Salt Publishing

Almost Love: Publication Day

Almost Love AI

Today is the official publication date of Almost Love.  It is almost midsummer and the sun is shining; the cuckoos are still here, though they’ve changed to cuk-cuk mode now (it’s been a particularly good year for cuckoos in Yorkshire this year). It’s a complete contrast to the day on which In the Family was published, when the leaves had fallen, the shooting season was in full swing and we were heading for the winter solstice.  November seemed a good time to publish then, because it was still far enough away from Christmas for the book to feature (as I know it did, and am grateful) on some Christmas wish-lists.  June also seems a good time, as I’m hoping that at least a few people might want to take Almost Love on holiday with them.

Some authors talk about their books as if they’re babies.  This particular baby, although it’s been born today, is still in the incubator.  The books were delivered to Salt and its distributor yesterday, but have yet to be despatched to the shops; this will happen on Monday.  Yet I’m not impatient or disappointed that I don’t yet have a copy in my hand; on the contrary, I’m profoundly grateful to both Chris and Jen at Salt and to TJ International Printers of Padstow for pulling out the stops so quickly after MPG Printers went into receivership just as Almost Love was going through the press.  Thanks to their Herculean efforts, the delay has been minimal – much slighter than we’d feared.  And yesterday’s blog-post attracted so much interest that I feel that it acted as a ‘virtual’ launch.  Thank you very much to everyone who read it, spread it or contributed comments.

Thinking again about The English Bookshop and Jan’s explanation of why he chose Almost Love brought home to me the crucial role of Advance Information (AI) sheets in helping authors and publishers to sell their books.  AIs have improved tremendously over the years.  They started out as Gestetnered sheets. (Does anyone remember Gestetners?  They took ages to set up and usually suffered a paper-jam within five minutes; you got ink all over your hands and, if you were unlucky, your clothes.  The only good thing about them was the pink correction fluid, which could give you a temporary high if you applied it when standing in a confined space.)  These were sometimes almost illegible and contained little except the ISBN, a two-sentence blurb and the publication date.  There was no picture of the jacket.  However, by no means all publishers used to produce AIs.  Those who didn’t often sent out spares of the actual jacket with the date of publication stamped inside.  Booksellers therefore never received a complete set of information: you either got an insubstantial blurb with no jacket, or the jacket and not much else.

By contrast, today’s AIs – at least the ones that Salt produces – are works of art.  Author and publisher work closely together in order to wrest benefit from every centimetre of the space on a single A4 sheet.  They include a fine picture of the jacket and all the information that the bookseller needs, yet can be read in less than a minute.  Sometimes several hours are spent on developing an AI.

I thought that you might be interested to see the AI that was used to sell Almost Love into the shops, so I’ve included it here.  I hope that you will like it.

One month to publication!

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So here I am, one month away from the publication day for Almost Love, which has reached the proof stage.  I have marked the day by putting the ‘milestone’ countdown widget here (as if I needed it!), because that seems a celebratory thing to do, as well as adding the clickable cover picture and link to an interview about Almost Love, both of which are to your right on the sidebar.  It’s enormously exciting, and humbling, for me to be able to visit the Salt Publishing home page and to see my second novel there, whirling on the carousel amongst those other glorious titles, including Alison Moore’s latest (The Pre-War House and Other Stories, launching tonight at Waterstones Nottingham), David Gaffney’s More Sawn-Off Tales and Alice Thompson’s new novel, Burnt Island, not forgetting my fellow crimewriter Matthew Pritchard’s Scarecrow (to be published in the autumn).

So much has happened since November 2012, when In the Family came out to face the world, and I am very grateful indeed to the many readers of that book who took the trouble not only to read it but also to comment so favourably on it.  I have made many online friends since then, via Facebook, Twitter and this blog; they have been stalwart in their support and their sharing and retweeting has sometimes been so vigorous that I have barely been able to keep up with it.  If I missed passing on my thanks to you, please forgive me and accept them from me now.

I’d like to express my appreciation, too, to all those readers who have visited here, pressed the ‘like’ and r.t. buttons, followed and commented.  This opportunity to engage with you and your thoughtful comments has been beyond helpful to me in more ways than I could ever have imagined when I started blogging last October.   It has also been a lot of fun!

