Tuesday, 31 August 2010


PW: Lamb Aiming For a New Vantage Point


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Jim Milliot of Publishers Weekly (print edition) talks to David Lamb, owner of Vantage Press (POD Index, 230.65), one of the oldest vanity presses in the USA, about the company's plans next spring to launch Vantage Point, a no-fee imprint for mid-list authors.

Back in its heyday, Vantage Press ruled the self-publishing (then known as vanity publishing) world, with a market share that hovered around 25% from the 1950s through the early 1990s. The profitable family-run New York company occasionally drew complaints, and lawsuits, from unhappy authors, but its biggest failure was not keeping up with the changes in technology that resulted in dozens of Web-based companies springing up to offer author services.

Lamb Aiming For a New Vantage Point
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Monday, 30 August 2010


September POD Index


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Just a couple of days ahead of time - September's POD Index.


Author Solutions to Introduce Author Educational Services with New Appointment


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Author Solutions last week appointed Suzette Conway as Director of Author Education and will be tasked with developing programs and courses to help educate aspiring authors. Note here and the press release below that it does not mention writers, but 'aspiring authors'. I am already thinking of the old saying - you need to learn to walk before you can run - and in this case, I would like to think Suzette Conway bears this in mind when she formulates these new programs and services, because you can bet they will be paid services.

Nothing so much wrong with that, so long as Author Solutions and Conway remember that an author is a writer first, and it is the craft of writing where they need education, not just the skills and services to move them directly into the world of book publishing. I would also like to think that these new author education programs will exist independently, be tutored by qualified people, and not just turn out to be vehicles to steer 'aspiring authors' in the direction of Xlibris, Trafford, iUniverse and AuthorHouse's publishing services.

But then, that might be just wishful thinking on my part.



Author Solutions (ASI), the world leader in indie book publishing, announced Wednesday the appointment of Suzette Conway as Director of Author Education. In her new role, Conway will develop programs and courses to help aspiring authors reach their publishing goals.

Kevin Weiss, ASI president and chief executive officer, said Conway’s appointment is ASI’s first step in becoming a leader in author education.

“ASI has published more than 20,000 new titles in each of the last two years—firmly establishing our position as the leader in the indie book publishing revolution. It makes sense that we provide educational services to the growing number of aspiring indie authors who may need only a little guidance and encouragement to reach their publishing goals,” Weiss said.

Conway will be charged with creating educational workshops and programs—both online and onsite—that will help authors optimize their publishing, book marketing and book-selling efforts, with the first offerings to be rolled out in the fourth quarter of 2010. Conway, who has nearly two decades of instructional design and learning program leadership, said she looks forward to learning more about the diverse educational needs of indie authors.

“These are creative people, artists that in many cases need just a little guidance to make their works blossom. It will be exciting to work hand-in-hand with these folks to help them realize their dreams of being published authors,” Conway said.

Conway expects the curriculum to appeal to and benefit not only aspiring indie authors, but authors who’ve already published books through ASI and other publishers.

For more information on Author Solutions, Inc’s leadership of the indie book publishing revolution, log on to www.authorsolutions.com.
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Boyd Morrison Article in The Huffington Post on Whether to Self-Publish or Not


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Boyd Morrison writes in The Huffington Post on whether an author should choose to self-publish...and into the bargain the Huffington Post is using the title of my book!! Great timing Huff!






The New Yorker's Book Bench pick up on Leo Hunter news story


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The New Yorker's 'Book Bench' has now picked up on the Leo Hunter, age 6, 23 book deal story this morning by including a brief news snippet, but instead, linking to the Galleycat report on Friday, which was at least one of the few to go back and revise their original report.

But you would really hope at this stage that even the New Yorker would have grasped the real story behind this with so much coverage over the weekend.

In the News: Books by Convicts and Six-Year-Olds
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Sunday, 29 August 2010


Feis Teamhra | A Turn at Tara


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"The third Féis Téamhra: A Turn at Tara, featuring performances by internationally-recognized Irish poets and musicians, will be held between 3 and 5 o’clock on August 29 2010 on the Hill of Tara. Those taking part include Aidan Brennan, Seamus Heaney, Laoise Kelly, Michael Longley, Susan McKeown, Paul Muldoon and Colm Toibín."

