Category: News

Kingston Publishing MA shortlisted in the Times Higher Education Awards 2017

Huge congratulations to Kingston Publishing MA for being shortlisted in the Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year category of the Times Higher Education Awards 2017.

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#imaginepeace picture book launch with messages from around the world is a new website celebrating the publication of IMAGINE, the first picture book set to John Lennon’s iconic lyrics paired with illustrations by award-winning artist Jean Jullien. The book has been published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, an imprint of The Quarto Group – all royalties from the sale of IMAGINE will be donated to Amnesty International.

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Self-employed in publishing

BookMachine July Wrap: Publishing stories from around the web

This month in publishing news, it’s been all about the publisher’s best friend: the indie bookshop! The 2017 Independent Bookshop Week got well underway towards the end of June with the announcement of its annual Book Award, with winner Sebastian Barry praising the importance of independent bookshops and the culture they help to build. Publishers, too, seem to have thrown their weight behind this year’s celebrations with more gusto than usual, and the whole industry was set abuzz by hundreds of offline events and online by the lively #IBW17 hashtag.

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Consent or coercion

Consent or Coercion – shape your fate in an age of change [REPORT]

Yesterday evening, members and friends of BookMachine and Unite gathered at St Bride Foundation for a panel discussion on the subject of change. There’s perhaps no better place to think about how the publishing industry has changed over the years than this historic building, tucked away just off Fleet Street, the former heart of the London newspaper industry – and no sign that the process of change that silenced the Fleet Street printing presses is likely to stop soon, if ever.

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The Authors for Grenfell initiative

Tom Witcomb is an agent at Blake Friedmann, where he began working after hearing about an internship whilst working in a call-centre. His list of fiction and non-fiction has received widespread critical acclaim, and several awards shortlistings.

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Self-employed in publishing

BookMachine June Wrap: Publishing stories from around the web

This month in publishing, there has been much news from across the pond as BookExpo took place, with tweaks promised for 2018 to try to find the right balance between Expo and Con. The big books of the BookExpo show have been slightly overshadowed, however, by the continuing fuss over the size of advances being paid to American politicians for their books, including $795k for Bernie Sanders and former FBI Director James Comey is looking at a rumoured $10m bidding war.

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Self-employed in publishing

BookMachine May Wrap: Publishing stories from around the web

Big news from Amazon once again this month, as it hit an all-time high in the stock market and revenue from Q1 is up, prompting CEO Jeff Bezos to sell some of his stocks in the business for the largest sum yet. The tech giant’s Japanese expansion continues apace and they are widely considered to be “eating the world”, but all is not well with Amazon’s relationship with publishing. The introduction of a new buy button programme has drawn criticism from publishers and authors alike – including in the independent scene. What’s more, Amazon has this month announced and released a new book chart system, in which – perhaps unsurprisingly – their own books are notably faring better than anyone else’s.

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Introducing The Riff Raff: A new writers’ community

Amy Baker is a freelance writer and the author of travel humour memoir, “Miss-Adventures: A Tale of Ignoring Life Advice While Backpacking Around South America”. She has just co-founded The Riff Raff – a writers’ community that champions debut authors and supports those hoping to one day be published themselves. 

When working on your first book, so much is up in the air. You’re in a constant state of worrying and wondering – are all these hours, drafts and moments of despair going to be worth it? Will you ever get that deal? How do you even get a deal anyway – do they exist, or are they something that only happens to other people? Will you ever leave the house again?

It’s a lonely time – you’re in your own head and your own imagination so much that it can become more familiar to you than the outside world.

In a bid to keep myself motivated while writing my first book, I’d go and see my favourite authors speak – and while it would interest me, I’d often leave dejected. The gaping disparity between where these superstars were in their careers, and where I was at was a major bummer to me as an aspiring writer. After all – these authors were selling out the Royal Festival Hall…I was returning home to put on my tracksuit bottoms, and to cry into a tub of peanut butter. What I wanted (and needed) was to hear from debut authors – those who’d only just retired the tracksuit bottoms and dessert-spoon. Those who’d only just progressed to ‘published author’ status, and could therefore remember what it was like being in the trenches.

