Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone this year, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

It's been a fantastic year for Exclusively Independent, with the project growing from strength to strength each month.

A big thank you to View From Here for enabling the scheme to showcase author blogs and project updates. Also a big thank you to the panel: Steve from The Book Depository, Debby from London Libraries, Roz from Review Bookshop, and Irene from Bookgroup Info; for their ongoing support and lending the project their knowledge at every panel meeting!

Exclusively Independent thrives on the committment from independent publishers and bookshops, without whom, we wouldn't have a the project at all.

So many people are involved that I could spend all day saying thank you, so last but not least a big thank you to the dedicated readers, who recognise talented writers, and show support by purchasing these copies in store.

Watch this space in the New Year where we have lots of news plans for EI, including events up and down the country!

Once again, Merry Christmas, and see you in the New Year!


Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Duncan Little's Blog

Duncan Little's book, Allies in Auschwitz (Clairview) will be featured in the next cycle of Exclusively Independent. Here is Duncan's blog, giving us a great insight into his work, how he came to writing, and ultimately becoming published.

The idea for the book, “Allies in Auschwitz,” began following a chance find of wartime documents at the National Archives in Kew, London. I discovered various papers describing the terrible abuse endured by a number of British Prisoners of War (POWs) during their imprisonment in Auschwitz.

These POWs had been sent to a special facility on its outskirts. Their prison huts became known as E715 Auschwitz.

Documents showed that the majority of the British soldiers were not Jewish and that they maintained their POW status. The men, however, were daily witnesses to concentration camp inmates being beaten, starved and killed.

I interviewed three survivors from the camp and their testimonies became central to the book.

The documents showed horrendous violations of the Geneva Convention. One British soldier was shot, another was stabbed and a third man was flogged. Others were forced into slave labour and the survivors had to march hundreds of miles to liberation at the start of 1945.

I approached Clairview in 2009 and am delighted that they have published the book as I feel the story of the British POWs in Auschwitz is an important, but little known, part of history. The book itself has generated substantial media interest - from “Exclusively Independent” to newspapers and radio.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Christopher Vanier's Blog

Featured in the next cycle of Exclusively Independent, is Caribbean Chemistry by Christopher Vanier, from Kingston University Press. Here's a few words from Christopher, describing how he came to writing his book.

I bore in mind two warnings when I started writing my memoir. The first came from a famous American novelist who was asked how young graduates should go about becoming published writers. “It’s simple,” she said. “There’s only one imperative: don’t smoke! That way, you will increase your chances of living a long life. And perhaps, in the latter part of that long, eventful life you will find an interesting jewel to relate, a story based on experience.”

I satisfied this criterion, since I waited until retirement before beginning my memoir about life in the Caribbean fifty years ago. But later, my son – journalist – tried to steer me away from autobiography. He pointed out that I was not a famous (or infamous) politician, that I had never killed anyone, and that I had not even been to prison. Who would want to read about a happy life? I decided to ignore this.

I picked up my pen and set down on paper the mischief that a growing boy gets up to on a small island. I discovered that what I had lived as games and excitement were really dangerous escapades, from fighting with monkeys to breaking out of boarding school at night, to getting lost on the slopes of a volcano, to rocketing down a sugar cane chute, to assaulting vehicles, to being thoroughly caned, and finally to making serious explosives. Were it not for a warm and understanding family environment, plus a dollop of luck, I might not have survived.

Looked at from another angle, my book is a voyage of discovery about growing-up in a small, exotic community, shut off from most of the world, a tiny speck in the Caribbean ocean. The encircling island shores are at the same time a wall of protection and a prison. My young protagonist thought that the world was against him, hiding its secrets, whereas the real secrets were inside him – his search for identity. His skin reflects the diversity of the region: neither black nor white but brown, in a world where the debate about colour is ever-present. He learns that he has inherited Carib blood from Guyana, but on his island the Amerindians were brutally exterminated by the colonists three centuries earlier. Which ethnic group should he cleave to? He also has French blood in him, but unfortunately French is the subject he dislikes most in school. There remains a mixture of English and Danish genes going back to the usurping colonisers, and some African heritage, from the slaves who painfully replaced the rebellious Caribs. He is rooted in the sun-drenched tropics, knowing only St. Kitts-Nevis, Antigua, and Barbados, but the books which shape his mind are all about wintry England and America, places that he has never seen and of which he sometimes doubts the existence.
As he reaches his teens, the challenges become more intense. The colonial system in the Caribbean is breaking down and the sugar industry is coming to its end. His father, a lawyer working for the planters, is embroiled in labour strife, and as politics turn black he will soon lose his job. His tries to push his children out into the wider world. But how can his son escape from his island jail if his family does not have the resources to pay for him? And where should he go? And, above all, why? The protagonist has a foretaste of exile when he unexpectedly wins a Lincoln essay contest that takes him to Washington and confronts him with American racial politics, quite different from those on his island.

At any point, from examination intrigues with his friends, to his personal struggle over religion, to his passionate sexual blossoming, his future may take a different direction. Behind the conflicts, I hope that this book radiates the warmth of Caribbean life that I felt. It is a hymn to the emigrant, or why young people leave their beloved countries and families for the unknown.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

January Selection of EI!

After a two-month long cycle, a new year brings a new selection of independently published books. Due to launch into bookshops from the start of January, here's the list of what to expect!

ALLIES IN AUSCHWITZ by Duncan Little (Clairview Books)
SEA CREATURES by Val Harris (Cava Books)
CARIBBEAN CHEMISTRY by Christopher Vanier (KUP)
JULIA AND THE BAZOOKA by Anna Kavan (Peter Owen Publishers)
FOREIGN STUDIES by Shusaka Endo (Peter Owen Publishers)
WINTER OF MAGICAL LETTERS (Seven Arches Publishing)
GLASSHOPPER by Isobel Ashdown (Myriad Editions)
HISTORY OF US by Philip Leslie (Legend Press)
EATING BLACKBIRDS by Lorraine Jenkin
PSYCHOTIC ESCAPING JUSTICE by Mark Hayhurst (PaperBooks)

We tried to include titles from all different genres, so we're really pleased with the final ten.


Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Legend Press launch IndieBooks!

FireworkspurpleIt's been a challenge to develop this fantastic idea, if we can say so ourselves, so promptly, but it's done and IndieBooks - the UK's first collective independent publisher retail site - is live!

With a wide-range of books offering something for everyone, this site is for the many millions of book lovers on the lookout for memorable, even life-changing book - and we strongly believe that independent publishers offer that quality of book in abundance.

The system is almost as beautiful as the books - there will be 50 books on offer from a vast array of publishers and each month the 25 bestselling will remain along with 25 new titles. That way publishers have the chance to showcase and the public can influence the selection by voting with their purchases. All orders will go to the publisher who will dispatch within two working days.

This is truly the alternative place to buy your books and we are hugely excited by this project - it's now down to the customers to make it a huge success.

To go to the site, simply visit


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Jae Watson Event

Another title from Legend Press that was previously featured in Exclusively Independent is the fantastic Fragile, by Jae Watson.

