and bloggers. Not only do good reviews on websites such as Amazon help to boost your book’s visibility but many reviewers are influential in their own right. A
positive post about your book on their website can lead to a ton of direct sales. It takes time and effort and patience to build a list of reviewers for your books, though. In the build-up to the recent release of my third book, I felt I’d got a solid list of reviewers who I know liked my first two books and who received advance copies of the new book to help generate early interest. With hindsight, two weeks post-publication, I think next time I need to try to get that list significantly bigger still. What I’ve realised is that some people will be tied up. Some may just have lost interest. Some may not actually like the new book! And really you’re up against big publishing houses who have people working full time on marketing and probably get hundreds of reviewers together for a new release. Even though I think my list of reviewers was too small to compete with that, it’s still taken me until book three to even get the level of contacts I have. And it’s certainly a time consuming process bringing all those people together at the same time. How do you find reviewers? Twitter, Facebook,
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Google. They’re out there, you just have to find them and contact them. Many who I’ve contacted over the last two years have declined to review my books - too busy or not interested in my style of writing or simply they hadn’t heard of me. That’s fine. But there’s no harm in asking. Offering to do guest blogs is also a great way to get their interest and helps to broaden the reach further.
Price promotions For a number of years a tried and tested method for boosting ebook sales (both for self publishers and the big traditional publishing houses too) has been a price promotion; reducing an ebook to 99p or even offering it for free. But simply dropping the price won’t do much on its own. Key to success is in marketing the price drop. If done right this can lead to a huge boost in sales. There are many websites set up for this very purpose. Bookbub is the most well known, with the biggest audience, but also the hardest to get selected for. It was through running two Bookbubled promotions, where I reduced the price of Dance with the Enemy and then Rise of the Enemy to free, over one weekend each, that my sales in the US jumped from about 5 copies a week to 300 copies a DAY! Not only does this get you high up in the online charts (hence more visibility), but you also get linked to other high volume books due to the way Amazon’s algorithms work, (e.g. via the ‘also bought’ functions). Because of this my sales (particularly in the US) have stayed at a level way above those pre-Bookbub days even some months after.
Email list The real holy grail for authors looking to build a career is making sure readers stick with you in the long term. This is where the email list comes in, allowing direct marketing of promotions and new releases to subscribers. But building that list, converting readers to email subscribers, can be very hard to do. Advertising the list inside books and on my website is just the start, helping build the list organically. These people are my core fans. But offering incentives gets others to join too. Free
content (teasers of new material, short stories, or even a full ebook for free) and giveaways are the most common method to achieve this and I’ve tried all of those with some moderate success. I see building a list as being all about the future - growing an audience over time with each new release. But then, in order for it to count, there is one very important thing to remember: you have to keep writing and publishing books! And with all the time a self published author spends marketing and promoting, just when the hell are you supposed to do that?! But then as one famous author said: “Nobody has time to write a book. Some people just do it anyhow.” Dance With the Enemy, Rise of the Enemy and Hunt for the Enemy by Rob Sinclair are all available to order from Amazon and all good bookstores. You can follow Rob on Twitter @RSinclairAuthor and learn more at www.robsinclairauthor.com.
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From Publication to Party! S
uperfoodist, Ideal World TV host and all round healthy eating guru, Rick Hay published his debut diet and wellbeing book, The Anti Ageing Food and Fitness Plan, on 18th January, 2016! The easy-to-follow twelve-week healthy eating plan unlocks the remarkable power of superfoods and high-intensity exercises that make it perfect for all fitness levels. By helping to demystify the superfood arena and enabling us all to eat and live well, The Anti Ageing Food and Fitness Plan makes every delicious and nutritious mouthful count toward a healthier you. A whistle stop tour of interviews and reviews with the media alongside actress Sarah Parish - who is following the diet and feeling fabulous - landed features in; The Daily Telegraph, front page of The Sunday Peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Love Sunday and a double-page spread in Bella magazine - with big splashes across Best and Prima magazines still to come. Exhausted, but still smiling, Rick hosted a soiree to celebrate the success of the book, with plenty of champagne flowing, of course. Next stop, Australia.
