Tag Archives: fifty shades of grey

The Emancipist by Veronica Sweeney


(This article is also featured on Writing.ie)

Veronica Sweeney has been a published novelist for twenty-eight years. She wrote her trilogy, The Emancipist, after nine and a half years of research. It was first published in one volume by Pan MacMillan in 1985 and reprinted consistently for twenty years by publishing houses such as Century Hutchinson, Simon & Schuster, Avon Books, Bantam and HarperCollins. It is now being printed by Selfpublishbooks.ie as a trilogy.

“I was surprised that the publishers didn’t want a trilogy,” she says, “It was published as one book, which I had to cut in order to make the single large volume … much was left out, and I was very happy to discover Kindle, so the eBook contains material left out of the original.”

 

I ask Veronica which books or authors inspire her. “I like the works of Ruth Rendell and PD James – they produce great stories with fine writing. I love Terry Pratchett, clever writing with a heart. Other than these I read everything from Jane Austen to Eric Fleming. No Fifty Shades fan here, then? “Not much into modern romances,” she replies, “too predictable!”

 

Veronica expands her answer, revealing a characteristic charm of her work: “Publishers have always complained that my work is ‘quirky’, and I like books that are slightly different and have the author’s own voice without being too formulaic. I love it when I want to read a sentence twice because it’s so clever or insightful. I like having to admit, ‘Jeez, I wish I’d written that!’”

 

As for inspiration, Veronica names only one thing: “My mother read to me all through my childhood – following the words on the page meant that I could read at the age of three. She also read me poetry – there were loads of books of poetry in the house. So I think I grew up with the cadence of words, and their power. She bought me a book on stories from Shakespeare, which inspired me to read the originals. I read all the plays of Shakespeare at thirteen and I think … that this was a pivotal time for me, the inspiration of a rattling good yarn beautifully written. Something to aspire to, but unattainable of course!”

 

Veronica is an established novelist with an international reputation, but when she recently made the switch from traditional publishing to self-publishing, she knew she was taking a risk. “But I needn’t have worried,” she said, “It’s been fun … and – I can’t stress this enough – to be able to choose my own covers and design after twenty-eight years as a professional novelist has been the best part.” Lettertec, the printing press in County Cork with a self-publishing imprint Selfpublishbooks.ie, is producing The Emancipist in three separate volumes this year.

 

I ask Veronica how self-publishing caught her eye: “Amazon Kindle first of all – it’s levelled the playing field for writers at last. We’re back to the early days of the printing press, like Erasmus! Get a good idea and take it to the printer – before publishers and agents became involved!

 

“The whole process was very speedy,” she adds, “I think it took about two weeks, and that was mostly me being very fussy about the cover.

 

Any other reason? “Despite the advent of reading devices such as Kindle and Nook, so many people really like the physical feel of a book, and The Emancipist was the obvious choice, as it’s my favourite of all my work, the one people are always asking me about – and complaining because it’s the size of a house brick! The new version from Lettertec, being in three volumes, solves that!”

 

I also asked Veronica if she had any advice for writers thinking of self-publishing. “Anyone going the way of self-publishing for the first time really should pay the bit extra to have their book checked by a professional editor … The way I work is to finish the seventh, eighth, ninth draft, then put it in a drawer for several months and then come back to it. Self-publishing is no place for wishful thinking … the writing has to be tight and professional, or no one will buy your book but your family.”

 

How was the printed product? “Far better quality than any book I’ve had published. Some paperbacks seem to be printed on newspaper. This version of The Emancipist is a real collector’s copy, limited edition. The first run of Pan MacMillan’s was 100,000 copies! But I’m very proud of my limited run Emancipist – it’s the book I always wanted to see.”

 

Every author has her favourite. Veronica happily imparted hers: “Shannonbrook [Book Three of The Emancipist] … by then Aidan is in middle-age, and very much a product of all that has happened to him. He’s successful, but still believes he can control his environment. … When I did the book tour of Australia, half the women I spoke to said he was a thorough rat and a rogue, and the other half said he was so real that he must exist!”

 

She gleefully adds: “It was fun to create his children, who give him a great shock in refusing to be what he expects.”

 

What’s next, Veronica? “Editing – again – Books Two and Three before sending them to Lettertec, and after that I’ll be uploading my Australian thriller, Dark Obsession – though the title will now be His Dark Obsession – to Amazon Kindle. But there’ll be more books printed by Lettertec, deciding on which ones depends on which ones my readers ask for!”

