PG 5 Publishing journalist Porter Anderson tells us about the bookexpo america author hub and other must-sees at this year’s bea.
pg 16 biteback publisher iain dale on what makes good political publishing and how small presses can make big waves in the industry.
pg 22 Indie author nathaniel kressen explains how he got his self published novel stocked in independent bookstores across the uSA.
NEW EDITION CONTEMPORARY
MAGAZINE ISSUE 14, MAY 2014
One author’s quest to draw attention to the hidden world of sex trafficking
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HAPPENI N GS May 8 16
Trending: The End of 19
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© Nathaniel Kressen
to the May issue of NEW EDITION.
This month we talk to all sorts of industry insiders, from Porter Anderson’s introduction to the BookExpo America Author Hub to political publisher Iain Dale on the value of strong writing, author Nathaniel Kressen’s solution to high-street distribution for his self published novel and Stela Brinzeanu’s desire to use her ﬁction as a means of social change. CEO Gareth Howard takes the “self” out of self publishing, and we see what makes Shakespeare & Company a staple of Manhattan bookselling. Find out what’s happening in May, where we love to read and whether we’ve ﬁnally reached the end of the book. 3
HAPPENI N GS May 1–20 |
‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London drurylane.londontheatres.co.uk/charlie-and-the-chocolate-factory Adapted from Roald Dahl’s bestselling novel and directed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes (‘American Beauty’, ‘Skyfall’), ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ is the must-see show of the season. Scored by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman of ‘Hairspray’, ’Pure Imagination’ is the only song left from the 1971 film, meaning that even die-hard fans will find a world of wonder and surprise in the new production. Tickets are available through the theatre’s website.
Love Speaks: A Day of Art and Poetry from the Muslim World
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY poetshouse.org/programs-and-events/readings-and-conversations/love-speaks-dayart-and-poetry-muslim-world Sponsored by Poets House, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and City Lore, Love Speaks celebrates American Mother’s Day with poetry and art presentations in the Islamic Art galleries of the Met. Poets Marie Howe and Kazim Ali, Columbia University scholar Frances Pritchett, and artists Amir Vahab, Elinor Aishah and Laimah Osman will present a full programme of workshops, readings, performances and seminars centring around the themes of love and Muslim culture. Don’t miss the calligraphy and book-making demonstration from Aishah and Osman. The event is free with museum admission.
uPublishU at BookExpo America
Javits Center, New York, NY bookexpoamerica.com/BEA-Conferences/DIY-Authors-Conference/Author-Hub BookExpo America (BEA) is the biggest publishing industry event in North America, allowing industry professionals to come together and do business. But this year, uPublishU at the BEA Author Hub offers entrepreneurial authors the opportunity to network at the fair. Tickets for uPublishU include access to the entirety of BEA, as well as listing of your book in BEA’s New Title Showcase and Show Planner online and mobile app. Programming highlights include Marketing a Series: Tips and Tricks from Successful Independent Authors and The Power of Images for Social Media Platforms. Tickets are available to uPublishU and BEA at BEA’s website.
BookExpo America Author Hub
Meet the Author What makes your Author Hub a muchneeded addition to BEA, and how will your focus differ from the Saturday uPublishU event?
BookExpo America is the biggest book publishing industry event in the USA, and this year the conference is debuting the BEA Author Hub for entrepreneurial authors. Jordan Koluch talks to publishing journalist Porter Anderson, who is curating the event, about what the Author Hub means for authors this year, and for years to come.
Great question! First, the need. In the past, BookExpo America (BEA) – which is the States’ biggest and oldest industry trade show – has been a great place for authors represented by their publishers. Those authors sign books in their publishers’ stands and/or in the special Author Autograph areas. They give talks at special breakfasts. They’re able to meet and be in touch with other industry figures. They often speak in panel discussions. They have an important place and purpose on the floor of the big show at the Javits Center in New York City. Entrepreneurial authors, however, have had no real way to operate at BEA beyond attending the very fine uPublishU conference developed for them with a lot of industry leaders offering perspective and instruction. That all changes with BEA director Steve Rosato’s creation of the uPublishU Author Hub because for the first time it provides a spot on the trade show floor for entrepreneurial authors. The Author Hub serves as a base of operations, a meeting point its members use to make contact with industry players, and a centre for exclusive programming. Unlike the Author HQ programme at London Book Fair, which has had some great events for authors, the BEA Author Hub is not a
lounge. There’s some comfortable furniture, but it’s not a drop-in site. Our Hub Authors are paying members of the Hub. They buy their spots in it ($599 for a Basic membership, $1200 for a Premium membership). The Hub, capped at 160 members, has a receptionist, a presentation area, networking tables and the Premium members’ own meeting tables, each with two chairs. So it is what it says, a hub, a centre of activity for entrepreneurial authors. And then you asked about the difference in uPublishU and the Author Hub: The Author Hub is a presentation of the uPublishU conference, and our Hub Authors are automatically ticketed to see this important conference on Saturday May 31. The difference is that uPublishU is a conference, and it’s held downstairs at the Javits, in the (very roomy) conference-centre rooms of the facility. On the other hand, the Author Hub is on the BEA show floor itself, running all three days of the show, and it’s about networking – making contact with people in the industry, people you need to meet, from agents and editors to service providers and thought leaders. The nice thing is that uPublishU sponsors are supporting the development of the Author Hub, and we’re looking forward to featuring some of their great work for our Hub Authors as well as at uPublishU. The Author Hub runs May 29, 30 and 31. You have some of the biggest names in self
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publishing attending. What will the likes of Hugh Howey be doing as part of the Author Hub?
and learn are pretty much endless. How do you think the rise of author-focused events has shifted the paradigms of the large trade shows?
