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The Guardian shortlist

Heaven forefend! KING CROW did get onto the short list for THE NOT THE BOOKER. The prize, a Guardian mug. Nothing to write home about, but the most important aspect of the whole process is that it gives a national platform to small and independent publishers to promote their books and authors to a group of people who wouldn’t normally view such titles.

Why is that you ask? Well, reviewers don’t on the whole review books sent to then from indie publishers. Why not? You’ll have to ask them I suppose, but my conjecture is that they deem books by those not already signed to the mainstream publishers not really worthy. Publishing is very conservative you see and run on very upper middle class sensibilities. I’ve worked in publishing for 25 years and my first job was as a rep for a new publishing house run by the son of an Earl. You get the drift. Eton. Oxford. Publishing house. Natch.

And publishing is run via a very old model. Agent signs up new wunderkind, sells first new book to commissioning editor for zillions, publisher has to get buzz going so gets Camilla from in house PR to take reviewers out for lunch or the opera and over dinner, chats about new wunderkind and three weeks later wunderkind is all over the books sections like a priapic Oxford poetry lecturer is over a nubile undergraduate. Simple really. Access is denied to the likes of Bluemoose as we can only run to an avocado and radish sandwich.

For 5 years I have tried to get one of our titles reviewed. Nothing. That is until this year when The Guardian ran their New First book Award and asked bloggers what titles did they think they had missed. Irate Moosers around the country told them about KING CROW. The books editor in her wisdom bowed to the presure, asked for a copy, read it , and loved it. Job Done. Then a week later a review in the newspaper itself. I doffed my antlers to her, now that she had seen the light, and hopefully new Bluemoose titles won’t find their first port of call, a bin. Let us hope , dear readers, that all the harrumphing will stop, reviewers will realise that mainstream is replicating the same old, same old and its the bright new buttons in the sticks that are pubishling great new books.

Toodelpip, off to Waterstone’s Bradford to see one of our finest writers, Leonora Rustamova, sign copies of her book STOP DON’T READ THIS. I’ve sent a copy to the shadow education secretary Andy Burnham. The great hope of newish labour. If he reads it, they may have a chance, if not, bunker down because the toffs will be running the asylum.

Book for Europe

Looks like KING CROW made it onto The Guardian’s NOT THE BOOKER LIST. About time those scribes in Londinium realised what talent lay outside the gates of the Metropolis. We’ve got Hollywood excited about KC, and Penguin USA, so, its not before time that they realised we can read and write and publish great stories up here in the wilderness under Ted Hughes’ eyebrows in Hebden Bridge. Having said that, they did give it a marvelous review a couple of weeks ago. Mustn’t let my inverted snobbery get in the way of a good old rant. Well, its taken four years. So why not?

I received the last re-write of PIG IRON by Ben Myers yesterday and handed it over to one of editors. It’s a brilliant story and beautifully written. It should win every prize on planet letters. Ben tells a story that beguiles and illuminates, is lyrical yet visceral, sharp and thoroughly entertaining. It is published next May 2012. Get your orders in now. And we have a jacket image that will blow the beejesus off you.

Toodlepip

It's about the stories, stupid

The Guardian’s NOT THE BOOKER LIST is in its final hours of voting. KING CROW by Michael Stewart, which we published in January of this year, is in the running to be one of the 6 titles they choose to review and discuss over the next 6 weeks. As 83% of all books are sold on recommendations, getting a book seen and reviewed by the press is essential to get the book seen by as many people as possible. To get a reviewer to open the first page and jump in is the trick.

For the bigger metropolitan houses this is far easier than small indies in the beautiful north. There is still an institutionslised bias against small presses. Small is not beautiful in the reviewers eyes. Small means not being part of the established more successful publishing industry. HOW WRONG THEY ARE. Look at the Man Booker long list. Of the 13 on the list, 9 are from independents and 3 from very small presses. What does that say about the huge houses? Same old same old.

For a long time, which started in the mid 80s, publishing got obsessed with literary theory. You know all the post domesticated modernism and the story, where a book has a start a middle and an end, revolutionary I know, became old hat. It became all tricks and whistles and plot and structure went out the window. In my experience, most people want a damned good story, and a great plot that is beautifully written. Period. Now the great unwashed are fighting againtst those books that are only concerned about what happens between each full stop. Most of us don’t care about isms. Isms are self generated ivory tower building exercises by professors of long words who are trying to create their own legacy. Stories have been with us for ever, and they always will. From the oral to the written we all need stories and KING CROW is one of the best you will read. I guarantee it.

