Tag Archives: fiction

‘What’s in a name…?’

97814087039912The Guardian has today published an article stating that JK Rowling has been writing novels under pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

The crime novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, was released in April of this year and received outstanding reviews. It was, however, due to these reviews and the novel being ‘too accomplished’ for a debut novel, that led the investigation into who actually wrote the book. JK Rowling said that:

“I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.”

Of course the big reveal has led to a wave of criticism and debates through social media sites, as well as comments on The Guardian‘s page. I find it very hard to agree with some people’s comments, particularly the ones who state that the author’s true identity has only been revealed so that Rowling can earn more money. (Has everyone forgotten the millions which she has made through the Harry Potter series?!) The article reported that the novel has sold 1,500 copies. For a hardback novel, this is a fine achievement for an author we believed to have been making his debut.

It did make me wonder though… can the quality and success of a book be undermined according to the name on the front cover?

Well of course in most instances – yes! Let’s face it, publishers don’t have big branding campaigns and it is no lie that they use the authors’ names to sell their products. Of course a book is going to sell well if it is by an author which is already an established bestseller. People already know what to expect. On the other hand, there is also an argument that no, the name on the cover of a book doesn’t always determine the quality and success of the book. As the article states, The Cuckoo’s Calling has already experienced great success, despite the author not being known. In essence, you only have to think about every bestselling author out there; there was a time when (s)he was not known, yet the quality and success of their book was not undermined because of this.

I think it’s safe to say that in this instance, like those words uttered by Juliet and penned by Shakespeare: ‘that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ is a statement which, undoubtedly, can be applied here.¬†

 

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Bloomsbury Spark – new e-book only imprint for Bloomsbury

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Bloomsbury Publishing has launched a brand new imprint called Bloomsbury Spark. The imprint will be for Young Adult novels and will be one of the first imprints in publishing to publish ebooks only. The first set of digital books will be released in September 2013.

According to the article in The Bookseller, Bloomsbury Children’s head Emma Hopkin said:

“We’ve seen a great increase in our digital sales in both the US and UK, in particular for YA titles, and we realised there was no YA-dedicated digital list, and Bloomsbury can offer local marketing around the globe for these titles.”

Bloomsbury has offices all over the world. Most notably in New York, New Delhi, Sydney and of course, London. By having such a vast presence in some of the world’s biggest cities for publishing, it will be interesting to launch the imprint and see where it is most successful. It is thought that the imprint will aim to publish 40 titles per year once the imprint is launched this autumn. With bestselling YA novels such as Twilight and The Hunger Games having been released by Atom and Scholastic, in the past, it shows that there is a massive potential success for the imprint when it launches.

Little, Brown already has an ebook only imprint, Blackfriars. With new electronic devices being launched and the potential of smartphone technology, digital will continue to rise. I think the main question is, which publishing houses will follow suit, next? Although Little, Brown and Bloomsbury appear to be some of the first publishers to adopt digital imprints; academic publishers such as Cambridge University Press and their Cambridge Books Online – a digital ebook platform which was launched in 2010 – show that are also adapting to the digital world.

Does this pose a danger to print books? Personally, I don’t think so. I don’t think that the public have fully embraced digital just yet. It’s all still quite a new concept and there are still issues with pricing, as well as a danger of the market being too saturated with products for people, publishers and other companies, to have fully taken everything digital on board. People still like the comfort and beauty of having a physical book in their hands.

Having recently attended a book talk in which Audrey Niffenegger talked about her new book, Raven Girl, (more on that, later!) I had the amazing opportunity of getting my copy of Raven Girl and The Time Traveler’s Wife signed. How would authors sign a digital copy of a book? There are still small matters such as this which prevent the book dying out completely. (Ok, so this obviously wouldn’t be one of the only reasons why print books wouldn’t die out, but it is definitely something to consider!)

