Friday, 30 April 2010

Guest Blog from Anthony Werner

Featured in the next cycle of Exclusively Independent is Political Novel Prime Minister by John Stewart (Shepheard-Walwyn). Anthony Werner has graciously written a blog regarding this highly topical novel:

The country is in crisis. Unrest and inner city tensions feed on unemployment. As the Government struggles to contain the soaring debt, divisions in the Cabinet force the premier’s resignation. Because circumstances are too dire to afford the luxury of an election, the Queen calls a meeting of the three main party leaders.

Some days previously, the Leader of the Opposition had received a letter that intrigued him. The writer, in fact, had held little hope of making contact. For him, it was one last try. Yet much to his amazement he received a phone call from the opposition leader’s secretary. When they met, the Leader of the Opposition was polite, but blunt: ‘Why should you see the answer when all the experts down the ages have ignored it?’ he asked - yet, his interest had been

Following the meeting with the Queen, it was announced that the Leader of the Opposition had been asked to form a national government. With the support of the other two party leaders, he sets out to win over the cabinet, parliament and the country to implement the radical reform recommended by the letter writer.

Visit Shepheard-Walwyn's site by clicking here and browse among a selection of their other fantastic titles.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Mark Piggott's Blog

Legend Press author Mark Piggott is today's Guest Blogger. His second novel Out of Office will be featured in Exclusively Independent and here Mark writes about the true meaning of the word 'independent'. It's always interesting to read the various blogs posted up on this site, and everyone interprets the task of writing a blog, differently. Many thanks to Mark for providing us with this piece, and read more about his fantastic new novel by visiting his website here and/or the Legend Press website here.

Not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself: an independent thinker.

No man is an island” – John Donne

In our interdependent world, is it even possible to be truly “independent”? Indeed would one wish to be independent, when together so much more can be achieved? I pride myself on my independent spirit, but it’s something I couldn’t have developed on my own. Without other people I’d be worse off materially, emotionally and financially: to go it alone, you need all the help you can get.

Sometimes I find myself wondering what would happen if Legend Press were to be swallowed whole by some multinational corporation that also manufactures pesticides or drills deep into the Alaskan tundra on behalf of libertarian Governors. This fictional megacorp would of course be based in America and the managing director would smoke fat cigars and possess the power to break newspaper critics with a well-aimed email.

One part of me – the pragmatist, the family-man materialist – wonders if being amalgamated might be a good thing. What’s the point of ideals if nobody reads your stuff? Another part of me – the dogmatic punk, the Leftie firebrand – would want to campaign outside the conglomerate’s 80-storey glass-and-platinum HQ with strongly-worded placards, chanting touchingly 80s slogans.

The pessimist in me worries that whoever took over would make it their first priority to jettison excess baggage, those authors whose novels are yet to sell in Rowling-in-it quantities. The red line is the bottom line: publishing is a business, not a charity, a refuge for dreamers (before you write in, I don’t believe this).

On balance, I’m happy where Legend Press have positioned themselves, as an independent and growing publisher with strong links to other independents, sharing some ideals and resources, each with their own strengths, interests, back-stories and catalogues. Would the phrase “independent union” be a more accurate description of this noble scheme, despite being an oxymoron? I’m glad I’m independent; I’m glad we all are. Viva independence: long live the union.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Part Two of Guest Blogger: Gwen Davies

Following on from yesterday, Gwen Davies has continued her blog - describing upcoming titles and authors.

I need to have a think about a few authors who had been taken up by London agents but who for various reasons are considering coming back to the fold. This will be more likely if we can boost their advance via a WBC commissioning grant (these go as high as £10,000). However, the scheme stipulates very high printruns (for literary works) and denies us access to the publishing grant scheme, and since the advance goes exclusively to the authors, the scheme is not as appealing as it initially looks to the publisher. There is still time to mull this over.

Once the production rush calms down, I will look into sorting out advance bound uncorrected proofs to promote our October titles, The Deer Wedding by Penny Simpson, which is set in Croatia, and Bamboo Grove by Romy Wood, which is set in Bangkok. Lovely covers of these have already been sorted: a delicate Balkan folk-art feel for the Croatian novel and a hot, sexy urban tang for the Thai one. Romy is very open about the fact that she has Bipolar Disorder, and we have been discussing how this aspect of her personality and the novel’s themes, might fit in with marketing the book. She only recently sent me a jolly text saying “Getting on well with next book but hospitalised again!” Being involved with the ups and downs of an author’s emotional life is an interesting part of the job, too – though there are limits!

A big thankyou to Gwen for providing us with such a fantastic blog over the last two days.