 

Book One of The Emancipist – titled The Big House – is available now. Books Two and Three will be available in early December, ready for Christmas.

 

To find out more about Veronica and The Emancipist, check out her website veronicasweeney.net

 

 

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Unpublished Bin Laden Raid story already a bestseller


Penguin is set to publish a first-person account of the mission which killed Osama Bin Laden, the Bookseller announced yesterday.

The book is titled No Easy Day: The Only Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden, and is written by the pseudonymous Mark Owen, a Navy SEAL who was among the first to enter the Abbottabad compound where Bin Laden was hiding.

It will be released on September 11th. Penguin describes it as “an essential piece of modern history”.

Despite the anonymity of the author, Fox News reported that they discovered his real identity — a 36-year-old from Alaska. The US Penguin imprint Dutton, which will be simultaneously publishing the book there, asked the media to withhold his name claiming it risked his personal security. US Military officials confirmed they had not vetted the contents of the book before its release was announced.

GalleyCat reported that the title is already shooting up the charts from presales: “It is currently the No. 1 bestseller on Amazon, ahead of all of the Fifty Shades of Grey titles and the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.”

According to Amazon, “No Easy Day puts readers alongside Owen and the other handpicked members of the twenty-four-man team as they train for the biggest mission of their lives. The blow-by-blow narrative of the assault, beginning with the helicopter crash that could have ended Owen’s life straight through to the radio call confirming Bin Laden’s death, is an essential piece of modern history.”

Pre-order it here.

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Digital sales and lawsuits


Today, Amazon UK announced that since the start of 2012, for every 100 print books purchased on their site, customers downloaded 114 Kindle books. Amazon said the figures included sales of printed books which did not have Kindle editions, but excluded free ebooks.

An article in the Guardian outlined that “much to the consternation of the publishing industry, Amazon has refused to release audited figures for its digital book sales, something it does for printed books.” It told the Guardian that the company “would not discuss future policy on the matter.”

Ebook sales have been given a boost by the publication of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, which has sold two million copies in the past four months.

Over the past year, the site has seen a more than 400% increase in UK authors and publishers using the self-publishing tool Kindle Direct Publishing.

Jorrit Van der Meulen, vice-president of Kindle EU, said: “Customers in the UK are now choosing Kindle books more often than print books, even as our print business continues to grow. We hit this milestone in the US less than four years after introducing Kindle, so to reach this landmark after just two years in the UK is remarkable and shows how quickly UK readers are embracing Kindle. As a result of the success of Kindle, we’re selling more books than ever before on behalf of authors and publishers.”

Less favourable news came for Google Books today, with Publishers Weekly  reporting that the multinational corporation could incur damages exceeding $1 billion, if the Authors Guild prevails in its legal battle over Google’s library book scanning program.

Publishers Weekly said: “The Guild asked the court for summary judgment in its favor, and the minimum statutory damage award—$750 per infringement. With as many as four million of the estimated 20 million books scanned by Google thought to still be under U.S. copyright, the damages could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars should Google lose, depending on the ultimate size of the class, and assuming that copyright holders come forward and prove ownership.

“From the beginning, Google has portrayed the scanning program as a public good. But, in its brief, the Authors Guild portrays the scanning effort as a purely commercial venture designed to give it an advantage over competitors like Microsoft and Amazon, which had both launched book scanning projects that asked permission of the copyright owner. The brief cites internal Google documents citing Google’s desire to cement an advantage over its rivals, and notes that Google has invested nearly $180 million in the scanning program. It also notes that Google was making progress with its partner program, signing up publishers for its corpus, when it decided to scan library books.”

For the full low-down see here and The Guardian article here.

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Four self-published books on the NY Times eBook Bestseller List!

As Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, has said, “We knew this day was coming.”

An article in the Guardian on Thursday announced that four self-published authors had made it to the New York Times eBook Bestseller list.

The highest-ranking self-published author on the 5 August NYT chart is Colleen Hoover, whose ebook Slammed comes in in eighth place, ahead of by established bestsellers I, Michael Bennett by James Patterson (#11) and Criminal by Karin Slaughter (#21). Hoover, who self-published Slammed seven months ago and has just signed a traditional book deal with Simon & Schuster, also has her second novel, Point of Retreat, in 18th place on the NYT chart.

Bella Andre has three self-published romance novels in the chart: If You Were Mine in 22nd place, Can’t Help Falling in Love in 23rd, and I Only Have Eyes For You in 24th. The 25-title chart is dominated, as it has been for much of the summer, by EL James’s Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy – itself originally published as fan fiction.