I am indebted to Jen and Chris at Salt Publishing for all their support, which is unfailing and ever-present, as I’m sure all their authors will readily confirm.  Their incredible creativity, their capacity for managing the impossible in no time at all and their long-suffering, good-humoured indulgence of human failings are what make them truly top publishers.

May I complete this post by announcing four events connected to the launch of Almost Love

Waterstones Gower Street

Thursday June 20th, 18.30 – 19.30

An evening with Salt crime writers

Christina James, who reads from her new novel, Almost Love

Laura Joyce, who reads from The Museum of Atheism (published November 2012)

Matthew Pritchard, who reads from Scarecrow (to be published September 2013)

Admission by ticket or at the door.  Wine will be served.  Books will be on sale.

 

Bawtry Community Library 

Thursday June 27th, 18.30 – 19.30

Christina James gives readings and speaks about crime-writing

Tea, coffee, refreshments.  Books will be on sale.

Co-ordinated by Claire Holcroft and George Spencer, Doncaster Library Service

 

Wakefield City Library, Burton Street, Wakefield

Alison Cassels, Library Officer in Charge of Promoting Reading, writes:

As well as Crime Writing Month, 29th June is National Readers Group day, so we’ll be promoting it to our readers groups too.  What we have planned for the day is our  Readers Group morning, with coffee 11.00-11.30, then discussion groups 11.30-12.00, discussing three books (including In the Family), then 12.00-12.30 a general discussion on crime novels, followed by people recommending books they love until 13.00. After lunch, Christina James will be presenting her second novel, Almost Love, in a public session, from 14.00-15.00. 

 

Event at Adult Education Centre, North Lincolnshire Libraries

Date and time to be confirmed.

A publication date and a tribute to two very good friends…

Promotional postcard
In this blog, I try to write mostly about crime-related topics, people, places and things that interest me, aspects of writing and other writers and their work. It isn’t intended merely as a vehicle to promote my own work; this was a conscious decision that I made right at the start, because I quickly tire of blogs by authors who use them too blatantly for this purpose.

However, I hope that you will look upon today’s post indulgently, because I have to confess that it is indeed about promoting my next book, Almost Love, which will be published on June 15th 2013. It is a promotional piece with a difference, however, because it also celebrates a gift to me by my publisher, Chris Hamilton-Emery of Salt. Before In the Family was published, Chris designed a postcard based on the jacket; I sent this, with a short personal message, to as many people (friends, booksellers, librarians, colleagues) as I thought might be interested in it. I received some lovely replies; it may have helped to generate some interest in the book.

Today, Chris sent a similar promotional postcard for Almost Love. In fact, it features both the novels. I am delighted with it and I think that it is a thing of beauty. I’d like to share it with you; that is why it is the subject of today’s post.

I’d also like to say how much I appreciate Chris and Jen Hamilton-Emery, for their unfailing good-humour and encouragement and also for all their hard work on my behalf. Thank you, both!

A London Book Fair 13 seminar about using social networking to create author presence

Elizabeth Baines LBF13  3Chris Hamilton-Emery LBF13  4

I cannot miss the opportunity to comment in today’s post on the social networking session yesterday morning at the London Book Fair.  First, may I thank the very many people who attended and made the event very special indeed; you were a lovely, attentive audience and we all valued your interest and contributions.

Secondly, I should like to thank Elaine Aldred (@EMAldred, Strange Alliances blog), who very generously agreed some time ago to chair this session and, with her characteristic attention to detail, introduced the panel and provided a succinct summary of the key points arising, as well as modestly managing us and our timekeeping!

I was very pleased to meet and honoured to join my much more experienced social networking fellow panellists, Katy Evans-Bush  @KatyEvansBush) and Elizabeth Baines (@ElizabethBaines), and to be able to listen to the social networking supremo, Chris Hamilton-Emery, Director of Salt Publishing (@saltpublishing), all of whom provided different perspectives from my own.  However, though we may have addressed in various ways the topic of how to make the most of the best of social networking, I felt that we were unKaty Evans-Bush LBF13  5Elaine Aldred LBF13 2animous about the terrific value of what Chris called ‘the confluence’ of such media as Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs in creating author presence and profile.    I believe that we also affirmed the essential need to be ourselves (however uncomfortable it may initially feel to present our private side, as Elizabeth very pertinently explained) and to interact with the people we ‘meet’ in a genuine way.  We shared the view that ramming our books down the throats of our online audience in a ‘hard sell’, as some people do, is counter-productive; it is much better for us to engage with others in discussion of the things which matter to us, such as the business of writing, literature, topical issues and so on.  Katy pinpointed the effectiveness of social networking in creating a global family of friends and followers, something we also all felt.

