Showing posts with label Bookseller. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bookseller. Show all posts

Sunday 28 February 2016

It's the Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title - The Shortlist...

Yes, it's time for the Diagram Prize again- the 38th.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that there was still time to nominate odd book titles from 2015, well the deliberations are over and the shortlist of titles has been announced.

The Bookseller administers the Diagram Prize - you can see the interesting range of book covers for the shortlisted titles here, as well as find out what each book is about (briefly).

Now it's up to the public to vote for their preferred oddest title. You can follow the Bookseller's link to the voting page, select your title and press submit, you don't even have to leave an email address...

I don't feel that this year's selection is as varied as in past years, but at least there are titles to choose from.

There have only been two years when the prize was not awarded, 1987 and 1991. Fortunately there's been a winner every year since 1992, and with the interest and publicity the prize brings each year I don't think a lack of strange book titles will be a problem.

So here's the 2015 shortlist:

  • Reading the Liver: The Papyrological Text on Ancient Greek Extispicy.

  • Too Naked for Nazis. (The author submitted it himself...)

  • Soviet Bus Stops.

  • Paper Folding with Children.

  • Behind the Binoculars.

  • Reading from Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus.

  • Transvestite Vampire Biker Nuns from Outer Space: A Consideration of Cult Film.

I have to admit that those last two appealed to me, but having given the titles a couple of days I can see the appeal of 'Paper Folding with Children'. :D

Do look out for any odd book titles that are published in 2016- including self-published- so you can nominate them early next year.

The voting closes 15th March at 23.59, and the winner will be announced later in the month.

Any opinions on this year's selection? 

Friday 27 February 2015

Time for Voting for the Oddest Book Title of the Year again...

I'm slowly recovering from the nasty bug, and my brain is no longer stuffed like a thick duvet!

My characters have been quiet - plotting their next moves I suspect.

It's also given me time to catch up on some reading, and looking into various things I need to get on with this month.

Yes, I know I was meant to be resting, but I could sit still at my desk and catch up - it's only moving around or standing up for more than a few minutes that gets me!

So to this year's oddest titles (Diagram Prize)- there's some obvious contenders to win this year.

1. Advanced Pavement Research:... (and more about concrete, design and construction. I'm a bit concerned why pavements need rehabilitation.) It's a Souvenir guide to a two-day pavement symposium.

2. Divorcing a Real Witch: For Pagans and the People That Used to Love Them.

3. The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones.

4. Nature's Nether Regions.

5. Strangers Have the Best Candy.

6. The Ugly Wife is a Treasure at Home.

7. Where Do Camels Belong.

The titles in the last few years haven't had as much variety as those in earlier years of the prize, so it's good to have more choice this time.

I'm trying to decide between voting for no. 2 or no. 3.

You can read more over on the Bookseller website, and see the covers - they look quite good together.

But if you want to vote- and remember your vote can decide the winner- you need to pop over to the We Love This Book website to do so. Just click on the vote box to go to the form.

Voting ends one minute into 21st March 2015, and the winner is announced on 27th March.

The winning title doesn't receive a prize, but the publicity that inclusion in the competition brings the book, probably increases sales that otherwise might not have happened.

I couldn't resist opting for 'The Madwoman in the Volvo'. That title just appealed to me, with the image it suggested. :D

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Virtual Romance Festival Back...

Just seen the news that the HarperCollins Virtual Romance Festival is returning for a second year- save the weekend dates of the 7th and 8th February in your diary.

I've just registered for the event- it's free.

As last year, one day will be aimed at writers, and the other for readers.

Again events will take place on Facebook, Twitter, the Festival's Wordpress site, and Google Hangouts.

Last year the Wordpress site got temporarily shut down, so hopefully that won't happen this time, as it kept everyone up to the moment on who was where...

Most of the 2014 writers day I spent on Facebook; as there was a different person/subject every hour, and I found it very useful. Lots of writers asking questions and sharing their experiences and thoughts.

And experts generously sharing their expertise and answering the barrage of questions.