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Hadrian’s Ally What is your book about? Hadrian’s Rage is the standalone sequel to Hadrian’s Lover. While Hadrian’s Lover focuses on sexual awakenings and sexual experimentation and how society’s bigotry towards one’s sexual orientation affects our youth Hadrian’s Rage explores the violence committed against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community on a global scale. What was your inspiration for the story? Shortly after I created a Facebook page for Hadrian’s Lover, I began researching for material to post. Sadly, this research revealed a plethora of violence against the LGBTQ community. I was particularly struck by the murder of a young Russian man, 23 year-old Valdislav Tornoivi. When I first read about they way he was murdered I couldn’t believe what I was reading. His murderers were his friends! And why did they murder him? Because he came out to them as gay! That there are people out there in the world capable of committing such heinous acts and feel justified in doing so is one of the more frightening qualities of humanity. After learning about Valdislav Tornoivi, I began digging deeper into the news for other stories of men and women murdered simply for being born gay. I was staggered by how easy it was to find such articles and began constructing a Victims of Hate Crimes album as a part of Hadrian’s Lover’s Facebook page. This research inspired Hadrian’s Rage. The world needs to know about the cruel and unfair treatment suffered by the LGBTQ community across the globe.
Patricia Marie Budd doesn’t just want to tell a story with her writing, she wants to alter attitudes and change the world. Josh Hamel sits down with the Canadian author to discuss the story that continues to move and inspire her.
Did you have any trouble developing it as a standalone sequel? This was tricky. I’ve never written a sequel, let alone a standalone sequel, so I decided to read through the work of a master sequel artist, J. K. Rowling. As I read through the Harry Potter series I watched for how she tied each sequel back to the previous books and, most importantly, how she reminded her readers of crucial information learned previously to help clarify current events. Using this idea I wove into dialogue and exposition those key elements readers unfamiliar with Hadrian’s Lover would need to know in order to follow the action of Hadrian’s Rage.
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You’re the head of the Writer’s Guild at the school you teach. What’s the best part of that? I have been running a Writer’s Guild at my high school since 2005. I really enjoy working with students who love to write. The writer’s guild offers students who struggle with English class and the pedantic essay writing most often required of them in senior high with the freedom to express themselves, however they choose. Kids love to write stories and poetry. Just about every year at least one student is working on a novel. With the writer’s guild, no one is allowed to put another student’s work down. Our focus is always on finding the merit in what has been produced. When responding to another student’s writing we are to begin by identifying what we like about the piece and then offer up constructive criticism by stating what we’d like to see more of. This way the students leave with a positive perspective and a means by which to develop their personal written expression. You wrote your first short play in fifth grade. Do you remember what it was about? Ah, yes, my first ever writing project. This little play was titled The Fight. It was about schoolyard bullying. I learned a valuable lesson from this play: always know the meaning of the words you use! When I wrote this piece I was faithful to what I saw and heard in the schoolyard. When kids are calling each other names, as well as being mean, they can get pretty creative and crude. Well, it turns out much of what is said in the schoolyard is not acceptable in the classroom. Needless to say the teacher shut the play down. The phrase I wrote (the meaning of which I was oblivious of at that time) was “scrotum’s breath”. Opps! What is your personal writing process like? My writing is character driven. I often begin at a crisis point and work around that. Usually I begin somewhere in the middle working my way back to the beginning and outward to the end with very little semblance of order. I always start writing feverishly without thought or focus for a good fifty to a hundred pages or so and then I go back and read what I have accomplished. I then determine whether or not what I have written has merit and, if the answer is yes, I then consider what direction I am likely to take this. I also like to share my work in progress. Always I seek out interested readers who volunteer as my initial editing team. They read every chapter I write and respond by asking questions when
things don’t make sense as well as commenting on plot and character growth. The initial editing team’s personal responses to my work in progress really help me shape my novels. They let me know right away if what I’ve written makes no sense, or, if what I’ve written sparks discussion then I know I’m onto something. Is there any advice you’d like to give to aspiring authors? Never quit! Giving up is easy, that’s why everybody’s doing it. If writing is what you love then you must write. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Also, be patient. Good writing, like any craft, comes with practice. Write, write, write! The more you write the stronger your expression will get. And, if you are aspiring to make your work public start sharing it! Listen to how people respond even if they hate it, especially if they hate it. Don’t be afraid of criticism. No matter how it is presented it can help you grow. Lastly, you have to sell your work. Get out there and plug. Book as many author signings at bookstores as you can. Then, when at the table, stand! Greet people. Give them a bookmark. Tell them about your book and they will sell. But if you sit behind the table and assume people will come to you, they won’t. This is your book, if you share it with enthusiasm people will be interested. Even then, don’t expect them to just fly off the table. You may stand for over an hour without a single nibble, but always, if you stand and greet and converse with your customers you will sell. Are you planning another book in the series? I’m considering it. I even had a dream about what that book might look like. I find dreams are a very powerful medium and often ideas for books will come from them. Such was the case with Hadrian’s Lover. The Hadrian series isn’t the only project I’m working on, though. I have another project that I’ve begun and would like to see come to fruition as well. I don’t want to reveal too much on either front as the prequel idea is still in the sperm dancing around the egg stage while the other project has been put on hold—for the time being. Hadrian’s Rage will be available to order from Amazon and all good bookstores on 3rd May, 2016. Clink Street will also be reissuing Hadrian’s Lover to mark the release of the seqeul. You can learn more at www. patriciamariebudd.com.