Poetry Ireland Guest Blog � Blog Archive � Feis Teamhra | A Turn at Tara
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Me and My Best Friend: When Publishing Goes Bad


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For me, there has only been one story in publishing over the past few days, and it is this one, about Leo Hunter, six years of age, signing a 23 book deal with a US publisher. I didn’t get the chance to dig deep enough when the story first broke (supposedly) when I posted about it here and on also on Facebook on Friday. The UK media piece most commentators have focused on was in the Daily Mirror newspaper. The real revelations about this story have been filling the blogosphere for the past few days, but I’ve yet to see one actually link to where this whirlwind first began. If you were only to follow the UK media who covered the story, you could be forgiven for believing ‘Me and My Best Friend’ by J. S. Huntlands had just been published this week. It wasn’t, and this torrid little saga, and the real author behind it, has actually been on the map with this particular book since July 2009, when it was first published by Strategic Book Publishing.

Firstly, let’s deal with the source of the Daily Mirror story. It’s penned by Rod Chaytor, but like some national news stories, it was ‘lifted’ from a provincial piece written the day before by Paul Whyatt in This is Derbyshire. This is a provincial newspaper in the UK where Jamie Hunter lives. Who is Jamie Hunter? Ah, here’s the rub. She is Leo Hunter’s mother, an author of one book published by AuthorHouse in 2008 called ‘Nick: Twisted Minds’, a self-published and heart-felt story of domestic violence. Who wrote ‘Nick: Twisted Minds’? Well, officially, J. S. Huntlands, but you see, Huntlands is the pseudonym of Jamie Hunter. Where things start to get a little muddled is that the children’s book penned by Leo Hunter, aged 6, is also officially authored by J. S. Huntlands. But that’s ok, because in the Mirror piece Jamie Hunter says:

"He's so young that he is not allowed to sign a contract with the publishers. It's unfortunate because it means his name doesn't get to go on the book, but we make sure everyone we know realises that he is the author."

Really, Jamie? In the introduction to the book, you say:

“Thank you to my son for the inspiration to write this series.”

OK, he provided the ‘inspiration’ and chat that led you to write this book, but he is not the author of the book, no more than I am or JK Rowling is. Jamie Hunter also says she sent the book to JK Rowling. Her son is certainly at six years of age seeing the lights of stardom. In the media piece, he is quoted as saying:

I like Harry Potter but I like my books even more. I would like to be more famous than JK Rowling and even more famous than Cheryl Cole and Simon Cowell.

Jamie said her son comes up with ideas for a basic plot – for example, a boy who gets lost – and then she helps him make notes that help him write the story.

She said: "He's very bossy and tells me exactly how he wants the front page to look like and how the illustrations should appear.


Here is what the back blurb says on ‘Me and My Friends’:

“J. S. Huntlands is the author of Nick Twisted Minds and is currently working on more books in this series as well as 23 more books in the Me and My Best Friends Series.

Huntlands is a full-time writer as well as mom to a wonderful four-year-old boy.”

Take careful note of the age - not six, now it is four years of age.

‘Me and My Best Friends’ was actually first published in July 2009 by vanity publisher, Strategic Book Publishing, now under a lawsuit by Florida’s Attorney General’s Office, and the publishing group it is run by is headed up by Robert M. Fletcher, vanity publisher and literary agent scammer.

Strategic Book Publishing has also goofed up on the book's product description on Amazon - it is for a completely different book! 

I am trying to be kind here to one of Fletcher’s authors, but she has got sucked into his publishing scam as well as fooling herself into being one of his represented authors in his other literacy agency scams, but she has done herself no favours now - in the past week - or in the past year. This is Jamie posting (spamming) Making Light, a literary blog last year where Fletcher and Strategic Book Publishing were being discussed.

#14 ::: JS Huntlands ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2009, 08:08 AM:
Set in today’s day and time, Me and My Best Friend is about a young boy, his faithful companion and their exciting adventures.

Henry and Liam are the best of friends and they do everything together. They can run and play all day long. But when Henry the puppy gets tired and tries to take a nap, three-year-old Liam keeps waking him, wanting him to play some more. Will Henry get any rest?