Twitter was a bit too fast paced for me to keep up with that as well, but I was able to access many of the other events I missed from the links in the emails sent, and the Wordpress site when it was back up and running.

This announcement on the Bookseller website will give you some general information, and includes the link to the Eventbrite page to register.

Bookseller article with Eventbrite link, here.

If you're on Facebook you can like their RomanceFestival page.

So often it can be difficult for writers to get to Festivals and Conferences in person, so this virtual event is a fantastic opportunity to take part without leaving home.

If you missed last year's festival in June, then here's my blog post from last year sharing my experience of the writers day.

If you go, enjoy every busy minute. :-)

Thursday 27 June 2013

PLR and Other News...

I've been busy trying to get as much as possible done this month with limited time and hands to help, so apologies for my recent silence on the blog pages...

After today my writing time is going to be spasmodic, as college has finished and the house will not be as quiet as it is normally on a week-day when everyone is out.

I'm getting ready for the last day of the Lowdham Book Festival too- every event on Saturday is free to attend, so if you're nearby and can spare an hour or two I know you'll find something to interest you.

I'll be on the Nottingham Writers' Club stall, and then at midday at The Fringe at the Ship, before returning to the table to promote the club and members work...

Last week's cyberspace book launch of the One Word Anthology was a great success, so a big thank you to everyone who popped into the launch page on Facebook- much fun was had by all... :-)
*   *   *

Now to the serious stuff...

Many writers were unhappy about the proposed move of control of the Public Lending Rights service (probably) to the British Library when it was proposed in 2010. Sadly even with an overwhelming majority against the move in the 2012 consultation, the intention to make this change has continued.

Yesterday (26th) the scrutiny committee of Culture, Media and Sports declared its findings:

" The CMS committee, chaired by Conservative MP John Whittingdale, concluded that: "It was resoundingly clear from the public consultation that there was overwhelming opposition to the Government's proposal to abolish the Registrar of Public Lending Right and to transfer its functions to another public body. We continue to believe that the British Library is not a suitable host organisation for the PLR function given its many responsibilities and the risk that these could take priority over the PLR function." " (The Bookseller - here.)

Unfortunately the Government can ignore the opinion of the committee and carry on with it's plans. Money can be saved by this change, so change they will. :(

*   *   *
Another related PLR issue is e-books. Authors do not receive PLR on library e-book loans, so they are losing income.
 And the Society of Authors (SoA) has found that authors may not be receiving the correct payments from their publishers for e-book library loans by treating them as if they were sales rather than licences...
 If you go the item in the SoA's News and Events section, you can read about it in more detail- here.

Digital is giving writers so many opportunities, but it's also giving them a lot of 'virtual' headaches in trying to ensure they get the money they have a right to...

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Amazon Has No Right to Decide "Perceived" "Close Personal Relationship" for Reviews

You'll all remember last year's 'sock puppetry' scandal, when it was revealed that RJ Ellory had been leaving bad reviews on rivals books on Amazon; while others had been leaving good reviews on their books using alternative names/e-mail addresses.

Most writers would not be so unethical as to deliberately give bad reviews to fellow writers' books. Basically they would give an honest review good or bad, or if it's really bad, tell the author privately, if they can.

But now it seems Amazon have applied a sledgehammer approach and are taking it upon themselves to decide writers' close relationships with fellow writers of the same genre.

I think we all thought the reviews that were being removed before Christmas on were aimed at self-published or independent publishers, where friends and fellow writers were likely to post reviews-usually after reading the book.

But it seems 'names' are annoyed too.

Today's Bookseller online has a piece, 'Authors Angry over Amazon review crackdown' worth reading- if you haven't already.

I missed this Telegraph article over Christmas on the subject.

Amazon seem to have decided that they are going to judge whether the writer of a review is "perceived" to have a "close personal relationship" with rivals.

On what basis do they decide that one person appears to have a close personal relationship with the writer of a book they've reviewed?

Do they define it by the other person following and commenting on your blog, or website, or perhaps talking to you on Facebook? Or do you have to actually have met them in real life- and there's online photographic evidence?

