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Off the shelf and behind the cupboard…

If it wasn’t enough trying to write a book and/or getting it onto peoples bookshelves, now we’re being told how we might need to cull certain titles from such shelves, especially if we’re looking to sell our home.

According to TV homes expert Sarah Beeny, homeowners trying to sell their property should hide self-help manuals and novels like 50 Shades of Grey and display cookery books and Dickens instead.

In an article in the Telegraphy she comments that booklovers with teeming shelves should consider packing the majority away and only leave out the best titles. Hardback classics such as Dickens, Austen and Bronte were said to look particularly good on shelves and add character to a home.

The article also concluded that children’s books also create a good impression of a family home but only if they stacked neatly on shelves rather than left lying around on the floor or surfaces. But titles detailing unusual hobbies like taxidermy or witchcraft may deter visitors, as would self-help books and risqué titles that might hint at the owners’ private interests.

Conversely local history and large nature books or even picture led tomes about fashion or music were said to look good on a coffee table and be useful talking points for visitors. Beeny went on to add that books are an unsung hero of home décor and also say a massive amount about you and the home they sit in.

So the question is what do the books you own, write or publish really say about you? If you’re a writer would you rather have a critically acclaimed piece of work that only appealed to a niche audience or a more commercially focused book largely panned by the critics but then went on to sell by the bucket-load all over the world? The same question could be asked of publishers; although I’m pretty sure I know what the answer might be. And for book buyers, what are the guilty secrets from your bookshelves? What might you want to hide, or even flaunt if your house was on the market, if anything?

The fact is that the book market, quite rightly in my opinion, remains hugely subjective and personal. Who’s to say what you should and shouldn’t be ashamed of? Then again I’m not trying to sell a house.  There’s always room to explore new genres, new territories and new authors whether writing, reading or publishing so let’s all champion the books we love and don’t forget to tell your friends, neighbors, potential buyers about them. The book industry needs all the help it can get.

Authors Need to Know Their Rights

When it comes to working in the rights and licensing field it’s not uncommon to be bombarded with questions, especially from indie and self-published authors. In fairness these haven’t always been the simplest of areas to get to grips with and, whilst this is undoubtedly improving, there remains a worrying lack of understanding surrounding the importance of various books rights and licensing. Especially when it comes to markets overseas.

Of course authors want to create the best work possible. And the vast majority want to sell as many copies of their work as possible. Then why is it that so many indie/self-published authors still dedicate 90% of their efforts to the writing and only 10% to the rights/licensing/marketing/promoting/selling? Not all authors’ prime motivation is sales but imagine the pride in seeing their book on bookshelves around the world in a host of different languages – no matter what level of riches this might also offer.

The international market remains an impossible dream for many authors but the reality is that it really doesn’t have to be. I’m not saying it’s easy to break into any old territory because it isn’t. However, advances in technology and a range of communication tools have made them far more accessible for savvy, business-minded authors. And there are a number of available routes. Authors could engage a rights-agent. They could embark upon building a network of contacts themselves and market their book directly to potential publishing partners across a number of territories. Or they could utilise a global platform such as IPR License to showcase their work on a global scale.

Translations are also a good potential route. I now hark back to my earlier comment about fielding questions and one of the most interesting ones lately has been regarding proactive translations from a particularly rights savvy self-published author.

Now the first thing to say is that it’s great to see authors embracing the potential of international rights and licensing, but it’s also prudent to always tread a little carefully when targeting any new market or initiative.

In terms of translations my advice would first be to source an interested and respected publisher in the territory of choice – by any or all of the methods mentioned – and work with them throughout the translation process. Generally speaking a publisher will work with a trusted translator so may be privy to better rates and know the quality of their work. Grants may also be available within some territories which publishers know about and can take advantage of. So, generally speaking, getting work translated with a view to licensing is, more often than not, a waste of time and money without an agreement or offer firmly in place.

It is important to underline that foreign translation rights remain a highly rewarding aspect of the publishing process when done in an effective manner. They create valuable additional revenue streams for publishers and authors and certainly shouldn’t be dismissed. But, as with anything rights or licensing related, publishers and authors need to make sure they do their homework and work with a trusted and knowledgeable partner to get the best result possible when exploring any international marketplace.

Tom Chalmers is Managing Director of IPR License – www.iprlicense.com

Seek permission before reproducing something

Tom ChalmersTom Chalmers is Managing Director at IPR License.