True! We’re so excited about this! Our headliners include Hugh Howey, and also Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, CJ Lyons The jury is still out on and HM Ward. Together, whether author focused I estimate this group events at our large trade of five entrepreneurial shows are bringing Authors at the BEA Author Hub will receive tickets to the uPublishU event authors alone has sold those authors closer to on Saturday, May 31, which includes programming to help entrepreneurial more than twelve million the industry itself. To copies of their books. some degree, as we’ve authors make the most of their self publishing experience. We’re delighted to have seen in London, things the Indie Bestsellers with us in the Hub, and each of are still running on separate tracks. The Author them has taken a Premium membership. This will give HQ programme there is terrific, as was Authoright’s them the opportunity not only to interact with the curation of the AuthorLounge programme before other authors in the Hub but also to hold meetings it. But so far, I’m not sure we see authors and other with industry people they want to invite to their tables, industry folks getting together much in that instance. to sign books for readers they meet at BEA (and each And that’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just going to take gets a BEA Author Autographing session, too), and some time, I think, for traditional industry players and they’ll be participating as panellists in some of the entrepreneurial authors to find their footing together, excellent conference programming going on at and and learn what they may have in common to discuss. around BEA, including the uPublishU conference, The fact that the ‘two camps’, if you will, are coming the IDPF Digital Book conference, and sessions in the together in the same, influential, place, is an extremely BEA Conference presentations that play out during the good sign. The hope has to be that over time, more course of the trade show, as well. interaction takes place. I hope, for example, that many The Indie Bestsellers will treat the Author Hub as publishing-house workers will take a few minutes to their stand, in other words, and they’re coordinating stroll over to our Author Hub at BEA and meet our a special ribbon cutting to open the Hub on May 29, Authors, chat a bit, trade some business cards. It seems too. These are writers in very high demand, and we’re a small thing, but this kind of contact can mean the delighted to have them join us as our charter Author world to an enterprising author, and it can introduce Hub members! new talent to some of our best heads in publishing. That’s the kind of interaction we look for next. Hm. Now I’m having an idea: maybe we need to What are you most looking forward to as the create a buddy system, matching an entrepreneurial event’s curator? author with a publishing-house staffer at BEA or LBF. They meet for lunch, they see a couple of events ‘Don’t Sit Down!’ programming. I love it. One of together, visit the Hub together, visit the publishing the most important points we hope to make to our house’s stand together, basically trade notes, get to Hub Authors is that they need to take advantage of know a little about each other’s job. There might be the three days of BEA while they can. So we’re doing potential here. what we call ‘Don’t Sit Down!’ programming – that’s my term for fifteen-minute bursts of presentations that an author can watch, then jet off to his or her How do you think the traditional side of our next meeting with an agent, an international rights industry views the upsurge in the ‘author market’? specialist, a cover design artist, an author-services For us it’s a positive, something accessible and vendor, etc. We’ll have a list of each day’s programming inclusive across all walks of publishing, but do you in the Hub for its members so they can plan when think they see it that way? to be on-site in the Hub and when to get back out onto the floor – to see conference sessions, to take in I do. I think that many in the traditional publishing events on the author stages, even simply to explore industry have a far more positive take on the the various zones and areas of BEA’s huge display. The development of the ‘author market’ than some authors show is gigantic, and the opportunities to meet people believe they have. The fact that houses are watching
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My key advice these days to authors is to become ‘independently aware of the industry’.
self publishers as potential new authors for their own imprints shows you how highly they’re valuing some of the output here. Not for nothing does every Basic and Premium member of the Author Hub at BEA get a chance to display work in the New Title Showcase, you see. The traditional industry operates in patterns long established and proven to serve its needs. What it looks for, then – when a new development like the rise of this class of entrepreneurial authors arrives – is what that development can contribute to what they’re already doing. Any newcomers to any industry need some time to sort out how they can interact with the existing regime, and the long-established outfits need some time to understand the interests and capabilities of the newcomers. That’s the stage we’re in now. The dance of acquaintance. No one has any delusions that entrepreneurial authors aren’t here and ready to contribute to the industry in new and interesting ways. The questions traditional players might bring to the dance floor are about how the skills and talents of the entrepreneurs may provide good content, fresh faces, strong material and rising profit margins. Over time? It all gets figured out. As I was just saying to a fine reader at ThoughtCatalog.com, corporate ‘big publishing’ started about 115 years ago, give or take a few. And entrepreneurial self publishing on a wide scale like we see today? Well, the Kindle was introduced in 2007. It’s going to take us a little while longer. Patience would do us all good. Other than coming along to the Author Hub, what should entrepreneurial authors be doing to best position themselves in the market today, which, as we know, is competitive and constantly evolving?
Well, in BEA’s New York, of course, authors need to keep up with announcements about Authoright’s coming New York Author Fair, where a lot of very specific industry guidance and analysis will be presented, as it was at London Author Fair in February. And beyond that, my key advice these days to authors is to become ‘independently aware of the industry’. What I mean by that is that the time has come to be careful of the lure of community. The internet enables the development and deepening of wonderful communities of just about every kind under the sun. This is great, and authors have benefited in many ways from the fact that today they can be in near constant touch on myriad topics about writing and the
business of publishing, twenty-four hours a day, worldwide. The problem, however, is that such a vibrant community can seduce writers into spending more time talking about the work than doing it. And they begin to take on groupthink on various issues instead of parsing the industry’s moments for themselves and sorting out their own best courses. Independence from other independents, as odd as that sounds, may be becoming more important for everyone. And finally, what advice would you give to any firsttime BEA attendees to enable them to get the best out of the event? Other than not to wear heels, because the Javits Center is huge!
