Friday, 31 August 2012

Author Solutions Remove Jared Silverstone Social Media Accounts

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Is the ASI 'fake social media pages' issue the first sign that new owners Pearson won't tolerate questionable practices or have ASI just been caught with their pants down in public?

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Thursday, 30 August 2012

In The Self-Publishing Kingdom, The One-Eyed Writer is King

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Sue Grafton
Sue Grafton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Okay, so Sue Grafton said self-publishing was for writers too lazy to do the hard work. I'm not so sure what all the fuss is about. Sure, Grafton should have chosen her words more carefully, but, as the self-publishing fraternity dust themselves off after the latest scuffle, they might note the real sense and value in Grafton's comments. I think it is only fair for the record to give the full questions and context Grafton gave her controversial comments:

Do you have any words of wisdom for young writers?
"Quit worrying about publication and master your craft. If you have a good story to tell and if you write it well, the Universe will come to your aid. Don’t self-publish. That’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work."

In light of our Louisville neighbor John Locke’s blockbuster indie sales, and the growing percentage of each best-seller list being filled out by “indie” writers, do you still feel that advice is solid? I know it was the standard advice a few years ago, but is it still good advice?

If so, what hard work are indie success stories too lazy to complete?

Is it possible that indie publishing is more effective than querying agents & publishers, for the new writer? More and more agents and publishers seem to be treating indie books as the new slush pile.

"Good questions. Obviously, I’m not talking about the rare few writers who manage to break out. The indie success stories aren’t the rule. They’re the exception. The self-published books I’ve read are often amateurish. I’ve got one sitting on my desk right now and I’ve received hundreds of them over the years. Sorry about that, but it’s the truth. The hard work is taking the rejection, learning the lessons, and mastering the craft over a period of time. I see way too many writers who complete one novel and start looking for the fame and fortune they’re sure they’re entitled to. To me, it seems disrespectful…that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research. Learning to construct a narrative and create character, learning to balance pace, description, exposition, and dialogue takes a long time. This is not a quick do-it-yourself home project. Self-publishing is a short cut and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts. I compare self-publishing to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall. Don’t get me started. already did."

I think it is important to note that it was the interviewer who introduced the proximity of John Locke and his indie publishing success, combined with the indie vs traditional argument, in light of hearing Grafton’s advice to aspiring writers. [Clearly the interviewer felt the advice of ‘the Universe will come to your aid’ might not be so palatable to many writers today.] Initially, Grafton directed her words at self-published authors, but following a week of criticism from the indie author fraternity and some mature reflection, the US bestselling author conceded that her comments were ‘ill-fated’ and her perception of self-publishing was grounded in the 1970’s.

"I have five unpublished novels still packed away in cardboard boxes, assuming I could lay hands on them which I’m not sure I can. In the ’60′s and 70′s, self-publishing was done through vanity presses which were not highly thought of. Like mystery novels, self-publishing was dismissed as second rate…a non-starter if you were serious about a so-called literary career. It was in this context that I tossed out that ill-fated comment about self-publishing being as good as admitting a writer was ‘too lazy to do the hard work.’

"My remark about self-publishing was meant as a caution, which I think some of you finally understood when we exchanged notes on the subject. When I’m asked for advice I warn many writers about the charlatans lurking out there. I warn about the risk of being taken in by those who promise more than they actually deliver and do so at a writer’s expense. My other point, which I didn’t delineate in that interview, was that the struggle is what teaches us. Learning to be resilient, learning to have courage, learning to take rejection in stride…these are some of the ways the system schools us as painful as it is." (August 15th-rebuttal)

Nevertheless, Grafton’s core point was that there is a lot to be learned by writers going through the critical and rejection hoops of the big bad world of traditional publishing. Whether writers are self or traditionally published, often the best published work comes from the writers who have spent years honing their craft and understanding the 'mechanics' of the publishing world. Indeed, some many of the indie successes of today like Konrath and Locke cut their teeth and built their author platforms soundly in the traditional world of publishing.

