Today sees Readership – a new digital publishing platform – open for submissions. Writers seeking publication can upload extracts of their work to the site, where readers can cast a critical eye over the opening line, the first chapter and/or the second chapter, then decide if they’re interested enough to read more.
BBC Culture – the BBC’s international arts section (inaccessible from the UK because it’s not paid for by the license fee) – has revealed the results of its poll of US literary critics on the greatest novels of the 21st century to date.
This year’s Kim Scott Walwyn Prize, celebrating the achievements of women in UK publishing, is now open for nominations and entries. Those looking to nominate a co-worker or other acquaintance should complete a nomination form online by 5pm on Friday 30 January, to allow said nominee time herself to complete an entry form by 5pm on Friday 20 February, alongside anyone immodest enough to skip the nomination stage and go straight to the entry form. The shortlist for this year’s prize will then be revealed in April, before the winner is announced at a ceremony on Wednesday 20 May.
BookMachine will act as a media partner on a single-day course for authors to take place at Kingston University on Saturday 28 March. Is Everyone Now A Publisher? will provide an overview of ‘the publishing and writing landscape’, advice on preparing manuscripts for publication and opportunities for networking. Tickets are £115 apiece if bought before 30 January, £130 afterwards, with tickets for Kingston University staff and students available at the reduced rate of £90 throughout.
This year’s T. S. Eliot Prize for poetry has been awarded to David Harsent for his collection Fire Songs. Published by Faber, it is Harsent’s eleventh collection to date, his fifth to be nominated for the T. S. Eliot Prize and his first to win. The poet claims a prize of £20,000 – an increase of £5,000 from the usual £15,000 in honour of the 50th anniversary of Eliot’s death (bet Sinéad Morrissey wishes she’d held off on publishing for just a few more months).
Haruki Murakami – most fervently adored novelist in Japan, cult hero worldwide, perennially tipped Nobel contender – is set to solicit questions from fans that he will answer through a column on a new website named Murakami-san no tokoro (Mr Murakami’s Place). Murakami’s publishers, Shinchosha Publishing, say the author ‘will receive questions of any kind’ and in ‘a variety of languages’, whether about himself or simply seeking his sagacity on a pressing issue.
Following in the footsteps of such luminaries as Oprah Winfrey and Richard & Judy, Mark Zuckerberg has started a massive book group for his fans. In a post on his personal page over the weekend, the Facebook founder said that his ‘challenge for 2015’ is ‘to read a new book every other week’ (presumably bringing him up to 26 in total across the year), particularly focusing on ‘learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies.’
Judy Blume is primarily known for her beloved novels for young people but she has also written for adults throughout her long career, most recently 1998’s coming of age tale Summer Sisters. In the 16 years since, Blume has maintained a fairly relaxed work rate – editing a collection of short stories by authors censored in the USA (1999), a fourth entry in her Fudge series of children’s books (2002), a couple of picture books (2007, 2008). Next year, however, she is set to reemerge with a new novel for older readers, one based around a mysterious series of plane crashes that took place in the same New Jersey town over a three month period in the early 1950s.
Later today (16/12) the House of Commons will vote on a bill brought forward by Labour MP Sarah Champion that would make the need for large companies to reveal the disparities in their workers’ salaries legally binding. If passed, the bill could make for some uncomfortable publicity for publishing firms in particular, with a recent survey carried out by independent careers consultancy Bookcareers.com suggesting industry-wide failures on the gender wage gap and the disparity between entry level and salary average pay.
Though online activity may offer the illusion of anonymity and impermanence – of a malleable realm where we can throw caution to the Vonnegut and not care how careful we are about who we pretend to be – everything leaves a footprint, as anyone who’s ever requested their tweet archive has no doubt discovered to their chagrin. Now, with the advent of e-readers, you can’t even do a simple thing like lie about having finished Infinite Jest or skipped merrily through Ulysses in under a week without cold digital evidence to contradict your claims: Kobo has released figures illustrating which books downloaded by British readers this year most often went unfinished.