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

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Paul's last post

Some news here at Tonto:

Three years after co-founding the company with Stu, I will be leaving at the end of the month to concentrate on writing and other projects. Tonto will of course continue under Stu's leadership.

I'd like to thank all the writers and freelancers we've worked with during my time at Tonto, it was great to work with so many good and talented people. I'll be staying around at Brick Works and will no doubt continue to see many of you at future Tonto events.

Have a great Christmas and New Year, and the very best of luck for the future!

Paul

Monday, December 15, 2008

Last order dates for Christmas

Not done your Christmas shopping yet? Worry not. Place an order at the Tonto online shop by 2pm this Thursday 18th December and we'll make sure it's dispatched in time to catch Royal Mail's last Christmas posting date. Our Christmas Stocking Filler promotion, with ALL of our 2008 titles at just £4.99 with free UK p&p, will run right up to that date.

If you'd prefer to order some Tonto Books via Amazon you'll need to order by the 18th for free Super Saver Delivery, or as late as 1pm on the 23rd if you choose Express delivery.

Paul

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A bleak Christmas for the book industry?

Could Christmas 2008 be the worst in living memory for the book industry? Quite possibly. The industry has been slipping and sliding around like an iceskater with an ear infection for years, but the recession and the subsequent collapse of the Woolworths Group has the whole thing teetering on the brink of disaster.

Like most entertainment peddlers, the book industry does a huge proportion of its trade in the run-up to Christmas. Unfortunately, the recession means that, in general, people just aren't spending any money. Recent feedback from book shops suggests that while footfall is still quite high, few shoppers are actually getting their purses out.

It's not all down to the recession of course. Major retailers have long piled high the celebrity blockbusters to the detriment of other books. If you want the new Jamie Oliver, Dawn French or Alan Carr you won't have trouble finding a copy or a few hundred at your local Waterstones. (You might actually need to move a pile of them to get through the door.)

Trouble is, this tactic has somewhat backfired. In the current climate no-one wants to pay upwards of £18.99 for a book, so the major retailers and publishers have had to slash prices. At Amazon, Jamie Oliver is down from £25 to £9.99 (60% off), while Dawn French and Alan Carr are down from £18.99 to £7.97 (58% off). Factor in the retailer and distributor discounts, relatively high glossy hardback production costs and other overheads, and the publishers can't be making a huge profit.

The most surprising discount I've seen so far this Christmas was on my latest trip to Poundland for padded envelopes, where I saw the Top Gear Annual 2009 selling for - obviously - a quid. That's a high-profile recent release that has been remaindered, probably for less than cost, BEFORE Christmas has even arrived.

The collapse of the Woolworths Group has also caused huge headaches. Woolworths, which went into administration last week, owns distributor EUK, which in turn owns Bertram Books. EUK supplies books to Tesco, Morrisons, Zavvi and others. Bertram, along with Gardners Books, supplies much of the rest of the industry. EUK is in administration, supermarket shelves aren't being replentished, and major publishers have stated that they expect to write off hundreds of thousands of pounds. At Tonto we don't currently trade through EUK, but there must be several independent publishers that will lose large sums of money as a result of this.

Bertram seems to be a well-run business, and officially it continues to trade "as normal", although it's future does lie in the hands of the administrators, who are seeking a buyer. We do about a third of our trade through Bertram. Some major publishers have stopped supplying Bertram. That doesn't seem a sensible way of helping the business survive. In technical terms, if Bertram went down we would be pretty much knackered. Hopefully that won't happen.

The unfortunate result of all of this for Tonto is that we sell less books and face some uncertainty over payment for those we do sell. If anything positive can be taken out of this it's the hope that the industry will completely rethink the archaic way it operates. And there is the positive note for book buyers that are loads of bargains available this Christmas. Non more so than in our fantastic recession-busting Christmas Stocking Filler promo with ALL of our 2008 titles slashed to just £4.99 with free UK p&p for a few days only. Why not go there now?

Paul

Monday, December 01, 2008

£4.99 Stocking Fillers Offer!

Your gift-giving dilemmas have just been solved! For a few days only we're offering all of our latest 2008 releases for just £4.99 each with free UK p&p! This includes The Non-Beardy Beer Book, The NUFC.com Toon Diary 2009, Everything You Ever Wanted, Being Normal, Sin Cities and Paralympian. This offer must end soon, as the sofa adverts say, so hurry along to our online shop.