All in all, the session emphasised that participation, helping others, reciprocating generosity and showing real interest in people whom we come to know online are crucial to creating a lasting author presence.  It is really important that authors recognise that they need to have such a profile; with it, books certainly do sell and, as Chris put it, without it they don’t.

Finally, we all accepted the inevitable consequence of managing all of the personal interactions online: it is extremely time-consuming and we have to find our own ways of handling that; if we succeed, the benefits are very clear to see.

My thanks again to all concerned in what was for me a very memorable occasion.

Christina James LBF13  6

It’s tomorrow! Making the most of the best of social networking…

Salt

 

Today’s post is a repeated ‘shout-out’ about tomorrow’s Salt Publishing seminar at this year’s London Book Fair, when there will be an opportunity to listen to Chris Hamilton-Emery, founding director of this world-renowned independent publisher, and three of its authors talk about how to use social networking to promote books and good writing.   There will be a question-and-answer session to develop discussion about the topic How to Build Social and Brand Equity on a ShoestringElaine Aldred, an independent online reviewer, will chair the occasion. 

Date:  Tuesday 16th April 2013

Time: 11.30-12.30

Place:  Cromwell Room, EC1, Earls Court

I’ll be joining Katy Evans-Bush, writer and editor, and Elizabeth Baines, novelist and short story writer, to offer some personal experiences of social networking as a means to achieving an online bookworld presence.   Readers of this blog will already guess from previous posts here about both Salt and social networking, how much I personally value the opportunities provided by the Internet to meet and mingle with booklovers across the world.  I have also made it very clear just how proud and privileged I am to be supported as a writer by Chris Hamilton-Emery and how exciting it is to be associated with an independent publisher with the finest of literary lists.

I hope to become real to at least some of my ethereal friends at the London Book Fair this year!

In love with Cromer…

Christina at Cromer

It seems fitting to write about Cromer on World Poetry Day. If you are new to the blog, please don’t be baffled by this!  Regular readers will know that Cromer is the adopted home of Salt Publishing, which is becoming ever more renowned for its fiction.  Last year it achieved international fame with The Lighthouse, Alison Moore’s debut novel, which was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker prize. (Its crime list includes In the Family, my first crime novel, and will shortly also feature Almost Love, the second in the DI Yates series.)

However, Salt built its reputation for literary excellence on its superb poetry list; in my view it is the greatest current British publisher of contemporary poetry.  Some Salt poets are poets’ poets, though most are very accessible.  I believe that perhaps, of all its achievements, Salt’s greatest has been to develop its ‘Best of’ lists, especially the Best of British Poetry series, and the Salt Book of Younger Poets.  Now widely adopted by undergraduate courses in English literature and creative writing, these books bring contemporary poetry alive to a new generation, as well as supply more mature readers with an impeccable selection of great poems.  The Best of British Short Stories series achieves a similar effect in a different genre.  And, not to spare his blushes, Chris Emery, the founding inspiration behind Salt, now publishes his own poetry under the Salt imprint.  If you have not yet read The Departure, I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Back to Cromer.  I was there for a long weekend because, as I mentioned on Sunday, I was asked to play a small part in the Breckland Book Festival.  I stayed at The Barn, one of the cottages owned by The Grove Hotel (itself steeped in history – parts of it are eighteenth-century and its original owners were the founders of Barclays Bank).  I called in on Chris and Jen Hamilton-Emery after the Breckland event and my husband and I were kindly invited to have dinner with them.  They were brimful of ideas as usual and delighted that Chris has been appointed writer-in-residence at Roehampton University, as well as looking forward to celebrating Jen’s birthday today (that it is on World Poetry day is a poetic thing in itself!).