If Grafton spoke out of turn, it was that she made generalised comments on a sector of the publishing world she needs to understand a great deal more before leaping into the public arena. Alas, the same criticism could also be levelled at many writers entering self-publishing. The stinging rebukes Grafton was subjected to at least prompted her to engage with the community of writers she had offended and she learned a great deal in a very short space of time from the her last comment above.

Let’s back up a bit here before some things get lost in the fog of time and what I have observed over the past three weeks as being—at times—nothing more than self-publishing hissy-fits by some very, very precious authors. We should start with the theme of laziness, considering this was the accusation laid at the door of self-published authors by Grafton.

Firstly, this is the actual piece in the which sparked off the whole hoopla and the one I used to open this article. The online local newspaper ran an interview with Grafton written by journalist and author, Leslia Tash (the interviewer), though I’m still convinced many people across the blogsphere and other so-called reputable news outlets and online journals (as well as writing forums) who picked up the story actually bothered to fully read the original interview published on August 7th. Certainly, even less people read Leslia Tash’s follow-up piece on August 15th when Grafton asked if the journalist could allow her address the criticism aimed at her comments about self-published authors. Alison Flood, writing in the Guardian UK yesterday, at least presented a full perspective on the story by citing both LouisvilleKY pieces, more than can be said of many bloggers and—it seems—the very precious self-publishing fraternity. For me, that smacks of fighting an accusation of laziness with laziness itself.

It seems to me that Sue Grafton is no more guilty of firing out a generalised comment on an area of publishing she was ignorant of, than the same leap of ignorance many writers make when it comes to self-publishing a book—particularly their first one. Even the most ardent supporter of self-publishing will honestly accept that far too many books enter the market from writers who don’t appreciate the finer points on the craft of writing and publishing like; a good story well executed; professional editing and designed; and a physical or electronic product of quality and value for money. I hear some murmurings and cries of descent from the back…

But publishing houses are the gatekeepers of quality?
But publishing houses put out shitty books too, with typos, bad stories, crappy formatting and at higher prices—it’s not fair!

No, it isn’t. And the point is…what? That good self-publishing is easy? Have you ever heard a really good successful self-published author say that without first trying to jump through the hoops and rejections of traditional publishing? People don’t often talk much about the rejections they have had experienced in life. It’s a human instinct of survival and self-preserve, but writers are one of a few who have turned it into a craft. Have you ever heard anyone say that self-publishing is a licence for every writer not to care about what makes a great book great or that getting a book to market should always take precedence over quality, editing, marketing etc? If you have read something along those lines—you certainly didn’t read it here at The Independent Publishing Magazine. Maybe you are reading too many John Locke or Joe Konrath success stories or reading and listening to too many words from author solutions service providers. No. The core mantra of every self-published author should be:


And, not,


What irks me so much about the hoopla over Sue Grafton’s comments on self-publishing—and to be fair, others have had their say as well in denigrating what self-publishing has to offer, like the recent comments by Jodi Picoult—is the way the self-publishing fraternity sees itself in the world of publishing. In many ways, some self-published authors see themselves as exclusive from the rules of good publishing, yet, believe—almost righteously—that they have a place within the world of publishing, without question. We can’t have it both ways. I’ve always believed that if you wish to break the rules—you must adhere and understand them to begin with. You have to join the club before you can leave it, or at least abide by the rules for a time. It might seem pedantic and simplistic, but it’s why Locke and Konrath are so successful at what they do. They learned over time what was both good and bad about self and traditional publishing before making their choices. They would both like us to believe they are playing the game by their rules—renegades—with two fingers up to what is the established method of publishing tradition, when in reality, both are driven by the same commercial ethos in most publishing houses. The trick of success is making others believe you are riding the special horse in the race and build your brand on that perception. It’s a marketing game where you sell ideas and not just books.