Get your children involved with this beautifully illustrated book. Your child will love to match up words and pictures, and find Liam, who keeps hiding in his bedroom. Perfect for the young reader!

About the Author
J.S. Huntlands is the author of Nick Twisted Minds and is currently working on more books in this series, as well as 23 more books in the Me and My Best Friend series. Huntlands is a full-time writer, as well as a mom to a wonderful four-year-old boy. This book is dedicated to her son in hopes that he never forgets his best friend.

Resident writer James D. MacDonald reacted to the above posting:

#23 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2009, 10:22 AM:
If you Google on "Set in today’s day and time, Me and My Best Friend" you'll get over 900 hits for this particular comment spam.

She's trying hard....
What she needs to do now is get in touch with the Florida Attorney General and hope that she can get restitution.

#30 ::: JS Huntlands ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2010, 07:23 AM:
Wow,
What can I say? You have strong views. Thank you for the advise.
No I didn't read this before signing the contract with AEG. I got rid of my website as my 12 months for free ran out and AEG offered a free web site. (good idea at the time)

I don't have 1000's of books in my house but, AEG do try to make you have x amount on hand. I own one of each of my books. I have been though a rough time but still no excuse for typo's (typed for you Joel Polowin,) or not doing my homework. There are 100's and 1000's of publisher's out there. It's not so easy finding the right one for you.

On the plus side for me though I did sign a 'traditional contract' So publishing cost me nothing. The advertising however can be very costly with nothing in return. Hence I have done it myself. Ie: live radio shows, newspaper reports. The blogging. I thought a great way to get out there. Clearly not such a great idea. Thank you again for your thoughts

Interestingly on Answers.com, we also have the following:


What books does jk rowling like?

Nick Twisted Minds written by J. S. Huntlands.
Her children like Me and My Best Friend also written by J. S. Huntlands 








Somehow, I don't think it was JK who supplied this answer! Ms Hunter has been a very busy girl with her marketing steamroller.

And I don’t think Jamie Hunter learned anything from James’ advice from all accounts in the last week. Somewhere in here should have been the story of a woman experiencing domestic violence and finding hope in the words she wrote in a book, but along the way, it got messed up in a vanity dream, and somehow, a wonderful, bright and creative kid got mixed up in that dream too. He should never have been a part of it, and I'm baffled as to why Jamie Hunter choose to involve her son in her own literary ambitions.

I have no doubt what he has experienced with mom over the past couple of years could make him the next JK Rowling or Stephen King, but right now he isn’t, and shouldn’t be, and for the UK media or the people who love him to expect that, would be grossly unfair. We must live our lives as adults, and leave our children to dream theirs.


This story is also building up some steam over on AbsoluteWrite.
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Friday, 27 August 2010


Leo Hunter, 6, lands a mega deal for 23 books - mirror.co.uk!?


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What started out as a literary heart-warming story when the UK Mirror newspaper ran with this, turned into a 'Yikes' story when I discovered the US publisher was Strategic Book Publishing.......ahem!! Why don't journalist do some research before running with a story like this?

A lot more about Strategic Book Publishing on the AbsoluteWrite link below...

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=101448

...and late today, Victoria Strauss has exposed this little 'vanity' charade which seemed to fool UK newspapers so easily. I'm always uncomfortable using the word vanity to describe authors who choose to self-publish using a fee-charging publisher, but this really is the one time when the tag fits perfectly.

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Thursday, 26 August 2010


Writer Beware!: PW Select: Opportunity or Exploitation?


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Victoria Strauss has written a lengthy piece on authors paying for their book to be reviewed with a primary focus on Publishers Weekly's new paid review service PW Select. There are also some extensive comments to her piece.

Writer Beware� Blogs!: PW Select: Opportunity or Exploitation?
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Bowker Release Book Consumer Trends Report 2009


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Bowker release book consumer trends report for 2009.