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A New Novel Affair is Taking Over London Looking to add something new to your Friday night routine, as well as to discover brilliant new books from independent authors? Kate Appleton has just the ticket.
iterary events - from launches to festivals and fairs - are not particularly new to the book industry, but nor is the dominance of traditional publishers and established authors being the only ones lucky enough - and with enough financial clout - to be showcased. So it’s always refreshing to discover individuals branching out in support of independent authors and providing a live platform for them to share their books with the public. Novel London has made its spirited launch onto the capital’s cultural landscape as a monthly event where new writers are invited to come along and read the first chapters of their book to a captive audience. Sharing the ethos of events like Brixton Book Jam, they make it easier to access and enjoy new writing in a fun and informal environment. Fresh Fiction for Friday Nights! I was introduced to Novel London and it’s founder, author and camera specialist, Safeena Chaudry, through one of Clink Street’s own author’s who had been asked to read at the romance themed event in February - Yana Stajno. “Having gone to many short story and poetry events, I noticed a lack of novels from new novelists being read on the literary scene.” Chaudry said. “So I decided that I would combine my two passions - novels and documenting events - to record authors reading their work to a live audience. If the audience liked what they heard, not only would they get to meet and support the author, they would also get a chance to read more of the story and their journey with the characters would continue. Novel London is an exciting platform for writers and readers and so far, the events have showcased unpublished, independently published
and traditionally published fresh fiction.” The February event took place in the downstairs space of Waterstones Covent Garden surrounded by self-help and non-fiction books, including one by the great orator that was Churchill - I wasn’t sure if this had been designed in order to inspire the authors before their performances or whether it was just an amusing coincidence. The three speakers were Clink Street’s very own Lindy Henny (Behold Sarah, published June 2015), Yana Stajno (Rules for Thursday Lovers, published July 2015) and Phillip Bowne who had just completed his unpublished manuscript, Chasing Eva. On hand to help iron out any nerves and to ensure the authors were projecting loud enough for the back of the room to hear was Norma, a hugely energetic and positive women who teased inflection and meaning out of each writers’ delivery. She somehow gave me a morale boosting pep talk since I had also agreed to be the compère for the evening… A trestle table laid out with water, wine and nibbles, hoards of eager readers arriving in their droves, cameras set up to capture the event in its entirety, and we were ready to go. Each author was given around 15 minutes to read the first chapter of their book, and to kick start the proceedings we had octogenarian Lindy Henny, resplendent in a red cape and matching boots.Experienced in theatre and drama she held court with aplomb and kept the audience captivated until her very last word. She also sold some books, which is always a lovely bonus. Next up was Phillip - whose surname I mispronounced (sorry Phil) whose debut novel aroused much laughter and left us with some disturbing images, one in particular involving a Tesco supermarket carrier bag. Best you find out about that for yourselves once he’s
published. Bringing the event to a close was Yana Stajno, brimming with confidence and energy as she introduced her distinctive characters, Fiona and Angie, and the idea of time sharing a lover to reignite passion and adventure in each of their lives. When the final reading had finished, book lovers, other unpublished authors, people within the publishing industry and those who had stumbled in just to see what all of the fuss was about, mingled and discussed their favourites of the evening. Novel London events will be held each month on a Friday and will focus on different themes each time - from romance to motherhood to fantasy fiction, and everything in between. Even if you think your Fridays are too busy for reading (urmm what?!!) then the timing of the event means that you can drop in after work and be back in the pub or cocktail bar by 7.30pm - so there’s really no excuse not to come along and discover the amazing new talent on show for yourself. For more information you can visit www. novellondon.co.uk and follow on Twitter @ Novel_London. Past readings are also available on-demand on YouTube.