The rest of our time in Cromer was spent exploring the beaches and the streets of the town.  Twice we walked along the beach in the dark and, on Monday morning, we took our dog for a very early morning run there.  Even in bitterly cold weather, the town itself is enchanting.  Developed in the mid-nineteenth century to cater for the emerging middle classes, who could for the first time afford holidays away from home, it seems to have been preserved intact from any attempted depredations by the twentieth century.  There are not even many Second World War fortifications in evidence, though a pill-box languishes in the sand of the west beach, its cliff-top site long since eaten by the sea.  The pier retains its pristine Victorian originality – it is well-maintained but has not been ‘improved’.  Some of the hotels, again ‘unreconstructed’, are quite grand and all serve superb food at reasonable prices, as do the many cafés and restaurants.  It is true that some of the shops seem to exist in a time warp.  My favourite is the ladies’ underwear shop that does not appear to stock anything designed after 1950; it even displays  ‘directoire’ knickers – much favoured by my grandmother – in one of its windows.

Cromer has a literary past, too.  Winston Churchill stayed there as a boy and Elizabeth Gaskell was a visitor, as the pavement of the seafront testifies.  (Churchill apparently wrote to a friend: ‘I am not enjoying myself very much.’)  That Tennyson also came here, even if I had not already decided that I loved it, alone would have served to set my final stamp of approval upon the town: Lincolnshire’s greatest poet, he is also one of my favourites.  (I’ve always considered James Joyce’s ‘LawnTennyson’ jibe to be undeserved.)  I know that Tennyson would have been fascinated by Salt if he had been able to visit Cromer today.  I can picture him perfectly, sitting in Chris’ and Jen’s Victorian front room, sharing his thoughts about poetry – as one fine poet to another – in his wonderfully gruff, unashamedly Lincolnshire voice.

And so, Jen, Chris and Salt, have a very happy Cromer day, listening to the lulling rhythm of the rolling, scouring waves and painting salty pictures in the sky.

9781907773150frcvr.inddTennyson

Making the most of the best of social networking!

Salt

Today’s post is, in fact, a ‘shout-out’ about a Salt Publishing seminar at this year’s London Book Fair, giving an opportunity to listen to Chris Hamilton-Emery, founding director of this world-renowned independent publisher, and three of its authors talk about how to use social networking to promote books and good writing.   There will be a question-and-answer session to develop discussion about the topic How to Build Social and Brand Equity on a ShoestringElaine Aldred, an independent online reviewer, will chair the occasion. 

Date:  Tuesday 16th April 2013

Time: 11.30-12.30

Place:  Cromwell Room, EC1, Earls Court

I’ll be joining Katy Evans-Bush, writer and editor, and Elizabeth Baines, novelist and short story writer, to offer some personal experiences of social networking as a means to achieving an online bookworld presence.   Readers of this blog will already guess from previous posts here about both Salt and social networking, how much I personally value the opportunities provided by the Internet to meet and mingle with booklovers across the world.  I have also made it very clear just how proud and privileged I am to be supported as a writer by Chris Hamilton-Emery and how exciting it is to be associated with an independent publisher with the finest of literary lists.

I hope to become real to at least some of my ethereal friends at the London Book Fair this year!

An interview with Jen Emery, Director at Salt Publishing

Jen Hamilton-Emery

I recently visited ‘Salty Towers’ (headquarters of Salt Publishing), which, as usual, was an inspiring and energising experience.  It was made even more exciting than usual by the fact that Jen Emery, Director, has recently been accepted as the Labour candidate for the forthcoming council elections.  As this is her ‘Next Big Thing’, I asked her if she would give me a short interview for this blog.

What made you decide to stand for election as a local councillor?

There has not been a Labour seat on the North Norfolk District Council for ever and there’s a lot that can be improved in Cromer.  I’ve been involved in several local campaigns.  As a relative newcomer to Norfolk, and a woman, I hope to be able to attract some people to the polling station who didn’t come last time.

What do you want to change in Cromer?

I want there to be decent recreational facilities in the town for everyone, especially children.  What we have now for young people or teenagers is pathetic – almost non-existent.  People retire to Cromer and when they are visited by grandchildren there is nothing for them to do if they can’t go to the beach.  We also need to reduce the car parking charges, in order to attract more visitors and support the town’s retailers.

You’ve been celebrated as the first Labour woman candidate to stand.  Do you think that there is a ‘glass ceiling’ in local councils generally?

I don’t know whether it’s a glass ceiling or whether women just don’t get involved.  I think that the problem really lies with women feeling that they can’t (or don’t want to) get involved in the first place, which is a real pity.  Women make up over 50% of the population and have a valuable perspective to offer, particularly on policies that impact on family and working life.

When do the elections take place?

On the 21st February.