Have Amazon never heard of workshops and writing conferences?
A lot of writers become friends at such events and keep in touch, even though they may have never met them before, or never meet them again, merely exchange comments on social media.

If I was considering buying a book on the basis of the reviews, I'm more likely to find the reviews posted are by fellow writers from within the same genre, or genuine fans of the writer's work- who aren't going to say it's good when it really is bad, and can highlight the strengths and weaknesses.

Why should Amazon decide my views on a book/genre aren't valid merely because they could consider I have a "perceived" "close personal relationship" with a writer of the same genre?

If Amazon want to be stupid then they will have to realise, some people will stop posting reviews and will post them on other numerous book sites, and sales may follow.

One writer on Facebook yesterday complained a good review on her book had been removed. It had been posted by the partner of someone she knew, though she herself didn't know the person who'd done the review, the book had been a Christmas gift and absolutely nothing to do with the author in any way. CORRECTION: The circumstances were a misunderstanding on my part and I apologise to the writer involved. It appears the reviewer stated that the book had been a present from his partner.
But the case still stands as the author had no connection with either the buyer, or reviewer.

If Amazon wants reviewers to declare if they know the person whose book they have reviewed, I would have no problem with that.

Publishers send review copies of new books out. Perhaps newspaper book sections should start carrying a warning, 'this review is the result of a free review copy'. But I don't see this happening anytime soon...

Have you found previously published Amazon reviews of your books missing?

What do you think of this situation?

Or just share your thoughts...


Monday 3 December 2012

The Writing World This Week...

Looking at the current book/magazine related news does seem to be popular, so I thought I'd start the week with bringing you a few snippets.

Easy Reads/My Weekly Pocket Novels- look out for more changes in this market. Sally Quilford has an update on her blog today- here. It seems the new Easy Reads are not continuing, but it doesn't appear that everything is going in reverse.

(This news may actually work for both the magazine readers and writers.)

Perhaps the changes that were made were too big. Especially in the current book and magazine markets where everyone is competing, trying to keep costs down and attract new readers. Regular readers can get forgotten about.

Kindle Book Pricing - came across an interesting couple of blog posts that will interest writers who are putting their work on Amazon's Kindle.

Do you have to keep your selling price low to get sales?

The Luzme blog looked at the top 30 Kindle best sellers and compared to there lowest price the previous week. See this post here.

Today's Luzme post looks at the paper copies and cost. Read it here. You will certainly understand why publishers seem to be having pricing issues of solid books vs e-books.

Don't forget VAT is charged on e-books, and not on solid books.

Which leads into a brief mention about e-book VAT  challenges on the Bookseller. Following up a few links I found an article from late October that sets out the consequences if the challenge to the UK's HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs service) succeeds- solid books may cost more.
Read the article here.

I'm sure that's enough to be going on with for now. :-)

Monday 5 November 2012

An Exciting Week Begins...

The countdown to the launch of the One Word Challenge Anthology e-book begins today.

This is a very exciting week for me, as I have four pieces of micro fiction included in this e-book- two are by my alternative writing persona, Serena Lake.

And the very best bit of all, beside the price (99p direct) is that 10% of the cover price of each e-book will go to Medical Detection Dogs, a charity that trains dogs to assist people with life-threatening conditions.

Fantastic cover image by Marion Clarke
But I'm getting ahead of myself...

The book will be available to buy in a few days, direct from Alfie Dog Fiction.

It will also be available from Amazon and Smashwords but there's no definite date yet for those. (But I'll add links and prices when they become available.)

(Buying direct from the publisher will ensure the charity gets more.)

I'm one of 30 writers who have contributed to the anthology, so expect to see other bloggers posting, tweeting and taking about it on Facebook as the week progresses.

As the official launch is Monday 12th November, you're all invited to the virtual launch party I'm holding here.

Lola the Diabetic Alert Dog
A couple of days before, 9th/10th, I'll be bringing you an interview with one of the other writers' involved, Catherine Dalling.

If you want to find out more about the Medical Detection Dogs charity that the anthology is donating to, please look here.