I think what most irked the self-publishing fraternity about Grafton’s comments was not so much the suggestion that they were ‘too lazy to do the hard work’, but they were reminded that the core of a good book stems from the craft of honing your writing talents first and foremost and the hard work of publishing is just one part of the process—not the only part of it. Every writer understands the analogy of the suffering artist, Grafton included, but she dared to draw the line in the sand in a different place than some self-published authors draw it. The argument of course is that Grafton is tarring every self-published author with the same brush. She clearly acknowledged that falsehood within eight days of her original interview and pleaded her ignorance of modern self-publishing and ‘ill-fated’ comments. I would like to see the same graciousness, clarity and reality from many in the self-publishing fraternity who claim to know so much about the world of publishing, how it works/should not work, while also attempting to represent a highly varied array of self-published authors—ranging from the na├»ve and banal, to the gifted and entrepreneurial.

The Guardian UK piece, published on August 29th, includes some quotes from British author, Adam Croft. I’m don't agree with all that he says, and I wonder if he was fully aware of the second rebuttal piece by Sue Grafton on August 15th when he gave this below comment to Alison Flood.

"Self-publishing means finding your own proofreader, finding your own editor, finding your own cover designer (or designing your own), doing all your own marketing and sales work, etc. Having a publisher is lazy as all you need to do is write a half-acceptable book and allow your publisher's editor to make it sales-worthy. Self-publishers must do it all – we have no one else to pick up the slack."

Guardian UK, August 29th

Indeed, hardly a quote from the Stephen Hawkins of publishing—having a publisher is lazy! Work that piece of mental gymnastics out if you will. I’ll give Croft the benefit of the doubt with that ‘doh’ comment having just been stung by the Grafton ‘bite’. I think this was a case of receive a ‘lazy’ insult, throw another back. I’m also not sure what a ‘half-acceptable’ book submission is—answers on a postcard, as they say. Croft is also affording a great deal of praise on editors at publishing houses. I don’t think the best editor in the world can transform a manuscript that isn’t ‘sales-worthy’. After all, this is the very criticism hurled at publishers, day in-day out—that they will only look at manuscripts with high sales potential.

There is an old adage that comes to mind about this whole hoopla over the past few weeks. It begins with throwing stones…you get back what you cast out. Traditional publishing is far from the perfect model of publishing and there is no doubt it has learned a great deal from the self-publishing fraternity over recent years, particularly in the areas of utilising social media and the brand of an author.

Indeed, we can now argue that self-publishing through adopted models and services by mainstream publishers is now very much a part of the book industry no matter how we might suggest it sits easily or uneasily within it. I don’t think Sue Grafton spends her evenings on the veranda in Louisville, Kentucky firing stones across at her indie neighbour, John Locke. I’m sure they both still get along fine.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is ahead for self-publishing and the authors who represent the new wave of modern publishing. It’s time to put down the stones—stop being so damn precious—and start to expend energy on addressing and putting right the issues and concerns it has in its back yard before trying to fix the greater challenges facing the kingdom of publishing.

“In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

Desiderius Erasmus

…or as Orna Ross, founder and director of The Alliance of Independent Authors puts it in the Guardian article…

"Certainly, self-publishers need to guard against the temptation to press the 'publish' button too soon. One of the core objectives of the Alliance of Independent Authors is to foster excellence in the self-publishing sector. We encourage writers to perfect their craft and hire good editors before publishing. Humility, hard work, craft skills, creative development – and their opposite – are found in both the self- and trade publishing sectors. It is impossible to pre-judge an individual writer, or work, on the basis of how they are published."
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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Self-Publish YOUR Book | Echo Creative Media

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Published on German Link
Published on German Link (Photo credit: guioconnor)
Recorded @ Creative Ones Feb 18th 2012 Join 20 year publishing veterans Brenda Noel and Dawn Sherill of Echo Creative Media as they talk about the ins and outs of writing and book publishing.
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Monday, 27 August 2012


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This is the PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX for August 2012. This edition reflects several new review updates as well as new arrivals Book Country and Pumbo.

The top ten sees no change with the top three places, despite LSI's improved colour book program, but BookLocker and Pen Press return. Lulu continues the trend this year of slipping down the ranking index, but should remain in the top ten at least for 2012 with a sizable points gap back to SilverWood Books in tenth. One thing is clear this year. DIY services like Lulu and Blurb are not featuring as strongly this year and CreateSpace has lost the considerable ground it once had on LSI. Nevertheless, the top ten remains dominated by the two US companies with strong global bases across the UK and Europe.

