Monday, February 27, 2006

"Britain's situation wasn't unparalleled; America had undergone the big brand publishing takeover years before. But America is bigger, and publishing diversity stood a better chance of flourishing."

"It wasn't that Random House and Waterstone's didn't fill an important niche in the British book world. Rather, there didn't seem to be room for anyone else."

Two quotes from "The bigger, the better? The British small publisher begs to differ"
By Tara Mulholland International Herald Tribune

So Yesterday

I'm reading Scott Westerfileld's So Yesterday. I like the trimmings (Hunter's facts are neat.) But by page 60 I'm beginning to wonder where's the beef. All decoration and not enough story? I'll read on.

The code

The case against Dan Brown and the Da Vinci code by two researchers seems absurd in creative terms (no idea about the legal). A fictional writer is to be constrained by fear of a law suit if a book is successful because he or she based it on fact? We're choking creativity by being so uptight about intellectual property. Isn't there some famous quote about standing on the shoulders of others? Now there'll be a charge for doing so.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

bad writing

I enjoyed this blog on bad writing:
I'd started to read The Historian late last year and given up, finding the writing portentous. It was nice to have the view confimed by analysis.

yeah whatever
(which had triggered the previouse blog) seemed to go over the top in its attack Zadie Smith's On Beauty. The criticism was based on a single example of a poor metaphor. I really enjoyed Smith's book even though I wasn't favorably disposed at the start as I hadn't got into White Teeth. I know lots of moderately literate people who enjoyed On Beauty as much as I did. Dr Zen has an overdeveloped canon of correctness.

Friday, February 24, 2006

first person

I'm intrigued by person in voice - ever since a work-experience person (who's gone on to a mid-list career as a children's author with another publisher) authoritatively informed me that first person just couldn't be sustained in a novel and that it was dull to read. I've always liked the first person, so I was disconcerted with earnestness this fiat was delivered with. Most of the books we've published are third person but I've really liked the way Michael Wagner uses first person in Dog Wars. I'm reading it to Miles (aged 6) and he's loving it - a first person flea. Phil Kettle claims that first person is the way to a seven year old boy's heart - put him at the centre of the story.

So Susan Johnson's comments about the "person" in her first novel intrigued me. To quote here "I clung to third-person because it felt safe … because I hoped for a more magisterial, authorial distance… Finally I relented though, accepting that first person was the only way the story could be told. After that I was away. She goes on to say, "Once a character's voice has been discovered … everything else follows."

buzz about Nunn's Shadows

I just opened the packaged that contains the proofread pages from Barbie, the toughest and meanest of all proofreaders who's never seemed to liked any of our other books, and there was a note "Great read!" Pick me up off the floor!

And I got this email from Lisa on Friday: "It is a brilliant read! I am totally engrossed and don't expect to get anything else done until I have finished it!"

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

From the chark blog - this link to a very lovely opening sequence to a website:
It's worth a look.
There's a buzz building about Cameron Nunn's Shadows in the Mirror (coming out in May) based on early copies of the book we've sent out to readers. Cameron's written a book that is all of clever, engaging and substantial. He's skilfully slipped in the substance into something akin to a thriller. Here comes a narrator that you just can't quite rely on, and the distrust engages the reader to read on to try and find out what really happens.

It was a long haul to publication for Cameron, from early enouragement from Ursual Dubosarsky when he took some students to a writing camp. But the book is proving that it's been worth it.

Monday, February 20, 2006

There are always gems in the Saturday Age. Ap Dijksterhuis of the University of Amsterdam has discovered that big decisions are best left to the unconscious mind because it can juggle lots of facts and figures better. The conscious mind tends to inflate the importance of some attributes at the expense of others and can handle on a few facts at a time, leading to poor decisions. (The study was based on picking the best of four cars. It seems a narrow base on which to build a theory, and I'm what best meant. The other item of random interest (random is my 12 year old daughters favourite word) were the "skipper dippers" collecting food from bins at the back of garbage bins. It's growing - to the extent that there are skipper dipper swap meets. People say it is more about reducing waste than free goods.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

It was stimulating reading Business Network this week in the Age as it featured David and Sharon Marlow's Book Street. As an independent publisher its good to read about our counterparts on the other side of the fence, the independent booksellers, in the mainstream press. It's encouraging to find such passion. My understanding of the bookselling ecology is that the independents are the one's who build the success of books. Some books start big but many build through the handselling efforts of the independents. And the Marlows seem to have this point of difference in spades. I love being sold a book, and I'm happier reading and giving a book that comes with a recommendation. But I'm not sure that it's something that Australians are typically good at - accepting advice in a shop. We not fabulous at giving service, but we're not good at receiving it either. As a publisher it's energizing talking to a great bookseller. It was good to catch up with Lynndy of Gleebooks when I was up in Sydney and to meet Toni and Nicola of the newish Lindfield Children's Bookshop

I've read this section of the paper before but for the first time I knew about the industry. I was a bit shocked that the advice was so generic, big business talking down to small. The best of the advice the Marlows were already following and the some of the rest of it was just plain wonky.

We're working hard to grow our website. Chris Miles is in a day a week or so. It is highly enjoyable - you get such a quick result. An innovation is up and happening as soon as we upload. (Publishing books has such a long cycle by comparison, and it seems to be getting longer.) Visits are increasing, teachers notes, hi res images of authors and covers are being downloaded - we looked at the statistics on Friday and we could see! But it's slow progress. We want a site like a rambling old house with lots of back corridors and attics that take several visits or will only be found by accident.
I'm kind of proud of this my first genuine blog entry, and I'd be chuffed if I got a comment back so please reply.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

the second post

Again merely experimental to see if the blog is operational

Thursday, February 09, 2006

first post

This is the first post. A technical necessity so I can see the template