25 November this year marks 40 years since the death of singer-songwriter Nick Drake, aged 26, from an overdose of antidepressants, the intentionality of which has never been ascertained. Of the three albums of alternately lush and brittle songs he left behind – 1969’s Five Leaves Left, 1970’s Bryter Layter and 1972’s Pink Moon – the latter two each sold fewer than 5,000 copies during his lifetime. Drake’s critical and commercial cachet has risen significantly since his death, and in recognition of his 40th anniversary his estate has authorised for the first time a book on Drake’s life.
Crime writing festival Bloody Scotland has revealed the shortlist for its Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year, whose winner will be announced as part of this year’s festival in September. The nominees are an even split between three genre veterans – Chris Brookmyre’s Flesh Wounds (Little, Brown), Louise Welsh’s A Lovely Way to Burn (Hodder & Stoughton), Peter May’s Entry Island (Quercus) – and books by three debuting authors: Nicola White’s In the Rosary Garden (Cargo), Neil Broadfoot’s Falling Fast (Saraband) and Natalie Haynes’ The Amber Fury (Corvus). The winner will take home £1,000 and be promoted in Waterstones branches across the country.
When the Man Booker Prize announced last September that, as of the 2014 prize, the field of nominees would be expanded beyond the borders of the Commonwealth to any novelist worldwide writing in English and published in Britain, it promised to ‘celebrate and embrace authors [...] whether from Chicago, Sheffield or Shanghai.’ In practice, the unveiling of the 13 titles that comprise the 2014 longlist suggests that what that really meant was ‘we can nominate Americans now too’.
Last week finally saw the release of an ebook edition of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, and this week brings with it the publication of Marja Mills’ biography of Lee, The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee, charting Mills’ friendship with Lee and her sister Alice having moved next door to and spent time with them over a period of years. Penguin Press says of the book:
This year’s Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award has been presented to Young Skins, the debut collection of Irish writer Colin Barrett. 32 year old Barrett beat out fellow nominees A.L. Kennedy, Lorrie Moore, Laura van den Berg, Ben Marcus and fellow debutant Phil Klay to take the €25,000 award, reputedly the most lucrative short story prize in the world. His book was first published in Ireland in 2013 by Stinging Fly Press, with Jonathan Cape handling it in the UK this year and Grove Atlantic taking it to the United States in 2015. Its win was decided upon by judges Manuel Gonzales, Alison MacLeod and Matthew Sweeney.
As you’ve no doubt heard by now, J.K. Rowling yesterday posted a new, 1,500 word Harry Potter story on Pottermore, the series’ subscription-only web platform. “Dumbledore’s Army Reunites” is written as a newspaper article by the books’ resident tabloid hack Rita Skeeter, and finds Rowling’s teenage heroes now in their mid-30s and attending the Quidditch World Cup. Naturally, Rowling’s avid fans got a wee bit excited and, even though you might expect the site to brace itself for the inevitability that every one of its subscribers would instantly want to read the first new material in the series for seven years, Pottermore crashed soon after the story went live. The site is now fully operational again, however, so fans can read the story over and over as they wait in line at Universal Studios’ new Diagon Alley attraction, which coincidentally (ahem) also opened yesterday.
HarperCollins is extending its Killer Reads web presence – a promotional tool and online community for its crime titles since 2009 – into a digital-first crime and thriller imprint, and the publisher has revealed that it will launch the list with titles discovered via open submission. For one week only between 29 August and 4 September, the label will accept all the manuscripts the crime writers of the world can throw at it regardless of whether or not they have agents. After its launch Killer Reads hopes to put out one or two digital titles a month, so the search for new authors is presumably a method of shoring up its backlog in order to sustain that model. It follows a similar move from HarperCollins’ speculative fiction imprint, Harper Voyager, in 2012.