The writer Charles Caleb Colton once said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but in reality that’s not always true, and I’m not just referring to the mocking of Craig David from the old Bo’ Selecta days. In publishing imitation can often be more aligned with litigation than flattery, especially when you throw that dreaded word plagiarism into the mix.

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From small eggs grow mighty IPOs: cracking open the Chegg story

Anna FahertyThis is a guest post from Anna Faherty, an experienced publisher and an award-winning writer and lecturer. Anna teaches on the Kingston University Publishing MA and also works on print and digital projects across the publishing and museum sectors. Her online training courses are used by a wide range of professionals, including global publishers. Follow her on Twitter at @mafunyane.

 

Textbook rental company Chegg announced last week it was hoping to raise $150m in an initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange. So what’s the inside track on the company that was most recently valued at $800m? Continue Reading →

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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The advent of online global platforms

Tom Chalmers Tom Chalmers is Managing Director at IPR License.

Believe it or not it is 40 years, give or take a week, since the first mobile telephone call was made. Martin Cooper, a former Motorola employee, is said to have rang the boss of a rival manufacturer to inform him that he’d lost the race to develop the first portable, hand–held device. I imagine it was a short call. The weight of the phone used to make that call was about the same as a bag of sugar (2lb) and the brick–like battery required, which allowed a talk time of just 30 minutes, took 10 hours to charge.

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The mysterious art of book rights

Tom-pic1Tom Chalmers is Managing Director at IPR License.

Are all authors fully aware of all the rights they hold to their work? Are too many missing out on potential revenue streams by ignoring overseas markets? How many understand their ownership of worldwide book rights?

The sometimes apparently mysterious art of book rights can often be misunderstood or simply ignored. Writers write and then the book sells in vast quantities all over the world. That’s how it works, doesn’t it? Continue Reading →

Gender has no place in media coverage of book awards

The shortlist for one of the most coveted awards in science fiction was announced last week – the Arthur C. Clarke award for 2013 has an incredible line up of SF names, or, if you read The Guardian, is a great testament to male domination of the science fiction genre. Alison Flood’s opening sentence ‘reinforcing science fiction’s image as a boys club’ (sorry Angela Carter, Mira Grant, Connie Wilis, Margaret Atwood – seems your memberships are perhaps not as authentic as we all believed), leaves us little doubt that the following coverage will be everything other than informative. Continue Reading →

Mind, Body, Pet and Other Genre Predictions

There are probably as many genres in the world as there are successful living writers. We all know about misery memoir, chick-lit, sick lit, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, dystopian romance, nostalgia fiction, new adult, adult, space opera etc etc and that amorphous beast we just call ‘literature’, into which falls any book we like but we can’t really pair with an obvious partner. They spring up out of seemingly nowhere and dominate our lives and the charts and have publishers rushing to buy up in bulk. But their popularity isn’t random – it is based on a delicate balance of social factors. Tapping into that idea, I’ve made a list of five genres I predict will be massive in the next few years.

(Please note: this is not an analysis of what defines genre. I’d recommend this article by author Kate Griffin if that’s what you’re looking for. She’s smart as hell and makes some really good points.)

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Three Tips to Preparing for the Bookpocalypse

Last week’s IPG conference unearthed some strong criticisms of high street booksellers from Iain Dale. He slated WH Smith for their “marketing fee”, hit out at Waterstones’ changed buying policy, got angry at Amazon’s demands for discount, and questioned the ethics of buying places on bestseller charts. Importantly, Dale seems quite convinced that we should be preparing for the post-bookshop world. Personally, I’m far more optimistic about the ability of publishers and retailers to work together for mutual benefit, but fortune favours the… prepared. So here are some tips for those of you now anticipating a high street devoid of novels.

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Blackfriars First Digital Literary Imprint in the UK

Blackfriars Books from Little, Brown UKI do love a good first. The first t-shirt day of the summer; the first beer on a night out; the first time you wear a new hoodie. Last week saw the announcement of the first digital-only literary list in the UK, Blackfriars from Little, Brown. The list promises to curate 9 to 12 titles a year from new or established authors, and is launching in June. Now there’s a first to get out of bed for. Continue Reading →

Could Bookish Be The Next Big Online Retailer?