Tim Waterstone To Discuss The Future Of Books In Dun Laoghaire


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Tim Waterstone To Discuss The Future Of Books In Dun Laoghaire

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


PW Select: A Quarterly Service for Self-Published Authors to Launch in December


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Publishers Weekly will launch a quarterly magazine in December focusing on announcements and reviews of self-published titles. However, listed self-published titles will come at a fee of $149 to the author and reviews will only be on selected titles.
The New PW Select: A Quarterly Service for the Self-Published

Saturday, 21 August 2010


TOC Evolvers: OR Books - Tools of Change for Publishing


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Kat Meyer interviews John Oakes of OR Books on O'Reilly TOC. This is a successful new independent publisher I took a look at early last year.

TOC Evolvers: OR Books - Tools of Change for Publishing

Friday, 20 August 2010


iNew York Times/i Bestseller Seth Godin to No Longer Publish Books Traditionally


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Another sign of the times...

iNew York Times/i Bestseller Seth Godin to No Longer Publish Books Traditionally

Wednesday, 18 August 2010


Program Announced for International Supply Chain Seminar at the Frankfurt Book Fair


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Program Announced for International Supply Chain Seminar at the Frankfurt Book Fair

Tuesday, 17 August 2010


PW Article - Self-publishing: Changing Model, Getting Respect


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This is quiet a weighty piece in yesterdays Publishers Weekly by Ann Byle on the new models of self-publishing. Alas, we appear to have a new phrase to describe self-publish - 'custom publishing'.

"Self-publishing was once the uninvited guest at the publishing table. But as technology advances and authors develop marketing savvy, first-time and even some experienced authors are turning more often to what many in the industry are calling custom publishing. In religion publishing, this has particular appeal for religious leaders who already have an audience."

I have to say, I must be moving in the wrong circles, because I have not heard too many publishers or author solutions services use the term and I am not sure we really need any new terms to describe what fundamentally is the right and freedom for an author to pay a company to publish their book. At this stage, I have heard all the labels I need to hear, some of them operate on different models, but at heart, it is pay-to-play -- partnership, paid-publishing, self-publishing, subsidy publishing, assisted publishing, DIY publishing, vanity publishing etc.

Keith Ogorek, senior vice president of marketing for Author Solutions, is quoted along with many others at the helm of companies offering publishers and authors book publishing services. It wasn't too long ago Author Solutions were describing the 'explosion' in self-publishing as the new wave of 'indie publishing'.

There is actually a few companies cited in Byle's article I would like to take a close look at. So over the coming weeks look out for further service reviews.

In the meantime; the article is certainly worth checking out.

Self-publishing: Changing Model, Getting Respect
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Penguin UK Opens its Doors to Unsolicited Manuscripts by Email For Limited Period


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In an unusual move for a large mainstream publishing house, Penguin UK is now open to accepting unsolicited manuscript submissions from authors for a limited time period (October 2010). The submissions most only come through to Penguin's editorial offices by email.

Details from Penguin UK below:

People frequently ask us how to go about getting published. Our company policy is to not accept unsolicited manuscripts or synopses and we cannot enter into correspondence about unpublished work. However, for a limited three-month period from the beginning of August until the end of October 2010, we will be inviting submissions to be sent in electronically to the following address: submissions@uk.penguingroup.com.


We ask that email submissions comprise a brief covering note and synopsis and not a full manuscripts. Please do not send attachments, please write out your cover note and synopsis in the body of the email. We remain unable to accept hard copy submissions and will not return or be responsible for the safety of any that we do receive, so please do not send any original or hard copy manuscripts to us. We will not contact you with feedback on your submission and will only enter into email correspondence with you if an editor within Penguin is keen to progress your idea.

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Self-Publishing Review | Blog | Publish With Lightning Source


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Self-Publishing Review | Blog | Publish With Lightning Source

Monday, 16 August 2010


Review of BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine on Self-Publishing


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Last week BBC Radio 2's midday programme, presented by Jeremy Vine, discussed self-publishing in the UK. The programme featured Kim Cross, MD of Grosvenor House Publishing (POD Index - 244.16), a UK author solutions service, and Simon Crump, a mainstream published author, as well as a host of phone callers.

Crump was one of the few lone voices not in support of self-publishing, believing that the process of mainstream publishing produced better books and better authors, and admitted he had not considered self-publishing as part of his writing career. Crump's input to the programme came at the very beginning of what was approximately just under a thirty minute segment of Vine's two-hour slot from midday till 2pm. Much of what Crump had to say, I can't disagree with, and he pointed out that 'vanity publishers' engaged in raised expectations for an author's book.