Tomorrow (Thursday) night, Jae will be hosting a presentation at Amersham Library from 7:30pm, reading from her book, as well as talking about her first novel, Journey, which was book of the month November 2008 on LBC.

Fragile's blurb:

Following the breakdown of her marriage, in desperation Beth Swann uses a donor bank in her hometown of Liverpool to start her family. 18 years later, her daughter, Julia, increasingly intrigued by the identity of her biological father, goes against her mother’s wishes and returns to Liverpool to complete the jigsaw of her background. Julia finds that not only Liverpool has changed but also her character, as she is drawn into an increasingly fraught and passionate journey that will turn her life upside down.

Fragile follows the lives of Beth, Julia and Jack, Beth’s ex-husband and closest to a father figure for Julia, on a rollercoaster trip search for understanding and love – but, firstly, their identity.

So if you are free, and in the area, do pop in, for what promises to be a brilliant night!


Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Bonnie Greer on Loose Women!

Bonnie-Greer-Portraita Busy day for Bonnie, as today we were very excited to see the author of the brilliant Obama Music, on Loose Women this lunchtime. An appearance very different to Question Time, Bonnie spoke about her west end play Marilyn & Ella.

With the official launch party of 'Obama Music' tonight, we are all looking forward to further spreading the word of this fascinating book.

Order your copy of Obama Music now - £7.99 Nochexlogo_2


Bonnie Greer Launch at Sanctum Soho Hotel

Obama final coverWe will be delighted to attend a launch event tonight for Bonnie Greer's novel OBAMA MUSIC - which is showing all of the signs of being one of the hits of Christmas, as well as in the current cycle of Exclusively Independent.

Held to celebrate Bonnie's collaboration with artist Keira Rathbone on the book's wonderful cover, the event is to take place from 6-8pm at the prestigious Sanctum Hotel in Soho, London. Furthermore, a number of celebrities have been lined up to give readings and the event has been included in The Hanbook's Guide to the week!

It should be a fantastic evening and we can't wait to see this superb book go from strength to strength.


Monday, 23 November 2009

Submissions Call Now Closed!

The call for submissions has now closed!

This cycle of titles will be in store for the beginning of the new year, kicking off 2010.

Many thanks to all the publishers who submitted some great new titles, the panel are now off to do some reading!


Friday, 20 November 2009

Call Closes Monday!

The current call for submissions closes Monday, so just a reminder to get your titles in!

This call is for books that will go into shops and libraries at the beginning of January. So when readers are out and about scooping up the Post-Christmas sales, make sure your books are there!


Thursday, 19 November 2009

New Office!

Legend Press and Paperbooks have now moved office! So if you need to get in touch regarding Exclusively Independent, contact details below:

2 London Wall Buildings

Tel no: 0207 448 5137

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Sourcebooks Blog

Featured in the current cycle of Exclusively Independent is Mr Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange. Published by Sourcebooks, the book is based on Pride and Prejudice, but with an unexpected twist:

I am delighted that Mr Darcy, Vampyre has been selected for Exclusively Independent. Sourcebooks Landmark, the leading publisher of Jane Austen-related fiction, has had much success with this major release by international bestselling author Amanda Grange.

Amanda gives us something completely new—a delightfully thrilling, paranormal Pride and Prejudice sequel, full of danger, darkness and deep romantic love…Her style and wit bring readers back to Jane Austen's timeless storytelling, but always from a very unique and unusual perspective.

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre starts where Pride and Prejudice ends and introduces a dark family curse so perfectly that the result is a thrilling, spine-chilling, breathtaking read. A dark, poignant and visionary continuation of Austen's beloved story, this tale is full of danger, darkness and immortal love.

With an audio version soon to be available and translations currently underway in Italian, Spanish and Turkish – this book doesn’t show any signs of slowing down!

Anne Landa. Rights and Exports Consultant with Sourcebooks Inc.

Monday, 9 November 2009

No phone!

Legend Press and Paperbooks are moving offices at the moment, so if you are trying to get in touch re Exclusively Independent, you may have been experiencing some difficulty!

Hopefully everything will settle down over the next week or so.

In the meantime, you can contact me via email on


Friday, 6 November 2009

Matt Thomas' Blog

Matt Thomas, author of the M.I Five Series has written a blog for us, in the style of a diary entry, from one of the five main characters, Jake.

Jakes Diary

Well, that was an interesting day to say the least.

It all started innocently enough, I suppose. I was over at MI6 HQ talking to Miles Atkinson, the head of foreign intelligence, about some code breaking I'd been doing for him, when the emergency beacon on my watch went off. I had to run out of the meeting and straight over to headquarters, which I don't think Miles was too happy about.

When I got there, Alex informed me of what was going on. A new autopilot system he had been installing in Hoverpod 1 had gone haywire. Whilst Alex had his back turned, the machine had taken off without permission. The experimental flying machine was now on a joyride over London.

Thankfully, the cloaking device was on, so no Londoners were any the wiser; though by Alex's calculations the machine only had about fifteen minutes worth of fuel left. After that was used up, it would simply drop out of the sky like a stone; possibly hurting someone when it landed, not to mention leading to some awkward questions about what the hoverpod was and where it came from.

Somehow, we had to get the hoverpod to land before that happened. Sarah, Robert and I jumped into Hoverpod 2 to try and find it, whilst Chun Mai and Alex worked on overriding the autopilot programme from the computer room.

Once in the air, we found hoverpod 1 fairly easily - it was flying slowly in circles just above Soho. Unfortunately none of us had thought that far enough ahead to work out how we were actually going to get it to land.

With only about five minutes worth of fuel left, there was no time for a lengthy discussion. I noticed the side door to hoverpod 1 was open, so I asked Robert to steer our hoverpod close to the rogue machine. I opened the door to hoverpod 2, took a deep breath, and leapt across the small gap between the two. With flailing arms, I just about managed to grab hold of the passenger seat. I hauled myself in and breathed a deep sigh of relief.

My relief was short-lived, however. I realised that I was flying two thousand feet above London and would soon be plummeting earthwards, unless I could regain control.

Just then, Chun Mai's voice came over the radio. She had overriden the autopilot. Unfortunately I was almost out of fuel. I turned the hoverpod in the direction of home and gunned the engine. I knew I didn't have enough fuel to make it back, but I thought if I could build up enough speed then maybe I could coast in when the engine finally died.

A mile away from HQ, the engine started to shudder and shake as the last of the fuel worked its way through the engine. I pointed the nose cone at the roof of HQ and crossed my fingers.

I was losing altitude rapidly - it was going to be touch and go. I pulled back on the joystick as hard as I could and shut my eyes tight, as I clipped the edge of the roof and skidded along the tarmac runway towards the hoverpod hangar.

As hoverpod 2 came to a screeching halt, I gingerly opened my eyes and observed the trail of broken bits of hoverpod behind me.

Alex was going to have a hard time fixing this.


