Friday, 26 July 2013

REMIX, the Hungarian hardback

Yesterday the Hungarian hardback edition of Remix arrived through the post. A proud moment. So far, Könyvmolyképző Kiadó's is the only hardback version of any of my novels.

Remix has had quite a few covers in its time, and it's interesting that this one has more the feel of my early ones. The title is in raised lettering. My heroine Caz looks very sultry, which I think would amuse her. I particularly like the dedication:

Köszönet minden íro barátomnak – ti tudjátok, kikre gondolok...

For Minty 
With thanks to all my writing friends - you know who you are...

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Chris Blake is a fake - lying author biographies

We all know that JK Rowling made up an elaborate identity for her alter ego, Robert Galbraith, including claims that he was married with two sons, and had worked in the Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Military Police. This caused a stir in America, where it is thought very bad form indeed to impersonate military personnel.

I've just come across another instance of, well, lying about the identity of an author in such a way as to persuade a potential reader to buy the book. It's an interesting story.

Carl Ashmore wrote a children's series called The Time Hunters. He self-published and did well with it, but before this he put it on the writers' site Authonomy, where in 2010 it won a gold star and a critique by an anonymous Harper Collins editor. The editor said, 'I really enjoyed reading THE TIME HUNTERS. You start off the action with a bang, drawing the reader in right away. Your writing is strong, and in places has a classic feel.... It has terrific potential.' 

Maybe Carl's book impressed that editor a little too much. Three years later, Harper Collins has published a children's series called Time Hunters, which bears some similarities to Carl's original version. Coincidence? Harper Collins had put together the idea, titles and outlines for the books, and contracted a writer via Hothouse Fiction to write them for a flat fee. (The author - female - told Carl she had not read his novels.) Three years is about the time you'd expect for trad publishing to commission and bring three books to market.

And Harper Collins made up this artful and completely false bio for its new 'author', which you can read on the book's Amazon page:

About the Author
Chris Blake lives in the South West, not far from Tintagel Castle, rumoured to be the home of King Arthur. Ever since he was a little boy Chris has always dreamed about travelling through time. He likes watching Doctor Who and looks forward to the day that time-travel is possible as he’d love to visit all the places in his books. In the meantime Chris will keep writing his own adventures. Chris has an old black cat called Merlin.

I realize I take author bios at face value. Mine is honest, and I assume others are too. Perhaps I am wrong, and some don't give a damn about veracity, just write whatever bio they think will sell most books. I don't think much of that.

Read Carl's post on the subject here.

Friday, 19 July 2013

The home life of Russian oligarchs

While researching my latest novel, I came across this commercial. I love the giraffe.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

JK Rowling publishes (briefly) under another name

I don't expect I'm breaking this news to anyone. But it does strike me as raising a number of interesting questions.

  • Kate Mills, fiction editor at Orion Books, admitted she had turned down the crime novel, which she described as well-written but quiet. She tweeted: So, I can now say that I turned down JK Rowling. I did read and say no to Cuckoo's Calling. Anyone else going to confess?

  • JKR published with Sphere, part of Little, Brown Book Group which published The Casual Vacancy. So does this mean she tried to find a publisher using only her nom de plume, Robert Galbraith, but failed and had to turn to her own publisher - who would naturally be eager to publish a new JKR?

  • The Cuckoo's Calling launched 18th April 2013, with many glowing reviews from reviewers who would normally be reluctant to read a newbie author. Were they tipped off? Or did Little, Brown just push the book very hard, having paid a lot up front?

  • Until the revelation today, sales were modest and the book had only a handful of readers' reviews on Amazon. Author Ian Rankin wrote: "So a debut novelist, garnering good quotes from famed authors for the cover plus good reviews, can expect to sell only a few hundred copies."

  • So who let the cat out of the bag? It must have been terribly frustrating for the publishers, watching the book sitting there, knowing with just a few words it could be selling thousands of copies per day...

  • The novel comes with a fake author bio: Born in 1968, Robert Galbraith is married with two sons. After several years with the Royal Military Police, he was attached to the SIB (Special Investigation Branch), the plain-clothes branch of the RMP. He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry. The idea for protagonist Cormoran Strike grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who have returned to the civilian world. 'Robert Galbraith' is a pseudonym. (Seems unnecessarily deceptive to me.)

  • The "Movers and Shakers" section of Amazon, which charts gains in sales by the hour, says sales of the book are currently up by more than 507,000%.