Monday, 5 March 2012

Is Amazon Kindle the New Slush Pile?

The recent spate of publishing deals offered to selfpublished authors on Amazon Kindle would suggest that aspiring authors need to seriously consider Kindle as their shop window of choice.

It stands to reason that the major publishing houses are going to look to the bestselling ebook charts for authors with a proven track record and, most importantly, a ready made fan base.  Why wade through slush piles of paper manuscripts metres high when the net is doing the sifting for you?    One click, and they can read the synopsis, and the readers' reviews. Thanks to the Look Inside option editors and agents can  read the first few chapters, on their iPhones, iPads and their even ebook readers - no self-respecting agent can now afford to be without one!

So who are these lucky - and talented - authors?  Kerry Wilkinson with three titles in the Jessica Daniels crime series hit the number one spot in the UK and was Amazon's number 1 author for the final quarter of 2011.  With over a quarter of million sales he was snapped up Pan Macmillan with a six book deal.  Amanda Hocking, the USA's leading author of paranormal novels has signed with the same publisher after allegedly making over £1.5million as a self publisher. And then there's Rachel Abbott, a British Author whose taut pschological thriller, Only The Innocent, is selling 3000 copies a day led to an offer which she has so far turned down!

I think it's brilliant for these three authors, and especially encouraging that the voice of the reader is now able to influence the decisions of agents, editors and publishers alike.  What does it mean for the rest of us writing our socks off?  Well it presumably means that the titles belonging to authors picked up in this way will take longer to come to market.  Also that the price of their paperbacks will fall, but that of their ebooks will almost certainly rise exponentially.  That should give other selfpublishing authors a chance to rise to the top of the rankings.  That must be a better way of making commercial decisions for the publishers, and a great opportunity for writers.

I wait with bated breath!

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Justice for Manchester

Professor Hamid Ghodse, president of the United Nations’ International Narcotics Control Board, has had to apologise for lumping Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham in with some of the world's most dangerous cities when speak out against a ‘vicious cycle of social exclusion and drugs problems’ gripping cities across the world.

He described these cities has having no-go areas controlled by drug traffickers, organised crime, and drug users, where law enforcement had failed.

His apology claimed that he was talking of the past in relation to the UK cities.. He acknowledged that police and community action had made a real difference in all three cities.  His words he said had been 'lost in translation'

Sadly that damage has been done.  His apology will not receive the kind of coverage that his original pronouncement made.  All that we can do is to see that the truth gets out there im as many forms as possible.

Even at the height of the gang wars in South Manchester - in the '80s and 90's - none of these areas were 'no go'.  The gang related murders almost exclusively involved the drug dealers,couriers, and enforcers themselves.  That is not to belittle those deaths or the few that took the lives of innocent bystanders.

I had an office in the heart of Moss Side during that time.  I walked and drove all over the area for years, and never once felt truly threatened.  Even when I had to sit in my car at 7.30 in the evening waiting for dealers to conclude their trade across the school gates before I could drive in for a meeting with the Governors.

Concerted action by Greater Manchester Police, the community, and the City Council has transformed the area which is now home to thousands of students, young professionals, and local families.  Yes there is still crime.  Yes there are still gangs.  As in all major cities.  But no go areas such as those in Brazil, and Mexico, and some of the US cities, do not exist. Nor did they ever.

My Manchester crime fiction stories could be claimed to fuel the misconception voiced by Professor Ghodse.  My excuse is that they are only fiction.  Nor do they ever suggest that there are no go areas.  They are by and large about the pyschology of individual motivations in the committing of crime.  I make that clear in preface to my books.

The reality is that Manchester has a 98.6 clear up rate in relation to murders committed in the GMP area.  And the annual number of murders is a fraction of those committed in comparable US cities.

If you have friends and aquaintances who live abroad make sure that they know the truth.  Manchester is a great and a save place to visit, providing that they take the same sensible precautions that they would when travelling anywhere in the world, including thier own home town.

Here is the original link:

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Dickens and I

As part of the international celebration of the 200th anniversary of Dickens' birth, I recently had the honour of being asked to contribute a post on Dovegreyreader - officially Britain's Number One Literary Blog 2011.  My post is one among twenty by authors who were invited to share their favourite Dickens' novel, and the reasons why they valued it so much. 

Read the post here:       Dickens and I

Friday, 13 January 2012

Nurturing British Talent - Funding Independent British Film Productions.

The Prime Minister has allegedly decided to pre-empt a long awaited report into the funding of British Film Productions.  He suggests that funding should be directed towards those most likely to make substantial profits.  Aside from infuriating those who have worked hard and long on the report, he has missed the point.  It has proved impossible for Hollywood Gurus -including critics, producers, hedge fund managers, and directors - to predict success or failure in advance of actual receipts. 

The only effect of such a policy would be to starve new, young, innovative film directors and producers of the funding needed to grow the British Film Industry for the next two decades.  The same has been true of the publishing world where shrinking profit margins have led to a disproportionate number of TV celebrity cookbooks, celebrity autobiographies, and established authors, at the expense of new and fresh talent.

I recently had the privilege of working with nagnag productions on the film Echoes which premieres tomorrow in Leigh before moving on to the Bradford Film Festival.  Mine was just a bit part, but it was enough to leave me massively impressed by the skill, determination and commitment of three local young men working with virtually no funding, and  the services of actors from Tyldesley Little Theatre and St Josephs ADS.  Others will judge the result - a one hour twenty six minute feature film - but for me the quality of this wholly digital production is exceptional.  Given just a little seed corn funding I have no doubt it would have been even better.  More importantly, with this film nagnag have proved themselves worthy of investment.  If Mr Cameron has his way they, and many others like them, will never receive it.  And the British Film Industry, and we the filmgoers, will be the poorer for it.
                       Judge for yourselves @