You know the best thing to do? Travel light. What I’m telling our Hub Authors is to consider bringing not books but ‘author cards’ of the kind made, for example, by Enthrill. Are you familiar with them? They’re handsomely produced cards, about the size of a paperback’s cover, with a book’s artwork, author picture, blurb material, all the sales copy, in other words. And each card has a code that provides the recipient with a free download of your book’s e-edition in whatever format they like. You might have seen Orna Ross’ Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) using this at LBF this year for its Opening Up to Indie Authors book. An author can load up a single tote bag in the morning with business cards, maybe a one-sheet about him- or herself as an introduction, and fifty or a hundred of these author cards and arrive at BEA looking more like a pro on the hoof than like a packhorse. No lugging around actual books. (And who can take a book when you hand it to them, anyway? They don’t want to lug your books around, either!) You can even autograph an author card, if you like. And if you have some left over, you can easily mail them to special contacts, potential reviewers, friends and family, you name it. Because, you’re right – heels are out, sensible shoes are in. I carry two pedometers. And considering how my feet felt after walking more than 13,000 steps per day at LBF, I’m thinking of starting a new publishing startup all my own: Trade Show Sedan Chairs. See you at BEA’s uPublishU Author Hub, Jordan! To find out more about the BEA Author Hub, go to bookexpoamerica.com/BEA-Conferences/DIY-AuthorsConference/Author-Hub. Find Porter Anderson online at porteranderson.com and on Twitter @Porter_Anderson
NEW EDITION, MAY 2014
Gareth Howard, author and CEO of Authoright, found that self publishing still carried a stigma when he underwent the process in 2005. As the industry as a whole changes, it seems to be becoming more mainstream. 8
SELF SELF P
First there was vanity publishing. Then self publishing came along and changed everything. In the USA, there was a move to indie publishing. The hyphen has been dropped from the self-. And now as self starts to become cool (everyone’s doing it, didn’t you know!), it seems to me that what we are really talking about is just publishing. It’s all publishing, there are now just multiple ways to get your content out there. It might be that the diehard indie authors out there abhor this concept because there is something pure in being a real self publisher. Personally, I take the ‘to each their own’ approach. I self published my novel in 2005 before it was cool to be indie. The truth is, I did so because I had no choice. But I was certainly never ashamed of being a self publishing author; I was alone
but free and found the experience exhilarating. When Authoright announced the London Author Fair in 2013, the first in a series of International Author Fairs, we said that it would be the first ever conference for all authors. It was not going to be a ‘how to self publish’ event or a literary festival for trads, like Hay. We wanted it to be as far from this as possible. We felt it was time for a conference that discussed issues relevant to any author; technology, innovation, trends, discoverability, business. The time had come where authors were starting to converge; chances are that if you are a first time author, regardless of whether you are self publishing or have a traditional deal, the likelihood is that you will have to do most of the work yourself, you’ll make around the same amount of money and
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PUBLISHING have comparable sales (see Hugh Howey’s authorearnings.com). And the level of marketing will be about the same too, i.e. none unless you pay for it yourself (again, see the results of the 2013 member survey by the Society of Authors, ‘Marketing, what marketing!?’). As such, whether you are a trad, a selfie or a hybrid, isn’t it all just publishing? As Adele Parks told me at the London Author Fair, she had only just realised that she was technically a self published author in the USA using Amazon’s Whiteglove through her agent. By comparison, you have Abbi Glines, who makes a fortune selling her front-list self published eBooks before selling the backlist to trad publishers Simon & Schuster via an agent. As one agent recently told me, “Very soon all our new authors
will be self published, there’s just no point in going for a traditional deal. It’s too much hard work for little return. If we can prove there’s a wider market for an unknown author by first self publishing, then we can look at bring on board a traditional down the line”. Another way to look at this is that in the future every ‘traditionally’ published author will actually be a hybrid author. Even JK is self publishing her eBooks. In short, it’s all over the shop. There is no one hard and fast rule. We still hear people in the industry referring to ‘them’ and ‘us’. The truth is that self publishing transformed the whole of the industry about three years ago, when the stigma seemed to lessen significantly. I am proud to say that Authoright has played a part in that democratic deconstruction.
And now I feel that we are entering a new era, a post-self publishing one, a Golden Age of Authorship in which a book is simply published. The reader won’t have a clue how it’s been published (do they care anyway?), there is no stamp of authority or quality, a book has been written, and it has been published. And if that’s not purism, I don’t know what is. Gareth Howard is a self published author and CEO of Authoright. Find him online at authoright.com and on Twitter @AuthorGareth
NEW EDITION, MAY 2014
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WRITING WRONGS Authors write because they have a story to tell. Stela Brinzeanu writes in hope that the people who hear her stories will be motivated to help her make the world a better place. Katy Garland talks to Brinzeanu about her novel and the often overlooked issue of human trafficking.
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We live in a world rife with struggle and suffering. Whilst some continue through life blissfully unaware of other people’s battles as they try to get through their own day, there are others out there who fight to make a difference, or bring about change. Raising awareness of social issues through films, music and literature is a powerful way of opening so many minds to the fact that, somewhere, there will always be someone worse off than you. Stela Brinzeanu is one woman on a mission to raise awareness about the continued rise in human trafficking, and in particular, human trafficking that stems from, and operates heavily in, her home country, Moldova. “From my experience,” begins Stela, “not many people – or not enough – know about Moldova or where to place it on the map. Those who do, know very little about its present or past history. There’s certainly a lot more to be done in order to bring Moldova to the world and the world to Moldova.” A country that Stela describes as “a place that is as fascinating as it is disturbing” it is the gateway to modern Europe, but still mired in medieval superstition. A place where ingrained customs and irrational beliefs can make or break someone’s day and an unyielding fatalism dictates destinies. Stella left in 2000, for many of these reasons, and moved to the UK. Since leaving, Stela has religiously kept up to date with Moldova’s current affairs. What she found was the same subjects dominating the headlines: poverty, domestic violence, alcohol abuse and human trafficking. Human trafficking in particular made the news in the Western media occasionally, but it
didn’t dig deep enough to explore the internal causes. “Even though I like reading for entertainment and fun,” explains Stela, “I also love books with deeper and more meaningful material.” Heavily inspired by some of the most famous literature in the world – such as Animal Farm, The Grapes of Wrath, and The God of Small Things – it was a natural choice for the subject matter of Stela’s debut novel, Bessarabian Nights, to be a ‘fiction with a social conscience’. The book follows the journey of two friends as they attempt to save their best friend from the world of human trafficking in Eastern Europe. When they finally do find her, and return her to her home country, Moldova, the community fail to support her rehabilitation process. “I chose this subject matter because it was one I greatly cared about. My initial impulse was more like a cry for help and a will to try and understand what caused the perpetuation of trafficking in Moldova.” “Due to Moldova’s Communist
Brinzeanu’s Bessarabian Nights follows two girls in their journey to save their friend from sex trafficking.