When I’d given up clean clothes completely, and would spend indeterminate periods of time staring forlornly out of windows just to catch a glimpse of other human beings, I put a distress call out asking whether anyone knew any writers I could befriend. Someone heeded my call, I was introduced to Rosy Edwards, author of the hilarious Confessions of a Tinderella and we drank three bottles of wine on a Tuesday evening because it seemed fitting given we’d finally found each other.

Over the months that followed, Rosy and I came up with an idea – The Riff Raff – a writers’ community specifically designed to champion the work of debut authors and to offer support, advice and discussion surrounding the process of getting a first book published. We want to lure people out of their writing caves and bring them together in one spot, to hear from debut authors, with a book out that month. At each event our five authors will introduce themselves and their work before reading their favourite extract to the audience, who will then get the chance to quiz them on their journey and processes. There will also be ample mingling time during the break, and after the event where attendees can chat to the authors and snap up signed copies of the books.

By bringing together debut authors and aspiring writers in a cosy room once a month, The Riff Raff will eliminate that feeling of being on the outside with no chance of gaining access to the golden palace that is the publishing industry. We’re here to offer you encouragement and inspiration by showing the hopeful that getting published is attainable.

The Riff Raff’s first event is taking place on May 11th at the Effra Social in Brixton. You can snap up your tickets here, or find them on Facebook here.

Self-employed in publishing

BookMachine April Wrap: Publishing stories from around the web

This month in publishing news, there has been an unusual obsession with the smell of books. Not only did scientists pin-point that distinctive smell of second-hand bookshops, but the Guardian discovered what you can tell about an individual book from its smell – and why the scent is so addictive.

In the bookselling sphere, Amazon once again dominated the opinions columns, as their forays into bricks and mortar bookshops continue. Plans for a second New York City bookstore, and another in Massachusetts are underway, while Seattle has been tipped as the next Amazon experiment ground.

These expansions go ahead despite the fact that bricks and mortar bookstore sales have dropped once again, and a drop in sales from some publishers, including Big 5 giant HarperCollins. The truth is, the BBC reports, that people don’t have enough time to read, though a rise in library usage by young people indicates this could be a temporary blip.

Online, the Amazon’s expansion into Australia is proving to be larger than expected but, in terms of eBook sales at least, they may soon face competition as, though Google Books continues to circle in “low orbit”, Microsoft has launched its own digital bookstore. Even so, Microsoft have their work cut out for them, as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has just been named the second richest man in the world after a leap in shares that has kept investors keen, and revealed in his 2017 letter to shareholders that he has no plans for Amazon to go anywhere. What’s more, Amazon has just made it even easier for self-published authors to convert manuscripts for Kindle. Both tech giants had better watch out, though, as this experimental eBook could hail a new kind of publishing entirely!

April has hailed its fair share of author drama too, not least of which with the release of letters from Sylvia Plath, claim her husband and fellow-author Ted Hughes was guilty of domestic abuse. While Hughes’ widow says these accusations are “absurd”, others have noted that whether or not the accusations are true, they are unlikely to affect Hughes’ literary standing.  Elsewhere, Alec Baldwin has trash-talked publisher of his memoir HarperCollins over “typos and errors” he was “surprised to see.” At the other end of the scale, Trapeze author David Barnett has accused writers with unpublished manuscripts of being “quitters, not failures.”

It’s been a big month for prizes as well, with both Man Booker International and Hugo Awards shortlists being announced, amongst many others. Significantly, Colson Whitehead won the Pulitzer Prize for The Underground Railroad, and Bob Dylan finally accepted his Nobel Prize for literature, months after the original ceremony.

In international news, Bologna confirmed an international rights show in New York for 2018; national financial woes hit the Nigerian book industry hard; CNN explored how book manuscripts are smuggled out of North Korea; the AAP honoured Hong Kong publisher and bookseller, Giu Minhai, who is currently imprisoned in China; and book piracy bites hard for Zimbabwean authors.

Finally, this month, the press has asked whether publishing has become too liberal. With Naomi Klein planning to battle Trump, Communism for Kids sparking a backlash from the conservatives, and “pawternity” leave granted to HarperCollins India workers adopting pets, you can see where the sentiment might come from. But when YA rising star Angie Thomas claims publishers “made the assumption that black kids don’t read”, and highlights the issues of diversity in the industry, I wonder if the question should be whether we’re liberal enough where it counts.