Kim Cross had much of the speaking floor, buoyed by several authors who phoned in to the programme to share their experiences of having their books published, but for me, never seemed to convincing sell the self-publishing argument. If anything, his radio host, Jeremy Vine, did a far better job. We were never told that Graham P Taylor, affiliated to Grosvenor House Publishing and a marketing mascot for them, self-published his book Shadowmancer by owning his ISBN, imprint and printed the books by normal offset means, and not POD. In fact, it would have made a great deal more sense if Grosvenor House Publishing had actually sent Taylor in to do the interview segment instead. Cross explained that 'no, we don't read the manuscripts' and 'no advice is given', we 'publish a book for an author'. Cross seemed to have a narrower definition for what is meant by 'publishing' than Simon Crump had earlier in the programme.

While we did hear from self-published authors who phoned in and some of them spoke about selling thousands of books, the programme made no mention of William P. Young, Jeremy Robinson or the more recent success of J.A. Konrath. Where Cross really exposed his lack of knowledge on other author solutions services and literary agents was when he incorrectly stated that Lulu had all their books printed in the USA. More glaringly, was his claim that 50 to 60% of manuscripts were not read by literary agents - citing his own experience. Broadly, Cross viewed the publishing landscape as bleak for new authors, believing the chances of landing a mainstream publisher or literary agent as almost 'impossible'. Clearly Cross does not look through the pages of The Bookseller or Publishers Marketplace, week to week.

This should have been an ideal platform for a light to be shone upon self-publishing and its merits, as well as the challenges facing authors who follow this tricky path. Instead, it became another trapdoor for naive authors. It was an equal pity for Grosvenor House Publishing, one of the better and more established author solutions services in the UK - but by no means the best. This programme potentially through its lack of real discussion and delivery of misleading information, simply provided more author cannon fodder for unscrupulous vanity publishers.          

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BBC Radio 2: Jeremy Vine on Self Publishing with Grosvenor House Publishing


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I was only alerted to this BBC Radio 2 midday programme via literary agent Jane Smith's How Publishing Really Works blog. The programme was presented by Jeremy Vine and featured several self-published authors and Kim Cross, MD of Grosvenor House Publishing (POD Index - 244.16), a UK author solutions service.

You can listen to the broadcast again here. By all accounts, Jane Smith's ears were perked by what she feels was some misleading information contained in the programme and the lack of input from mainstream publishers to add balance to the discussion. I should get a chance later today to listen in and I'll give you my own thoughts later this evening.

BBC Radio 2: Jeremy Vine discussing self-publishing.



Sunday, 15 August 2010


PODTV - Program 11: The Future of Books


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A short film I came across last year and included in the PODTV series. The film was made by Francis Grosjean called 'Possible ou Probable' looking at the future of books through the crystal ball into a world where the ebook merges with the physical book. Leave it to the sophisticated French! I thought it appropriate in light of the Mike Shatzkin link I directed to today.


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The printed book’s path to oblivion – The Shatzkin Files


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The printed book’s path to oblivion – The Shatzkin Files

Thursday, 12 August 2010


ReadWriteWeb: 5 Ways e-Books are Better than Paper Books


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Article

Wednesday, 11 August 2010


Confusion, Backtracking at Dorchester After 'All Digital' Headlines


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Confusion, Backtracking at Dorchester After 'All Digital' Headlines

Plastic Logic Go Back to the Drawing Board


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As long as I have been running this site, I've followed the 'long awaited' launch of British company Plastic Logic and the promised launch of their e-reader device, the QUE. The news this week via, The Bookseller, is that Plastic Logic have abandoned plans to launch the QUE.

According to The Bookseller piece this morning, the black and white device was expected to have launched this year at the $649 mark, but the developments by other electronics companies in the past twelve months, combined with the success of giants like Amazon's Kindle and Apple's iPad have forced Plastic Logic to return to the drawing board. In a press statement, Richard Archuleta, CEO of Plastic Logic said:

"We recognise the market has dramatically changed, and with the product delays we have experienced, it no longer makes sense for us to move forward with our first generation electronic reading product. This was a hard decision, but is the best one for our company, our investors and our customers."