There’s certainly a lot more to be done in order to bring Moldova to the world and the world to Moldova. and Soviet past with everything that entailed, Moldova is a country still struggling with socio-economic issues to this day – almost twentyfive years later,” says Stela. “Its people are the poorest in Europe with the average of under £100 GDP per capita per month. As much as 66% of the victims of human trafficking are from rural areas. Recruiters target the poorest parts of the country where the population is less informed about the risks of going abroad for work.
In many cases the recruiters are family or friends of the victims.” “I’d like to hope that this book will help spread the word about Moldova’s ‘black fame’ and raise enough awareness to save and/or prevent other people from falling into the trap of sex slavery.” With perfectly good intentions intact as she set about writing the book, it wasn’t a straightforward exercise. To make the book as realistic as possible, Stela wanted to talk with victims of human
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trafficking. How do you find, approach and discuss incredibly sensitive personal details with someone you’ve never met before? In a country like Moldova in particular, victims have a tendency to shy away from talking about their experiences. “I contacted local NGOs like the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and La Strada, who were happy to assist me with my research. The more we write about this painful issue and the more awareness we raise, both in Moldova and internationally, the more chance we have to help its prevention.” When it came to marketing Stela’s book there was a huge amount of interest, not just in the intricate plot line, but in the stories behind it – both Stela’s story and those of the victims of human trafficking whom she spoke to during her research. “As my writing progressed, I certainly hoped that my book would interest the local and international press enough to pick up on this subject and spread the word further.” And it did when The Mail Online, the widest read newspaper in the world, invited Stela to write a piece about what exactly these women went through. When it came to writing the piece, Stela had some pretty specific ideas about the messages she wanted to get across. “The fact that people don’t hear much about this subject on the ten o’clock news, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Moldova is a country where women, daughters and sisters, are sold into prostitution all the time. Stand up against this fundamental violation of human rights. When people are poor, desperate and misinformed they will always be vulnerable to human trafficking or any other kind of exploitation. The rest of us can help by spreading the word about how real and devastating this abuse is; offering help and support to local and international NGOs who run training and awareness campaigns targeted at potential victims; stop judging and condemning those
less fortunate of us; take action whenever appeals for prevention of trafficking are made.” Well said, Stela.
Brinzeanu hopes that her fiction will alert people to the plight of women in her native Moldova.
Bessarabian Nights by Stella Brinzeanu (Lightning Source, RRP £8.99 paperback, RRP £3.99 eBook) is available online at retailers including amazon.co.uk and can be ordered at all good bookstores. To find out more about Stella Brinzeanu and Bessarabian Nights, go to stelabrinzeanu.com. You can follow Stela on Twitter @brinzeanu
NEW EDITION, MAY 2014
MADE in MANHATTAN
Photo courtesy of Shakespeare & Company
Every independent bookstore has its own personality. Some even become iconic through national media attention. Diana Rissetto talks to Margot Liddell, general manager of New York City’s Shakespeare & Company in Greenwich Village, about the joys and struggles of independent bookselling at the well-known store. Shakespeare & Company Booksellers in New York City (the Lexington Avenue location) was where Billy Crystal’s Harry met Meg Ryan’s Sally (for the third time) in the classic film When Harry Met Sally… The scene could have taken place in Barnes & Noble or the public library, but, for some reason, director Rob Reiner went with Shakespeare & Company. Ten years after When Harry Met Sally…, Meg Ryan would find herself in another film set in New York City with a bookstore as a backdrop – You’ve Got Mail. In a reflection of the changing times, the little independent bookstore is struggling, just as Shakespeare & Company is now struggling to
stay alive in a very changing world of e-readers and Amazon. With independent bookstores gasping for air and Barnes & Noble stores closing twenty at a time, where will memorable movie scenes take place if there are soon no bookstores? When the Shakespeare & Company on 81st Street in New York City was recently forced to close its doors, the bookseller issued a statement saying, “Our store has been a home for great literature and a sense of community that is getting harder and harder to find in New York City.” Is there truth to that statement? Is New York City
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changing? Is it becoming less ‘literary’? Are New York stores becoming nothing more than outlets for the wealthy, or can it still be a home for the literary, the artsy and the not-so-rich? We hope so. In April, the Shakespeare & Company located on Broadway in Greenwich Village was listed for rent. The store has been in that location for over twenty-five years. The owners of the store refused to comment on the situation, but it has been confirmed that the store is being listed for $50,000 a month for its 3000 square feet. The bookstore is currently paying an estimated $30,000 a month. Rents are on the rise for everybody in the city, and bookstores are certainly no exception. $30,000 a month is a heck of a lot of textbooks. I chatted with Margot Liddell, who has been the general manager of the Greenwich Village store since it opened. She has been with the company since 1981, working in the uptown location. Over those thirty plus years, Liddell has seen the publishing and the bookselling worlds change dramatically. When asked what really set Shakespeare & Company apart from other bookstores, Liddell credited the impressive and unique list of books. Shakespeare & Company has books that can’t be found in any old Barnes & Noble. There is actually a section in the store called ‘Drinking, Smoking and Screwing’ –geared right towards the most artsy and freespirited readers. Shakespeare & Company has always been a home for New Yorkers that march to the beat of their own drummers. When asked about particularly quirky and memorable ‘only in New York’ regulars, Liddell said there were just too many to name after working with the company for thirty years. She will never forget Mick Jagger frequently shopping at the store, often choosing quite ‘highbrow’ books. As somebody who worked in Barnes & Noble for five years, I could very much write my own book of funny and strange stories that happened to me. Margot Liddell, undoubtedly, felt the same way. She remembers magical events such as Toni Morrison giving a reading and, of course, seeing the store’s various locations featured in major motion pictures. There was never a dull moment while working at Shakespeare & Company. Shakespeare & Company also sells used textbooks. We all have memories of going to buy our textbooks from our college bookstores, and then selling them back at the end of the semester, usually making about $3 in the process. Shakespeare & Company allows students to check their online portal and learn how
much they would earn selling back their textbooks. Students are saved the option of lugging their books to the store and waiting in line – very convenient! In fact, many students even find themselves buying their textbooks on Amazon and then selling them back and making a profit! The staff at Shakespeare & Company is unapologetically anti-e-readers. When one customer asked a member of the team if they sold Kindle cases, the salesperson responded with, “We are very antiKindle here.” While Shakespeare & Company might benefit from carrying e-reader accessories, many independent bookstores are reluctant to support Amazon in any way. Liddell knows the store’s days at the Broadway location are numbered, but prefers to not stress about the future and takes each moment as it comes. No matter what happens, she is grateful for the priceless experience of being a part of the Shakespeare & Company family for over thirty years. Devoted patrons are considering throwing a fundraiser to save the store, but it would likely be in vain. If the Greenwich Village store does close, there will still be two Shakespeare & Company stores left in Manhattan. While we understand that one day we will be explaining to our children that we used to have to go to a store in order to rent a movie or to have film developed before we could see our vacation photographs, hopefully we will never have to explain to them what bookstores once were, because bookstores will always exist. When we asked Margot Liddell if she thought that bookstores would always be around, she was quick to respond that of course they would be. Not every street is as expensive as Broadway in Greenwich Village, she argues, and bookstores will always exist; they just have to find affordable spots to move into. “Now is an awkward time for Shakespeare & Co.…we had so many brilliant years when books were cherished and, I always said, authors were my rock stars!” Harry will always have a place to meet Sally for the third time in New York City.