Thursday, 5 November 2009

'Music is what Obama is' - Bonnie Greer

Last night there was a short film screening for Obama Music on BBC 4, BBC America and BBC World!

Click here to see on World News America from the BBC.


Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Kitty Harris' Blog

Included in the previous round of Exclusively Independent was Kitty Harri's novel Hector's Talent for Miracles from Honno Press...."an intelligent and sympathetic exploration of the lasting damage done to survivors of war." Planet

My novel HECTOR’S TALENT FOR MIRACLES has its roots in two countries which have shaped my life. Born in Sweden, I grew up in Spain. As a young adult I emigrated to Canada but a decade later found myself living in Wales, and now, coming full circle, have returned to live in Spain.

During my years in Wales, I became aware of a poignant historical connection between Wales and Spain. During the 1930s, the decline of the Welsh coal industry had turned South Wales into an area of massive unemployment. It was named “The Devil’s Decade” and was notorious for its poverty, deprivation, means testing, soup-kitchens and general despair. There were few other industries and people starved. Meanwhile, the Communist Party in South Wales grew strong.
At the start of the Spanish Civil War, the situation in Wales was catastrophic, unemployment in some areas reaching 70%. The greed of pit owners, and the marginalization of Wales within the UK, turned South Wales into a seething cauldron of bitterness and frustration. So it was that a large number of Welshmen went to Spain to join the International Brigades, fighting what they saw as the universal oppressor, those who exploit the working man.

From the many personal accounts and memoirs by ordinary Welshmen, it is now evident that, as well as a sense of loyalty and strong ideological motivation, a spirit of adventure compelled many of these frustrated young men to join the fight for a free Spain. It proved as good a reason as any to leave the grim and poverty-stricken Welsh valleys behind.

Geraint Watkins, the Welshman of my novel, embodies all these impulses. But not long after having fought in the battle of Jarama he vanishes without a trace, leaving his family with no further news of his whereabouts or his death. As his body is never recovered, his reputation is blackened by rumours of desertion.

Seven decades later, Mair, his granddaughter, takes up an interest in his fate and not believing he was a deserter, she becomes obssessed with the idea of wanting to clear his name. She quits her dreary job as a country vet and makes the journey to the small town of Torre de Burros, the place where Geraint was last seen, in an attempt to discover the true reason for his disappearance. This journey turns into a quest that will change her life.

In Torre de Burros she meets Hector, the main character of my novel. Hector is based on a real person from my youth. I attended school in Spain, and there I had a friend whose uncle was considered simple. He lived a comfortable life with his sister and her family, never having held down a job or being useful in any way. But there was something about him that always intrigued me. The look in his eye was disconcerting and slightly sinister - but far from stupid.

One day I accidentally ventured into a very seedy part of the city (Las Palmas) where I would normally never go, and spotted this man playing chess at a table outside a bar. Observing him at a distance, I learned to my astonishment that he was not who everyone thought he was. He was a highly articulate and fully functioning man, and from the comments of the onlookers, a chess prodigy. His family knew nothing of this double life that he led, and I was so shocked and fascinated by his amazing deception, I never said a word to anyone about what I had discovered.

His secret has stayed with me and stirred my imagination enormously. So it was fitting that, forty years later, I came to write a novel about him. Hector’s alleged inadequacy, however, is a legacy brought down by events in the Civil War. Not conscious of why he is acting out the “village idiot” persona, his thoughts and actions were, from an early age, carefully and disturbingly molded by Pilar, his grandmother. She carries a dark secret which has had devastating consequences for her offspring. Hector’s journey towards emancipation must include looking deeply into the past and uncovering the event that made him who he is. Falling in love with Mair is the catalyst for this powerful transformation.

In the process, Mair also finds the answers to the mystery surrounding Geraint, but none that she could possibly have expected. Though from such different countries, backgrounds and cultures, Hector and Mair discover how deeply affected their lives are by the same historical event. Ultimately the compelling revelation of Pilar leads to a resolution for them both.

The main theme of my novel is the long-term effect of war on individuals. Particularly, like in this case, a war as vicious and devastating as any that followed, a war fought within families, fathers against sons, brothers against brothers, within neighbours and friends.

It is a disturbing subject, often exceedingly violent and to some, taboo. I hope I have balanced out with a quirky set of characters, imbued it with blossoming romance, a craze for miracles, and lifted it into the light by a large helping of humour.


Monday, 2 November 2009

Andrew Sharp's Blog

The Ghost's of Eden by Andrew JH Sharp is featured in the current cycle of Exclusively Independent. This is a superb epic about love, medicine and cultural identities with a huge African and European cast which concludes on the shores of the Indian ocean.

Here's a word from Andrew, on the novel, and being included in EI.

What’s it about? It’s the first question a writer is asked concerning their in-progress novel. Is it a thriller - should beta-blockers be taken before opening? Is it a romance - will my mascara be ruined? Crime fiction? Must I look for clues? Is it funny – will I laugh out loud on a train? That would be embarrassing. Is it literary fiction – will I look erudite if I pretend I’m reading it?

I used to reply that it’s ‘about two men who fall in love with the same woman’, or ‘it’s about a missionary’s child who kills his friend’, or ‘it’s about a herd boy who becomes a bandit’. If I wished to give a one word answer I would say its theme is ENTRAPMENT, or perhaps OBSESSION, or LOVE – and hope that I did not sound pretentious. The truth is that the edifice of a novel is wide enough and deep enough to encompass many interweaving stories and more than one theme. Full length fiction can hold dozens of textures and resonances; enough to display the far reaches of the imagination.

Now that it’s been published The Ghosts of Eden is no longer my own. I can be contradicted on what it’s about. Readers are keen to tell me what they see, what the experience of reading the novel meant to them: ‘about cross-cultural misunderstanding’, ‘a portrayal of dyslexia’, ‘a polemic against religion’, ‘a story about the dawning of faith’, ‘all about buried grief’, ‘very funny at times’. And then there was someone who said, ‘there’s a comma missing in the first paragraph on page …’ For other readers’ views see the People's Book Prize. We bring our own preoccupations to our reading.

Virginia Wolf wrote that ‘the writers who have most to give us often do most violence to our prejudices’ and suggested that on the first reading of a novel we should not impose our own designs on the author. So we should let Jane Austin be Jane Austin, Dickens be Dickens and Dan Brown be Dan Brown. It is only after reaching the last page, she said, that we should give names to the impressions that the book has left; and then we can turn to others, in reading groups or in reviews, to compare our own experience with theirs.

Wolf went on to write that the reader becomes part of the creative process: by their approval, disapproval, encouragement, the writer can listen and learn, and so improve their art. By helping to promote new books to readers the Exclusively Independent initiative can proudly claim to be helping to spin that potter’s wheel of creativity in which the writer finds that the reader has their hands on the other side of the piece on the wheel, and so is helping to shape their work.


Friday, 30 October 2009

Link to Capuchin Classics blog...

As mentioned before, We the Accused from Capuchin Classics will be featured in the new cycle of Exclusively Independent.

