A blog from Tonto Books, featuring musings from the publishing world and some occasional special guest appearances.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Stu Recommends Again

Book - Complicity by Iain Banks

Ah... Iain Banks. This book was first published in 1994 and went straight on my Christmas present list. I hadn't read any of his work for a while and thought I'd pick this book up again after discussing it on Tonto's Creative Writing course over the summer. Banks is an absolute master - This book is a fine example of how to switch point of view from first person to second person and also one of the most unsettling openings to a novel you'll read in a long time. I prefer to see his books in the old black and white covers, although with this version, you can pick it up for one pence! That's right... a single English penny! Complicity is a stunting exploration of the morality of greed, corruption and violence, venturing fearlessly into the darker recesses of human purpose. Add to that some sex, mystery, S&M, computery stuff, some more corruption and murder and you're back in the familiar world of Iain Banks.

Music - Hit Parade by Paul Weller

All the die hard fans have been complaining about this box set. It hasn't got any demos, alternative versions or unreleased tracks on it. So what? It's a four disc set of practically everything Weller has done from The Jam to The Style Council to the Paul Weller Movement and plain old Paul Weller.

Weller is more popular now than he's ever been, attracting a whole new generation of listeners through his influence over all these new indie kid guitar bands and maybe this set is just what a new listener needs. It's just a shame he invited some of them on stage at the BBC Electric Proms recently to murder some of his most dearly-held classic tunes. If you're one of the die hards... you know you'll buy it at some point, even if it's just for the booklet included. Hit Parade could be sub-headed: Every decent Weller track you need without having to buy albums or find and download off the net.

Film - Yellow Submarine by The Beatles

It'll cost you an arm and a leg on Amazon, but every household should have one.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ch*ff*ng br*ll**nt!

We've teamed up with Viz comic, Newcastle's finest potty-mouthed periodical, to promote The Burglar's Dog on the famous Letterbocks page. In the brand new issue 160 you'll see this:

Readers without jeweller's eyepieces can click on the image to see a bigger version. We *think* the sender of the Star Letter gets a free copy of the book. That'll be "Charles Turner", then:

Meanwhile, we're holding a Burglar's Dog pub quiz in Newcastle on Thursday 16 November. It's an exclusive no riff-raff invite-only type affair, and if you're quick you can get an invite here.

Burglar's Dog fans will also want to get hold of one of our exclusive enamel badges. Get more details about that here.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

More Paul Recommends

It seems everyone else is recommending The Burglar's Dog, and rightly so, and this month I'm also recommending:

Book: Twelve Grand Jonathan Rendall

Rendall, a boxing writer, was handed a £12,000 advance and told to gamble it and write up the results. But things didn't go to plan, and what starts as an account of a humorous gambling journey turns into a drink-addled tale of personal hell. It's highly original, brutally honest, and brilliantly written - Rendall's occasional columns on boxing, gambling and drinking in various broadsheets are always worth reading regardless of your interest in the subject matter. Subtitled 'The Gambler As Hero', the book inspired a Channel 4 series, which was also excellent and deserves a repeat on More4. You can get Twelve Grand for as little as 50p here. And you can read his brilliant recent Observer piece on tracking down his birth mother here.

CD: Give Up The Postal Service

Combining the melodic pop sensibilities of (Death Cab For Cutie's) Ben Gibbard and the electronic beats and twiddlings of (Dntel's) Jimmy Tamborello, The Postal Service is a side project that is much better than either musician's day job. I normally have an aversion to 'electronic' music, but this is something special - gems of pop songs dipped in shiny beats. Think Technique-era New Order polished up for the noughties and you're partway there. As a taster, you can see Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess's excellent video for cheery nuclear holocaust anthem We Will Become Silhouettes here. You can get Give Up here.

DVD: A Room For Romeo Brass

This Shane Meadows movie starts off with twelve year-olds Romeo and Gavin befriending grown-up loner Morell (Paddy Considine), and for the first act it could easily be an old Children's Film Foundation picture. But everything changes when Morell, obsessed with Romeo's sister, becomes unpredictable and violent. The film then revolves around a brilliantly edgy and genuinely terrifying performance from Considine - certainly living up to his reputation as a British De Niro. His final confrontation with Gavin's dad is one of the scariest and most intense movie scenes I can remember. Morell is a psychopath, but in Considine's hands you can't help feeling sorry for him. You can get the DVD for just £4.97 here.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

More news

Would you Adam ‘n’ Eve it?

Our latest title, to be released on 06.11.06, has appeared on Waterstone’s We Highly Recommend list.

The Burglar’s Dog is getting heaps of publicity in the run-up to officially hitting the shops. We could (and will, someday) rant and rave about the difficulties of becoming a ‘new’ and, God forbid, so-called ‘local’ publisher, so having the backing of a major seller in our hometown is a BIG deal.
If you can make the photo out, you’ll see the manager’s comments saying it is on their essential reading list and that it is one of the funniest books he has ever read. Sans bribe, I may add.

Interestingly, if you look closely at the photo, you may be able to make out another book below The Burglar’s Dog. It's by some fella called Dan Brown, I think.