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A Real Thriller When journalist and music lover Mike Smallcombe first decided to write an epic biography of pop icon Michael Jackson, he didn’t realise it would consume the next five years of his life. Josh Hamel talks to Smallcombe about his passion project.
What made you want to write about Jackson? First off I was a fan; I somehow obtained tickets for the opening night of his 2009 comeback tour, This Is It, which of course never took place. After his death, I read the few credible Michael Jackson biographies that were available. I soon learned that although they provide plenty of insight, the primary focus is the personal life; in terms of his career, there are several gaps. I couldn’t fathom how there wasn’t a book based solely on the forty—five-year career of a man many believe to be the biggest star of all time. Then, one night early in 2010, something just clicked. I felt confident I could take on the challenge. I wanted to know a different Michael Jackson; to discover the untold stories and secrets behind an enthralling, albeit turbulent career. The aim was to write a biography about a whole other life; the Michael Jackson who made making music his life’s work rather than the one portrayed on the front pages of the tabloids. But it was also important to remain objective and not take a fan’s point of view. Tell me something new that you learned about Jackson during the writing of the book? He was a gentle and loving soul who sometimes came across as naive. But when it came to his work, there was a real cutthroat shrewdness and ruthlessness that I didn’t know existed. There were some shock revelations; nothing got in the
way of his relentless pursuit of perfectionism and the quest to become the greatest entertainer of all time. What was the toughest part about writing the book? Overcoming my own perfectionism. I was always seeking to uncover new information, but also to do both myself and Michael Jackson justice. In the years after I started writing the book a few other books began to come out about Michael, with a bit more focus on his legacy and cultural impact. So then I had to change my approach. I knew I really had to delve deeper into the career of Michael Jackson than ever before, to offer readers a glimpse of the real Michael, a man few people ever got to know. I didn’t want to cut corners or leave any stones unturned, and that is why this project took over five years to complete. What is your favourite Michael Jackson album? Dangerous. I think it was Christmas 1992 when my sister was given her first CD, which was Michael’s Dangerous album. As
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she listened to it on Mum and Dad’s CD stereo system, I soon became hooked on tracks such as ‘In the Closet’, ‘Remember the Time’, ‘Heal the World’, ‘Dangerous’ and two of my favourites, ‘Who Is It’ and ‘Will You Be There’. To this day, it is still my favourite Michael Jackson album. My sister made a cassette of the album for me, and it had two sides. Although I was quite young I could tell that half of the album sounds completely different to the other half. At the time I didn’t know why, but I later realised that it was down to the production. It frustrates me when people say that Michael peaked during the Thriller period. Musically, I think Dangerous and HIStory offer much more. What was your writing process like? Exhaustive. When I started the book I was in my final year at university, studying for a degree in English Language. I soon found myself focusing more on the writing of the book rather than my dissertation, but I persevered with my studies and gained upper second-class honours. The next five years became somewhat of a rollercoaster ride. The sudden loss of my mother in March 2011, only a year into the project, was hard to take. But I know she would be proud that I completed the book, and I have dedicated it to her memory. This book was mostly written in Cornwall, London and California. I twice travelled to Los Angeles, ‘The Entertainment Capital of the World’, to conduct some of my interviews face to face, and to get a feel for the city where Michael made most of his music. That was important for me. As well as interviewing, I visited several of the recording studios where Michael worked, including Westlake Studio, where Thriller was recorded. I also took a trip to 100 North Carolwood Drive in Holmby Hills, where Michael was living when he passed. It took me much longer to research and write the book than I anticipated. I was always seeking to discover new information and to take different paths in an attempt to make the most complete anthology possible. I can’t begin to explain how many thousands of hours I spent writing, interviewing, researching, editing and obsessing over this thing. But my hope is that I have created an account of Michael Jackson’s career that has been missing for far too long.
