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Comment from the book world in February 2008

February 2008

The end of the novel?

25 February 2008

'For a commissioning editor, the pressing question is this: when most books are sold on the net as downloads, how will this change their content? My hunch is that will finally spell the end of the novel. Of course there are good, perhaps even great novelists writing today. But in contemporary fiction there seem to be no monumental novels that dominate our mental landscape in the same way as the masterpieces of Dickens, Thackeray or George Eliot. Few titanic novels wrestle with the great questions of life and death and seek to alter our perceptions of them...

The great new literary form that will replace the novel will, I believe, arise on the net and will take on its wild frontier spirit, its intellectual risk-taking, its two fingers at academic control-freakery, but it will also help forge a new form of consciousness in a much more fundamental way that has to do with the form of the internet.'

Mark Booth, Publishing Director of Century, part of Random House UKPenguin Random House have more than 50 creative and autonomous imprints, publishing the very best books for all audiences, covering fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s books, autobiographies and much more. Click for Random House UK Publishers References listing, in the Independent on Sunday.

Writing thrillers

18 February 2008

'The bad guys always have good bits in them and the good guys can have bad bits. My books are true to life both in subject matter and in how the plot develops - as a journalist, I like writing thrillers because they're more closely based on reality. But you can't mess around - everything has to be plausible and has to have happened, in some form, in the real world. So, I like my books to be open-ended.'

Stephen Leather, whose latest title Dead Men is just out, in Publishing News

'A posh profession'

11 February 2008

'Publishing this book made me an author, and I have since gone on to write other books, some about publishing/writing but also about parenting... So my views on the industry are sharpened by an awareness of feelings on both sides. Publishing remains rather a posh profession, and although there have been initiatives to widen recruitment... the workforce remains substantially white, middle-class, inward-looking. Publishers are suspicious of activities they don't engage in themselves, and it is increasingly up to the author/agent to prove an unfamiliar market exists.'

Alison Baverstock, author of the authoritative How to Market Books, in Publishing News

Our review of the book

Finding an agent

4 February 2008

'Finding an agent can be even harder than finding a publisher. If you can find an established author who will recommend you to one, or some other personal contact, that's a good way to get them to read your typescript. Or you can look for someone who hasn't been an agent for long, and who might be more hungry, have more time and be ready to take a chance on you.'

Mandy Little, MD of Watson Little in the Sunday Times