Paul

Friday, November 28, 2008

Weekend Events Extravaganza

Six Tonto authors will be out and about this weekend. Don't signed books make great Christmas presents? Here's a quick rundown of where to find them:

TODAY, Friday 28 November:
Ashley Hames Sin Cities author event, Waterstones, Leeds, 6.30pm.

TOMORROW, Saturday 29 November:
Stephen Miller Paralympian book signing, Borders, Team Valley, 11.30am to 1.30pm.
Roger Stutter Jonny Kennedy book signing, Borders, Team Valley, from 1pm.

SUNDAY, 30 November:
Mike 'Biffa' Bolam NUFC.com Toon Diary signing, Borders, Team Valley, from noon.

Have a good weekend.

Paul

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Christmas savings extravaganza

With the Christmas shopping season inevitably upon us, here are a couple of ways to save on books:

First up, we've cut prices at our online shop. Among the bargains you can grab are The Burglar's Dog, Sin Cities, Paralympian and Everything You Ever Wanted at just £6.99 each, and Being Normal, Jonny Kennedy and The Rocketbelt Caper at just £5.99 each, all with FREE UK p&p. Hurry along here.

Meanwhile, Borders are offering £10 off when you spend £50, either instore or online. Just take this voucher into the store, or enter the code BOR1050 at the online checkout. It's valid until this Sunday 30th November.

(Or, chance your arm at the Borders Tower Game and win a voucher for 40% off the RRP of any book.)

Coincidentally, we have three author signings at Borders Team Valley this weekend - Stephen Miller (Paralympian) and Roger Stutter (Jonny Kennedy) on Saturday and Mike 'Biffa' Bolam (NUFC.com Toon Diary) on Sunday. So if you're in the Gateshead area you can get some signed books and save a tenner.

Paul

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New novels now in stock

Our two newest forthcoming books, 9987 by Nik Jones and Make It Back by Sarah Shaw are officially released on 19 January, but, to satisfy eager Christmas shoppers, we have them in stock and available to purchase now. Both are gorgeous paperbacks, among the best looking books we've produced so far. They're just £7.99 each, with free UK p&p, so snap them up at our online shop.


Paul

Monday, November 24, 2008

Accessible work space for writers

Are you a writer looking for work space in Newcastle upon Tyne? Then you should probably take a look at WritePlace, an exciting new shared office community offering accessible and affordable individual work space to all kinds of writers on a low-cost, easy-in, easy-out basis.

Paul

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Behind the scenes at Amazon.co.uk

By all accounts Amazon.co.uk have been selling so many Tonto books recently that they've had to open a brand new warehouse in Swansea... As most of us will be giving or receiving something or other purchased from Amazon this Christmas, it's worth taking a look at these fascinating photos from The Guardian. See if you can spot your Playstation 3 or box set of The Wire...

Paul

Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas events calendar

We have literally lots of events coming up between now and Christmas, all of which represent an excellent way to grab a personally-signed stocking filler from our fantastic authors. Here goes:

21 November: Everything You Ever Wanted Rosalind Wyllie book signing, Borders, London Colney, from 12.30pm

21 November: Sin Cities Ashley Hames author event, Cambridge University Union Society, Cambridge, 6.30pm

28 November: Sin Cities Ashley Hames author event, Waterstones, Leeds, 6.30pm

29 November: Stephen Miller Paralmypian book signing, Borders, Team Valley, Gateshead, 11.30am-2pm

29 November: Roger Stutter Jonny Kennedy book signing, Borders, Team Valley, Gateshead, 1pm

30 November: NUFC.com Toon Diary Mike 'Biffa' Bolam book signing, Borders, Team Valley, Gateshead, from 12 noon

7 December: NUFC.com Toon Diary Mike 'Biffa' Bolam book signing, Borders, Silverlink, Newcastle, from 12 noon

13 December: Everything You Ever Wanted Rosalind Wyllie book signing, Borders, Silverlink, Newcastle, 1pm

14 December: Everything You Ever Wanted Rosalind Wyllie book signing, Borders, Team Valley, Gateshead, 1pm

20 December: Stephen Miller Paralympian book signing, Borders, Silverlink, Newcastle, 1pm

And while you're sticking stuff in your diary, here are a couple of dates for the new year:

10 January 2009: Everything You Ever Wanted Rosalind Wyllie author event, Gosforth Library, Newcastle, 2pm

24 January 2009: Being Normal Stephen Shieber author event, Gosforth Library, Newcastle, 2pm

Paul

Friday, November 14, 2008

Free Bubblecow edit and report

Friend of Tonto, editor, mentor and all-round good egg Caroline Smailes, via her new venture Bubblecow, is offering a free in-depth edit and report worth £500 to one lucky writer in the run-up to Christmas. Hurry along and read all about it here.

