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My London Book Fair Week #lbf14 [DIARY]

LBF 2014

Photo © BookMachine



The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2014 shortlist was announced in style at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in Kensington Gardens. The party was buzzing with creative and passionate women including Kate Mosse, Mary Beard, Helen Fraser and Sarah Walters. It was a beautiful event to celebrate excellent writing from the following female novelists:

  • Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
  • Burial Rights – Hannah Kent
  • The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri
  • A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing – Eimear McBride
  • The Undertaking – Audrey Magee
  • The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

The winner will be announced on 4 June 2014.



The first day of the fair saw a giant choccywoccydoodah cake, the SYP seminars How to get into publishing & How to get ahead in publishing and the announcement of another shortlist.

I announced the Kim Scott Walwyn shortlist at the beginning of our second seminar. This is an award that celebrates exceptional female publishers:

  • Melissa Cox – Children’s New Titles Buyer at Waterstones
  • Lindsey Dalladay – Community Manager at Penguin Random House
  • Sarah Hesketh – Freelance Project Manager at The Poetry Translation Centre
  • Hellie Ogden – Literary Agent at Janklow & Nesbit
  • Anne Perry- Editor at Hodder & Stoughton

The winner will be announced on 13 May 2014.



The place to be was BookMachine pre-drinks at the fair and then the rockin Kobo party at Underbelly in Hoxton Square.



A few of us from the SYP went along to The Bookseller drinks — I had a Q&A in Tuesday’s LBF Daily and wanted to celebrate my newfound fame.



After a fabulous week, I was well and truly ready for bed! Instead I went out in Soho with a friend I met interning a couple of years ago. #TGIF

BookMachine’s blook: the project and the process

So, you may have heard, BookMachine have teamed up with Kingston University Press to publish a collection of blog posts. It’s called Snapshots: Bookmachine on digital, discoverability and collaboration and will be available in print and as an ebook. The blook was edited, designed and produced by a small team of students with next-to-no experience in book production, and they had just 7 weeks do it in. Sounds like a tall order? This is how we did it …

Lecturers Anna Faherty and Judith Watts from Kingston University’s Publishing MA course instigated, organised and have overseen the process. Without their round-the-clock dedication this project wouldn’t have even made it out of the pipeline.

They appointed an editor and project manager from the course (myself) to contact the 46 authors and contributors, collate the manuscript, brief the students and communicate with everyone (a lot).

Entrusted with content from some of the biggest names in the industry, what the student production team achieved in the given time was no mean feat. They took the basic manuscript and copy-edited, designed, typeset, proofread and converted it into an ebook – all the while juggling their other deadlines, internships and jobs.

And the result? We now have a professional-looking product that will sit proudly on our bookshelves (and e-readers) for years to come, and the practical knowledge and experience we need to fuel our future careers.

So take two amazing tutors, a dynamic and future-focused client and students with buckets full of enthusiasm, and you can get a lot more done than you might think.

You can read more about the blook here, or meet the team and get a sneak preview at BookMachine’s event at The London Book Fair.

Book-ish events in NYC in December

As the holiday season picks up, New York does not forget the gift of words. Check out these bookish December events.

December 2: The Half King Reading Series
Featuring: Jeffrey Lewis, “The Inquisitor’s Diary”

Jeffrey Lewis is the author of Meritocracy: A Love Story, The Conference of the Birds, Theme Song for an Old Show, and Adam the King—four novels that comprise The Meritocracy Quartet, to be published as one volume in 2013 by Haus—and Berlin Cantata. He has twice been the recipient of the Independent Publishers Gold Medals for Literary Fiction and has won two Emmys and the Writers’ Guild Award for his work as a writer and producer on the critically acclaimed television series Hill Street Blues.

Where: The Half King, 505 w. 23rd Street
Time: 7pm
Price: Free

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New tech company Saundz enters the world of English Language Teaching (ELT)

Sophie O’Rourke has a keen interest in ELT developments. Here she speaks to Milena Jerkov Bibic at Saundz, a high-tech pronunciation software for language learners, to find out how they are intending to help English Language Learners across the world. 

It is estimated that there are around 2 billion English language learners around the world currently trying to learn English. And of those who are being taught, in schools, on-line and with one to one tuition, very few students have access to native English-speaking teachers. And the one area of English language learning that becomes much more difficult to teach with a non-native speaking teacher is the pronunciation of sounds, phrases and words. There are many tools being developed by start-ups who are seeing the gaps in the market and identifying and creating programmes to reach large audiences. One of those new companies which is doing just this is American based They are interesting because they are using technology to fill a face to face skills gap at grass-roots level but are also building a community at the same time.

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Literacy research: Is writing cool? [VIEWPOINT]

Tom ChalmersTom Chalmers is Managing Director at IPR License.