Smashwords has worked with all four authors to publish or distribute their eBooks, and its founder Mark Coker has outlined what all this success means:

It’s a big deal to see a single Smashwords author on the New York Times Bestseller list, let alone four in one week. A year ago, it was unheard of. A year from now, it’ll be more commonplace.
These worlds [of independent and traditional publishing] are complementary to each other.  Success in one world feeds success in the other.  Authors who participate in both worlds will become more valuable to publishers, but also more expensive to sign.  That’s good for authors.
If you think these successful romance authors are random flukes, or the beneficiaries of a passing fad, you’re underestimating them.  These authors are the future.  Learn from them.
The indie movement has gone mainstream with romance authors, and it’s transforming the lives of writers for the better. […] The future of book publishing is brighter than ever for those authors who place themselves on the right side of history.  Authors who delay their embrace of indie publishing will find themselves sidelined by those who have already seen the light.

It’s up and up for self-publishing!

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Changing Times: Penguin’s profits drop, The Writer is on hiatus & Classics are rewritten

After 125 years, The Writer magazine will cease printing.

Editor Jeff Reich sent an email to his subscribers on Thursday to break the news:“I’m sorry to announce that The Writer magazine will go on hiatus after the October 2012 issue, which is in production now. Kalmbach Publishing Co., which owns The Writer, is currently looking for a buyer for the magazine, and our hope is that The Writer will re-emerge under the careful stewardship of a new owner.”

The Writer magazine was founded in 1887 by Boston Globe reporters Robert Luce and William H. Hills who outlined nine goals for the magazine, including, notably: “To collect and publish the experiences, experiments and observations of literary people, for the benefit of all writers.”

The magazine’s website is still up and running with its huge resources of writing aids, such as writing prompts, tips on getting published,  advice for the many common stumbling blocks of bad writing, and support in not losing hope.

More financial difficulties were met by Penguin in the first half of this year, as reported by the Bookseller. The company is down 4% compared to its sales from the same period last year; however, its e-book revenues are up 33% and now represent almost 20% of its total revenues.

The online magazine GalleyCat maintains that this drop in sales is due to the overwhelming success of Vintage Books’ Fifty Shades of Grey and Scholastic Press’ The Hunger Games.

Looking to the next six months, Pearson, the new parent of Penguin Books, said: “We expect Penguin’s publishing and its competitive performance to be stronger in the second half of the year, and we expect the structural change to continue.” It also said that over the next six months, Penguin will “continue to take action to adapt to the rapidly-changing industry environment”, and will over that period be expensing integration costs associated with its acquisition of Author Solutions. (For more information on that controversial business move, click here).

(Illustration by Dale Stephanos)

It may be a sign of the times, and needless to say, the influence of E.L. James, that even the Classics are getting rewritten for commercial benefit. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (both with gay themes) and Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey inaugurate the series, titled “Clandestine Classics.” For more, see here.

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Twitter Book Clubs?

The Bookseller this week blogged about a new online phenomenon — Twitter book clubs.

It all began with Sian Meades and ‘Domestic Sluttery’, the “lifestyle website, covering mainly design and food (with our tongues firmly in our cheeks). Whenever we mentioned books—be it a gorgeous collection like White’s Fine Editions, or a scheme like Mr B’s Reading Year—people got really excited. After a little bit of logistics and planning behind the scenes (let’s be honest, book clubs can be a bit of a nightmare), the Domestic Sluttery Book Club began. And then the #SlutteryBookClub hashtag started trending across the world on Twitter.

The advantages to this are such that it beggars belief there have not been social media-based book clubs, on a global scale, prior to this. Not only do you open up discussion to people across the world, occasionally you will also be able to discuss the chosen book with its author, as Sian Meades did with the author of Sister, Rosamund Lupton.

As Sian herself said, “The whole point of the book club is to discuss and chat—you don’t have to be sat around a table to do that. You don’t even have to be in the same country as us. And you can definitely type with one hand while drinking a glass of wine.”

The next book Sian has planned for the Twittersphere is not E.L. James’ bestseller as everyone seems to expect of her — “Twitter is a fickle beast and I was awake until 1am explaining to people that we hadn’t read Fifty Shades of Grey (that’s what you get for choosing a deliberately contentious hashtag)” — but Kate Morton’s The House at Riverton, after which “we might switch to a classic or get our readers to choose.”

Keep an eye out on Sian’s Twitter and blog for the next post — you can pitch in for a worldwide discussion!

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