(Lola belongs to one of the writers in the anthology; and the Talkback Writers have followed her progress through initial training to passing her final qualifications.)

More news in a few days...

A little bit about the book

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Update on Publishers and the Agency Model...

If you've been keeping up with the controversy surrounding publishers who adopted the 'Agency Model' for retailers selling e-books, it appears that The European Commission (who began investigating a number of publishers over possible contravention of EU regulations) has made an initial finding.

For anyone who's missed the ongoing saga, the agency model is where the publisher sets a price that retailers must sell that publisher's e-books for; this prevents retailers from offering their own discount deals. I've been posting about this agency issue since late 2010.

Earlier this year the same publishers were faced with an agreement with the US Justice Department concerning the future of the agency model. But even this is still ongoing as this Bookseller item explains ' Publishers and Apple want delay in settlement agreements' claiming, " “The government is seeking to impose a remedy on Apple before there has been any finding of an antitrust violation.” ".

So to the EU.

The Competition Commission in the UK earlier this year stopped their investigation as the EC decided they would take action on potential breaches of legislation. And obviously they would have a bigger shovel to hit publishers with compared to the UK by itself...

"The publishers and Apple have agreed for two years not to "restrict, limit or impede" retailers from reducing the price of e-books or offering discounts. They have also agreed not to enter into any e-book agreement that contains a the most favoured nation (MFN) clause for five years." (Bookseller article)

This does not apply to Penguin, who have not reached an agreement with the EC.

"The EC is now road-testing the agreements and has called for observations to be submitted within one month, otherwise they will become binding shortly thereafter." (Bookseller article)

So the battle is far from over, but by early next year I'd expect to see a few pricing changes.

Sadly I don't think it will bode well for e-book royalty rates for writers contracted to those publishers. And I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes even harder for unknowns to be taken on by the big firms, even with an agent.

This may be the time for independent publishers to see a further leap in interest and more submissions...


Tuesday 4 September 2012

Sock Puppetry - It's Bad...

I doubt there are many writers who haven't seen the news about fake reviews posted by authors to praise their latest book. Or others buying bulk reviews.

But the admission by crime writer RJ Ellory that he'd been posting fake reviews for his books, and making adverse comments on reviews of novels by fellow writers is unacceptable.

I don't think any of us are naive enough to believe that fake reviews don't exist. You only need to look at Amazon and after a while you can pick out the dubious reviews because they sound wrong.

Yes, your book might be brilliant, but there will still be readers who don't like it and will say so.

I try to be realistic about the business. But I can't help but be irritated that a writer, who has been fortunate enough to be taken on and published by a mainstream publisher, with the publicity advantages that brings, feels the need to big up their books by fake reviews.

If he had stopped at fake reviews, I could have understood; but to make adverse comments about fellow writers books is beyond the pale. Especially when there are enough readers around to say completely the opposite.

He's apologised and admitted that he's in the wrong straight away. (Always a good idea to admit you've made a mistake when it becomes open knowledge.)

Sadly there will be long term consequences on his reputation as a writer, and as a colleague of numerous other crime writers- what will be their attitude toward him next time they meet?

(See this piece on the Bookseller website.)

And the reading public? Will they now think they can't trust anyone's reviews, and will other writers suffer a drop in sales? (Especially those who have self-published and rely on good reviews and word of mouth recommendations.)

When I leave a review on Amazon, I have read the book, and if I've liked it, I'll say so-if I haven't I'll say why. Even if the book is by a friend, I won't give it a great review just because they are a friend.

Okay, I've not got a novel out vying for sales against numerous other competitors within my genre. But if I did, I wouldn't resort to buying reviews, or creating identities to review my own book. It's unethical and dishonest.

My work has to stand on it's own two feet and take the knocks that may come to it.

A writer once said at a talk I attended, if you can't take criticism then don't go into publishing.

It's a tough business...

Friday 3 August 2012

Waterstones, Pocket Novels and Other News...

It's been a strange week, with the Olympics almost taking over the news, but don't worry writing news hasn't been forgotten.