Is writing cool? Actually is the word cool cool? What exactly is cool anyway? Well not writing, at least according to 8-16 year old boys.

Recent research compiled in the report “Children and Young People’s Writing in 2012″ by the National Literacy Trust suggested that one in five boys said they would be embarrassed if friends saw them write, compared to one in eight girls, and boys were less likely to say writing was “cool” (26.8% compared to 35.2%).

Out of the 35,000 8-16 year olds surveyed for the report, 8.6% of the boys said they didn’t enjoy writing, compared to 20.9% of girls. And while 32.6% of girls said they write outside of class on a daily basis, 30.2% of boys said they never or rarely did.

Now I’m certainly not having a go at the National Literary Trust but including the very 90’s word of cool is indicative of how publishing, writing and reading is reflected amongst the 8-16 age bracket. Maybe if words such as sick, dope, the shiz, nasty, or even awesome had been used percentages might have risen. Continue Reading →

From Jeffbots to editorbots

Piers Blofield

This is a guest post from Piers Blofeld. Piers is an Agent at Sheil Land Associates where he represents both fiction and non-fiction clients. He represented the Frankenstein app by Dave Morris which topped the app charts on both sides of the Atlantic this summer. A recent success is Jamie Thomson’s Dark Lord: The Teenage Years, the winner of the Roald Dahl Prize.

The most amazing thing – of all the amazing things – that Amazon has done is to have gathered a wholly unprecedented body of data about the world’s reading habits. Traditionally, publishers and booksellers have simply known what people buy. Once the book is in the hands of the reader and out of the store it is, quite literally, a closed book to them. For Amazon it is different. They not only know what people buy, but when they buy, and, much more importantly, how they read.

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BookMachine Everywhere [REVIEW]

This is a guest post from Charlotte Whitbread, Business Manager, at Book Industry Communications Ltd.

On 25 September 2013 BookMachine (@BookMachine) held simultaneous events across the globe, covering 6 cities, 4 countries and 2 continents. With book trade professionals gathering in Barcelona, Brighton, London, New York, Oxford and Toronto, the international nature of the book market has never been felt so keenly as it was for me then, in the depths of a pub near Great Portland Street! Books may be evolving faster and travelling further than ever, but the pub was certainly not: no card payments under £5 – it’s 2013, not 1302 my good barman. However, thanks to generous sponsor PLS (A loyal BIC Member! @BIC1UK), there was wine a plenty.

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Yesterday’s Luggage [an author's tale]

Rob ShermanRob Sherman is a 25 year-old writer and musician from London. His favourite topics include wholegrain, gods with more than one face, and cryptozoology, as well as his own suppurating, horrific body. This is his first guest blog post on BookMachine.

My name is Rob Sherman, or elsewhere the Hogherd, and I would like to tell you the story of how I came by this second, more mythical moniker. It is the story of how I became a full-time author, an occupation of which I have dreamed since I was very small. It is a story that I could not replicate at any other time in history; as tellers of stories, we live in a time when life has never been easier, harder, or more terrifying, and when a combination of luck and a strong lifting arm can lead to one of the largest publishers in the world taking a punt on one’s ludicrous idea. As I say, my story is one that more and more young writers can tell, and are being given the opportunity to tell, by the rise of the digital environment.

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The accessible author? Writing in the 21st Century

One of the things that has changed, in this new socially-enabled world we live in, is the accessibility of authors.

This is not just about me. Writers such as Chuck Palahniuk (The Fight Club), Paul Coelho (The Alchemist) and Margaret Atwood (The Handmaids Tale) are all Tweeting. These are among the most popular authors in the world. There are lots more at it too. Here is a list of 100 mainly US authors for starters. (click here)

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An interesting tale about licensing revenue streams

Tom ChalmersTom Chalmers is Managing Director at IPR License.

Everyone loves a worst, best, average, largest, smallest, most bizarre top 10, top 20, or even top 149 list, don’t they?   Or is it just me. Many of these relate to dodgy book covers, terrible titles, opening lines with the strongest impact and my personal favourite the downright cringe-worthy book to film adaptations. I’m currently shuddering at the thought of Jack Black in Gulliver’s Travels and the general shambolic interpretations of The Cat in the Hat, Catch 22 and The Bonfire of the Vanities.

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Navigating the collaborative whirlpool: five tips for gliding through challenging publishing projects

ivana picWe’ve all encountered the notion that being thrown into the deep end of the pool is the most effective way to learn how to swim. But really, it’s the most effective way to defeat the fear of sinking (when you eventually realize you can float). Managing collaborative projects feels much the same; if you jump right in you won’t learn to swim right away, but it’s a great starting point for learning how to get things done.