It looks like we will see quite a few electronic companies returning to their Laboratories and drawing boards this year to work on second generation devices.

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Tuesday, 10 August 2010


Maverick House Follow Harlequin and Thomas Nelson with Book Republic Imprint


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Irish publisher Maverick House look set to follow in the footsteps of US publishers Harlequin, Thomas Nelson and Hay House with the launch of what they describe as a 'boutique' imprint, Book Republic. The new imprint will specialize in short print runs and limited editions for fiction and non fiction titles. While Maverick House will offer traditional contracts through the new imprint, they will also offer publishing services to authors including subsidy and self-publishing.

On Friday, Jennifer Thompson, Editor with Maverick House, was quoted by Irish Publishing News on the new venture:

"We [Maverick House] will enter into traditional contracts with authors whereby we pay for publication, but the books will not be sold through a traditional retail method. It’s the normal publishing process, but it involves small print runs. At times, we may also enter into profit sharing contracts which gives us greater flexibility to meet our own requirements and the requirements of our authors. Book Republic aims to offer new authors the opportunity to get published and kick-start their writing careers."

Book Republic will use the print on demand model of book availability and distribution, while combining it with specialized short digital print runs, commonly used when several hundred copies are all that is required at a time.

The Book Republic website should be up and running over the coming weeks with the first two titles scheduled for publication in September, with two to three books published per month. Book Republic are currently taking submissions.

What is particularly significant about this is not just that Maverick House are the first mainstream publisher in Ireland to move into the author solutions services market, but that their MD Jean Harrington was recently elected President of Publishing Ireland (CLE).
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Monday, 9 August 2010


Indiana Attorney General Investigates New Century Publishing


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Indiana Attorney General Investigates New Century Publishing

Some Words of Advice to Dorchester Authors | www.publetariat.com


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Some Words of Advice to Dorchester Authors www.publetariat.com

Saturday, 7 August 2010


Dorchester Publishing Goes All Digital


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I was away yesterday and only picked up on the news that independent publisher Dorchester Publishing is to switch its entire business model to e-books and print on demand (for select titles). Dorchester was a publisher of mass market paperbacks, particularly romance and thriller novels. Dorchester will continue to publish and have books printed traditionally for its book club lines, but in essence, they are now a digital publisher, and this is an astonishing and sudden switch which I believe belies more than Dorchester is willing to say about the 25% decline in mass paperback sales last year in the USA.

According to yesterday's Publishers Weekly piece, Dorchester Publishing has already let their field sales team of seven go, with Tim DeYoung remaining on as VP of Sales and Marketing. It is a dramatic move for a publisher like Dorchester to switch their entire model of business, and it strikes me as more a desperate move in desperate times than a carefully executed business strategy. A move of this measure calls for proper business realignment in planned and phased stages, with the introduction of skilled professionals in e-book marketing and digitization at the helm, and I simply don't see any evidence of this.

I think we will be hearing a lot more about this over the coming days and weeks, and in particular, from many Dorchester authors with contracts tying them in over the next year or two. I am also expecting to hear the US Authors Guild make a response on this too, probably early next week.
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Coffee. Publishing. Stealth. Guest blog by Malcolm Thomson | Slush Pile Reader the blog


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Author Malcom Thomson discusses Coffee, stealth, Slush Pile Reader and the other self-publishing site...

Coffee. Publishing. Stealth. Guest blog by Malcolm Thomson | Slush Pile Reader the blog

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


Barnes & Noble for Sale?


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US book retailer Barnes & Noble has yet to officially confirm that company founder and main shareholder Leonard Riggio is contemplating a bid for the whole company with a large investment group. The news reported by Reuters this morning may lead to other interested parties, including billionaire Ron Burkle. Share prices for the company rose by six percent yesterday, but overall, the company share prices have lost half their value in the past year.

According to the Reuters report:

“The pressure on Barnes & Noble to realign its strategy became clearer in June, when it reported a larger loss as it spent money to develop its Nook electronic reader, which is outgunned in the market by Amazon's Kindle and Apple's iPad.”
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