My Name is Leon chosen as this year’s KU Big Read for new students

Kingston University has chosen My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal as this year’s choice for their annual shared reading scheme which encourages all new students to settle into campus life by reading the same book before arriving.

Launched in 2015, The Kingston University Big Read sees all new undergraduate and postgraduate students receive a special edition of a carefully selected title to welcome them to the University and help bring the entire cohort together through a shared experience.

More than 20,000 copies of last year’s book, The Humans, by Matt Haig, were given out last summer, as well as a further 8,000 copies shared with students and staff at Edinburgh Napier University.

This year, over 140 titles were suggested by staff and students, which were whittled down to a shortlist of six by a specially written algorithm. Months of reading, discussions and deliberations followed before a Selection Committee of staff, students and a representative from Kingston Library voted for the winning title this week.

Announcing the selection of My Name is Leon as this year’s book, Associate Professor Alison Baverstock, Director of The KU Big Read, said:

Kit de Waal is a Kingston type of writer. Her work is accessible to all sorts of people, and I know will be read with real interest and enthusiasm by the wide spread of ethnicities within our community. Her book was a clear favourite with the KU Big Read Selection Panel from the outset – everyone involved was affected by Leon’s story, although interestingly people homed in on very different things. We look forward to welcoming her to Kingston; to introducing her to students and staff – and to hearing her speak. The KU Big Read, now in its third year, has played a big part in joining up our community – and we hope she will feel as home here as we all do with her book.

Meanwhile, author Kit de Waal also spoke of her delight at being associated with The KU Big Read.

It’s overwhelming and most unexpected to be chosen. My Name is Leon is a little story about a little boy and to be recognised by the Big Read is massive for me – and for Leon … I feel there will be many young people who will be able to identify with his journey of identity and belonging. It’s great for people to read in general, but especially to read books together that represent parts of their lives, where they can see themselves on the page or as the author. That kind of experience embraces the widest spectrum of society possible. – Kit de Waal, author

Call for entries: British Book Design and Production Awards 2017

The British Printing Industries Federation, Oxford Brookes University, The Publishers Association, The Bookseller and BookMachine are calling for entries to the British Book Design and Production Awards 2017. These are the only industry awards to promote and celebrate the excellence and craftsmanship of the British book design and production industry.

All books published between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017 are eligible for entry in this year’s awards.  There are 17 categories that reflect the many various forms books can take including;

  • Literature
  • Digital
  • Limited Edition
  • Educational
  • Children’s
  • Trade
  • Self-Publishing

There is also a category for aspiring students to enter their work, with the chance to win a cheque for £500 as well as a short internship with a leading designer, publisher or printer.

Industry experts from the areas of design, publishing and production will judge the entries and stamp the book that outshines the rest with the title of ‘Book of the Year’.

The deadline for entries is Friday 30 June 2017.  The awards will be presented at a dazzling ceremony on 16 November 2017 at the Millennium Hotel London Mayfair.

For further details on the awards please log on to, follow @BBDPAwards or contact Heena Bulsara at the BPIF on 020 7915 8338 or

Self-employed in publishing

BookMachine March Wrap: Publishing stories from around the web

The big news from March in UK publishing is obviously the London Book Fair (LBF). Poland shone at this year’s Market Focus, and the Fair was busier than usual, with six-figure deals struck ahead of time and publishers cheerfully splashing cash as sales rose. This was seen as further evidence of the rise of print, with The Guardian stating that by the end of the month stats showing that print outperformed digital. Yet, despite the recent whopping $65m forward paid for the Obamas’ new book (which hasn’t pleased all and prompted a list of the biggest deals of all time) no single title emerged as this year’s big hitter.

Even before LBF, however, World Book Day (WBD) brought the public out in favour of their favourite books, causing a slew of bookish opinion to hit the web: is it of concern that, for 25% of children, WBD tokens give them the chance to buy their first book? Should we be worried that children are dressing up as YouTubers on a day dedicated to books? Are celebrities shutting children’s authors out of their own trade? The standard of fancy dress was high and the enthusiasm for books strong, if this BBC article’s anything to go by, but was soured towards the end of the month by authors’ reactions to the government’s “sop and whitewash” £4m contribution to the libraries crisis.