Both Bumping by Tony Bianchi and Faith Hope and Love by Llwyd Owen from Alcemi are featured in the next cycle of Exclusively Independent. You can find out more about the company by visiting there site and clicking here.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Part One of Guest Blogger: Gwen Davies

Not Quite West Belfast

Gwen Davies, editor of Alcemi has written a two-part blog for the site providing a fascinating 'behind the scenes' insight into the workings of one of the most exciting, and up and coming Independent Publishers.

Alcemi is so small there is only one of me, and only four titles – mainly novels – a year. But we are housed in a commercial, and primarily Welsh-language publishing and printing house, Y Lolfa, which makes my little enclave of English literary fiction seem a strange little setup at first sight. And yet it is a happy one, since I can draw on all the expertise I need in terms of printing, typesetting and design, warehousing, sales, cashflow and teamaking. And the village of Talybont where we are based, in the old police station, 6 miles north of Aberystwyth, despite being a company town dominated by political murals (not quite west Belfast though), is beautiful, friendly, cultural and lively (apart from the postmistress down the Spa who will talk to you in English about line-dancing but clams up when you try and speak Welsh to her).

Our (two) publishing highlights are in May and October, so I am entering the busy phase of balancing the correction of last-minute proofs of Faith, Hope and Love by Llwyd Owen (an Exclusively Independent selection for May-June) with checking that Bumping by Tony Bianchi (also in the selection) is safely in bed at the printers downstairs. Having printing facilities closeby is handy, but it has its downside, especially when the typesetter is fiddling to find a fancy font for a wedding invitation. Other asides are trying to gather titles for our bid for revenue status with our funders, the Welsh Books Council (former Arts Council Wales grants to publishers, indeed most of the publishing sector funding was transferred – by one Tony Bianchi! - to the WBC a good few years ago). Also trying to do my main job – editing! I’ve got Perfect Architect by Jayne Joso on my desk, a May 2011 title, which is reading wonderfully, but keeps getting buried under press releases and mailout labels. I’ve just heard from the designer of the Faith, Hope cover, Jamie Hamley, who’s done us a beautiful three-colour illustrative design of a Cardiff city cemetery, where much of the novel’s action is set (though probably more in the pub!). Unfortunately Jamie’s computer’s died on him so there will be a slight delay in our receiving the artwork, but since I don’t need to sign off the book until mid next week, to catch the 13 May publication date, all should be well.

Tomorrow, part two of Gwen's blog will be posted up - visit us tomorrow and don't miss out!

Monday, 26 April 2010

New list for Exclusively Independent!

The list of final titles for the new cycle of Exclusively Independent has now been finalised!

Out of Office by Mark Piggott (Legend Press)
Fighting France: From Dunkerque to Belfort by Edith Wharton (Hesperus)
Dazed and Aroused by Gavin James Bower (Quartet Books)
Prime Minister by John Stewart (Shepheard-Walwyn)
Bumping by Tony Bianchi (Alcemi)
Faith Hope and Love by Llwyd Owen (Alcemi)
Heading South by Luke Bitmead & Catherine Richards (Legend Press)
Mine-Haha or On the Bodily Education of Young Girls by Frank Wedekind, translated by Philip Ward (Hesperus)

It's fantastic to see a wide range contained within a small list. Check back here over the coming weeks to read various blogs relating to each title.


Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Bonnie Greer mentioned in Stylist

Bonnie Greer Swindon

Normally I'm armed with a book on my daily commute, however being in between books at the moment today I accepted a copy of Stylist magazine from an eager and determined street distributor (if that's the correct term).

And just as well as there's a mention of Bonnie Greer at Swindon Literature Festival. The festival itself runs from 3-15 May and Bonnie will be hosting a presentation 7 May from 8:00pm.

Bonnie will be hosting an hour long talk about her book Obama Music, and signed copies will be available to buy from the on-site Waterstones stall, after a brief Q&A session.

Swindon Festival is an established and thriving independent festival. Matt Holland, Director of the Festival has said, 'Our passion and founding spirit is rooted in love of the word, good reading, exploratory talk, finding out about things, making connections, and the notion that life is for learning, and pleasure.'

Don't miss out and click here to find out more information.


Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Waterstones Book of the Month!

9781907461170Having just been selected for Exclusively Independent's top ten, it was great to hear that Dave Cameron's Schooldays by Bill Coles has been chosen as Waterstone's Independent book of the month! To view the promotion click here!

It is great to see the book doing so well, which is currently in promotion front of shop in the 3 for 2s.

The book has also been listed on's Fiction for Boys list.


Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Submission Call now Closed!

The current call for submissions has now closed, many thanks to all of the publishers who have submitted!

We have a lot of reading to now crack on with (the image here is probably justified) and the panel meeting to discuss the final ten titles is 20 April.