So here's a round up of what's been happening.

There's been the sad news about the passing of two well known writers: Maeve Binchy and Gore Vidal. While I have to admit to never having read either author, I remember snippets of one of Maeve Binchy's stories on the radio, her words conjuring up the Dublin of her youth and the attitudes of society.

*    *    *
The My Weekly Pocket Novels are undergoing another change. Anyone buying copies recently will have noticed the more modern covers which are certainly more appealing to a potential reader.

This week Womag and Sally Quilford have been sent the new information on the major changes taking place.

Basically there's a name change to Easy Read, with 2 Romance genres: Caress and Liaison; and 2 Crime genres labelled Intrigue and Suspense.

You can read the explanations for each category over at Sally's blog- just download the flyer at the link on the page.

If you're unsure about some of the requirements Sally has a follow up post here, Maggie Seed has clarified a few aspects of the changes.

Like every magazine editor there comes a point when you have to modernise to reach a younger market but hopefully not change too much and lose your regular buyers.

They seem to be going for a Mills and Boon effect cover with elements of 50 Shades starkness. But I like the covers shown on the flyer, so it will be interesting to see w they look on the shelf.

(Meanwhile People's Friend isn't changing- see here.)

*    *    *
For those who have books to promote and have been fortunate enough to arrange book signings in Waterstones stores, you might like to follow this Bookseller report up.

"Waterstones has issued new advice to its bookstores on running author events, after concern that customers were being put off by writers handselling their own books, and that signings were lasting too long. One author was told that going forward author events should last no longer than 90 minutes, and be staffed by booksellers." (the

Now I'd assume individual store managers will decide what happens, but one blogger reports cancellations of book signings already (link within the Bookseller article).

There's not enough staff in stores now, so I can't see branches wanting to provide an assistant for authors selling their books.

Authors with first books to promote don't naturally know best practise, or signing protocol. So perhaps Waterstones would be better having a standard sheet of what they do and don't expect of authors doing signings.

Waterstones need book buyers to keep them on the high street, that's a fact of life.

Yes, Waterstones is a business so it's understandable that they have concerns, and want people to buy books from them.

But you have to give people a reason to step inside the bookshop in the first place, and author signings do that.

If a 'handselling' author has promoted their book signing well then people may just go along, and once they're in the bookstore you might just find them buying other books from the shelves and display tables, or even deciding to come back again later.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Friday 30 March 2012

Oddest Book Title of the Year Winner Announced...

It's 'Cooking with Poo' by Saiyuud Diwong - and as I mentioned previously Poo is Thai for crab- but apparently Poo is also the author's nickname, so hence the title.

The winner got 38% of the votes, while the second place title (about the chicken sexer in Hebden Bridge) received 22% of the 1,363 votes.

Sadly the Estonian Sock Patterns that I favoured just couldn't compete with the top two titles, garnering only 12%...

For full results see the Bookseller article here.

So if you want publicity and sales for your non-fiction book, clearly an odd title can have its advantages...

Monday 27 February 2012

Odd Book Titles Voting Time...

Yes it's time to vote (if you're so inclined) for the fun titles in the shortlist for the Diagram Prize, the Oddest Book Title of the Year- for 2011. You can read about it here on the Bookseller website.

"The Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year was first awarded in 1978 to Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice""

(The fact that it is still going suggests there's a slightly dippy portion of the population who like it- me included- and authors who are smart...)

I've voted, and have to say it was a tough choice this year. :-)

My personal favourite is the Estonian sock patterns, but I don't expect my choice to win this year, when it's up against titles like 'Cooking with Poo' ( it's actually Crab) or 'The Great Singapore P*nis Panic...' I think the latter is going to rate highly- and it's the only one available in digital format...

For the full list and voting form, go here. You can see the book covers too- which are quite normal, considering the titles.

If you've managed to miss this prize, then you can find out about it's history and discover what the winning book titles from earlier years were actually about, here.

If you're going to be in the running for a fun award, this is it. And you can be sure that it will get publicity and sales for books that wouldn't get much recognition beyond their own circles, or interest groups...

