Thursday, 26 July 2012

Sale to France!

Just had word this morning that ORIGIN has sold to France, which is a notoriously difficult country in which to get a translation deal!

It will be published by Orbit, an imprint of Calmann Levy, one of the most prestigious publishing houses in France.

This takes translation sales up to seven countries now - Germany, Russia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, China, Japan and France - and it's still three moths from UK release!

Merci beaucoup!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival 2012

Just had a fantastic few days at the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival, at the Old Swan in Harrogate - conveniently, only about fifteen minutes from my house!

It was the tenth anniversary of the festival, and with over 12,000 tickets sold, it really is one of the premier literary events in the country (and perhaps the biggest crime writing festival in the world?).

Thursday was the opening night party, with the announcement made for the TOP Crime Novel of the Year Award. This was a popular victory for Denise Mina and The End of the Wasp Season, who won over stiff competition from SJ Bolton, Chris Brookmyre, John Connolly, Steve Mosby and SJ Watson. Colin Dexter also won a deserved lifetime achievement award, and took to the stage to give a lively (and very amusing) speech.

I attended the party with my wife, and it gave us a chance to meet some of the Headline staff, who were also up for the weekend. It was the first time I had met my publicist Ben Willis, and fellow Headline author Stephen Dunne (The Reaper), and it was also great to see my editor Alexander Hope again (although I think we consumed a few too many pints of Old Peculiar for our own good!).

The next night was the Headline dinner, which was preceded by parties hosted by Hodder and Little, Brown. The latter was held in the 'Speigeltent' just a short walk from the hotel, and was very atmospheric! The dinner itself was really good, and it was nice to meet some other Headline authors - Jason Dean (The Wrong Man), GJ Moffat (Protection) and Christopher Radmann (Held Up). Amanda Kyle Williams (Stranger in the Room) had also flown over from Atlanta for the festival, and it was great to see her at the dinner.

The next afternoon my family and I met up for lunch with our good friend, crime writer Elly Griffiths (whose d├ębut novel The Crossing Places was nominated for the TOP Crime Novel of the Year Award in 2010). She's such a lovely lady, and our children didn't want to leave her!

My wife and I met up with Elly for drinks in the bar that same evening, before the Come Die With Me murder mystery dinner, at which she was hosting a table. Our own table was hosted by Amanda Kyle Williams, which was nice as we had just met the night before. The murder mystery element was created by Ann Cleaves, and was based on her latest 'Vera' novel, The Glass Room. It certainly caused some head scratching!

Even harder was the Late Night Quiz, at which my wife and I joined the Headline team (the Quizee Rascals). I would like to say that we did well (or even quite well would have been nice), but I'm afraid this would be an out and out lie! Still, it was great fun!

We then retired to the hotel bar until the early hours of the morning (thanks to my parents for babysitting!), where we met and chatted to writers, publishers, editors, agents, buyers, journalists and reviewers - interesting, to say the least! I even managed to steal some words with the legendary Harlan Coben, who had flown over from the US for the festival, and discovered that he is an extremely pleasant chap indeed.

All in all, the festival was a great opportunity to connect with others in the publishing industry, as well being a great deal of fun. I'm looking forward to next year already!

Monday, 9 July 2012

'Real' Books and E-Readers - An Opinion!

A couple of weeks ago I posted a question on Twitter - if you were stranded on a desert island and could only take one book, what would it be?

The range of answers was vast (only 'Robinson Crusoe' and 'The Lord of the Rings' appeared more than once), but it was also interesting that a couple of people said they would take their Kindle. When quizzed about the battery, and lack of electricity on a desert island, it seemed that solar power would be the answer!

But this amusing 'cheat answer' led me to consider some of the intrinsic differences between e-readers and the real thing. It seems that e-readers provide a service, in much the same way as a Sky box does with television. And, like with the satellite receiver, if there's no power, there's no service! A book, on the other hand, is an object in and of itself, and stands on its own merits, not reliant on anything else.

Which leads me on to what is perhaps wrong with the 'bricks and mortar' book-selling industry at the moment, and why it is losing so much ground to its electronic counterpart. If we think of a book as an object, then we should expect something of quality for our hard-earned money, and not just in its content, but in its presentation and physical appearance too.

As the founder of the Hay Festival, Richard Florence, said recently, "I think it's impossible for anyone in Britain to argue for the artefact of the book because we just make c**p books."

And I think he's probably right - for if we see the physical book as an 'object of desire', perhaps the one true advantage it has over its e-book version, then it stands to reason that it should actually be physically desirable, and this is sadly often not the case.

On a recent trip to Poland, I was struck by the high quality of the paperbacks on offer. The novel below had a much better cover than its UK equivalent, with a vivid 3D effect, and flaps on the front and rear as you would find on a hardback book here. The quality of the paper used throughout was also streets apart, and it was not just in this novel, but in every single book I saw!

I'm not sure if it is due to the high physical quality of books on offer, but e-readers are not catching on in Poland (or, indeed, in many other parts of Europe and the wider world) as they are in the UK and the US. Circumstantial evidence perhaps, but food for thought!

I am not against e-readers or e-books at all, but if publishers and booksellers want to know how to get people back to buying 'real' books, the answer is simple - MAKE THEM MORE ATTRACTIVE, AND OF HIGHER QUALITY!

People will then see them as something to 'own', perhaps for a lifetime, rather than to just 'use' and then throw away.

I would welcome your thoughts on the matter!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Foreign Rights

ORIGIN is currently being submitted for sale to foreign territories, and I am delighted that agreements have so far been made to translate and publish in the following countries:

Germany (Luebbe)

Russia (Azbooka-Atticus)

Czech Republic (Euromedia)

China (Hachette-Phoenix)

Bulgaria (Pro Books)

I am really pleased that the take-up in foreign territories is so good, as hopefully this indicates that ORIGIN has a universal appeal. Hopefully more deals will be made soon!

ORIGIN has also just been made available on Kindle from Amazon -

Also exciting is the fact that proof copies of the novel should be ready in three or four weeks, which will be the first time I'll see it in print. I can't wait!