Author Susan Hill kicked off this month’s bookshop news, by cancelling an event at Norwich’s indie bookstore the Book Hive, claiming they were engaged in “censorship” and were “anti-Trump”. Her now-infamous statement in The Spectator went viral, garnering fierce responses not only from the Book Hive, but also from other authors.

Across the pond, Amazon unveiled its first East Coast bricks and mortar bookstore, which some claim could “change the industry forever.” Further, in spite of more urges from Isreal that Amazon should stop selling books that deny the Holocaust or promote anti-Semitism, possible plans for a Middle-East expansion are speculated, as Amazon bought Doubai-based online retailer Closer to home, The Telegraph claimed a post-Brexit Britain needs more companies like Amazon, while our home-grown bricks and mortars engaged in fighting talk. The Waterstones boss attacked the “god awful uniformity” of chains such as WH Smith, and indies worried that small, unbranded Waterstones may become a threat. Good news for all bookstores is that, following in the footsteps of Emma Watson, actress and singer Emma Roberts has announced her own book club.

Diversity hit the headlines again, first of all with an expansion of Hachette’s diversity programme (launched last year) as they announce The Future Bookshelf, then with The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas rocking the boat even before its UK release. Buzzfeed and other outlets also got excited about the young black women breaking into “Britain’s very white” publishing industry.

In further political news, as Trump tried to read a book, satire has become part of the Trump book cottage industry. Following on in a similar vein, Costco has begun to stock Orwell’s 1984 due to its recent popularity, and the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is garnering some serious buzz. In the UK’s liberal heart of London, Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny, out this week, is to be reproduced chapter by chapter in a series of 20 posters pasted along Leonard Street, near Silicon Roundabout. We’re not shy about our politics in publishing, that’s for sure!

Scratching out is the new colouring in

The Quarto Group have announced the launch of Scratch & Create, a new series of books that feature metallic ink layered over drawings or colourful backgrounds. With a stylus, you scratch away the coating to reveal the artwork beneath.

David Breuer, Chief Creative Officer, said: ‘More and more adults are looking for creative activities that can help them unwind and relax. We believe people will enjoy these innovative products that offer new ways of stimulating the mind and exercising new skills’.

Quarto was at the forefront of the global colouring phenomenon and has sold over 2 million colouring books worldwide. The’ll be supporting the launch with an extensive marketing and advertising campaign.

The first four titles are due in August, and they’ll release the first two titles in their series for children in September.

Titles publishing in August:

8 writers receive the phone call of a lifetime: Windham-Cambell Prizes announced

The director of the Windham-Campbell Prizes at Yale University made the call of a lifetime to eight unsuspecting writers this week, and informed them that they will be recognized with a $165,000 individual prize to support their writing. This year’s recipients of one of the world’s richest literature prizes for the first time include poets, alongside writers of fiction, nonfiction, and drama. The awards will be conferred in September at an international literary festival at Yale, celebrating the honored writers and introducing them to new audiences.

Established in 2013 with a gift from the late Donald Windham in memory of his partner of forty years, Sandy M. Campbell, the Prizes are celebrating their fifth year of existence. English language writers from anywhere in the world are eligible. Prize recipients are nominated confidentially and judged anonymously. The call that Prize recipients receive from program director Michael Kelleher is the first time that they have learned of their consideration.

This year’s Windham-Campbell Prize recipients are: in fiction, André Alexis and Erna Brodber; in nonfiction, Maya Jasanoff and Ashleigh Young; in poetry, Ali Cobby Eckermann and Carolyn Forché; and in drama, Marina Carr and Ike Holter.

The Windham-Campbell Festival will take place from September 13-15, 2017 at Yale, and begins with an awards ceremony and an invited speaker who gives a talk entitled, “Why I Write.” This year’s keynote will be delivered by Karl Ove Knausgård. Yale’s campus is in New Haven, Connecticut, two hours by train from both New York and Boston, and all events are free and open to the public.

The Windham-Campbell Prizes are administered by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale.

Many writers work other jobs in order to afford to write. The Windham-Campbell Literature Prizes are designed to give writers of all kinds the financial freedom to focus on the writing that matters the most to them. For more information about the prizes, read Norah Myers’ interview with founding director Michael Kelleher.

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