It is a much more mixed story outside the top ten. Aventine remains one of the most consistent companies, rarely too far away from the top ten, despite what I've always felt were reliable, but limited services. In fact, Aventine is one of the companies with the lowest 'negative feedback' over three years I've been correlating this index. The recent review update of Mill City Press, which came about after a half dozen very strong author reviews directly to me, has seen them rise to 13th, the biggest upward move in the past two months. Peter Honsberger's Cold River Studio continues to strengthen its position following a recent service overhaul and ASI's stallwarts, iUniverse and AuthorHouse (post Pearson acquisition), round out the top twenty along with Christian self-publishing service, Xulon Press. Though the latter is a solid and popular self-publishing service in the USA, it has slowly slipped over the past year from a regular top ten position. Apex Publishing, with a strong UK presence, continues to slowly rise up the rankings. It doesn't seem that long ago Apex was outside the top forty.        

Things settle down quite a bit outside the top twenty

Things are very static from 21 to 50 with the exception of two new entries in the PUBLISHING INDEX. Dutch DIY self-publishing service enter for the first time in 43rd, which is remarkably low for a DIY service, but it should be borne in mind that - as yet - Pumbo is directly entirely at the Dutch and Belgian markets and their limited distribution through Central Book represents this. I'm still amazed Pumbo has yet to explore listing internationally on sites like and Penguin's Book Country makes its entrance a little higher at 31, but I still think this is very early days to draw any conclusions and we have yet to see what impact and change Pearson's acquisition of ASI will have on Book Country.

I will leave you with the final placings in the latest PUBLISHING INDEX, rounding out the full rankings from 51 through to 74. Next index will not be until October/November. Two or three months can be a long time in the publishing world!


DIY - Do-it-yourself bespoke sevices
ASS - Author Solutions Services (Packages)
PUB - Also offers Mainstream Contracts
PRT - Printer
FULL - Fulfillment Services provided

The most asked question we get at The Independent Publishing Magazine is often along the lines of; 'What self-publishing service should I go with?'; 'Is so and so a good service to go with?'; or 'Is so and so a scam?'

In some cases, that is an easy question to answer, cut and dry, but in other circumstances, the answer is entirely arbitrary. We are not here to review and run down a company's name, nor are we here to endorse a company's services. If we were only to review author solutions services according to every point in our ideal list of what an author should get from a company offering publishing services; we would have very few reviews to share with you. In truth, no company has ever attained a 10/10, and only a few have recorded more than 08/10. In the autumn of 2010 we will be posting all our reviews with a rating, and any new reviews since February 2010 have automatically had a posted rating at the bottom of the review.

The reality is that some author solutions services begin in a blaze of glory and we might rate them favourably  at the time; others, frankly, are just poor, and yet, they improve (sometimes in response to our reviews) to offer reasonable services for authors. We are constantly updating our reviews, but this takes considerable time, and so do the initial reviews.

We get a vast amount of information from authors and the companies selling author solutions services every day - good and bad. We get a great deal of information from monitoring services week by week against the experiences of what authors report back to us. Simply put, and truthfully, we cannot reflect all of this information through the reviews. That is why the comments section under each company we review is so important. It is your recording and dealings with that specific company, and a positive or negative flag to subsequent authors considering using the same company.

So, how do we reflect the changing ups and downs with services?

We believe the PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX will help to guide authors to services on the up, and those, gradually on the down. If you like, what we are proposing is effectively, a kind of stock exchange for author solutions services.

The PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX was first launched in June 2010.         
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Guest Post: Online Publishing with a Twist | Amanda Meuwissen of BigWorldNetwork

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Combining ebooks, audiobooks and eventual paperbacks in episodic eSeries, may be the new television for books. Guest poster and Managing Editor at BWN, Amanda Meuwissen explains: is The eSeries Network, a new kind of publisher offering serialized online publication of fiction and non-fiction, audio versions of all eSeries episodes, and eventual compilations to turn our authors’ series into paperbacks, ebooks, and audiobooks. We also help create merchandise and sometimes artwork to accompany our authors' stories.