You have been described by the local media as a businesswoman and publisher; you are also a mother.  If you’re elected to the council, how will you juggle all of these activities?

Salt Publishing is bigger than I am and, since the Man Booker success of The Lighthouse, we’ve been able to involve more people.  If I were elected, I’d split my time between the community and Salt.

What is your greatest achievement as a publisher?

Having a business and making it work for thirteen years is quite an achievement, especially as in that time we’ve consistently grown and have become better-known, whilst surviving the impact of the recession.  Getting The Lighthouse shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize is an achievement that is hard to beat.

If you’re elected, do you think that your experiences as a publisher will help you with your work as a councillor?

Yes, because publishing is all about working with people; it is a very people-orientated business and means dealing with everyone in the book supply chain, particularly authors and customers.  This, as well as my background in the NHS, will help me to represent the diverse communities of Cromer.

What are the personal strengths that you feel you can bring as a Cromer councillor?

I’m resilient; I have a sense of humour; I can see controversies from lots of different perspectives; I’m broad-minded, with a strong sense of fair play.

Do you think that you might ever be interested in a role in national politics, if the opportunity arose?

I would be interested in one if it directly benefited the public.  As long as I could have a positive impact on people’s lives, I would not say no.

Within the context of what’s going on in the world today, both socially and economically, and especially what’s happening in the UK, what’s your top message for 2013 to the readers of this blog?

Make it your mission to be aware of what’s happening – there is a lot going on, politically speaking, right under people’s noses (for example, in the areas of health and benefits), that will have drastic long-term effects on people’s lives.  Become super-aware politically and watch what the government is doing (for example, it’s setting one generation against another to detract from the fact that the richest have been given a tax cut).  Make it your mission to find out what’s happening and do something about it: there is no room for apathy these days.

Many thanks to Jen for providing this insight into her exciting venture into local politics.  I should like to wish her every success in the election, as it’s very clear indeed that she has in mind particular practical improvements for the benefit of everyone in Cromer.

The ‘Next Big Thing’ for me…

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I’d like to thank Anne Zouroudi for nominating me as one of her choices when she completed the ‘Next Big Thing’ questions.  I am a keen admirer of Anne’s novels and also greatly respect her as a writer with a genuine desire to help less established authors than herself.   Most readers of this blog will already be familiar with the ‘Next Big Thing’, a blog-hop that spreads the news about what new book authors are working on, via a common set of ten questions.  So here I go:

What’s the title of your next book?

It’s Almost Love, to be published in June 2013.  There is more information about it here.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It came partly from the extraordinary venue used for a conference that I attended – a house that had once been owned by Liberace – and partly from my discovery of an unlikely liaison between two people I know.

What genre does your book fall under?

It is a crime novel.  Elaine Aldred has kindly described me as a ‘literary’ crime writer.  I don’t really like categorising books, but, as a Salt writer, I do try to pay as much attention to the characters and the language that I use as to the plot.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

It depends on which characters!  Rupert Penry-Jones fits the bill almost exactly for DI Yates; Franka Potente would be excellent as Katrin;  Ralph Fiennes would play Guy Maichment, one of the villains, to perfection.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The disappearance of an elderly eminent female archaeologist and the simultaneous, but apparently unrelated, start of an illicit love affair between two colleagues together set off a chain of events that results in several murders; as the aspirations of a macabre right wing political group are also re-ignited, catastrophe threatens.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Like In the Family, it will be published by Salt Publishing.  I don’t have an agent.  I’m proud to be a Salt author.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I’m still tidying it up in places.  I started writing it when on holiday in France in August 2011.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

That’s a very difficult question!  I honestly haven’t read anything that resembles it much, partly because, as with In the Family, the South Lincolnshire setting is very important.   I suppose it could be described as Michael Dibdin meets Henning Mankell in South Lincs, though that sounds terribly pretentious and more than a little absurd!

 Who or what inspired you to write this book?

It was always my intention to write several DI Yates stories.  The first seeds of Almost Love were sown by a telephone conversation; it was a piece of gossip, really.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I’ve taken a lot of trouble with the archaeological background, which is inspired in part by the existence of the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society, a fascinating three-centuries-old organisation. Readers who’ve already met Tim Yates may be intrigued by some additional complications in his personal life.

I’d now like to pass the Next Big Thing baton to Laura Joyce, a fellow Salt author who has greatly impressed me with her debut novel, The Museum of Atheism.

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