Paul

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Look! It's a 3D interpretation of the Tonto office!

This is the Tonto office, some say studio, rendered in genuine 3D. That's my chair in the middle. Not shown: computer equipment, desktop clutter and boxes and boxes of books.


Paul

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Flavour of the month

North East Times were kind enough to give the Non-Beardy Beer Book a four star review (ack - no opportunity for any 80s band Five Star puns) in their October edition. We usually have to bribe journalists and reviewers for this title with trips to the pub or send them a crate of light ale, so it was nice to get a good review sans corruption.




The reviewer mentioned that the book is perfect as a stocking-filler, so be sure to purchase well in advance from your local bookstore or amazon. Also top of Christmas lists for Newcastle United fans this year is our 2009 Toon Diary. Mike 'Biffa' Bolam was over at Tonto Towers yesterday to sign more copies due to popular buying via our website. Buying both books will mean that the football-loving slob in your life can drink themselves to oblivion while watching the footy on Sky, can set a date for each other match on the TV and can plan the refreshments for each with the useful and informative guide*.
That's entertainment.

Stu


*Please note that the description was in no way based on an employee at Tonto Books. And please, drink sensibly.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Happy Birthday to us!

Tonto Books is now officially three years old!
And of course, we haven't really had time to celebrate. It has been mad hectic at t'Towers recently as we've been concentrating on selling, making sure we're stocked, chasing buyers (literally) and hassling everyone possible to take our books.

Our ongoing ASDA contract means that our Toon Diary is now stocked in the Tyneside stores, and has brought with it all the usual headaches. If you don't know what I mean here, try phoning any ASDA store and listen to their 'on hold' music.
We're having successes at Borders, Waterstone's and have got our books into WH Smith, Zavvi and HMV this year. Also 2008 has been a great year for publicity and promotion... a load of launches and author events around the country, national publicity and our first trip to the London Book Fair. And we'll soon be at Cambridge Union Society where Ashley Hames will be delivering a talk. Oh, and we managed to get Roz Wyllie's book reviewed in a top shelf magazine.

And we're only just three years old. Not bad, eh? When are people going to take note and start sending cards, gifts and cake? Mmmm... cake.

So with Paul off with man flu today, it's just me at the office celebration as it dawned on me that we reached the big 3 in October. A few wine gums then I'm off to use the photocopier.

Stu

Friday, October 31, 2008

Shouting 'Lager, lager, lager.'

... and beer, cider and bluffer's guides to wine, spirits and cocktails.

No, it's not the legendary Tonto Towers Christmas party starting early, it's the publicity for one of our new titles.
The Non-Beardy Beer book is featured in the new edition of The Crack magazine. Like us, they reckon it is a perfect stocking-filler for Christmas... as do the many branches of HMV who have been ordering it in the last few weeks.



The book can be found in most good bookstores or on the desk of the buyers for the remaining bad ones. Or order it from our website or amazon... there's still time!

Stu

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Distance is no object for barmy book industry

I've moaned here before about the distance our books sometimes have to travel to reach bookshop shelves but I've never been bored enough to calculate that distance, so bear with me here.

Let's say we want to supply one of our books to the Waterstone's branch in Newcastle upon Tyne - approximately 1.5 miles from our office:

That book is printed by Cox & Wyman in Reading, and delivered to us in Newcastle. According to Google Maps that's 288 miles.

We can't supply direct to Waterstone's, so we go through Gardners wholesalers in Eastbourne. That's a journey of 364 miles.

Gardners then supply that book to Waterstone's. Assuming the book would be supplied direct to the branch, that would be another 364 miles. But it probably won't be. Instead it'll go to Waterstone's centralised hub in Burton-on-Trent. That's 211 miles.

Finally, the book is sent to the store in Newcastle. Another 177 miles.

By my reckoning, the book has travelled 1040 miles.

To end up 1.5 miles away from where it was published.

The book has a retail price of £7.99, but the wholesale price that Waterstone's buy it for is obviously much less than that. How can this be economically viable? 1040 miles! That's roughly the distance from London to Belgrade. If you travelled that distance in a fairly economical car, I reckon the petrol would cost you around £120. God knows how much it would cost in a lorry full of books. It's probably very environmentally unfriendly as well, but I'm not making this point on behalf of the environment, I'm making it on behalf of common sense.