authors? Persevere; there will be some tough times when you wish you had never started. If you’re a perfectionist, like me, try to remember that you have to let the book go sometime. You can’t work on something forever. Are there any other artists you’d like to write about? Yes, I would like to write about the golden era of West-Coast hip-hip; artists such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, The D.O.C. and Tupac. I think there is a lot to unravel there. Making Michael by Mike Smallcombe will be available to order from Amazon and from all good bookstores. You can follow Mike on Twitter @ mikesmallcombe1.
Is there any advice you’d like to give to aspiring
NEW EDITION, MARCH 2016
Independence Aid The number of independent bookshops is growing, but how much support do they really need from publishers in order to give their customers the best experience. Josh Hamel reports back from a panel of indie booksellers on exactly what they want from the industry.
hen I attended a conference for publishing executives back in December, held by the Publishers Advertising and Marketing Association, the focus of which was how to cultivate and promote independent bookselling, the message from retailers was loud and clear: help us to help ourselves. With the popularity of independent bookstores booming - increasing by over 25 percent in the U.S. since 2009, according to a report by the New York Times - it is even more pressing that publishers ranging from niche to giant do everything they can to solidify their relationships with the local shops and ensure their books are being promoted as effectively as possible on their shelves. The panel, What Kind of Support Sells Books: Booksellers’ Experience on Tap, included four local owners who all have had their own highs and lows when it comes to getting the support they need from the trade. Christine Onorati, owner of WORD Bookstores, suggested one way publishers can help independents is creating social media content that can be posted to the store’s pages and foster discussion about the book by its customers. Onorati used the example of a popular post the shop created itself and used recently to celebrate the recent release of Patti Smith’s M Train, in which they made a list of every book Smith referenced in her own. The post spawned hundreds of reposts and comments about books people had liked or wanted to read, as well as created a desire to pick up additional titles when customers were in the store. Promotions such as this engage customers on a different level and are often much more valuable than a pull-quote or recycled review coverage that their customers had possibly already seen elsewhere, she said.
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Initiatives like these are especially important to independent stores as social and digital advertising drives traffic to their fronts even more so than to the bigger chains, Stephanie Valdez, co-owner of Community Bookstore and Terrace Books, agreed. Onorati also pointed to preorder campaigns that more specially target local stores as a way to help drive traffic, specifically with special signed editions of the book as well as other giveaways that tie-in to the story and help build a relationship with the reader. Margot Sage-El, owner of Watchung Booksellers, echoed this idea, explaining that these items act as currency that indies have that other retailers donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t and create a more community-like atmosphere. These campaigns also include cross promotion of readings and signings with the author and publisher, which often fail on a local level, Onorati said. Valdez added that promoting the entire book tour as a whole rather than the individual events would provide for better coordination overall and drive more interest across the campaign. Not just putting the blame on publishers, Onorati admitted that indie shops need to be better at asking rather than just expecting for these sorts of things to happen. When sending advanced copies to stores, Valdez also implored publishers to think more strategically when sending out galleys, targeting individual bookshops with books that fit their store and customer-base better. Physical copies are also often better as that reminder on the nightstand can make all the difference in having a clerk read it, and therefore better be able to understand and recommend it, over digital copies.
Finally, the panel gave a look inside how successful holiday promotions had been for them. While most retailers make a significant portion of their yearly gains on Black Friday and the surrounding days, for independent shops, that is not often the case. The panel agreed that while events like Civilised Saturday in the UK or Watchungâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own Festivus Friday do bring in customers, books are generally bought a bit later and they expected the busiest days for the stores would be the few just before a holiday, if previous years are to be repeated. Understanding when these stores will be at their busiest will ensure that publishers know when they may need that extra bit of support. While independent bookstores may not sell the volume that some of the other chain-retailers do, they are still an increasing segment of the market and are typically frequented by regular buyers that listen to recommendations, so keeping them close and happy should be a priority for any publisher. Taking these requests, as well as having these sorts of discussions with your own local book shops, is a positive first step in building that relationship. For information on future Publishers Advertising and Marketing Association events, visti www.pama-ny.org.