We'll be posting regular updates on the progress of this title. For those who are aware of The Burglar's Dog already, you'll understand why this is a eagerly anticipated book. We've actually had press contacting us to conduct interviews and features, which was a refreshing change.

It will be launched in Newcastle on 16th November and as the saying goes, is available in all good bookshops as well as online stores and our own website.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Loads of news

We're announcing lots of new stuff today, and it's probably best if I just paste in our newsletter announcement:

*More Tonto Short Stories - submissions invited*
Following the huge success of Tonto Short Stories, we're delighted to announce submission details for More Tonto Short Stories, a further anthology of new writing. This is your chance to have your story published in a top-quality anthology distributed worldwide. Get full details here:

*New creative writing courses announced*
The website now contains details of a range of brand new courses for early 2007. Practical, comprehensive and fun, they're ideal for writers looking to develop their writing with a view to publication. Book your place here:

*New manuscript critique service*
As part of our comittment to encouraging and developing new writing, we're launching a unique and valuable crit service that's all about developing you as a writer and improving your manuscript. As an introductory offer we're offering 30 percent off the service, so hurry along here:

*Free UK shipping on all current titles*
Christmas is inevitably approaching fast, so were offering free UK shipping on all of our current titles, including the brand new The Burglar's Dog, plus a range of other offers including double packs and money off specials. See here:

There have also been a lot of changes to our website, hope you find something there of interest. Let us know what you think.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The smell of old books

Paul Smith has launched a new aftershave called 'Story', described this month by Arena magazine as 'the smell of old books'. 'I love books,' Smith explains on his website. 'When you open one it's exciting. You're about to discover something new or enter a different world.' The bottle and packaging are very nice, with the logo typed on Smith's old Olivetti typewriter. I haven't had a chance to sniff the stuff, so can't confirm that it has 'the distinctive smell of antique books – of ageing paper and leather, the essence of time gone by', although if the nice people at Paul Smith would like to send me a bottle I'd be happy to oblige. See more at http://www.paulsmithstory.com/.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Free Book

Congrats to Lee Rourke who was the random winner picked from the Tonto Press random winner picker.
Stay tuned for more free stuff in the future...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tonto Press Free Book Giveaway!

Good afternoon
Feeling lucky?
As it is Friday the 13th, we're breaking the rule and making something good happen. Today we're giving away a Tonto Press book to one lucky person. All you need to do is email us.
We'll randomly select one person from the emails we recieve, which will end at 4 pm GMT today - 13.10.06
Please put 'Give me a free book' in the subject line of your email.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Night Shift

Theatre fans may recognise a familiar face at Northern Stage next week. Our mate Craig Conway, seen last night in Wire in the Blood, is appearing in The Night Shift from 18-21 October. The play goes on tour around the UK after the Newcastle dates, so watch out for it in a theatre near you. Oh... and tickets are free... get yourself along!

Monday, October 09, 2006

The hard sell

When Stu and I started Tonto Press we reckoned that between us we had just about all the skills necessary to run a successful publishing company - except one: neither of us had any experience of selling. Although we both had a lot of experience of marketing our own books, we'd never actually had to go out to wholesalers and retailers and get them to stock the things. So we've had to learn it from scratch, which hasn't been easy given the oddly secretive nature of the publishing industry. (Try ringing Tesco head office and asking to speak to a member of the book buying team. It's a secret society worthy of a Dan Brown novel.)

We actually put out a book I had written, The Unofficial Football World Championships, to test the water in terms of sales and distribution, and subsequent titles have benefitted from that. We've had some success, getting our books stocked by the UK's largest wholesaler, becoming a Waterstone's 'approved retailer', and also being stocked, at least regionally, by Asda, Blackwell's, Bookworld, Borders, Fenwick, HMV, and in independent stores. But we've also come up against a fair few brick walls, most notably at one of the country's biggest bookseller, WHSmith. We've had three laughable encounters with that chain's local book buyers which left us (and, to be fair, WHSmith head office) extremely frustrated. The full details of the encounters are probably best left for another time, but the crux of the problem was that none of the local book buyers knew how to use Smith's ordering system, even though it had been in use for some months. So unfortunately our books aren't currently stocked by WHSmith, although we live in hope. I imagine if we coughed up the £50,000 Smiths are demanding from publishers to place books on their Christmas recommended list we'd have had more luck. Unfortunately, that seems to be indicative of the incentive-based road that many retailers are heading down.

Of course our books can be ordered from Smiths, or any 'bricks and mortar' store, but we'd much rather see them on the shelves. Online sales are much easier to navigate. Amazon in particular is a level playing field for publishers - they don't really care if you're HarperCollins or Tonto Press as long as your book sells.

What all of this is leading up to is that we've just sent our new Autumn / Winter catalogue out to just about every major bookshop in the country. You can see a PDF of it here. As a folded leaflet it doesn't quite compare to an Argos catalogue, but we think it looks pretty good thanks to the use of Garen Ewing's Burglar's Dog artwork. Let us know what you think.