Let's not even think about what happens if the book gets returned...

Paul

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New books added to the website

Our forthcoming books 9987 by Nik Jones and Make It Back by Sarah Shaw now have their own dedicated pages on our website, and you can now pre-order both from our shop. Both novels are released on 19 January 2009. Click on the covers to read more about them.


Paul

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rosalind Wyllie at Morley Literature Festival

Everything You Ever Wanted author Rosalind Wyllie will be at the Morley Literature Festival at 2pm tomorrow (Saturday 18 October) to talk about her novel. It's a free event, in Morley Library's Baker Room, so if you're in the area (Morley is not far from Leeds) why not go along to meet Roz and get a signed book? Everyone who attends will also receive a FREE short story anthology!

Paul

Monday, October 13, 2008

Be a Tonto book reviewer

Have you read a Tonto book recently? Aching to tell the world how good it is? Then why not write an Amazon review? The links below will take you directly to the 'create your review' page for our latest titles. We'll look forward to hearing what you think of them.

The Non-Beardy Beer Book
NUFC.com Toon Diary
Sin Cities
Paralympian
Everything You Ever Wanted
Being Normal
The Burglar's Dog
...and our forthcoming books:
9987
Make It Back

You can add reviews for any of our other titles by visiting the appropriate Amazon page and clicking 'create your own review'.

Paul

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Google Book Search nuggets

Several Tonto Books are on Google Book Search, which, as well as allowing readers to view searchable extracts, offers some interesting tidbits of info. For example, you can see a map showing all of the places visited by Ashley Hames in Sin Cities. (The broadminded among you might be interested to check out the keywords Google has pulled out for the book.)


You can also see a map of Stephen Miller's travels from Paralympian plus info about Being Normal, Everything You Ever Wanted, Johnny Lonely, Jonny Kennedy, The Rocketbelt Caper and The Unofficial Football World Championships.

Paul

Monday, October 06, 2008

NUFC.com Toon Diary published today

Our latest release, the NUFC.com Toon Diary 2009, is published today and available from all good bookshops. A must-have for Newcastle United fans, this useful and fascinating diary is packed with facts and information compiled by NUFC.com's Mike 'Biffa' Bolam. Oh, and it's 100 percent unofficial - meaning Mike Ashley gets nowt!


It's available from all good bookshops (and Asda), including Amazon, The Back Page, Borders, Fenwick's, HMV and Waterstone's. We've also linked up with the NUFC.com website to set up a few special offers, including the chance to get a signed copy of the book. See the offers here.

Paul

Friday, October 03, 2008

Rosalind Wyllie Brent Cross signing

Everything You Ever Wanted author Rosalind Wyllie will be at Borders in Brent Cross, London tomorrow (Saturday 4 October) from 1pm to sign copies of her book. It's her first London signing, so if you're in the area do pop along and say hello.


Paul

Thursday, October 02, 2008

One for fusty real-ale buffs to avoid

Here's a bit on The Non-Beardy Beer Book from the Metro newspaper: 'With contributions from a panel of independent reviewers, who tackle everything from the battle of the Budweisers to a humorous link between Foster's and masturbation, The Non-Beardy Beer Book should perhaps be avoided by fusty real-ale buffs,' says Andrew Fenwick. 'An invaluable companion to one of Britain's most popular pursuits.' Read more here.


Paul

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Reviewalanche

Our new fiction titles are getting more reviews than we could have imagined. Everything You Ever Wanted has just received two favourable reviews - from two very different publications. The Bookbag contacted us yesterday to tell us that they'd given Roz FOUR STARS! Not bad at all, eh? You can read the full review here and make sure to keep checking their website as it is an interesting read.

The second review appears in the current edition of FORUM magazine - the international journal of relationships. Being unaware of such publications (I'm not tall enough to reach the top shelf of most newsagents) I was shocked at why material like this should land on my desk, but after looking through it a few times, I stumbled across their review section.



As discussed with Roz, the review is great and the last sentence is sure to make it as a cover testimonial on the second edition.
Roz will also be at Borders Brent Cross, London, this Saturday from 1pm. If you are in the area, please drop by to say hello... and buy a copy of the book that tears strips off the competition!

Stu

Monday, September 29, 2008

"Addictive stories barely contained inside"

A good review of Stephen Shieber's Being Normal can be found here, courtesy of DJ Kirkby. "This book should come with a warning label on the front cover, 'ADDICTIVE STORIES BARELY CONTAINED INSIDE'," says DJ.