After tackling the collaborative challenge of designing, typesetting and producing the new Kingston University Press book Martinis, Masterclasses and Space Missions in just a few weeks, I’ve come up with five tips to help avoid floating in organizational chaos:

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My book’s been gazumped by Dan Brown!

laura-palmerThis is a guest post from Laura Palmer, the extremely talented Editorial Director and co-founder of Head of Zeus.

When I tell people I work in fiction publishing, the first thing they want to know is whether I spend my working day reading novels. I wish I could say yes. But the truth is that if you work for a small Independent start-up, like I do, you spend a lot of time doing important-but-boring things (proofreading ISBNS, maximising discoverability by optimising territory metadata encoded in ISBNs) and not much time doing important-but-fun things (reading great scripts, schmoozing agents to persuade them to send you great scripts). The result: your isbns are perfect. Your chances of finding the next bestseller are not. When you are squeezing your search into snatched evenings, weekends, and morning commutes, it makes it all the more exciting when one falls into your lap.

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A week at The London Book Fair [REPORT]

Tom Chalmers

Tom Chalmers is Managing Director at IPR License.

If I’m honest the London Book Fair almost broke me (in a good way). 60 meetings in three days whilst battling the potentially deadly man-flu virus has left me a shadow of my former self but pull myself together I will. In fact have to in order to close a number of the deals as a result of these meetings.

A typical day at the Fair would see me arriving around 8.30, grabbing a coffee, popping a couple of paracetamol then quickly reading the latest fair news before dashing off for a mountain of meetings that had been lined up beforehand. If there was time to grab a sandwich at some point during the day then that would be a bonus, with copious amounts of coffee offering a helping hand along the way.

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Reasons to celebrate Iain Banks while we have the chance

Yesterday’s shattering news that Iain Banks has terminal cancer and, at this point, is expected to live for less than a year is difficult to write about for many reasons, not least of which is resisting the temptation to turn in some sort of living eulogy. The widely beloved author of, amongst many others, The Crow Road, The Wasp Factory, The Bridge and Complicity, and, as Iain M. Banks, the Culture series of science fiction novels, would also surely abhor any notion of soliciting prayers, or ‘sending positive thoughts’, or being subject to maudlin rending of garments, or any such thing. What follows, then, is a few muddled, scattered, still reeling reasons, from a fan, why we should put such thoughts aside and celebrate Banks while we still have him amongst us: Continue Reading →

Publishing Trends: A Writer’s Perspective

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘publishing trends.’  I wrote this piece on new adult lit and soon after attended a panel discussion organised by Children’s Book Circle on ‘Sick-Lit’ a publishing trend identified and bemoaned by The Daily Mail in this article.

A lot of things came up in the discussion but one of the best points was made by author Anthony McGowan.  He shared how sceptical he was of trends in general as slapping a label on a group of books that have similar plots or themes deals only with concepts, not characters or writing.  Trends mean that books that are widely different can get lumped together, which isn’t what good writing is about.

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Couch to London Marathon – help us support Book Aid [BLOG]

Gavin - Marathon for Book Aid

This guy definitely ain’t Born to Run, but it’s all for Book Aid, a great cause.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

It’s only a month to go. Gulp.

In 33 days I’ll be running the London Marathon: the culmination of a stop-start, alcohol free, 4 months of lurching from couch to 26 miles.

I’m doing this in support of Book Aid International, a fantastic charity, and one very familiar to us publishing-types. Book Aid works to increase access to books and support literacy, education and development in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Amazingly, Barnes & Noble has a hip-hop bio section for kids

A massive tip of the hat to the A.V. Club for the wonderful discovery that the online store of American bookseller Barnes & Noble has an entire section entitled ‘Rap and hiphop musicians – Biography – Children’s nonfiction‘ and, by subsequent implication, that there is a burgeoning subgenre (seventy-four entries!) dedicated to ensuring the youth of today has a foundational knowledge of, say, the Roxanne Wars. No more will parents have to endure the awkward conversation that ensues when their progeny ask ‘Dad, what’s a Queen Latifah?’, able instead to hand over one of the six titles deemed suitable for kids that will answer any questions they might have about how exactly Mama Gave Birth to the Soul Children. Continue Reading →

Be proud of your work and remember Kim Scott Walwyn

Andy_TurnerAndrew Turner is Vice-Chair of the Society of Young Publishers.  He is a graduate of Kingston University’s Publishing MA and works as a Marketing Executive at Nelson Croom, an award-winning E-Learning company.  Follow him on Twitter @justandy21.


One of the many, and unexpected, honours which come along with being chair of the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) is a place on the judging panel of the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize, which for me is an even bigger honour as I will be the first ever man to sit on the panel.

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