We had so many brilliant years when books were cherished and, I always said, authors were my rock stars!
For more information about Shakespeare & Co., find them online at shakeandco.com and on Twitter @shakespeareco
NEW EDITION, MAY 2014
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Iain Dale isn’t known for his subtlety. What he is known for is his political acumen. As MD of two publishers of political non-fiction, Dale emphasises high quality writing over the easy sales of celebrity authors that are all too common in the genre, and defends his authors against all odds. In the everchanging publishing industry, Dale tells James Wharton how small presses prove that bigger isn’t always better. “Every book needs to answer the question: Why should I read you?” says Iain Dale, owner and MD of Biteback Publishing and The Robson Press, two publishing houses that are making waves in the UK book industry, gaining a reputation for publishing non-fiction titles that cause a stir. Iain Dale himself is no stranger to controversy; who can forget the images of him tackling a nuclear weapons protester to the ground last year, broadcast live to millions on breakfast TV, outside the Tory party annual conference in Brighton? “The publisher is there in part to protect the investment they’ve made in his or her author….I suppose I went to an extreme when I pulled that protester off Damian McBride last year.” Damian McBride’s memoir was, of course, one of the most explosive books of last year, focusing on the behind-the-scenes goings-on of Gordon Brown’s Government, told through the author’s experience as spin doctor to the failing Prime Minister. But what challenges does a publisher face when publishing an obviously controversial book? “Libel. Our libel laws are so strict that a good libel lawyer can fillet a book if he
is so minded, and it is a brave publisher who ignores the advice of a libel lawyer. Authors can be useless at defending their own words, too,” Iain states with precise delivery. When pushed on whether he thinks the publishing industry has become less critical about the literary talent of celebrity authors, seemingly securing the most lucrative deals, Iain Dale is, again, emphatic in his response. “If you’re working with a publisher who specialises in celebrity books, it’s true you don’t have to be able to write, to write a book. That’s not usually the case in my area of publishing. I have given an author a book deal on the literary standard of their writing alone; W Sydney Robinson sent me a proposal on a book about JB Stead, the world’s first tabloid journalist; would I have killed to publish that book? No. But then I read the sample chapters and was blown away. That book went on to win Biography of the Year at the Political Book Awards and we’ve just commissioned his second book. Big publishers concentrate on celebrity books because they’re guaranteed TV coverage, rather than spending their
NEW EDITION, MAY 2014
One of Dale’s two publishing houses, Biteback Publishing is “Britain’s leading publisher of political and current affairs titles”.
money and time nurturing unknown writers.” As the MD of two publishing houses, Iain has to be aware of the challenges facing the book industry in this modern era of technology. He openly acknowledges that a book which might have sold 5,000 copies five years ago, could struggle to shift 1000 copies today. “One of the biggest challenges facing the traditional book industry in 2014 is the lack of bookshops on the high street. Waterstones is the only one left and independent book shops are closing on a weekly basis. Amazon is now crucial to the success of every book which is published; it’s Biteback’s number one customer. My big fear is that Waterstones will fail, which will be catastrophic for everyone, but more so for medium and large sized publishers.”
The Political Book Awards has certainly cemented itself as a force to be respected on the awards circuit, this year handing a lifetime achievement award to Michael Dobbs, author of the now world famous ‘House of Cards’ trilogy, who told the audience while accepting his award about his life-long love for politics, upon which, like Iain, he had based his sole attention. Visible amongst the crowd are former foreign secretaries, current TV news anchors and respected fellow authors. Iain Dale has plenty of reason to be proud of the awards and the impression they have made in only two years. Away from the day to day business of publishing, Iain has become a celebrity in his own right. His daily drive-time radio show attracts a large audience on national radio station LBC, affording him the opportunity to interview high profile figures from the world of current affairs…handy if you’re on the look out for your next big book deal. It’s fair to say that Biteback and The Robson Press are both reasonably small publishing houses when compared with the likes of Random House and Bloomsbury; but whilst this might mean they don’t have names such as Jeffrey Archer or Bill Bryson on their author lists, it does serve as a warning to the larger organisations that size and wealth aren’t everything in the modern world of publishing. By remaining a realist, staying aware of the shortcomings of the traditional publishing industry, investing in real writing talent and interesting life stories, Iain Dale is right up there with the big guns, and pretty soon,
Every book needs to answer the question: Why should I read you? Iain Dale, who before becoming a publisher was credited as an influential political blogger, has built his business empire based upon the industry which has characterised his adult life: politics. Establishing the Political Book Awards in 2013, now a standout event on the publishing calendar, he explains what it is about the secretive world of politics that appeals to him. “Politics is like a drug which you can never wean yourself off. I wanted to celebrate great political writing and in only two years the awards have established themselves firmly in the industry calendar. We could never do it without the support of their sponsor, Paddy Power, and the donor of the prize money, Lord Ashcroft.”