All good bookshops, folks...

Paul

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Stephen Shieber interviewed by Caroline Smailes

Stephen Shieber's Being Normal was this week's sunday read over at Caroline Smailes's blog, so go there to see an interview with him.


For the next couple of weeks, when you buy the paperback edition of Being Normal direct from us you will also get the ebook edition free.

Also, Stephen will be taking part in New Writing North's Read Regional event at Newcastle Central Station this Friday 26th September. There will be a 'virtual living room' set up where you can read, meet authors, and swap books. Stephen will be there between 5pm and 6pm (rush hour!).

Paul

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

'Gripping, cinematic, voyeuristic. A delightfully disturbing debut.'

Yesterday, The Guardian ran a piece by William Leith (Blurb your enthusiasm) about the practice of authors giving gushing quotes for book covers.

'You send the manuscript of your book to another writer, hoping they'll like it, hoping they will give you a favourable comment to put on the cover,' writes Leith. 'So you're asking somebody who is probably busy, and possibly even a rival, to do some work on your behalf, for nothing in return. Nothing, that is, beyond getting their name and comments on the cover of someone else's book.'


By coincidence, yesterday we finalised the blurb for Nik Jones's forthcoming novel 9987. Here at Tonto, the 'blurb' is not just the author quote, but also a short, hooky paragraph that appears on the back of the book. Here's the author quote - supplied by Caroline Smailes, author of Black Books:

Gripping, cinematic, voyeuristic. A delightfully disturbing debut.

And here's the rest of the blurb for 9987:

The shop is everything to him – always neat and tidy, safe and reliable, the rental DVDs carefully categorised, alphabetised and memorised.

He thinks he knows his customers, until the bloodstains begin to appear – on grubby banknotes, on porn DVDs, and on the shop's fresh new carpet.

Then the girl comes into his life, green eyes and fresh scarlet slashed beneath her thin cotton blouse. He wants to rescue and protect her. He wants to be with her. Forever.

Murky and disturbing, 9987 is a jagged, tragic crime story set in a disturbing, uncaring world where only three things are constant: fantasy, loneliness and love.

Does that work? Does that make you want to buy 9987? It's released in January, but you can pre-order now at Amazon.

(PS If you are from Ashington I appreciate that "blurb" means something entirely different...)

Paul

Monday, September 22, 2008

Non-Beardy Beer Book out today

The Non-Beardy Beer Book, our alternative guide to the UK's favourite beers and ciders, is published today. A spin-off book from the bestselling pub guide The Burglar's Dog, rather than reviewing the real ales favoured by traditional guides, this book reviews Booze Britain's one hundred bestselling brands, such as Stella Artois, Carling and Foster's.


Says Burglar's Dog mainman Mark Jones: 'It's a comprehensive and irreverent guide to the nation's favourite drink, calling 'time gentlemen, please' on the tedious real ale buff in the corner, hunched over his half of warm, flat sheep dip and his dog-eared jotter.'

The Non-Beardy Beer Book costs just £6.99 and is available from all good bookshops now, including Amazon and from us at Tonto Books.

Paul

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stephen Miller medal media coverage

As you'd expect, Paralympian author Stephen Miller is all over the national media today following his fantastic silver medal win at the Beijing Paralympics. The Sun (Miller puts Toon woes behind him) reports that, "At least there is one member of the Toon Army who can be proud of his club today. Stephen Miller put the troubles at his beloved Newcastle behind him to snatch silver at the Paralympics in the club-throw... Miller, 28, is an ardent Toon fan and got Kevin Keegan to write the foreword of his autobiography."

"The Gateshead Harrier, who struck gold at Atlanta, Sydney and Athens, looked like missing out on the medals in Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium. But he finished second after throwing a personal best of 34.37metres in his final round of the men's F32/51 event."

BBC Sport (Miller's Paralympic gold run ends) says, "Miller set a new personal best with 34.37m, but had to settle for silver."

The Times gets the distance of Stephen's medal-winning throw wrong, but says, "There was a thin silver lining for Stephen Miller, who has dominated the men's club for a decade, winning in the previous three Paralympic Games... Miller, who was born with cerebral palsy, revolutionised the discipline by introducing the over-the-shoulder throw as opposed to the front-on technique. But the rest have caught up and the 28-year-old was beaten by Mourad Idoudi, of Tunisia, who beat Miller's world record with 35.77 metres."