Unlike a traditional novel with a clear endpoint, series on BigWorldNetwork will continue for as long as their readers want more and new seasons are renewed (a season being 12 episodes in length). Our episodic format is also nice for those who do not always have the time to sit down and read a complete novel. The average BWN episode is between 5-9 pages and often less than 15 minutes of listening time for the audio versionsthe perfect length to sit back and relax while catching up on your favorite series.

We are now on our fourth major season, offering a wide range of genres from Science Fiction and Fantasy, to Romance and Mystery, Non-Fiction, and everything in between.

I got involved with BigWorldNetwork before its initial launch in November 2011, first by submitting my own eSeries to the site, The Collector, and then by offering my editing skills to assist the creator of BWN, Jim McGovern, since he did not yet have a staff. Together, Jim and I worked to gather a great team of editors, our eventual Creative Director, Mario Hernandez, to handle various design and other tasks, and a truly stellar lineup of authors and narrators.

What drew me to the site early on was the concept of serialized publication, the chance for eventual compilation as paperbacks and ebooks, and the audio option. As someone who has been active in fanfiction for well over a decade now, I was already quite familiar with episodic format, and the idea of including audio, since podfics—much like podcasts—have become popular amongst underground writing groups.

As Marketing Generalist and Social Media Manager for the digital marketing company Outsell by day, I have been able to add my skills in organization, social media, and my talents as a writer and editor to become much more than just a contributing author to BWN, but a partner, and I could not be happier with the commitment I've made.

I have been an online writer for years, writing articles for several online publications, as well as running my own blog in the past, my company website and blog, and managing screenplay coverage for a company in LA. Becoming Managing Editor of BWN is finally something that is much closer to my true loves—writing and editing.

While Jim McGovern has some background in writing, as well as two English teachers for parents, what really impressed me from the start was his passion for the ideas of the site, and his support of the modern writer. Traditional publishing can be brutal. BWN is dedicated to producing quality material, but we also feel that publishing should be a positive experience, where writers share ideas, less-polished work has a chance for additional editing before being rejected, and unknown writers can showcase their stories alongside veterans.

We have been blessed with over 35 series so far from new and already published authors alike. We offer an alternative to traditional publishing that can provide a new outlet for writers, in some cases allowing authors to produce prequels for their previously published works, take a break from the hassle of self-publishing, especially for those authors less familiar with it, and it can also be a great way to get a new author's name out there.

Even though BWN has been around for less than a year, we have grown exponentially each month in traffic and interest in publishing with our site, which couldn’t make us more proud.

One of the first eSeries we completed and published as a compilation was Homecoming by Heather Justesen, a very popular self-published author, who also has a book on print-on-demand and how to correctly typeset and prepare a manuscript for print, POD Like a Pro: An Author's Guide to Typesetting and Formatting a Print Book. Some of our initial authors with experience like Heather have been paramount in our early success, helping spread the word not only for readers and listeners, but for additional submissions.

Our biggest challenge is the same as it is for many in the indie publishing industry: bringing in revenue. We want to be here for the authors first, so it is our goal to provide our authors with payment for their series and adequate percentage on sales of compilations before we ever see a dime ourselves.

One way we are hoping to expand the site and better bring in revenue is by using an Indiegogo campaign to help purchase a dedicated server to support the large file size of audio, as well as our growing viewership, and to help create mobile and tablet apps to make reading and listening our eSeries even easier. You can visit and support our campaign here.