A dark compelling story of obsession, murder, and their consequences, and rated among the best ever 100 crime novels by Sunday Times readers.

Click here to visit Capuchin Classics' blog to read how they feel about featured in the project.


Thursday, 29 October 2009

Early Christmas News!

I know it's not even Halloween yet, but I'm bringing a bit of Christmas cheer already...

As Christmas is the busiest time of year, we're going to leave the next cycle of Exclusively Independent in stores for twice the normal amount of time, running through November and December.

The next cycle will be arriving in stores and libraries shortly, and will stay put until refreshed in the new year.

So if you're looking for that perfect Christmas present, you'll have plenty of time to pop into your local independent bookshop, and stock up!


Monday, 26 October 2009

Capuchin Classics Blog

Included in the next round of Exclusively Independent is Raymond Ernests' We, The Accused (Capuchin Classics)

Clive Stafford Smith wrote the Foreword to the novel, see below for a sneak peak...

For the past 25 years, the death penalty has been a part of my daily work. I am very grateful that the overwhelming majority of the people I have represented have avoided the execution chamber, but my mind can rarely avoid memories of the six men who have died.

One was Nick Ingram. He and I were born in the same hospital – a maternity ward in Cambridge – but we only met on his arrival on Georgia’s Death Row. We became close friends over the twelve years that I tried to stave off his execution and as I close my eyes, I still see the images, seared into my brain like black and white negatives: Nick dying in the electric chair.

I am not quite sure why I agreed to consider writing a brief foreword to We, The Accused by Ernest Raymond. I am very glad that I did, because it is a magnificent read, and certainly enriches the canon on the subject of capital punishment, in line with the goals of the Capuchin series – reviving unjustly forgotten works. While the book has been out of print, the film world saw the potential in Raymond’s tale of murder­in­marriage: Alfred Hitchcock considered it for production (but was deterred by its ‘downbeat’ nature) and the BBC created a series starring Ian Holm in 1980. But it as a novel that this story is most powerfully told,as it is Raymond’s precise and thoughtful prose that makes the narrative so mesmerizing.

To pick up a copy, visit any of the participating EI bookshop after 3 November to see the new selection taking pride of place.


Thursday, 22 October 2009

Bonnie Greer on Question Time!

Tonight, Bonnie Greer - author of Obama Music featured in this cycle of Exclusively Independent - will be appearing opposite BNP leader Nick Griffin on Question Time.

There's lots of controversy surrounding the presence of the BNP, in what seems to be one of the highest profile appearances, the show has had to date.

BBC1 10:35pm - be sure not to miss out!


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Ellie Levenson Event Tonight!

Previously featured in Exclusively Independent was Ellie Levenson's novel The Noughtie Girl's Guide to Feminism.

Tonight at 7:30pm, Muswell Hill Library, Ellie will be reading from her book, before opening the session up to Q&A.

So if you are in the area, do pop along for what sounds like an interesting and entertaining evening!


Tuesday, 20 October 2009

New Selection of Titles!

Into the November cycle now, and the new titles for Exclusively Independent have been chosen!

HEARTLAND by Anthony Cartwright (Tindal St Press)
MI5 WAKING THE WORLD by Matt Thomas (Tony Potter)
MR DARCY, VAMPYRE by Amanda Grange (Sourcebooks Inc)
WE, THE ACCUSED by Ernest Raymond (Capuchin Classics)
MRS LINCOLN by Janis Cooke Newman (Myrmidon)
ROADS AHEAD edited by Catherine O'Flynn (Tindal Street Press)
A SON CALLED GABRIEL by Damian McNicholl (Legend Press
OBAMA MUSIC by Bonnie Greer (Legend Press)
PASTORS AND MASTERS by Ivy Compton-Burnett (Hesperus Press)
THE GHOSTS OF EDEN by Andrew JH Sharp (Picnic Press)

Non fiction, fiction, children's books, short stories, and a reprinted classic added to the mix, hopefully a bit of everything for you.

We're excited to be working with a few new publishers this time around, adding even more variety to the submission pack.


Tuesday, 6 October 2009

EI Titles up for The Peoples Book Prize

A selection of titles, previously featured in Exclusively Independent, have been chosen for the UK's Library Promotion, The People's Book Prize.

A National competition aimed at discovering talented authors
showcased exclusively at your local library and on the website - with no panel of judges except YOU, the public!

Divided into three categories, fiction, non fiction and children's, readers simply click on the cover image and register their vote. The titles with the most votes in all three categories will go forward as finalists.

The EI Titles featured are:

Kill Grief by Caroline Rance (Picnic Publishing)
Twenty Thousand Saints by Fflur Dafydd (Alcemi)
Grace, Tamar and Laszlo the Beautiful by Deborah Kay Davies (Parthian Books Ltd)
Jasmine's Tortoise by Corinne Souza (Picnic Publishing)
Rumblestrip by Woodrow Phoenix (Myriad Editions)
Empires Apart by Brian Landers (Picnic Publishing)

See for details.

Also included in the list, are titles that have been submitted to the next round of EI. Check back here after the panel meeting to see if they've been successful!


Monday, 5 October 2009

Submissions Call Now Closed!

That's it! The current call for submissions has officially closed. A big thank you to all of the fantastic titles that have been sent in. This cycle is going to be quite the challenge.

The panel meeting is 19 October, where the new ten titles will be selected.

Watch this space for the new list!


Friday, 2 October 2009

Independent Bookshop - Housmans - Blog

Soon reaching its fiftieth birthday at its current site, Housmans is London’s premier radical bookshop and one of Exclusively Independent’s earliest supporters. As well as having that prestigious honour to its name, Housmans is also one of the last bookshops of its kind to still exist in London, and was one of the first when it opened its doors in 1945.

Based in Kings Cross, Housmans sells a wide range of radical literature, including books, pamphlets and an unmatched selection of over 200 magazines dealing with the full spectrum of campaigning issues. The shop also sells a range of campaigning paraphernalia such as t-shirts and badges, hosts regular in-store events and plays an active role within its local community. Recently it has started up a new online shop with over half a million titles that acts as an ethical alternative to Amazon.

Housmans’ roots go back to the great upsurge of the British pacifist movement in the 1930s, marked particularly by the founding of the Peace Pledge Union (PPU). The PPU had its own bookshop as far back as 1936, where people would congregate for talks by founder Dick Sheppard among others, but it wasn’t until the playwright Laurence Housman suggested that there should be a permanent bookshop that promoted ideas of peace and human rights that Housmans was born.
Housmans Bookshop continues to see its role as it has since its foundation. While acknowledging its roots in the peace movement it aims to be a broad-based, non-sectarian shop, encouraging the dissemination of a wide range of progressive and alternative ideas. As the shop's founders recognised, opposing injustice and oppression and the degradation of our planet are prerequisites of a more peaceful society.
See for more information on the company, the full story of its fascinating history and its upcoming fiftieth birthday celebrations on 14th November.


Tuesday, 29 September 2009

If I Never displayed in Borders...