I’m sure, will leapfrog, and perhaps even out-survive, larger publishers who continue to ignore the changing environment of the publishing industry. To find out more about Biteback Publishing and The Robson Press, go to bitebackpublishing.com. You can find Iain Dale online at iaindale.com and on Twitter @IainDale
# CONTEMPORARY PUBLISHING MAGAZINE
The End of the Book
NEW EDITION, MAY 2014
After decades of bemoaning the death of print, a number of industry leaders have recently claimed that the book is alive and well. Jordan Koluch examines the theory that things aren’t quite as broken as they seem. Everyone loves a good apocalyptic prophesy. The publishing industry has been holding onto the ‘end of the book’ bit since the dawning of the internet and likes to pull it out with every new technological innovation – Amazon, eBooks, you name it. And it has served us quite well over the past decade or two, inciting outrage in readers at the thought that print might be dying, albeit perhaps not driving print sales as we’d like. Imagine, then, our surprise when Tom Weldon, UK chief executive of monolith Penguin Random House, announced at the London Book Fair, “Some commentators say the publishing industry is in enormous trouble today. They are completely wrong, and I don’t understand that view at all.” Weldon went on to say, “In the last four years, Penguin and Random House have had the best years in their financial history….I don’t understand the cultural cringe around books.” And from where Weldon sits, this may very well be true. With 15,000 authors, Penguin Random House are the biggest publisher in the game. Their sheer size allows them certain privileges that mid-sized and small publishers can only dream of. Not only can PRH afford to pay huge advances to the next round of bestselling authors, but their enormous backlist is exceedingly exploitable. By moving from a focus on copyright – owning the words on the page – to a focus on intellectual property – owning the idea – PRH is, in Weldon’s words, moving into “merchandise and branding like never before”. So while PRH may indeed be selling books, they’re also selling sub rights to Peter Rabbit – plush toys, a TV series, and marketing licences (the character appears in Toyota hybrid commercials in Japan). Increasingly, money in publishing is coming from these fringe rights, most of which are owned by publishers.
(Authors and their agents are beginning to retain some of these rights, but that’s for another article.) This is all well and good for the Big 5, who have all sorts of intellectual property to play with. Decades of history and dozens of mergers have increased the size of their lists exponentially, giving them tens of thousands of diverse titles to exploit. But what about a nonfiction publisher of fifteen to twenty business and economics books a year? Sub rights for these books aren’t as glamorous as those for children’s or genre fiction, and niche lists don’t give publishers as many options for licensing. Those publishers are still struggling because book sales are declining, and books are all they have. This all comes in the wake of an announcement by Tim Waterstone, founder of Waterstones book chain, that “every indication – certainly from America – shows the share [of eBooks] is already in decline. The indications are that it will do exactly the same in the UK.” He was referencing a study done by the Association of American Publishers that cited an 8% decline in eBook sales from 2012 to 2013, though that reduced number of sales still amounted to $800 million of revenue. Waterstone isn’t afraid of eBook cannibalisation because his company is one of the UK’s largest book retailers, and as such naturally still does a great business in print sales. Waterstones also have the benefit of online retailing infrastructure. Because they already have the platform and support staff to sell books online, selling eBooks through their established website is quite easy. So even if eBooks become a stronger piece of the retail market, despite Tim Waterstone’s predictions, the company is poised to benefit. Independent bookstores, on the other hand, often don’t have e-commerce infrastructures on
CONTEMPORARY PUBLISHING MAGAZINE
their websites, nor do they have the staff to provide online customer support. They would also need to establish partnerships with thirdparty eBook retailers like Kobo or Amazon, since publishers have not yet begun selling eBooks directly to Mom and Pop Bookstore. Some independent booksellers have begun selling Kobo eBooks, but most are wary of promoting Amazon products, as they see Amazon as cannibalising their print business. Selling eBooks is a much more significant investment of time and money for independents, who do feel the pressure of eBook sales, even if Waterstones don’t. It seems to me that while the doomsday-ers may be a little dramatic, it’s all too easy for the likes of Weldon and Waterstone to denounce the need for change. If the industry as it is – pretty much how it was twenty, forty, sixty years ago – ceases to exist, the PRHs and Waterstoneses will be the last to go, based on their sheer size. They will be cutting imprints and closing stores for years before the whole business shutters; in contrast, indie publishers and booksellers only get one shot. Their comments are also misleading; both companies have already begun to embrace the shifts – PRH by pursuing merchandising opportunities and Waterstones by selling eBooks. A bit hypocritical to deny a change while also adapting to it, no? Perhaps it benefits these companies in the short term to quell the hysteria: “It’s okay; we’re doing fine. Buy our books.” But in the long term, no one wins by pretending that the industry is stagnant. Why cling to an antiquated model when new technology provides nearly limitless opportunities for innovation in storytelling? While everyone in the industry espouses the fact that the core of the business is good storytelling, no matter how it happens, many seem to have forgotten that the printed page was merely the latest incarnation of the story’s form (and one that was rather short-lived through the lens of human history). The future may not hold the death of the book, but it will hold something that is not the current thing, and publishing is an industry notoriously slow to adapt to its problems. Author Anthony Horowitz, in his opening keynote at the LBF Digital Minds Conference, said, “This is not a new game. We’ve had seventy years of digital, forty years of eBooks, thirty years of the internet, twenty-five years of the web, ten years of Facebook, and the iPhone is seven years old….This is not new technology. We should be horrified at how slow we are to adapt to something that has been changing the world for seven decades.” Yet, Horowitz’s advice was merely to ‘fully engage’ technology. What form will that take? Horowitz doesn’t say, but it almost certainly won’t be the PRHs and Waterstoneses of the world who make the big leaps; their businesses don’t necessitate it. It will be left to the small and mid-sized companies, those less able to support a dying model with extracurricular activities. They will be the ones to explore new digital frontiers, moving past a reflowable version of the print book. They will be the ones who investigate new models of distribution, using print-on-demand options for some titles. They will be the ones negotiating bespoke terms for each author’s contract and finding ways to integrate self-publishing into their business models. But they won’t be denying these innovations as they make them.
Penguin Random House’s Tom Weldon cites the company’s growth in recent years as evidence of a robust publishing industry. Photo courtesy of The Guardian.