Moreover, another recent article by The Bookseller¬† where print sales hit a 2013 high, shows that print is doing better than ever. The article mentions that in the week leading up to 9th March 2013, ¬£25.2 million was spent on print books and was up from 1.2% the same week, last year (figures from Nielsen BookScan). So, after look at this evidence I think it’s safe to say that print books are here to stay. It must also be noted that the future is extremely exciting and unpredictable for publishers, regarding digital. It will be interesting to see the success of Bloomsbury’s new digital imprint, and whether the venture will encourage other publishers to do the same in the future.


The power of the book

So, the new semester at uni has officially started. For our first lecture (The Business of Publishing), we had to read a couple of articles from Andrew Lownie’s Literary Agency which talked about what UK fiction and non-fiction editors are looking for in 2013. They were interesting to read, particularly as with the publishing business, you can never tell what’s going to be a bestseller until it’s out there. No-one saw Fifty Shades of Grey coming, and it will interesting to see if anything published this year can live up to its success…

Particularly for fiction editors, the majority of them mentioned the need for a story so good that you can’t put down. Imaginative and unique are qualities which everyone seems to be looking for, as well as having that ‘spark’. The search for a great literary fiction or historical fiction novel were also key points on the list of things to look out for.

Kate Parkin, Publisher at John Murray talks about how popular ‘quirky’ books have become due to the recent success of books such as The 100 Year Old Man who Jumped Out of the Window and Disappeared (I think the title says it all, doesn’t it?) She also talks about how difficult it is for upcoming authors to break into such a crowded market, but states that knowing how to market through social media will become more of a necessity, especially considering the digital revolution overtaking gadgets and devices across the globe.

Ruth Tross, an editor for Mulholland Books says that there has to be something present in the book that you have never seen before. Gillian Holmes, editor at Arrow predicts that digital self-published books will continue to storm the book charts throughout 2013. Certainly with the growth of the digital industry, this is something which undoubtedly will continue to be popular throughout the year. Late last year I attended an event organised by the Cambridge Publishing Society (CAMPUS) at the Cambridge University Press Pitt Building where Stephen Bourne gave a talk entitled ‘Imagineering the Book Trade in 2050’, and he talked about how short ‘cell phone’ novels will become a thing of the future in which self-published stories ‘written in short chunks in odd moments’ will become a common thing.

In terms of non-fiction, there was a variety of suggestions to what editors were looking for, good cookbooks (who could possibly beat the success of Jamie Oliver especially after his third Christmas topping the bookseller charts?), autobiographies and sports books. Ed Faulkner, a Publishing Director at Virgin Books and W. H. Allen states that he wants to find something inspiring, creative and entertaining for readers.A few publishers stated that they were particularly looking for good non-fiction to fill the women’s market.

Like what I mentioned earlier about how digital will continue to grow this year, Natalie Jerome at Harper Non-Fiction states that with the launch of the Kindle Fire HD last year, the illustrated book market will soar this year as the one thing which has always been difficult for publishers to create, will no longer be unaccomplishable.

So, what makes a good book? Well after reading through many editor’s opinions from some of the best publishing houses in the country, I have to say I agree with some of the qualities listed. Quirky and unique is definitely a good thing. Personally, I think a good book needs to have characters you can relate to, something original which hasn’t been done before, a completely new world and scenario. I definitely a sucker for a bit of romance.

Some of my favourite books include those written by Audrey Niffenegger. Perhaps I’m a little biased but I feel that she captures everything which a book should be…

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I’m looking forward to what the book industry can deliver in 2013. I want add to my list of favourite books (It will be difficult to top Niffenegger’s books, though, in my eyes anyway!) and to my book shelf. I’m also excited to see what happens in the digital world; what brand new gadget can trump the latest Kindle and IPad and how can publishers develop what they already have to make it better…?

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Here are the links to the articles I talked about in this post:

http://www.andrewlownie.co.uk/2013/01/12/what-fiction-editors-want

http://www.andrewlownie.co.uk/2013/01/12/what-uk-non-fiction-editors