The winner will be announced on the 30th March.

Are you voting?

Wednesday 26 October 2011

The OFT Decision on the Amazon/Book Depository Merger is a Disappointment...

I think there are a lot of readers and writers who will disappointed today; the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) has cleared Amazon in its intention to take over the Book Depository. They will not be referring the take-over to the Competition Commission.

You can read this article on the Bookseller website that explains some of the reasoning for this decision.

The Booksellers Association, one of a number of organisations who sent representations to the OFT during the consultation period this summer, are concerned that Amazon could put its competitors out of business, now the take-over has got the go-ahead.

"Tim Godfray, chief executive of the BA, said: “ Amazon now has even more power to put its bookseller competitors out of business and, having done that, it will be in an excellent position to increase prices and/or reduce choice.” "
The BA website didn't have anything about the OFT decision in the news section of their website at the time I posted this, so here's to The Bookseller again.

I'd be very surprised if Amazon hadn't been preparing for the merger in the meantime, so I don't expect its completion to take too long now.

Amazon features in the financial news today, with the announcement that their third quarter's profits have slumped (that's July to September) - likely due to their investment in the new Kindle devices, Fire and Touch.

This time next year it may be an entirely different situation.

So for those book buyers who don't want to buy from Amazon, now is the time to support small booksellers, or go to the publisher and buy direct from them- a lot of them are offering this now.

Monday 19 September 2011

Would You Pay More For the Same Book in a Different Waterstones Branch?

It's been some time since I mentioned high street bookseller Waterstones. It has been featuring a lot in the bookselling press since it was sold to Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut’s A&NN Group.

James Daunt, owner of independent bookseller's 'Daunt' was put in charge as managing director of Waterstones and since his arrival changes have been announced, and decision made that will effect the staff, book buyers and authors.

We're all realistic enough to accept that when there's a new boss in charge there will be changes; we might not like those changes but sometimes change is for the good. Bookselling is no different from any other type of retailer, you need footfall and resulting sales...

Since early September, Waterstones has been announcing this and that change; staff contracts changing, getting rid of 3 for 2 promotions, and closing a few branches. They even want to launch their own e-reader.

But among the ideas is increasing the percentage of discount they get from publishers- which means that the author will get less royalties if the discount percentage is raised. Makes me wonder if new authors' whose books get into Waterstones will get much in royalties from their sales...

Then last week 'differential pricing' raised its head. Example: a book by popular author X could be sold cheaper/dearer in Luton than the price asked in Bath, but both are being sold by the same retailer.

Now I can understand the reasoning that because of demographics you might sell a book better in one area that's more prosperous, than elsewhere in the country where that book will sell few copies.
(So stock less in the poor selling branches.)

But is that demographic issue a good enough reason to charge differently?

Personally I would be extremely annoyed (to put it mildly) if I went to buy a book in my local branch in Nottingham and then found out it was cheaper in their Manchester store.

You might ask how would you know? Well I'm quite sure it would be easy enough to check with a friend using social media or on a forum; and I wouldn't think it would be long before there was an online price comparison site.

At the moment it is only an idea, but I'm wondering what the next improvement idea will be...

Later this week I will be going into my local Waterstones so it will be interesting to see if there have been any further changes.
When I last visited the comfy chairs had returned (hurray- my back thanks you Waterstones) and areas were less crowded by tables and mobile book stands than earlier in the year.

So over to you, would you be happy with differential pricing?

Monday 8 August 2011

Social Networking for Kindle Users...

I'm having difficulty getting onto the computer these past few days- school holidays and the novelty of all the things my family can now do on the computer. I haven't even been able to do any writing!!!! :-(

So I've only just seen this Kindle item on the Bookseller website. Apparently has launched a social networking site for Kindle

Now how useful this could become to both readers and writers is yet to be seen, but it apparently allows users to set up a profile and review books they've read and see public notes made on the book.

We all know how valuable word of mouth recommendations are- even if they are digital and not face to face.

So it will be interesting to see how this progresses and if it spreads further...