Monday, 23 April 2012

London Book Fair 2012 | Part Four

Grey books give a girl a red face

And, of course, there was much digital chat. 

Two highlights being the announcement that Amazon Publishing's imprint Thomas & Mercer has snapped up a 10-year license for North American rights to the entire series of Ian Fleming's James Bond books (in both print and e-book form).  All titles to be reissued for this summer.

And...over in soft porn....the fan-fiction self-publishing selling sensation that is Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy continues to grab headlines. The title has topped the New York Times Best-seller list without ever appearing in print.  UK rights have now been bought by Random House Cornerstone in the UK and Random House Vintage in the US, foreign publishers are in a buying frenzy and according to the Hollywood reporter, Universal has bought film rights...

Publishing is surely shifting, without the anonymity of e-readers Fifty Shades of Grey would never have achieved these sales figures (250,000+) or such word-of-mouth can you make use of the evolving landscape?

Keep us posted Writing Roomers...I'm going to lie down.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

London Book Fair 2012 | Part Three

The un-dead stay cool, as Spain takes the tiger by the tail

Many of the exciting sales this year were in the foreign and translation markets.

Here's a taster:
  • In an unprecedented move the Barcelona literary agency who represent Gabriel Garcia Marquez auctioned a two-year license to publish A Hundred Years of Solitude in China.
  • The title has previously been widely pirated in the country. The agent Carmen Balcells, widely thought to be the most powerful figure in Spanish publishing, opened the auction at $1,000,000, within hours of the fair opening on Monday bidding had already passed the $1.5million mark...
  • Faber pre-empted World English Language rights in Stallo, a Swedish tale of the supernatural featuring trolls. The acquiring editor has compared it to Let The Right One In and Stephen King's Salem's Lot - apparently it's "very creepy".
  • Keeping with the undead-types, Constable & Robinson imprint Corsair bought UK and Commonwealth rights in the first two books in the Deadlands  series by Lily Herne (the series is published in South Africa by Penguin).
  • Swedish super-agency Salomonsson, who represent internationally-known Scandinavian writers such as Jo Nesbo, had a big trilogy by Anders de la Motte at the fair.  Ten foreign deals were closed in the lead up to the fair, and the agency conducted a heated auction between UK publishers for the work in the UK
  • US agency Foundry did a bit of creative deal making...they received a submission with a split narrative - an adult and teenage voice. Realising the potential, they asked the writer to split the book in two and develop both voices further...and at the fair they sold two books out of the original manuscript:  Cain's Blood.  One Young Adult title to Simon & Schuster and the adult title to Touchstone. *Ker-ching*!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

London Book Fair 2012 | Part Two: China & delayed gratification

The sun rises in the East

Each year the London Book Fair has a focus and this year it was China. Thought-provoking talks were dedicated to exploring the developing tastes and buying patterns of this huge market, alongside the movement of Chinese literature into other languages and cultures, and vice versa.

Rising literary star Sheng Keyi, who's Northern Girls is soon to be published by Penguin Asia, spoke of the clash between old and new China and reflected on how "in most of [my work] I am trying to reflect the life and fate of the small villages".

We also particularly enjoyed Tuesday's author of the day Bi Feiyu - a prolific author and screenwriter with over 50 short stories, 10 medium-length novels and 4 full-length novels to his name.  Bi was in conversation with Rosie Goldsmith on the Pen stand. We learned that he achieved much of that extraordinary output by writing through the night, when he was working as a teacher!

Behind Bars & learning from failure

Another great lecture on the Pen stand, though not about China, was given by Anthony Horowitz who talked about his work with Prison Literacy and Reading schemes.

This is a cause I've got a bee in my bonnet about anyway... statistics vary, but it is estimated that 2/3 of UK prisoners are functionally illiterate.

BUT the good news is that Horowitz also spoke about his journey to publication - it took 30 years and a variety of media before the first Alex Rider book got a big reception. He said that he had benefited from this "failure" - he learned new skills, got to try out different ideas, and hone his craft. Worth bearing in mind when freaking out you haven't written a best-seller over the weekend ;)

Friday, 20 April 2012

London Book Fair 2012 | Part One: Dogs and Lawyers

The first of four posts from your correspondent at #LBF2012

Disunited we stand

The 2012 London Book Fair opened with a feeling of uncertainty - and some anger.

As the 25,000 industry visitors from 104 countries pounded the aisles of the Earl's Court Exhibition Centre, they absorbed the news that last week the US Department of Justice launched an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five of the "Big Six" publishers (Penguin, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group).

The inquiry hinges on the question of whether publishers, at the urging of Steve Jobs, agreed to adopt a new policy in 2010, that in essence coordinated the price of newly released e-books at the price offered in Apple’s iBookstore — typically between $12.99 and $14.99.

So far three of the publishers have settled; whilst Penguin, Macmillan and Apple maintain they have done nothing wrong and have told the DoJ "we'll see you in court".

As Trevor would say....and finally.  Every dog has its day.

English language business:

  • HarperCollins signed three new novels by best-selling writer Cecilia Ahern.
  • Simon & Schuster won out a six-way auction for debut spy novel Treason by former CIA clandestine operations officer Jason Matthews. The agent billed the title as "Tinker Tailor for the Homeland generation". Where can I  buy my copy!
  • As you will no doubt have heard, the title of JK Rowling's first title for adults was revealed - The Casual Vacancy. It will be published by Little, Brown this September.
  • Harvill Secker acquired Black Chalk by Christopher J Yates, a psychological thriller set in New York and Oxford University.
  • Penguin imprint Viking has bought world rights in The Numbers Game, billed as the first big book on football's data revolution, it's "Moneyball meets Freakonomics for football"
  • HarperCollins imprint Fourth Estate bought star journalist Hadley Freeman's Be Awesome: Modern Essays from Modern Ladies 
  • Macmillan bought two more two further series from the School of Life - the Great Thinkers series will be collectable pocket guides offering essential life lessons...handy for some of us.
  • Finally - believe it - Uggie, the canine star of silent movie The Artist has sold his rags-to-riches memoir to three publishers the UK, US and France. Harper UK said of their acquisition: "Uggie is enchanting. He has already graced Graham Norton's sofa and appeared on the BBC. We look forward to his author tour and making this the Christmas gift book of 2012. Move over Meerkats".......