But we couldn't do any of it without the incredible support of our staff and the writers and narrators who provide our content. We feel truly blessed to hear some of their comments after almost a year of working with us:

"I love the idea of books in episode format online, and BWN has done an excellent job of creating exposure for literature on iTunes!  The world of publishing has definitely changed and is helping to mold the future of literature!" -Trina Boice, author of How to Stay UP in a DOWN Economy

" has given me a whole new way to showcase my writing and to reach more readers than ever before. This is a cutting-edge idea with fantastic people at the helm, and I've loved every minute of my experience." -Tristi Pinkston, author of Taking Out the Trash 

We really feel like we are doing something different, especially with our personal touch that we never plan to lose. We carefully look through every submission that comes through, which we request be a synopsis of the series idea and the first episode, and we take the time to offer suggestions for improvement even on series we don't feel are right or ready for the site. We also encourage repeat submissions, and in fact, some of our current series were initially rejected, but the authors came back with a more polished submission and have been a joy to work with ever since.  

We want to be an outlet for improvement in writing as well as for publication, because we love what we do, we know that true writers love what they do, and everyone deserves the opportunity to display their passions. is open for submissions and will work with accepted series for whatever upcoming season works best for them. Authors can give us an entire series at once, a season at a time, or episode by episode following our guidelines. We are also interested in additional narrators, editors, or people with graphic design and art experience, as all of these aspects come together at our site to create a truly unique experience for the authors and for their fans.

Amanda Meuwissen is the Managing Editor for and oversees editing and series selection. She is also featured as a narrator for several BWN series.

Amanda Meuwissen - Photo by: Stephen Stephens

Amanda Meuwissen - Photo by: Stephen Stephens

She has a Bachelor of Arts in a personally designed major from St. Olaf College in Creative Writing, and has been writing and posting fiction and blog articles online for many years, including maintaining the company blog for the digital marketing firm Outsell LLC. Amanda spent a summer writing screenplay script coverages for a company in L.A. Currently, she is a Marketing Associate and Social Media Manager for Outsell in Minneapolis, and remains an avid writer and consumer of fiction through film, prose, and video games.

About began in early 2011, created to offer a distinct and entertaining way to read and enjoy both fiction and non-fiction in an episodic format, not unlike a television series. The concept is unique in today’s world of tablet readers and mobile devices, but not new. Series writing has been around since before the 1800s, and many authors have gotten their start by publishing with serialized installments (including Charles Dickens).

Unlike a traditional novel with a clear endpoint, series on will continue for as long as their readers want more and new seasons are renewed. Our serialized format is also nice for those who do not always have the time to sit down and read a complete novel. The average episode is between 4-7 pages, the perfect length to sit back and relax while catching up on your favorite series. We have also created an exciting, creative outlet for our writers. Many works published on will go on to be published as complete eBook and print anthologies in the future.

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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

eBooks For The Bookshelf | Boxette

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Have you heard the one about the man who goes into his local bookstore and asks the assistant, 'where are all those ebooks I keep hearing about? I can't find a single one on any of your shelves.' Well, the store assistant might have laughed, but Boxette, a Manchester UK-based ebook production company, is not not laughing at all. Though, it might be if their ebook 'Boxette' products take off.

What's a Boxette?

It's an ebook in a box, saved in several formats on a USB stick. The ebook can be loaded directly to your PC or ereader and currently comes in Kindle (Mobi), ePub and PDF formats. Boxette, a division of This Written Word, intends to get the ebook product stocked in brick and mortar stores like Waterstones and WH Smith. Each Boxette comes in a presentation gift box styled in the shape of a book and complete with a USB stick and 24-page biographical booklet about the author.

Boxette was only founded in January of this year by Neil Porteous, a director of This Written Word, with the help of funding from the UK government. The first book, a Charles Dickens 200th Anniversary Collection, will be offically launched in September this year with a retail price of £19.99 and will be initially available through another recent start-up, Zola Books, a New York-based social ereader and bookstore originally launched to aid independent booksellers when the Google eBooks re-seller program ends in January 2013.

Boxette will be relying heavily on the idea of books as unique physical gifts for the success of this venture. I can see a multitude of crossover products from the art and educational wold working with this type of format as long as it is marketed widely and Boxette is prepared to be flexible with the original concept. 

Boxette say that future releases will include The Sherlock Holmes Collection, HG Wells and Beatrix Potter, together with collections from contemporary writers.
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