NEW EDITION, MARCH 2016
The Place to Be Once again, the London Book Fair is upon us. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not always easy to prepare for one of the biggest industry events of the year, so Authoright is here to help preview all of the events new and old youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll want to be a part of this year.
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ow entering its 45th year, The London Book Fair remains the primary UK event in the publishing industry calendar, setting the agenda for the year ahead (or at least until Frankfurt Book Fair later on in the autumn!). Essentially a vast book marketplace, LBF covers all aspects of the trade, from rights negotiation to the distribution of content across print, audio, film and digital platforms. Although you’re unlikely to really get to meet any movers and shakers yourself if you’re attending as an author (most people working in publishing still view trade shows like LBF as a business to business event, so don’t come armed with your manuscript) it’s worthwhile buying a ticket to check out the panels and presentations. Discover the innovations shaping the publishing world from keynote speakers, futuregazing presentations, face-to-face business, heated debate and unrivalled networking opportunities in the heart of West London More than 1,500 exhibitors, from the giant houses publishing bestsellers and academic texts to the smallest independent producers of children’s books and graphic novels, will be under the same roof. Numerous visitors involved with the creation, distribution, sale or treatment of content, such as authors, booksellers, digital solution developers, distributors, talent scouts, editors, designers and translators, will also be walking the floor with you. The range of topics to be covered in the over 200 free-to-attend seminars is staggering; choose between ‘Authors: Central to the business’, ‘Literary Translation: Making Words Travel ‘, ‘Children’s & Edutainment’, ‘Retail & Etail: Reaching the Consumer’ and many more. To help you choose, a dedicated LBF app containing all the information about the Fair, including how to get around, a diary to plan the time and a networking tool to plan meetings with, will be made available to the attendees.
PEN International, the body that campaigns for freedom of expression for writers everywhere, defending and promoting their work and trying to remove barriers to literature, will also be providing a platform for the sensitive issue of censorship to be discussed. At the same time, The Author of the Day programme will brings some of the best writers today to the Fair, celebrating their work and spotlighting its impact. First introduced in 2006, Author of the Day is now established as a key element of the fair. This year, one day will be dedicated to commemorating the 400 year anniversary of William Shakespeare, trio of authors Tracy Chevalier, Howard Jacobson and Jeanette Winterson leading the celebration. They will be joining global bestsellers Professor Nick Bostrom, Judith Kerr and Marian Keyes. The London Book Fair will provide all visitors with the unique opportunity to explore, understand and capitalise on the innovations shaping the publishing world – but also celebrate creativity, imagination and storytelling in all its many forms. London Book and Screen Week will coincide with the London Book Fair for the second year, with the book fair as the pivotal three day event within a five day programme. Taking place from 11th-17th April, the citywide celebration of books and the films, TV programmes and virtual worlds they’ve inspired will unite readers, writers, gamers and film fans through hundreds of events taking place all across literary London. London Book and Screen Week is an event produced by The London Book Fair. London Book Fair visitor day passes start at £35.00. For more information, visit http://www.londonbookfair. co.uk.
NEW EDITION, MARCH 2016
Coming soon from
The End of Asquith
Defend Your License
High politics, media manipulation, personal despair and the carnage of the First World War all come together in this gripping account of the plot to overthrow one of Britain’s forgotten Prime Ministers, H.H. Asquith.
A practical and helpful guide for drivers, combining accurate law with expert tips on how to deal with motoring related offences, from experienced road traffic defence solicitor.
By Michael Byrne
RRP £9.99 paperback, £4.99 ebook
RRP £9.99 paperback, £3.99 ebook
Insightful and revealing biography of music icon’s incredible career -from the early studio sessions to his anguished final days- featuring exclusive interviews with Jackson’s closest collaborators, and a foreword by long-time friend, Matt Forger.
Thought-provoking dystopian fiction series for young adults and upwards tells the story of Mercury - a teenage boy who lives on Oasis, a utopia away from disease ravaged Earth, hiding a secret - he is a mutant humanoid.
RRP £11.99 paperback, £5.99 ebook
RRP £8.99 paperback, £2.99 ebook
By Mike Smallcombe
By Andrea Clegg
By Jeannie Van Rompaey
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