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Comment from the book world in January 2007

January 2007

'A dream come true'

29 January 2007

'The concentration in the retail sector is making the survival of small publishers more and more precarious. The acquisition of Serpent's Tail by Profile, a publishing house known for its idiosyncratic brilliance and consistent profitability, guarantees that Serpent's Tail remains within the independent sector. It also means I can devote myself to publishing and editing - a dream come true. Twenty years is long enough to be on your own.'

Pete Ayrton of Serpent's Tail on the London publishing house's recent sale to Profile

The perils of large advances

22 January 2007

'Large advances attract huge publicity, not all of it good. Literary critics will be more inclined to review whether the book is value for money than whether it is a good read. An author who fails to match expectations will be judged by retailers, press and rival publishers as a disappointment and may carry the stigma of failing to deliver when their next work comes on the market. Far better to take less money from a publisher who shows real vision for your career as a writer and offers ideas on how to build you as a brand rather than a one or two hit wonder.'

Danuta Kean in MslexiaStylish and lively site for quarterly UK literary magazine read by 12,000 'committed' women writers. Good range of quality writing, information and advice with news, reviews, competitions and interviews, all presented in a friendly fashion. Praised by Helen Dunmore as 'astute, invigorating and above all an excellent read.'

Writing historical fiction

15 January 2007

'I worked my way towards this and that, and then wrote something that had an historical element - and I had this sense of coming home. Looking back, I could see all sorts of aspects of my life and education feeding into it. It wasn't a conscious thing - just one of those things that you discover, like the first time a natural tennis player is handed a racquet.

I never set out to write historical fiction: it's just that history keeps being what I want to write about. For fiction writers history is a place separate from the mundane present but almost present in it, where we can explore fundamental desires and fears, slither about in historical time and real space, and play with different voices, long sentences, rich language and - okay, let's be honest - great frocks.'

Emma Darwin, author of Mathematics of Love, in Writers' ForumBritish writers' magazine which is highly recommended for all writers. It features wide range of news and articles which help writers to improve their work and get published:

Self-publishing - 'career suicide' or 'really great'?

8 January 2007

'When I first considered self-publishing I worried that it might be career suicide. But my experience has been really great. They have given me access to retail distribution and to excellent marketing services. They also set me up with a print-on-demand service in America.

Publishing is evolving. Technology is changing everything and I think the self-publishing industry will prove more adaptable than traditional book publishers. If you are confident in your story and in your writing then it's certainly worth considering. Just be prepared to get involved in marketing your book.

Frances O'Brien, author of Sheer Bliss in Writers' ForumBritish writers' magazine which is highly recommended for all writers. It features wide range of news and articles which help writers to improve their work and get published:

'An odd way to spend your life'

1 January 2007

'I don't know why I do what I do. If I did know, I probably wouldn't feel the need to do it. All I can say, and I say it with utmost certainty, is that I have felt this need since my earliest adolescence. I'm talking about writing, in particular, writing as a vehicle to tell stories, imaginary stories that have never taken place in what we call the real world. Surely it is an odd way to spend your life - sitting alone in a room with a pen in your hand, hour after hour, day after day, year after year, struggling to put words on pieces of paper in order to give birth to what does not exist - except in your head. Why on earth would anyone want to do such a thing? The only answer I have ever been able to come up with is: because you have to, because you have no choice.'

Paul Auster in the Observer