Publishing Masters

Four of the many things I learned while doing a Publishing Masters

This is a guest post from Sarah Blake. Sarah is a part-time librarian and current student on the Publishing Masters at City University.

Relating all the things I’ve learned on this course would take a long time, so for now I’ll elaborate on some of the most pertinent points that have cropped up over the year:

1. We don’t need no editorial! (Hear me out.)

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Book Fairs

All authors need the right representation

This is a guest post from Tom Chalmers, Managing Director at IPR License.

Authors are more committed to their agent than to their publisher. That is according to early results from the “Do You Love Your Publisher?” survey for traditionally published authors co-produced by Jane Friedman in the States and Harry Bingham in the UK. However, when asked about the possibility of self-publishing, only a minority of authors were reported to be excited at the prospect, with the majority (75 per cent), either neutral or horrified at the thought of taking control.

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Digital Skills

Corporate Social Responsibility: Not just for hippies

This is a guest post from Jasmin Kirkbride. Jasmin is a regular blogger for BookMachine and Editorial Assistant at Periscope Books (part of Garnet Publishing). She is also a published author and you can find her on Twitter @jasminkirkbride

(for further discussion on how CSR adds value to your business, you might like to attend the OPG Summer Conference in Oxford)

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become an increasingly important part of corporate identities during the last decade. Environmental and social concerns have become core, not just to forerunners such as The Body Shop and Timberland, but even huge corporations such as Starbucks, Unilever, and Walt Disney. The question remains, however: will a commitment to CSR add value to your business as a Publisher?

Defining CSR

In its simplest form, CSR focuses on a triple bottom line of social, environmental and financial responsibility. In an increasing number of countries there are laws stating that, to a greater or lesser degree, each business should be responsible for its actions. Many businesses are choosing to go beyond simple compliance, though, and are creating CSR guidelines and commitments of their own.

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Book Fairs

Technology still needs an audience

In a technological age we all have to think that little bit more about what we say, how we say it and where we say it. After all, what’s said on Google, stays on Google. Well mostly. That’s not to say technology is a hindrance, far from it. It has helped create a platform for voices to be heard and opened up more routes to market than ever before, across many sectors, especially within publishing.

The international publishing arena is a particularly broad, interesting yet intricate marketplace which has evolved greatly in recent times. There have long been many historic complexities to overcome and whilst some linger, technological advances have led to far more doors being opened than closed for publishers.

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Chris

3 lessons writers can learn from the music industry

This is a guest blog from Christopher Russell, author of Mockstars, a music novel inspired by his international tour diaries for rock/pop band The Lightyears.

As someone who has spent over a decade in the trenches of the music industry, when I migrated into the book world last year I was delighted to find that everyone in publishing is spectacularly nice to one another. By contrast, rock ’n’ roll is rather less cuddly – and in fact it’s largely for this reason that I think it has prepared me well for life as an aspiring writer.

With this in mind, here are a few of the transferable lessons:

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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.

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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

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