We already know that print sales declined in 2013 (as they have year on year for a while now), dropping in value from £1.514 billion in 2012 to £1.416 billion – a slump of £98 million, 6.5% of total print sales in 2012. We also know that the decline in print books sold year on year was even more precipitous, dropping 9.8% from around 203.9 million units sold in 2012 to 183.9 million. Now Nielsen has released the results of its Book Survey analysing the damage in more detail, showing an overall decline of 4% in UK book sales across print and digital and pointing out one major contributing factor in particular – a fall in the number of books bought as gifts.
As if a piddling thing like dying last year is any kind of obstacle to a man of his stature – new material is forthcoming from the mighty Elmore Leonard in 2015. Well, ‘new’ – Weidenfeld & Nicolson is set to publish a single volume containing 15 of Leonard’s previously unavailable short stories dating from his tenure as a copywriter at a Detroit ad agency in the 1950s, around the time he first started writing novels and before he was earning enough to support himself from that latter pursuit. HarperCollins holds the US rights to the volume.
Inspired Selection are kindly sponsoring BookMachine London with Sam Missingham on Tuesday 22nd July. This is a guest post from Suzy Asbury, Managing Director, about the changing world of publishing.
While some sectors within publishing are changing quicker than others and in different ways, it’s safe to say that all are changing fairly rapidly.
Publishing is becoming content creation and content is becoming interactive rather than words on a page. Roles are changing too; marketing is ripening into a data and product driven team and editors are evolving into more technical versions of their former selves. It is almost impossible to move into a job that you’ve already done and the advice I was given at the outset of my career is now the very essence of publishing careers – do something to stretch yourself, not just something you can already do. Take it by the horns and don’t be afraid; a new challenge whether it’s with your current employer or a new one, is the best way to keep on top of the industry and to get ahead.
The market post recession is a completely different place to be in the jobs market. We are finding at Inspired Selection that our candidates are much more focussed on company’s strategic direction, digital plans and growth opportunities. They want to be surrounded by inspirational and visionary people. They are not just looking for more money but an opportunity that is going to stretch them. Career progression is EVERYTHING now.
There has never been a better time to be in publishing. Publishing is pushing all its boundaries. Inspired are sponsoring this event with the BookMachine as it exhibits a great example of how innovative publishers are becoming. Sam Missingham is going to demonstrate how challenging a traditional model can gain you immediate and new access to talent in authors as well as to the readers themselves by creating a virtual community who gather in cyberspace, drawn by their interest in the books.
Inspired are very excited to be in our 15th year. With such a strong team in place at Inspired, we too are growing in the UK and Internationally. This year will see more consultants start with us; coming from publishing backgrounds we train our consultants in recruitment skills. The mix of skills, passion and knowledge makes us a great place for you to come and talk to us about your career and how to get ahead.
Laura from BookMachine also asked what we thought the top skills were that publishers are looking for so I have included a link to our blog where we summarised this following #lbf14.
To get in touch do visit our website www.inspiredselection.com or call us on 02036686733 for a confidential chat.
Last Wednesday at 11am we hosted the first #BookMachine Twitter Chat of 2014. The topic of debate was: Will we all be meeting face-to-face in 10 years time?
The question has already been answered in different industries but we wanted to know the answer for the publishing industry.
The discussion consisted of topics such as the importance of personal interaction in business, the role of innovative tools like Hangouts which enable you to have a face-to-face conversations and the new platform to buy and sell rights. Have a look at our Storify.
The Twitter Chat flowed from the general question to more in detail discussions about the best way to do business. Publishers logged on from both Spain and the UK. It was a multicultural and enriching experience for all involved.
Although there was an agreement on the relevance of digital meeting tools as a productive method of conducting business in the publishing industry, the resounding opinion was that the face-to-face interactions are and will be essential now and in the future.
Thanks to everyone who participated and shared their thoughts. We hope to meet online and offline again soon.
2015 marks 150 years since the initial publication of Lewis Carroll’s immortal Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and to mark the occasion Carroll’s publisher, Macmillan, is releasing new editions of both Carroll’s own work and contextual material for the books
along with a remastered 48th anniversary limited edition 12″ of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”.