Friday, 27 August 2010

In the Wake of a Book

In the rush and tumble to find something eye-catching to blog about, could it be that I have stumbled on a subject seldom covered? After all, I don't see many celebrations of a title's removal from a publisher's list. But that is precisely what is happening to one of my books.

To be accurate, the title itself isn't going out of print, it's a book & CD edition of it that's for the chop. The paperback of The Noisiest Night lives on, but it's nonetheless a sad development, not least because the audio version is rather fun. If anyone's curious, the form of words used to condemn a book is (something like):

'I am writing to let you know that sales of this book have slowed down to such an extent that we have reluctantly decided to remainder the stock we have left and declare the book out of print.'

Not really what you want to read over coffee and a marmalade breakfast, but (as I suggested a couple of posts back) that doesn't mean it isn't a significant development worthy of being recorded on a blog like this. Every book has a shelf life, and when a single title becomes several editions, a letter like this one won't be long in coming.

Ashes to ashes, pulp to pulp.

Anyway, this is supposed to be a celebration so let's get to it. I have a shiny rescued copy of this fine picture book (and CD!) about cheeky tigers and animal noises to give away. Simply comment on my blog before the beginning of September GMT and your name will be entered into a draw. In fact, make an animal noise while you're at it (ROOAR!), and I'll put your name in twice. The lucky winner (or the young person of their choice) will then receive this signed book (with sketch), complete with bedtime recording and sound effects. All you need is an address!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Here's the Deal...

Well, it's happened: the contract has arrived, the ink is more or less dry, and only the Royal Mail can stop me now. Accordingly I have performed the promised cartwheel, but just in case you blinked and missed it, a faithful reproduction in pen and ink has been attached to this post showing it exactly as it happened.

I am proud and delighted that The Chicken House have acquired world rights to my 11+ supernatural thriller, The Ghost Effect, for publication in June 2012. These days I'm mostly to be found on Cloud Nine.

The Chicken House is a great publisher, and one I have been eyeing up for a while now, mostly because of their vibrant 9-12 and YA list. They have a reputation for nurturing new writers and for being as focussed as a small press would be, whilst being part of the Scholastic Group means that they are able to back up this hands-on approach with real global clout. I honestly don't think my novel could have a better home, especially with an award winning editor (no pressure there then!).

Thanks again for your encouragement and kind comments on my blog as I have staggered toward this major branching point in my career. I promise not to bore you to tears with endless posts about revision angst and the fascinating depth of my navel, but I hope you'll forgive me if I, er, mention my book quite a lot nevertheless:-/

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Keeping it Rosy

Many publishing blogs spin endless tales of doom and gloom right now, as mid-lists shrink, retail space evaporates, and we all teeter on the brink of celebrity cookbook wipe out. But writers themselves tend to paint a rather more positive picture on their blogs, especially when they talk about their own careers. Not all writers of course, some are more honest about these bruising times than others, but there's no doubt that a great deal of 'talking it up' is going on. Not that this is at all surprising.

I get my fair share of knock backs, and I don't normally mention them here. For example, I tried very hard for a lovely ghost writing job a few months ago, and failed. And I've just received a letter notifying me that yet another edition (book+CD) of one of my picture books is going out of print, something that happens perhaps once a year. But why don't I blog about these things? Isn't a big part of blogging the 'sharing of relevant information', warts and all?

Naturally, no one wants to look like they're struggling, and this is probably even more true of writers who are already published because they have professional reputations to nurture upon which future publishing deals will be based. So we talk it up and keep it rosy, because it's in our interests to do so. But could it be that some agents and publishers have an interest in doing the exact opposite? Just a thought -- don't shoot me.

How about you? Do you blog it up (if you blog that is)? Or are you brave enough to show a little bruise blue with your rosy pink?

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Hurrah for...

It's too long since I last sent out any hurrahs, and I know I've missed some people and books and publications. Sorry. Let me correct that today with two shout outs.

Hurrah for author and artist Marcus Sedgwick and the publication of his latest novel, White Crow. Marcus is an old friend and fellow sketcher, and these days a major figure in YA writing, inspirational to me not only for his taut prose and Gothic imagination, but also for the fact that, one way or another, he manages to illustrate a lot of his novels. My copy of White Crow has reached the top of my reading list, so hurrah for that too. See Marcus talking about his book here here.

Secondly, but no less importantly, acclaimed Writer and Illustrator James Mayhew is celebrating the considerable achievement of reaching book number ten (!) in his charming Katie series of picture books. James is another old friend, and while he isn't quite one of my ex-tutors (I'm not sure how I managed to miss his modules, but it wasn't deliberate I promise!), he was a great moral support when I was starting out. He also bakes legendary cakes.

On top of all this, James is a prolific blogger, with something interesting to say about everything from Dusty Old Books to Opera and Ballet. So Hurrah for James and for Katie!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

I Didn't Only Doodle

Technically, I've been a published author for 11 years (I'm young at heart though, I promise), and yet, as the editing and revision of my novel begins in earnest, I find myself almost back at square one.

Having a picture book text edited is not normally a complex or protracted process, though it can be dramatic, with editors saying things like 'love the basic concept, but now try it in the present tense, and set in space!'. And as it's only five hundred words, you give it a go, because we're talking hours and days here, that's all. Yes, getting a picture book text just right can be very difficult, but exploring options is pretty easy, and fun too.

Having had several days to absorb my first editorial meeting about a novel, I can see that I'm in completely new territory. There's A LOT to think about! Having a fourth dimension doesn't help either – why, oh why did I pick time travel?

Oh yes, because it's endlessly -- timelessly -- fascinating, that's why.

But anyway, it's nevertheless an invigorating experience being edited on this scale, and liberating to be given time and permission to slash and burn, as well as reappraise all those discarded ideas. What it all comes down to is writing out the weaknesses of the text to allow the strengths to really fly, though that makes it sound easy. It isn't, which is why having someone experienced point out which is which is beyond price.

I've been told that I might just have an original idea, though I hardly dare type that! Perhaps it would be more accurate to say it's a cluster of ideas that have not been combined quite this way before. I think. I'll probably find out to the contrary when the plagiarism charges arrive. But whatever it is, I've also been told that it's being held back by some rather pedestrian (though core, unfortunately) plot elements that have been done, frankly, far too often. It's no simple thing to nurture and destroy at the same time, but that it seems is what editing is all about.

If only my contract would arrive, then I could talk about it here properly.