Featured in Exclusively Independent's last cycle, was the brilliant If I Never by Gary William Murning.

As well as displayed in independent bookshops and libraries for EI, it's great to see Teesside Borders supporting their local author!

If your title has been featured in Exclusively Independent, currently in any high street or independent promotions, do let us know and we'll post it up on the site for you.


Monday, 28 September 2009

Paddy Kelly's Blog

When Lauren Parsons of Legend Press asked me to write this blog, she very kindly gave me carte blanc on what to write about. Being a writer means I have an ego secondary only to that of an actor with political ambitions, and so thoughts of my first outlines were centred around how great I am and how stupendous my latest project, Operation Underworld, is.

Sure the novel is incredibly well written, boldly encompassing a timelessly complicated topic in a digestible yet entertaining format, despite the fact that it is the first novel ever written on the subject, and is only the first in a series of four, but that's not what I want to talk about.

In 17 years of professional writing in five countries, this is the first time I've dealt with an Indie Publisher.

For my sins, in a previous life I have been condemned to live in Dublin. Nice people, relatively good choice of cuisine, and all the latest films. But the literary scene?

The reality of life for a writer here is that a one armed blind man in a dark room trying to shove a pound of hot, melted butter up a wild cat's rear end would have a better chance of success then anyone trying to get published here. So when Underworld was picked up by the London Indie Legend Press, I was pleasantly surprised.

Then to discover their joint project, Exclusively Independent, and that British libraries have enough respect for writers that we actually get royalties when ever some one checks our books out of the library, cynicism, along with my cantankorosity, began to wane. However slightly.

My dealings in the last six months with Legend Press, have been personal, direct and straight forward. Unlike several other international big labels I've dealt with there is definitely a feeling of human contact, personal attention and a sense that things will get done.

In light of the current Google controversy, who like a planetary Borg Hoover travel the earth's literary universe sucking up anything in their path in the sole interest of quantification, the ramparts of Indie Publishers appear to be the last bastion of humanity in the ever-diminishing world of literature.

I write this completely without a secondary agenda, (such as they might pick up the second book in my series) and say that I am pleasantly surprised.

Thank you for listening, this has been one man's opinion. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a bastard from publisher in N.Y. who owes me a royalty cheque from a year ago. Time to call my cousin Guido from Brooklyn.


Friday, 25 September 2009

Robin Price's Blog

Currently featured in Exclusively Independent is Godfrey's Ghost by Nicolas Ridley. Written by Arnold Ridley's son, the biographical novel is engaging and moving. Don't just take it from me, here is Mogzilla's own Robin Price talking about the novel.

We've just heard the news that Godfrey's Ghost has been selected as an Exclusively Independent pick for Oct 09.

I'm absolutely delighted that the very first title on our new Mogzilla Life imprint should get recognised in this way. We started the Mogzilla Life imprint alongside our children's list to tell interesting real life stories that might otherwise have been overlooked. Godfrey's Ghost is a biography of Arnold Ridley, (best known as Private Godfrey in Dad's Army but also the author of the classic play The Ghost Train and much more!)

Having won a July 09 EI pick for Boudicat - the fourth book in the Spartapuss series, we already appreciate what an impact that being picked for an EI can have. It's been fantastic in terms of raising the profile of our titles with libraries and independent bookshops.

Finally, author Nic Ridley (son of Arnold Ridely) has uploaded lots of brilliant pictures and stuff that didn't make it into the book - so please check it out at

Robin Price, Mogzilla


Thursday, 24 September 2009

Mention in The Bookseller...

The final selection was announced in The Bookseller yesterday, which was great to see!

September's selection of Exclusively Independent titles has been finalised, with fiction, non-fiction and travel guides appearing in the line up.

Three titles from Honno Press appear alongside ones from Osprey, Mogzilla, Sourcebooks, Oxygen, Tony Potter, and scheme-organisers Legend Press.

To read the full article, visit

It's always nice to read the project being covered, and highlighting the selection to Bookseller readers.


Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Corinne Souza's blog

Previously featured in Exclusively Independent was Jasmine's Tortoise by Corinne Souza, published by Picnic Publishing. A fantastic read, the title was featured for it's dynamism, creativity and thrilling read.

"Lauren Parsons’ manners are too good: she asked me to blog on JASMINE’S TORTOISE knowing I was in a complete twitch about whether or not the book would be selected in the Exclusively Independent ballot. I guess it was her way of offering a sort of consolation prize if it wasn’t. In the event, it was. The relief was indescribable. To date, all Picnic Publishing titles submitted have been selected. It would have been mortifying to deliver the only dud to break the 100% success record.

Having accepted, and looking for blogging inspiration - otherwise known as plagiarism - I checked out the EI website: up popped a panel of national flags for people to click on if they need the site translated. As a result, what was meant to take two seconds took far longer as I tested my flag knowledge. I came unstuck on the Korean one. Needless to say, I also forgot what the flags were for and was just about to zap off a letter to complain that the Union flag was not flying when I remembered: translation, you idiot – the site is already in English . . .

‘Translation’ is how I see fiction: a vehicle to translate different lives and neighbourhoods into street history. For this reason, in JASMINE’S TORTOISE which is a spook thriller, I have stripped out the usual genre world of technology, military hardware and operative, placing a civilian cosmopolitan community at the heart of the story. It is about the espionage once ‘enjoyed’ by consenting adults of the major Cold War states and the impact this had on those who did not consent: children, families, neighbours. Traditionally, in fiction and non-fiction, the innocents caught up in espionage have always been an add-on whereas in my book they are central. The novel is part spook thriller, part who-dunnit. It covers forty years and has a myriad of characters. One reader commented: ‘Once I got beyond the pain barrier, I was absolutely hooked.’ I hope you are too.

My thanks to Lauren Parsons of Legend Press, as well as the Arts Council, for the Exclusively Independent Initiative and this opportunity to talk about my novel.

With best wishes, Corinne

See to find out what other fantastic books, Picnic offer.


Tuesday, 22 September 2009

New Titles and Submission Call Open!

So we are now into the next cycle of Exclusively Independent, and the panel have selected the new titles!

Once I was a Cardboard box, now I'm a book about Polar Bears! by Anton Poitier (Potter Books)
Operation Underworld by Paddy Kelly (Legend Press)
Hector's Talent for Miracles by Kitty Harri (Honno Press)
In Her Element edited by Jane MacNamee (Honno Press)
Bran Hambric The Farfield Curse by Kaleb Nation (Sourcebooks Inc)
Brushes and Bayonets by Lucinda Gosling (Osprey Publishing)
City-lit Paris (Oxygen Books)
Godfrey's Ghost: From Father to Son by Nicolas Ridley (Mogzilla)
A Woman's Work is Never Done by Elizabeth Andrews (Honno Press)

We hope you like the new selection, we try to keep it as varied and diverse as possible. Do let us know what you think!

The submission call for new titles has now opened. To submit, simply email me the AI and ms of up to three titles. The call closes October 5th.


