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With fewer debut novels selling, what do editors want to tell authors?

In a tightening market for fiction and especially for debut authors looking for that big break, editors can be choosier—and many are more dependent than ever on literary agents to find their next debuts.

A room filled with aspiring writers awaited three editors and a debut author last week at London Book Fair’s session “Why We Commissioned These Debuts.” Speakers included:

  • Penguin Random House UK editor Jade Chandler, who handles crime and thrillers for Harvill Secker and Vintage
  • Nick Wells, the founding publisher at independent house Flame Tree Publishing, which is to launch an imprint for horror, crime, and science fiction/fantasy in September
  • HarperCollins UK editorial director Martha Ashby
  • HarperCollins author Sarah J. Harris was on hand to provide the debut writer’s viewpoint

Harris is also published in the States by Simon & Schuster, and she’s written three YA novels under a pseudonym.  And she described the comparatively dreamy experience she had in entering the market with The Color of Bee Larkham’s Murder.

Having spent nine months writing the book, she said she researched agents and picked out the ones she thought would suit her best. Among them was Jemima Forrester who was starting a new list at David Higham’s agency.

Harris wrote a cover letter, targeted her agents’ list, met Forrester first and signed with her.  Once the book was edited, Harris said, Forrester submitted it and the manuscript drew overnight interest from publishers.

Within less than a week, HarperCollins made a bid, which Harris said she knows is unusually fast action.

From an editor’s viewpoint, Harvill Secker’s Chandler said that in a pre-empt, a publisher may “offer quite a lot to the agent because you want the book” to be taken off the table.

“But sometimes the agent will have it go to auction. I’ve pre-empted two books this year,” Chandler said, “and it usually involves reading the book overnight. It’s very dramatic and exciting and involves sleepless nights.”

Chandler said that like most editors, she finds authors through literary agents who filter submissions. “It’s quite an old fashioned process,” she said, “but in reality, I’m just one woman and I can only read so much.” Not surprisingly, she said that good relationships with agents become important if an editor is to find the best material.

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India’s first children’s literature festival, Bookaroo bags award at the London Book Fair

By Pallavi Chattopadhyay

As India’s first children’s literature festival, Bookaroo bags award at the London Book Fair, co-founders Swati Roy and Jo Williams talk about their journey.

You just won the International Excellence Award at the London Book Fair. How does it feel to receive global applause?

It’s an affirmation of our belief that a children’s literature festival can stand on its own. It has just been two days since the announcement was made and is, therefore, too early to measure the impact it may have. However, it has been heartening to discover — at the London Book Fair — how many people have heard of Bookaroo.

How have you seen Bookaroo progress since it was founded in 2008?

It has been a phenomenal journey with its fair share of twists, turns and challenges, ranging from unpredictable sponsors to even more unpredictable weather. Passion, perseverance and positivity have enabled us to surmount obstacles so that without any guaranteed sponsorship, Bookaroo has now travelled to seven cities in India and one in Malaysia. Building a community of readers, writers, illustrators, poets and storytellers across continents has brought its own rewards. Read more

Source: The Indian Express

 


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In the global book market, India and Brazil remain hot

India would seem to be the place to be if you are a publisher, according to figures revealed by Nielsen’s Andre Breedt in his swift overview of the global book market as the London Book Fair wrapped up last week.

Not only is the country ranked third on Nielsen’s intriguing Wheel of Global Consumer Confidence, just behind Indonesia and the Philippines, but when it comes to physical books the overall market was up 11% by volume and 23% by value in 2013 over 2012. In other parts of the world, many publishers would be happy just to take 1% up, thanks. Or even flat – yep, flat would be good. Continue reading


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London Book Fair features 10 Korean writers

What can the 10 South Korean writers selected for the book fair this week tell us about a country that has been cut in two? The Star

Hen

Hen

After two years of political hot potatoes – first China and then Turkey – this year’s “market focus” country presents a different challenge to the London Book Fair, which runs this week: Who wants to read books from Korea? The choice of name could be dismissed as opportunistically misleading; Korea is two countries, but the 10 writers who will be at the book fair are all from the south. Continue reading


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London Book Fair 2014: At Digital Minds, publishers urged to look beyond the book

Anthony-HorowitzAt last year’s Digital Minds conference, author Neil Gaiman encouraged publishers to “try everything,” advice that was echoed at this year’s event, as a morning of keynote speakers kicked off the London Book Fair by urging publishers to look beyond the book.

“I do not believe that books will ever die,” said Anthony Horowitz, author of the bestselling Alex Rider books, in his opening talk. “At the same time, we cannot deny we are in an extraordinary transition, and it does seem to me sometimes that publishers are not grabbing the nettle because they are too afraid of getting stung.” Continue reading


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London Book Fair 2014: Big books, no huge book

While no single title has emerged as the hot book of this year’s London Book Fair, a number of titles were generating buzz as the fair kicked off on Tuesday.

One of the hottest of those titles is, arguably, a memoir represented by William Morris Endeavor’s Bill Clegg called Darling Days. Dan Halpern at Ecco acquired North American rights to the book in the States about a week before the fair in a deal insiders have said was worth $700,000. Continue reading


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London Book Fair: the quest for digital innovation

Industry must do more than turn books into PDFs to capture readers’ imaginations, says head of trade body on opening day

The search for the next publishing sensation, and digital business model, dominated the agenda at the opening day of the annual London Book Fair on Tuesday.

The head of the industry trade body warned that simply “turning a book into a PDF” was not innovative enough to capture readers’ imaginations and sales. “In any sector, in any industry, stagnation is death. If you stand still, you are probably in danger because someone will come along and take your consumers from you,” said Richard Mollet, chief executive of the Publishers Association. Continue reading


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Korean literature – books podcast

Smartphone cartoons, divided families and colourful fables – Claire Armitstead travels to Seoul and take the temperature of Korean literary culture: The Guardian

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Hen

As Korea comes to London, with a star turn as the 2014 market focus at next month’s London Book Fair, the Books podcast travels right to the source to investigate the country and its literature.

We meet Yoon Tae-Ho, a star of the booming “manwha” industry, who explains the power of this cousin to Japan’s manga, and how graphic literature is made for the age of the smartphone. Hwang Sok-Yong tells us about his fictional project to exorcise the demons of a divided country, while novelist Yi Mun-Yol explains how his own family history has fed into his work, demonstrating that not all Korea’s defections have been from North to South.

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Singapore literature in London book fair

Alvin Pang

Alvin Pang

Singapore literature will be showcased at the London Book Fair for the first time this year.

The National Arts Council, together with a delegation of local writers and publishers, will present literary works from more than 60 Singaporean writers in a Best Of Singapore Literature showcase at the fair, and will also take part in trade events and public literary events at bookstores.

Singapore writers whose works will be promoted there include Dave Chua, Alfian Sa’at, Claire Tham, M.Balakrishnan and Ahmad Jaaffar Munasip.

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