Tim Waterstone, founder of Waterstone’s bookstore chain predicted the decline of UK eBook sales. Photo courtesy of The Times.
CONTEMPORARY PUBLISHING MAGAZINE
Every author dreams of seeing their book on bookstore shelves. And while many self published authors make names for themselves through online-only sales, Nathaniel Kressen made his own bricksand-mortar dreams come true. Oren Berman talks to Kressen about how he established his own high street distribution. Authors today have a dizzying array of choices before them when it comes to planning their book’s development and distribution. We are entering a golden age of publishing, in which the barriers between a message and an audience have never been easier to overcome. Largely a function of the internet, technologies like e-commerce, eBooks, print-ondemand book distribution and the ease of creating a website have made it easier than ever before for anyone to make their writing available to the public. Nathaniel Kressen is an indie author and playwright who has forgone nearly all of these tools in favour of a lowtech, personal approach, and has done very well at it. I met up with him recently to talk about how he crafted his first novel, Concrete Fever, got it onto lots of bookshops’ shelves without a traditional publisher and sold over a thousand copies, all while also developing plays and holding a full-time job. Nathaniel is one of the few people of my own generation I’ve met who still has a ‘dumb phone’. He tells me he dislikes when people interrupt conversations to look at SMS and email messages (don’t we all), and mourns to see people walking around in public with their faces buried in a three-inch screen. Though he admits that if he had one, he’d probably do the same thing; the temptation would always be right there in his pocket. This somewhat old-fashioned sensibility carries over to other areas of his life as well, including his writing. Nathaniel is the organiser of the Greenpoint Writers
Group, which meets at WORD bookstore, over plenty of wine and whisky, so “meetings are always a good time”. The Writers Group was his main source of editorial feedback throughout the year it took him to revise Concrete Fever. Then, when he found there wasn’t a place for the book in the traditional publishing industry, they also lent plenty of manual labour helping him hand-bind his first independent run of 250 books, which were designed and illustrated by his wife. Each copy in the first run had a unique cover with different colour combinations, and its handcrafted format gave it a personal, artistic feel that drew bookstore customers in — and drew the book off of store shelves. The first store to carry the book was of course WORD, the home of the Writers Group, at the end of 2011. The store’s managers were instrumental in the book’s genesis and initial distribution. “I actually wrote and edited the bulk of Concrete Fever in the [WORD bookstore] basement. When I first started thinking about releasing the novel myself, I sat down with a couple of the folks there to figure out how to make it a desirable product for stores to carry, how the whole consignment thing worked. They’ve been with me every step of the way; they’ve brought opportunities to my attention. Every week when I come to Writers Group it feels like coming home.” WORD carried the book on its shelves, and helped Nathaniel get it into two other local stores as well. “We sold out the entire run like that,” he tells me,
Every week when I come to Writers Group it feels like coming home.
NEW EDITION, MAY 2014
Nathanial Kressen and his wife Jessie produced handbound copies of Concrete Fever before ordering a second print run from a specialty printer.
“through three stores and special events.” He created his own publishing imprint, Second Skin Books, and once the first run was sold, he invested in a larger paperback print run with a high-quality book printer in Pennsylvania. Nathaniel was intent on replicating the crafted feel of the original run as closely as possible within the limits of offset printing, using textured cover stock and high-quality materials. He’s confident that the book’s physical appeal as an art object is a major reason it’s done well on store shelves. With the second edition print run, released in the summer of 2013, Nathaniel began to show the book to more bookshops, with great results. Within six months, the book was on the shelves of twenty-six stores. A few of these stores sell their stock on Amazon, so it’s available for purchase there, as well as directly from his imprint’s website. There is currently no eBook version. When I asked him how he managed to get so many bookstore managers on board, he claims it’s all about empathy. “It’s just good business sense, to be considerate of book buyers’ needs and time. It’s not all about your book, your product.” He also explained to me the importance of understanding each bookstore’s consignment or
buyback policy, and to work within it rather than try to suggest alternative arrangements. He shows me the ‘sell-sheet’ he put together for Concrete Fever – with an image of the cover, all the metadata a store might need (ISBN, description, price) and a record of the number of copies a store has taken to stock. In nearly all cases, Nathaniel gets paid only when a reader buys the book from the store – otherwise the copies eventually get removed from the store shelf, or returned. He has a very pragmatic attitude about this inevitable occurrence. “Stores have needs, they need to circle through inventory, keep the tables fresh. When I hear my book needs to be shelved a while, my first response is to wonder if I did something wrong. But it’s not about me. It’s about their needs as a business.” Concrete Fever hasn’t yet sold all 1500 copies of the second edition, but it looks like it very well may. Nathaniel suspects it will happen once his second novel is out, and generates some additional interest in his author brand. “I’m working on it right now,” he explains. “The story follows a brother and sister abandoned by their parents on a farmland where nothing will grow. A couple of strangers roll into this antiquated town and kind of sever that relationship,
CONTEMPORARY PUBLISHING MAGAZINE
the bond gets broken and the whole thing fractures into a kind of mad dance across the Pacific Northwest. The title for that is Dahlia Cassandra, though that may change.” He tells me he isn’t sure what sort of publishing strategy he’ll take with Dahlia Cassandra: “Independently releasing Concrete Fever has been a really rewarding experience, I wouldn’t have changed what I did for the world. That said, the product dictated the process, not the other way around. I didn’t go into writing my first novel planning to release it myself. I wrote the book, went through the revision process, got excellent feedback from colleagues I respected, but ultimately didn’t find the right home for it within the industry…which is cool, because we’re recouping our investment now really quickly and finding a really enthusiastic audience for the book – and we maintained creative control. The book appears just the way we wanted. “As for Dahlia Cassandra, I think as a book it’s way further off the beaten path than Concrete Fever is, but who knows? That might make the established industry buy into it more. I’m just going to take each project as it comes, do right by it, and move forward whatever way seems best.” Obviously, Nathaniel’s publishing process for Concrete Fever was completely different from most indie authors’, who use eBook distribution and/or on-demand printing to make their book easily and inexpensively available via the internet. Concrete Fever gets most of its sales from simply being picked up and looked at by readers browsing in independent bookstores, which is a sales channel most selfpublished books don’t take advantage of. Many modern indie authors also embrace their work as publishers; Nathaniel is quite the opposite. As he explained it, “I’m put on this planet to be a writer, a story-teller – not an indie publisher. Really, working with my wife on making really cool looking books, it’s a passion project, but ultimately a means to an end.” And that end? When I ask Nathaniel to give me his description of success as a novelist, he defines it as “making art I believe in, putting the acts of creation and collaboration at the forefront of my life.” In that respect, he considers himself successful. Of course, Concrete Fever was just his first novel, and has sold reasonably well, but he tells me that he’d still like to reach a wider readership, and “move beyond having a day job”. But ultimately he takes an idealistic stance: “Money, visibility, your daily schedule. In reality, does any of that matter? The work itself is the most important thing and the rest will fall into place with time. I just have to remind myself of that every now and then…to focus on creating new work and not worry about stuff that doesn’t matter. If you’re an artist you’re an artist, and if you’ve identified yourself as one and work every day to get better and better at your craft, then you are successful.”