Monday, 14 September 2009

Bookshop blog - Scarthin Books

Scarthin Books

We have many different independent bookshops taking part in Exclusively Independent, and Scarthin Bookshop in Derbyshire, have been kind enough to let us feature the store here for you. So here is some information about the bookshop, along with many photos in the album…enjoy!

Owned by David Mitchell, Scarthin Books was founded in 1974 and hasn’t changed ownership since. The bookshop boasts a wide collection of 41,000 different titles including 9,000 childrens books and approximately 50,000 second-hand books. Scarthin Books also began publishing in December 1981 stocking 15,000 copies of about 50 titles in print.

“We may have the desired volume on the shelf as a new book, or orderable overnight from a wholesaler, over week direct from a publisher, or an American wholesaler. A copy may be on the shelf second-hand, or available by means of a book-search. On occasion we suggest the customer write it for us to publish. Dave, the proprietor, buys thousands of second-hand and antiquarian books, preferably by appointment. In addition, our main strength is as a wonderful place to browse; a comfortable labyrinth with many chairs and a rarely matched range of stock amidst which to spend happy hours. “Don’t bring Jane, you’ll never get her out of here.” Children often run up the road ahead of their parents to dash up the stairs and into the children’s book room. We are developing our website to offer an equally unexpected range of experiences, as well as to promote the shop and (even) to sell books. The café, managed by Jools, is curious and homely. Homemade soups, pies, pizzas, cakes, fresh coffee, etc.

“Our staffing is stronger than it has ever been. In the bookshop, Guy chooses the new stock and handles customer orders, Wendy soothes schools and harvests internet orders, Dave, assisted by Ivan and Les buys and prices the second hand stock. David has taken over the publishing; Phil does the book searches and suggests marketing ideas – as well as everyone taking shifts at the front desk. David and Phil now take turns on Saturdays. Pam, Nikki, Eve, Edmund, Jennie, Ruth and Tom share the rest of the desk shifts. Difficult Sunday queries tend to need referral to the specialist weekday staff. Our age range is 16 to 64, but mainly 40 to 60. The café is ruled by an enthusiastic Jools, assisted by Eve and quite a flock of sixth-form schoolgirls and even the occasional boy, coping with unpredictable lunchtime and weekend rushes.

“In December, Phil coaxed us into introducing a customer reward or loyalty scheme – for every £20 spent, customers receive a £1 Scarthin Voucher redeemable “next time” in shop or café. So far these have been issued in hundreds, received appreciatively and, as yet, cashed in only slowly. In addition we discount most individual £19.95 or over new books by 10%. So far we seem to be able to afford these gestures – are they enough?

“On the publishing front in 2008, we produced two books under our own imprint and undertook to design and distribute three scholarly works by clients met through the shop. In February, David attended the e4books conference in Bristol and has since prepared our best out-of-print titles for re-issue as POD (Print on Demand). We have found publishing to be satisfying, but stressful and unprofitable, so we are doing much less than a decade ago. The internet has replaced publishing as a way to transcend the limitations of our site."

The bookshop possesses a homely, welcome and comfortable atmosphere for readers to browse at their own pace. Scarthin Books showcase what it is to be independent – providing a wide and varied selection of titles, keeping up to date with the latest popular titles and meanwhile supply those lost or hidden literature gems.

“This bookshop is a slow-growing hardwood that has funded fast-growing families and survived financial traumas. In 35 years of Golden Ages we have changed greatly in order to stay the same. “Don’t change ANYTHING!” We are told. But behind the scenes…” David Mitchell, proprietor.

Many thanks to David for supplying us with the images and information, to check out this fantastic store, visit


Wednesday, 9 September 2009

New POS!

Exclusively Independent POS

We are always looking for new ways to refresh EI, keep the promotion new and exciting for readers, and match the new titles each month.

In doing so, we decided to boost EI's presence in bookshops and libraries, and have had additional promotional material printed.

Click on the album above to see the new banners, bookmars and book wraps!

With the recognisable logo printed and red and black consistent throughout, we hope the scheme becomes a more recognisable brand. One that readers can track in each bookshop and library, and look forward to seeing, every four weeks.


Friday, 4 September 2009

Submissions Call Now Closed!

The current call for EI submissions has now closed!

A big thank you to all publishers that submitted this round, we've received a great list of titles. It's our job now to collate all of the information into a submission pack and distribute this to the panel.

The panel have two weeks to look over the pack, and decide on the list of ten new titles.

The next panel meeting is 21 September. So make sure you check back here to read which titles are the latest selection of independent talent.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, 2 September 2009

A quick note...

As Exclusively Independent continues to grow, we take pride in offering a wide variety of indpendently published titles to bookshops and libraries.

It's exciting to read the variety of titles that get sent in, and reminded each cycle of the overwhelming talent in so many different forms.

However, due to distribution issues we have had to restrain the submission process slightly, and can no longer accept submissions from print on demand publishers.

While we understand that pod titles may still retain the unnoticed talent that we try so hard to highlight, the actual distribution of the books is what enables the project to grow, develop and expand.

If you have any questions about how to submit work, do get in touch at the address below. The current submission call is open.


Wednesday, 26 August 2009

EI News!

As you know, the monthly final ten titles are chosen by an industry based panel.

We try to keep the panel as diverse as possible, therefore representatives from a wide range of aspects to the industry are involved.

Our independent bookshop representative has unfortunately had to leave the scheme. However, we are happy to announce that Roz from Peckham Review Bookshop will now be meeting with us, once a month, to help decide on the new selection.

While already stocking and promoting the project, Roz has been involved from the very start of the initiative. The store is always busy, offering a variety of titles in a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.

We're really happy to have Roz on board, and hope she likes her new position on the panel!


Visit for more information about Review Bookshop.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

EI on Twitter!

Exclusively Independent is now on Twitter!

Seeing as Twitter has become somewhat of a growing phenomenon, it probably seems about right that EI should be taking part! I know very little about the networking site, but it can't be that hard, right?

All publishers and authors who are - or have been - involved in the project can now login and 'tweet' away.

I'm hoping this will establish itself as a more immediate and faster way of announcing or simply airing thoughts on the latest from the project.

So if you are on Twitter, go ahead and follow us, staying up to date with the latest EI news!


Monday, 24 August 2009

A nice mention in the Bookseller this week for Exclusively Independent, announcing the new selection.

"Exclusively Independent's panel has also announced the ten newly selected titles to be featured in independent bookshops and libraries, in its scheme, which aims to bring together independent publishers with their bookselling counterparts."

It's always great to hear the project being mentioned, and highlighting the new cycle's favourites.

See for the full piece.


EI Call for Submissions - Now Open

So the new ten titles have just been announced, and now Gardners will be sourcing them for distribution. In the meantime, the next call for EI is open!

Please email me the title's AI and ms, you can submit up to three titles.

We'll have a few author blogs here, and an alteration to announce about the current list over the next few days.

For anymore information about the project, please do get in touch.


Friday, 21 August 2009

Gary William Murning's Blog

It's always good to take time out to simply stop and take a look at the scenery -- where we are and, perhaps more to the point, where we have been.