Book banning Mormons

Now those far sighted followers of Joseph Smith have got an old testament bee in their bonnets. They have complained to the local authorities in Alabama, or some such creationist state in the American south and said because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘A study in scarlet,’ has some anti mormon passges in it, it should be taken out of every school library and off any reading courses. The authorities in their wisdom have done just that. It is now banned. You know what is next. Every book will be banned bar Mr Smith’s words and God’s diary. Oh dear. No wonder America is such an intolerant country.

My dad burned my copy of ‘A clockwork orange,’ because of what he read in the press in 1973, I told him about another book burner, Adolf Hitler. He wasn’t impressed with my history lesson. My reward? A fat ear and a few more prayers to commit to the ceiling. Now, if there is one book that should be considered off the curriculum… Nah, people should read as much as possible. It helps, it really does. You might not understand everything, but you’ll have one thing in your favour if you do read. You’ll be more willing to listen to another’s view. Remember, you read it here first.

All Google Eyed

Those boys and girls at Google will have you believe that everything should be free. The search engine that is taking ove the world, made zillions of dollars for The Brothers Grin last year, wants to abolish copyright. They want all books to be available free at the click of a mouse.

Sounds brilliant doesn’t it? Every book online free. Literacy rates would soar and we would all have a library at our fingertips. But stop there reader and just think. Google doesn’t do everything out of the kindness of their corporate heart. Google exists to suck as much money out of advertisers as they can. They are The Goldman Sachs of the internet age. Don’t be fooled by their zany ball pool head offices and driving around the grounds on big boys toys. They want dollars, and they want them now. Free books? What about the content? Who provides that? Of course, the author. The Creator of those magic words that transport each and everyone one of us from the tedium of our daily existence. How does the writer get paid if the copyright is free?

Content is king and the writers need some sort of protection to put food on the table Mr Grin. Copyright is there for a reason, to give them enough calories to finish the next chapter. When the CEOs of Google are taking their billion dollar dividends and buying spaceships to go to Saturn because its a hoot, remember, your search enging relies on the content of others. Journalists and writers. Without them you will have nothing to search for. And if they do get their way and abolish copyright and everything is free, then we will see them start to charge for everything. When the fences are broken, the big bad fox won’t have to blow anything down because dinner will have been provided, all trussed with condiments too. Beware those that say all lunches are free. They’re not and they never will be.

Moose on tour

We have an extremely busy few weeks ahead of us at BLUEMOOSE BOOKS. On the 1st September, we are publishing an historical fiction title called THORN by Michael Dean. Spinoza and Rembrandt on a Rabelasian tour of Amsterdam in the middle of the 17th Century. David Nobbs, the acclaimed author and creator of Reggie Perrin, says, ‘It’s an astonsihing and powerfull book.’ Praise indeed. Michael will be singing and talking about his book at Colchester Central library on Saturday 24th September at 11am and at Waterstone’s Chelmsford on saturday 17th between 12-2pm.

KING CROW by Michael Stewart has been nominated for The Guardian’s NOT THE BOOKER LIST, get your votes in now.

Leonora Rustamova, fresh from espousing her thoughts on BBC Radio Leeds on Thursday 11th August and after being interviewed by The Telegraph and Argus, will be signing copies of her book STOP DON’T READ THIS at Watesrtone’s Bradford on Saturday 20th after 1pm and the following Saturday between 11 – 2pm at Waterstone’s Leeds.

The Bishop Of Bradford

We’re off to BBC Radio Leeds this morning. That is, Leonnora Rustamova and I. She has been invited onto the morning show to talk about how she managed to engage with five disaffected young lads and get them to come back into school and finish off their education. She succeeded and the result is her book, STOP DON’T READ THIS. Because she was so successful, she was sacked. Madness I know, but when the educators find somebody getting great results but not following the dictats and formula, they get worried.

Then we’re off to see the Bishop of Bradford. He’s worried that he can’t speak to the youth of Bradford. He doesn’t know the ‘idiom and argot’ in which they speak. He’s blogging. We’re going to see if we can help. Leonora’s not one for pointing. She listens. Perhaps there should be more people like her. You can’t have a conversation without listening, and defintely not with water cannon and rubber bullets on the streets. Wasn’t Mr Cameron part of a social group that met in pubs in Oxford, got drunk, trashed the rooms but then paid the owners for the havoc they’d wreeked? It’s called hypocrisy. The youth know, you know.

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