The offset print run of Kressen’s novel is meant to look as handcrafted as possible, using textured stock and high-quality materials.
Find out more about Nathaniel Kressen online atnathanielkressen.com. Concrete Fever is available through his imprint, Second Skin Books: secondskinbooks.com
Big in Japan You never know how far-reaching an idea will be until you put it out into the world. When we staged the AuthorLounge at the London Book Fair in 2013, we never thought it would spark a self publishing revolution all the way around the world. Here at Authoright, we believe that authors should be at the centre of the publishing industry. For years, we pestered the London Author Fair to provide something compelling and valuable for individual writers within the scope of their trade show offering. Eventually, last year we curated the AuthorLounge at LBF to give writers a voice. From engaging programming and speakers to one-on-one meetings with literary agents, unpublished, traditionally published and self published authors had a place to go to network, learn and engage in the quickly changing industry. And in Japan, Kyoko Kobayashi, writing for Japanese news website The UK Media Watch, took notice. Kobayashi attended LBF last year and visited the AuthorLounge. Inspired by our message of uniting writers and engaging in professional self publishing, Kobayashi featured the AuthorLounge heavily, and news soon spread around the world (and the Internet) to inspire a surge of self publishing in Japan, where it hadn’t been nearly as popular an option for authors as it is in the UK and USA. This upsurge inspired the formation of The Alliance of Independent Authors in Japan. Excited by the success of the AuthorLounge, we decided to create our own event this year and hosted the sold-out London Author Fair, the first in a series of International Author Fairs focused solely on the needs of authors. And again, Kobayashi has been supporting our message, and our “imposing event”. In an interview with UK Media Watch, Authoright’s General Manager, Emma Lowe, told Kobayashi, “Authoright was delighted to hear that the self publishing community in Japan had taken inspiration from the AuthorLounge. We would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the very best as you work
Above: The bustling AuthorLounge, curated by Authoright. Below: Patrick Brown of Goodreads (seated, center) presents to authors.
together. We very much look forward to hearing how you get on, and know from our own experience how much can be achieved once you set your mind to it as a group.” Kobayashi concludes, “That is the future, to hold events for aspiring writers or up-and-coming writerpublishers.” We couldn’t agree more. Tokyo Author Fair anyone? Authoright is the founder and curator of the International Author Fair series. For more information on the upcoming New York Author Fair in September, visit newyorkauthorfair.com and follow us on Twitter @NYAuthorFair
CONTEMPORARY PUBLISHING MAGAZINE
Reading Reprieves In the busy world of music, movies, TV, radio and the internet all vying for our attention, finding the time and place to read often takes a back seat. Here are some of the ways we fit our love of literature into our daily schedules. 27
NEW EDITION, MAY 2014
I used to be an avid reader when I was in school— mostly because getting a publishing and literature degree requires a lot of reading, and I’ve never been good at pretending I’ve read something I haven’t. Now, the only time I have nothing to do but read is when I’m commuting. And while I’ve been known to carry brick-like mass market paperbacks around, the truth is that my arm gets tired, especially when I’m not lucky enough to get a seat. So I was pleasantly surprised by my first iBooks experience. I always thought I would hate reading a book on my phone’s little screen, much like I hate reading web articles. But iBooks adjusts the type so I can actually see it. I also like that the ‘pages’ are much shorter; while there are many more of them, I also get to ‘turn’ them more often and feel like I’m progressing faster. I also like that the book gets integrated into everything I’m already doing – checking text messages and emails and listening to music. I may have just become a convert.
James. I like to read a book on holiday.
There’s something about being in the ultimate state of relaxation on a beach or cruise ship in the sun that just commends itself to reading. I typically take about three weeks to read an average book in the city; but put me on holiday and in the sun, I can go through two or three in a very short time, turning browner by the minute. Reach for the sun lotion; lie back and escape in the pages of that great book you’ve been looking forward to reading!
It goes without saying reading on the Tube is probably the best place to not only enjoy a good read, but also escape the crazy, frustrating and at times infuriating goings on of a packed ride on the London Underground. Also a great way to pass the time; a 40 minute Tube ride can feel like a five minute journey when you’re lost in a book, and I’m definitely guilty of missing my stop because I’m too consumed in a whole different world! Photo courtesy of The Guardian
Some people feel weird going to restaurants and cafes alone, but those are my favourite places to read and write! I love sitting with my Kindle or notebook while I eat. Diners are usually my ‘go to eat and read alone’ spots. I have an omelette while I read, and it also allows me to be as nosey as I want to and listen to strangers’ conversations (one of my favourite pastimes…) since nobody suspects I am listening as I seem to be reading my Kindle. After a job interview, I would always go to my preferred diner in the Theatre District to relax and refuel with a book. Nobody kicks you out and nobody bothers you — what more can you ask for from a reading spot? Photo courtesy of Diner Hotline
CONTEMPORARY PUBLISHING MAGAZINE
ÂŠ Nathaniel Kressen
in NEW EDITION: Editor Ben Seales Three Hares Publishing Essential publishing jargon for authors What publishing can learn from the music industry Author Nick Brown And more...
NEW EDITION CONTEMPORARY ISSUE