And that's where I find myself this morning. Enjoying the buildup to the publication of If I Never on the 29th and thinking about just how easy it would have been for things to have turned out very differently.

I read a quotation recently on how to achieve success as a writer. Unfortunately, I can't remember the original author's name -- but the quote really struck a chord; according to him, achieving success as a writer was a matter of "practising until you're really good and then persevering until you're really lucky." And, for me, that seems to sum up the whole business of writing quite perfectly.

When I first started writing novels, I was at least wise enough to know that the work I was producing was pretty naff! I didn't expect overnight success (although I did secretly hope for it!) and understood that only with a lot of work would my writing become publishable. So I did what all my favourite writers insisted I must do; I wrote, I read, I submitted, I wrote some more and... yes, read some more! And, as they promised, with time I saw improvement -- to such a degree that, by my fourth novel, at the age of just 24, agents were using phrases like "well written" and "engaging". So I kept writing and submitting...

... writing and submitting...

... writing and submitting...

... but still publication eluded me. The comments that came in from agents and editors were, on the whole, extremely encouraging -- but the overwhelming feeling that I got from them was that my work didn't "fit" neatly enough into any of their pigeonholes. The majority, it seemed, were looking for easy and immediate bestsellers, high concept novels, and they most certainly weren't prepared to take a chance on this particular "first-time novelist". Even the agent I managed to snare didn't quite "get" me as much as I'd originally believed! I submitted a novel to him which had crime elements. Nevertheless, he correctly insisted that it wasn't a crime novel -- what it was was "a bloody good read ". Needless to say, the next couple of months were spent with him trying to edit it down to a crime novel. A tense time that ended with us parting company.

And then I, quite by accident, stumbled across Legend Press. I think I originally found them on, of all places, MySpace. The most unlikely of places for the future of independent publishing, but there you go! If memory serves me well, I originally submitted a novel called The Realm of the Hungry Ghosts. The slightly supernatural theme didn't quite fit their lists but it nevertheless caught their attention. More work was requested and I quickly sent them If I Never... and with time, I heard back from Tom, wanting to discuss the novel further and, as it transpired, offer me a publishing contract.

Would this have happened with one of the big publishers? I don't know. It can and certainly has for many people I know. But I have a sneaking suspicion that, however good my writing may be, it requires the independent approach -- the friendly, forward-looking approach that Legend Press and other independent publishers bring with them... publishers who are prepared to take a chance on something they like, however difficult it may be to pigeonhole.

It's fair to say that, prior to finding Tom and the rest of the really quite incredible Legend team, I was growing disillusioned with the whole process of submitting my work. It was so frustrating to hear so many positive comments and, then, ultimately have the work rejected that I probably wouldn't have continued putting my work out there for too much longer.

And that, for me, is why independent publishing is so incredibly important. Both from the perspective of a writer and reader, they take that chance and publish the kind of material I want to write and, also, the kind of material I want to read.


Thursday, 20 August 2009

Final Ten Titles!

The new selection has been chosen!

Something Hidden by Nick Blackstock (Picnic Publishing)

The Village that Vanished by Ann Grifalconi (Ragged Bears Publishing)

If I Never by Gary William Murning (Legend Press)

The Gourmet by Muriel Barbery (Gallic Books)

The Darker Sex selected and introduced by Mike Ashley (Peter Owen Publishing)

Black Mongoose by Jon Haylett (PaperBooks)

Grace, Tamar and Laszlo the Beautiful by Deborah Kay Davies (Parthian Books)

Noughtie Girls' Guide to Feminism by Eleanor Levenson (One World Trade)

Taynikma Book 1: Master Thief by Jan Kjaer and Merlin P. Mann (Young World Digital)

The Wall- Menders by Kate Noakes (Two Rivers Meet Press)

A great selection, and hopefully you agree there's a little bit for everyone...

Gardners will be sourcing the titles over the next two weeks before it is launched into bookshops and libraries across the country.


Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Titles all in!

So all of the submissions for the next cycle of Exclusively Independent are in!

With over sixty titles entered, the competition is yet again, extremely high. Many thanks to all of the publishers who are taking part this month, you have set the standard quite high!

The next Panel Meeting is 19th August, when we will meet and decide on the new selection of ten titles. The information will then be sent to Gardners for sourcing, and I can announce here what the new titles will be.

Best of luck to all of those who submitted, and happy reading Panel members!


Thursday, 6 August 2009

Kara May's Blog


‘Where do you get your ideas?’ Always a tricky question for me – even before I finish a book or a play I’ve forgotten what triggered it. Baffling, but true. The Dream Snatcher is an exception. When the council compulsorily purchased our beloved Victorian house for a pittance, I vowed I’d write a story about a town consumed by greed and obsessed with shopping.

When eventually I came to write the story, the first character to appear was the Dream Snatcher – mysterious, dangerous, with a secret longing. Having an adult male protagonist, I needed a child for readers to identify with. A girl without parents is more in command of her life so like many child protagonists in children’s fiction Jodie is an orphan.

I was about two thirds though the story when I realised I’d given Jodie an impossible dilemma – she must choose between saving her skin and saving her town from the Dream Snatcher’s wrath because the people failed to keep their side of a deal.

If I’d planned the story before I started I’d have realised then there was no convincing way out for Jodie, and abandoned it. But I had a commission …

I was thrashing around, rejecting one idea after another, when into my mind floated the wisdom of Willy Wonker:

‘If you don’t know where you’re going,

you’d better keep on going.’

So I kept on writing. In a million years I couldn’t have pre-planned what happens.

In author talks, when I ask children who’ve not read the book, ‘What should Jodie do? their concern is for Jodie, sometimes for the Dream Snatcher too (‘He’s not bad all the time’) and the town is left to its fate. But when I read what happens, the nods and smiles are wonderfully rewarding.

In fact, a story that began as writer’s revenge has had a fortuitous journey. First Barn Owl Books publish it - so refreshing to work with a publisher who makes it a priority to consult with its authors and, what’s more, prints their books on quality paper.

Then a musical adaptation is commissioned by Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College– music by the composer Peter Readman, book and lyrics by myself,. (Music clips and info about the show etc. on

And then a stage adaptation (with Sian Williams) is commissioned by Once Seen, a company of professional adult actors with disabilities at the Theatre Royal, York.

And now a much appreciated bonus - The Dream Snatcher is selected by that imaginative, much needed venture - Exclusively Independent. Linking up independent publishers, their authors and independent bookshops - brilliant! I’m delighted to be a part of it.


Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Submission Call Closed!

The current cycle of Exclusively Independent has now closed.

We have had submissions from all over the country and it's fantastic to see such a positive response.

The project was launched just before Christmas last year, and yet the flow of submissions that come through never wavers in it's quality and entertainment. Independent talent is clearly showcased, at its finest, every single cycle.

The submission pack will now be collated and distributed to the industry based panel. They have two weeks to look through the titles, and select their final ten.

The new selection will be announced 19 August.


Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Mark Liam Piggott's Blog

States of Independence

“Independent” has always been a word with positive associations: independent bands & labels, newspapers, bookshops and nations. A state of independence implies the freedom to make one’s own choices, to do things your own way (and make your own mistakes) without undue pressure being exerted from above.

Art and commerce have always had an uneasy relationship. Too often it seems the safe option is chosen to placate the shareholders, keep the board onboard. Bizarrely, it seems the larger the organisation, the more financial muscle it flexes, the more afraid it becomes to break out in new directions, to take risks.

New voices deserve to be heard and will be heard, no matter what the views of all those glorified newsagents, coffee emporiums and chat-show hosts who seem to believe they know better than writers and publishers what can be written, what sells, what works. Let the reader be the judge of that.

It can be frustrating as an author when you see your novel, that object of beauty that took so much time, effort and emotion, not being treated with the respect it deserves. Sometimes it feels like the major houses and chains don’t care about anything other than making money, flogging recipes, throwing cash at celebs in the hope they get some of it back. Independents seem to try harder and they seem to care more because, for one thing, their livelihoods depend on it to a greater extent; they can’t recoup their losses by flogging sandwiches.

I am delighted to be associated with Exclusively Independent because the publishers, bookshops and writers involved seem to share a common belief: that safety first isn’t always the best option. The only thing that matters is good writing – and there’s a lot of it about, as this latest EI list shows. But don’t take my word for it: come and see...

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Caroline Rance's blog

I have been putting off writing my guest post in the knowledge that it will probably appear with a photo of me at the Fulham event, looking like a red-faced version of the woman from Misery. Now we are back to the typical weather of a British summer, it's difficult to believe that only a few weeks ago London was so boiling that the audience (and us authors) did well not to keel over.

I didn't have such a long journey as some of my fellow writers, but it was long enough on a packed Tube at rush hour! I wouldn't have blamed everyone for staying at home with a cool glass of Pimm's, so it was wonderful to see so many people arriving to hear us speak - including my publisher, Corinne Souza of Picnic, whom I'd never actually met before.

The Hammersmith and Fulham News had plugged the event and featured pictures of us all, so we agreed that we would speak in the same order as the photos, and I was third to go.

I love reading out my work and was quite keen to do a couple of excerpts, but given the heat and the fact that there were still two authors left to speak, I didn't want to go on for too long. I chose one brief scene where Kill-Grief's heroine, Mary, encounters a sinister Hogarthian brothel-keeper.

I was really interested to hear the excerpts from the other featured books and the experiences of their writers. We're such a varied bunch, writing in such different styles and genres, that the event was an excellent showcase for the diversity of titles produced by independent publishers.

Back in April, I was delighted when I heard Kill-Grief had been selected as part of the Exclusively Independent scheme. It is so hard for smaller publishers to get their books in front of the readers who might enjoy them if only they knew about them, so it's a brilliant idea for independent booksellers and publishers to work together to raise the profile of interesting and sometimes unusual titles.

Huge thanks are due to Lauren at Legend Press and the staff of Fulham Library for organising the evening. Since my book was published, most of the events I've done have involved doing all the legwork myself, so it was lovely just to turn up and find everything under control. I'd love to be part of any future Exclusively Independent events – that's if I'm invited back, of course!

Monday, 27 July 2009

New Selection Announced!

Set for another cycle of variety, here are the new ten titles:

Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born, adapted by artist Jae Lee
The Dream Snatcher by Kara May
Twenty Thousand Saints by Fflur Dafydd
A Romance with Cocaine by M. Ageyev
Fire Horses by Mark Liam Piggott
Ice Cream Army by Jessica Gregson
Bumper Book of Betsey Biggalow by Malorie Blackman
The Divine Blood by Andrea H. Japp
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jasmine's Tortoise by Corinne Souza

A little bit of everything, as you can see. Some beautiful adaptations, first novels and charming childrens' stories.

Gardners will be sourcing the titles over the next couple of weeks, and then they will be featured in bookshops and Hammersmith and Fulham Libraries.


Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Submissions welcome!

It's that time again when Exclusively Independent is open for submissions!

Any genre, any age, any version, just anything!

To enter, just email an AI and manuscript to the address below. Publishers can submit up to three titles per cycle. The current cycle closes 5 August.

Working with an increasing number of bookshops each month, the project is going from strength to strength. We're really proud of the scheme, and hope to continue reaching readers up and down the country.


Monday, 20 July 2009

Alec Sillifant's blog

I have discovered the perfect diet and it doesn't require a drastic eating regime. All you need to do is get a book published, be lucky enough to be have it short-listed by the brilliant people at 'Exclusively Independent', go to Fulham Library on a rather hot July evening and give your first ever address in public about your work. I can personally vouch that I sweated off at least six pounds in five minutes even though I was rather informally dressed in shorts and baggy T-shirt. Had I had the nerve, or skill, to speak for longer I reckon I would have got that six pack I've been after since I was 15.

Joking aside, behind my shaking hands and fevered brow, I really enjoyed the experience. I even managed to learn some things from my fellow authors too who all seemed calm, cool and collected during their talks. In fact I spent most of my time (I went first - must be down to some kind of social self destruction element in my character) as they spoke thinking: 'Of course, why didn't I mention something like that?' Still, if there is ever a next time...

After the scary spotlight bit was over and I was a little more relaxed the question and answer session was really interesting with some really good enquiries about the industry and working practices. I must admit I gathered some new intel myself from the other authors that I hope will help me in the future as well as the audience members. Finally milling round and shooting the breeze with individual audience members saw my heart rate drop considerably and I relaxed into a situation I am far more comfortable in. Maybe I should have asked the good people of Fulham to come in one at a time from the start?

While I'm here I would like to thank all the people that came to Fulham library to listen, to organise and to help. (Thank you also for the drink, water for me, as I tried to replace all the fluid leaking through my skin) On a hot night like that the temptation to be sitting outside sipping on a cold drink instead must have been hard to resist but I am grateful you came. And I can't leave out Lucy and Clare, from Meadowside Children's Books, for coming along to offer their support not to mention biking a load of my book across London on my behalf. Would you get that kind of dedication from a mega-publisher? Also to the lady that bought a copy of 'Jake Highfield Chaos Unleashed' - I know, shameless plugging - and asked me to sign it (the first outside of family and friends); you'll have to let me know if Freddie enjoyed it.

'Exclusively Independent' is a brilliant idea for authors from smaller independent publishers. It gives the kind of exposure that usually requires a fairly fat cheque book to buy and is a great 'leg up' in a very competitive marketplace. I believe there are plans to expand the scheme further in the future and I for one shall be watching its progress with interest. I am really chuffed to have been included and for that I must thank everyone involved, especially Lauren with whom I had a bet to see which of us would be the worse speaker on the night and I am sorry to report I won.

As for my book, it is about to go digital with 'Scrollmotion' which is very cool. That would appeal big time to 'Angel' one of the main characters in my tale but as for me I will have to wait until I can get my seven year old son to show me how download it.