Author: Chris Ward

Chris Ward writes and says things about books and music and films and what have you, even when no one is reading or listening.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.

Longlist unveiled for 2015 Man Booker Prize

The initial round of nominees for this year’s Man Booker Prize has been revealed with the unveiling of the 13-strong longlist. Now, for the second year in a row, open to any author writing in English and published in the UK (as opposed to writers from the UK, Ireland, Commonwealth and Zimbabwe alone), the list has a decidedly international bent, featuring a mere three nominees from the UK and five from the USA.

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BookMachine co-founder Laura Summers has been awarded proxime accesserunt (runner-up) at this year’s Young Stationers’ Prize. Judges called her ‘forward-thinking’, ‘innovative’ and possessed of ‘masses of drive’, and said of BookMachine itself: ‘a great idea, and she’s executed it brilliantly’.

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Bello – the digital imprint of Pan Macmillan focused on republishing out of print books – is set to release eleven novels for adults by Richmal Crompton, author of the celebrated Just William series of children’s books.

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Paula Hawkins’ novel The Girl on the Train has broken UK sales records this week, claiming its 20th consecutive week atop the hardback fiction bestseller lists. It overtakes Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, which stayed at number one for 19 weeks following its release in September 2009, to become the longest reigning bestseller since Nielsen BookScan began monitoring sales in 2001. Not only has it stayed at the top of the hardback chart for longer than any other title, it is second only to Brown’s The Da Vinci Code – which stayed at number one in the paperback chart for a jaw-dropping 65 weeks – in most weeks held at the top of any book chart.

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Today (2 July) sees the launch of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2016, the latest instalment of the annual directory for writers, designers, illustrators and photographers. Published by Bloomsbury, the book contains 4,500 key industry listings, alongside information on copyright, finance, submitting a manuscript, e-publishing, self-publishing, agents, publishers, prizes and awards. New additions this year include articles on writing historical fiction, writing about food, travel writing, becoming a published poet and electronic publishing.

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The longlist has been revealed for the 2015 Warwick Prize for Writing, presented every two years by the University of Warwick to writing in English of any genre, form or nationality. Nominations come from staff, students and alumni of the university and of Australia’s Monash University (and, for the first time this year, publishers’ own submissions), with each able to nominate one piece of work on that year’s chosen theme. For 2015, said theme is instinct. The winner receives £25,000 and the chance of a short placement at the University of Warwick.

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This year’s International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award has been presented to Harvest by English author Jim Crace. Sponsored solely by the city of Dublin, the prize is the world’s largest presented to a single work of fiction, valued at €100,000. It is open to authors of any nationality and novels written in any language so long as an English translation is made available in the same calendar year as its original publication, and is post-dated by two years from date of publication (so all of this year’s nominees were published no later than 2013). Nominations come from public libraries around the world.

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Illustrator Chris Riddell has been named as the new Children’s Laureate, taking over from author Malorie Blackman, who has held the post since 2013. Awarded every two years and managed by Book Trust, the post celebrates outstanding achievement in the field of children’s books, and bestows upon the recipient a bursary of £15,000 and a silver medal. Riddell is the first illustrator to hold the post since Anthony Browne, who was Children’s Laureate from 2009 to 2011.

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Crime fiction festival Bloody Scotland has revealed the shortlist for its annual book of the year award, recognising excellence in Scottish crime writing. Drawn from a longlist of 55 by an independent panel of readers, the winning author will receive a prize of £1,000 and promotion of their work in Waterstones branches across Scotland.

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Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee’s unexpected companion piece to her sole previous novel, To Kill a Mockingbirdhas sold 1.1 million copies across print and digital in its first six days on release in the US and Canada alone. After going on sale last Tuesday (14/07/2015), the book became the fastest selling title in the history of HarperCollins, with the publisher saying on Monday morning (20/07/2015) that it had gone back to press for a further 1.3 million copies. With an initial run of 2 million, that puts the total number of copies in print at 3.3 million.

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Foyles has announced a series of children’s events taking place across its branches in London and Bristol throughout the school summer holidays, dubbing it the ‘Summer of Fun’. Beloved characters including Where’s Wally?, Shaun the Sheep, Thunderbirds, Maisy, Hugless Douglas and Miffy will make appearances at the bookshop’s Bristol branch and its Charing Cross Road, Stratford, Waterloo and Royal Festival Hall branches in London. There will also be a variety of workshops, theatre and storytelling events in-store, running between 25 July and 30 August.

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Amazon announces Prime Day for 15 July

As part of its continuing efforts to sign up shoppers to its premium Prime subscription service, Amazon has announced Prime Day, a ‘one day shopping event’ that promises ‘more deals than Black Friday’. Happening across Amazon stores globally on Wednesday 15 July, the event allows new and existing members of Amazon Prime to shop for ‘thousands’ of lightning deals throughout the day, starting on Amazon.co.uk at midnight BST.

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Doyenne of all romance publishers Mills & Boon has teamed with WHSmith and Kobo for Romance Writing Life, a competition that aims to find new romance authors (have I used the word ‘romance’ enough yet? Romance romance romance). Interested authors should submit a synopsis of no more than 500 words of their unpublished or self-published novel, in any genre of romantic novel (supernatural, historical, comedy etc.), alongside a first chapter of no more than 5,000 words. The winner will receive a print and digital contract with Mills & Boon. Second and third prize will each receive a Kobo Glo HD on which they’ll be able to read the winner’s much better book.

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German watershed for digital erotica

In a move that defies every NSFW comic stereotype, the German Publishers & Booksellers Association has been told by the country’s Youth Protection Authority that all digital publications aimed at an adult audience can now only be sold between the hours of 10pm and 6am, effectively instating a watershed comparable to the transmission of adult material on British television after 9pm. When submitting ebooks to digital stores, publishers will now be met with a metadata entry field asking them to specify if the book should be classified as being specifically for adults. If so, the title will only be visible on digital retail sites between the designated hours.

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Walter Scott Prize goes to John Spurling

The Borders Book Festival has this year awarded its annual Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction to John Spurling for his novel The Ten Thousand Things, which tells the story of 14th century Chinese painter Wang Meng. Spurling took the £25,000 prize over work from Martin Amis (The Zone of Interest), Helen Dunmore (The Lie), Hermione Eyre (Viper Eye), Adam Foulds (In the Wolf’s Mouth), Damon Galgut (Arctic Summer) and Kamila Shamsie (A God in Every Stone). Those other nominees each receive £1,000.

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