Last week saw the launch of Bookish in the US – a new, and frankly bloody stunning book discovery/online retailer (or as I call them, a ‘social retailer’). They’ve got a brilliant pitch, a stunning site, and features the rest of us have been discussing for a while that we thought may never come to fruition. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. The golden egg, the holy grail, of online book discovery. An algorithm that recommends you books. Not ‘readers also bought’. Not ‘you might also like’. Something that says ‘what’s a book you have read and loved lately?’ and then picks you a bunch more based on what I can only assume is metadata more detailed than a fractal zoom on a mandelbrot set.

I hope you all brought spare underwear. Continue Reading →

Blockbuster, HMV, and the Death of the High Street

Last week, I heard someone say they were surprised by the news that Blockbuster had gone into administration – surprised, because they didn’t know Blockbuster was still going. Very tongue-in-cheek, but then what isn’t funny about the impending closure of a major high street retailer, the loss of thousands of jobs, and a further move to consolidate online retailing in the hands of a select few business megaliths? Continue Reading →

Is Re-Publishing a Self-Published Book a Good Idea?

In the last two years, a lot of publishers have been buying into self-published ebook successes in a big way. There’s the Amanda Hocking trilogy, John Locke (the first man to really “crack” the KDP system and sell one million kindle ebooks), 50 Shades of Grey, and, quite recently, Wool by Hugh Cowey to name a few of the main deals. Some of these have earned seven-figure advances, something debut authors would only dream of. But are they worth it? Continue Reading →

A Compendium of Linguistic Failure: Dictionaries Losing It

One of the most horrific things I heard at university was linguistics tutor spouting the idea that we need to embrace changes to our language as though it is an evolution. We should see words like ‘LOL’ (not a word) or ‘LMFAO’ (not a word)  not as hideous abortions of taste, but as a reflection of cultural change as we begin to broaden our vocabulary to describe our experience. In theory, this sounds all very nice  - we’re getting more inventive with objects, so perhaps we should be so with words – but then you hit a word like ‘pwn’, which is based upon a spelling error, and it all becomes a little too dirty and a little too real. And there is nothing  in any linguistic theory book that can excuse the title of the Black Eyed Peas song ‘I Gotta Feeling‘. Continue Reading →

Futurebook 2012: For the Love of Data

Last week was the Futurebook Conference 2012, run by The Bookseller – a must-attend for most of the publishing industry that goes well beyond the book to look at how our rapidly-changing industry has evolved over the past year, and what our major concerns are at the moment. With an impressive program covering agents, international retailers, self-publishing, and consumer insight, for me the most telling session of the day was the first I attended – a panel on pricing strategies with Paul Rhodes from Orb Entertainment, Michael Tamblyn from Kobo, Eloy Sasot from HarperCollins, Rachel Willmer founder of Luzme.com, and Orna Ross founder of The Alliance of Independent Authors and self-published author. Continue Reading →

Publishers, We Need to Talk

There are very few things in life that make my blood boil more than someone tearing down the industry I work in with false accusations of collusion, underhandedness, and evil doing. So when I see a headline like ‘Why Book Publishers Hate Authors‘ in the Huffington Post, it’s all I can do to stop myself from going into a blind rage and throwing my computer into the ocean, finding the nearest rocket, and blasting myself into the face of the sun. Because what the hell, guys.

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#Amazonageddon Halts US Online Book Purchase For… Several Hours

At some stage last week while I was asleep, buy buttons were removed from Big 6 (5?) publishers Hachette, Penguin, Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster. What followed was a brief turd storm of concern, blame and speculation about what these publishers had done to bring forth the wrath of Bezos, followed by a ‘statement’ from Amazon a while later saying it was a technical glitch (ie: they sent out an email with ‘technical glitch’ as the subject line and blank body text, probs). Continue Reading →

Mergers and Acquisitions: Random House and Penguin

“The two companies have not reached agreement and there is no certainty that the discussions will lead to a transaction.” I think it’s safe to say it is far too early for us to be predicting what colour hair children of a union between Penguin and Random House would lead to, given they themselves haven’t committed to anything more than a date with one another, but when has the lack of a concrete announcement of something stopped media speculation in the past? Still, I feel I’d be remiss to ignore it, given the second most exciting publishing news last week was the appearance of Kindle in bookshops. [Author note: it is not too early. They have finalised the details of the merge this morning, but I'm leaving this paragraph in. News moves fast.] Continue Reading →