The Guardian (After the gold rush Miller must settle for silver solace) quotes Stephen as saying, "Silver is better than fourth, but obviously I wanted to win. Overall I'm pleased with my performance. The athlete from Tunisia threw a massive PB, but that's sport. I expected to be pushed to the limit but I fully expected 34 metres to win."

The Newcastle Evening Chronicle (Paralympic star Stephen lands silver medal) says, "Miller, the champion in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens, is an ardent Newcastle football fan - the foreword of his autobiography was written by Toon legend Kevin Keegan - and his first Paralympics defeat coincided with growing uncertainty at St James's Park."

The Northern Echo quotes Stephen as saying, "I am determined to come back from this and if I could get a medal, and gold, in London it would be a dream come true. I'll be training harder and be more prepared than ever to get that. To compete in front of a packed stadium like here is awesome and hopefully we can get some crowds like that in London."

Stephen is also featured in The Mail, The Telegraph, The Scotsman, The Herald and many more newspapers.


You can watch brief highlights of Stephen winning his Silver medal for 7 days on the BBC iPlayer (Paralympic Games Today: Beijing 2008: Day 9, 38 minutes in).

You can hear Stephen interviewed by Radio Newcastle.

And you can add your message of congratulations for Stephen here.

Paul

Monday, September 15, 2008

It's silver for Miller in Beijing

Congratulations to Tonto author Stephen Miller, who has won the silver medal in the club event at the Beijing Paralympic Games today. He set a new personal best with a throw of 34.37m, but was beaten into second place when Tunisia's Mourad Idoudi set a new world record of 35.77m.

Stephen is sure to be disappointed not to have finished first, but he has a silver medal to add to his THREE gold medals, and is sure to be back for London 2012.

Paul

Friday, September 12, 2008

How not to approach publishers, part 364758

It's been a busy and stressful few months here at Tonto Towers, so I thought I'd lighten the mood a bit. The 'how not to' blogs always spark debate following a funny or aggressive phone call, would-be author visit or dodgy query letter.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but here goes...
As I got to work this morning, there were two phone messages from writers: one was asking us to phone them back as they are a poet and want to know how to get published and the other from a writer looking for us to publish them... oh, and they'd called round in person at the office before phoning.

Rule number one: Don't turn up at a publishing house (without making an appointment) and ask for advice or whether they will publish you.
Reason: The publisher won't appreciate this approach and it will be awkward as they won't have time for you and will offer very little. You'll come away from it feeling quite rejected and may wonder why.

Grrrr... how many 'we don't publish poetry' posts do we need to write? Some recent emails didn't even have a message. One contained a generic covering Dear Publisher letter attachment with the manuscript as another attachment. I even checked the writer's website and they were moaning on about how publishers never reply. Amazing!

Not too sure how many writers out there have knocked on the door at Random House and asked them to publish their poetry collection, but I'll bet that none of them got a deal out of it.

A good idea would be to send them a letter or an email and introduce yourself. Tell them about the work and ask if they want to see it. If they want to see it, they'll ask. If they don't, they won't. That's the best way to start and certainly the kind of approach that is likely to get a response.

Anywho, I'm not having a go, just posting some thoughts and letting you know how publishers think. Indie publishers probably are that much more approachable than Mr Major, but they still don't have an open door policy. Check the publisher's website. Do they publish in your genre? Do they read unsolicited manuscripts, have certain submission windows, criteria? Why should they publish you, what makes you and your work different/marketable? Find out the name of the person you are writing to, that helps. For example, we once had a submission addressed to 'the poetry editor'. We don't publish poetry, don't have a poetry editor, but if we did, he or she would have a name.

You are selling yourself as much as you are selling your work! If you do get taken on by a publisher, feel free to comment and let us know what approach worked as I'm sure others will be interested.

And speaking of selling... Stephen Shieber will be at Borders Team Valley tomorrow - Saturday 13 from 1pm - signing copies of Being Normal.

Stu

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stephen Miller begins Beijing medal campaign

Tonto author Stephen Miller warmed up for his attempt to win a fourth-straight Paralympic gold medal by competing in the F32/51 discus event this morning. Despite the discus not being his favoured event, Stephen still managed to throw a season best distance of 15.44 metres, although finished outside of the medals.

Stephen will compete his favoured club event this Monday, 15 September at 10am UK time. Stephen is the current Olympic Champion and World Record Holder in the event.

Stephen was interviewed by Ian Payne on last night's edition of North East Tonight, which you can watch for 7 days here.

You can follow Stephen's progress and send him a good luck message here.

Paul

Monday, September 08, 2008

Another Tonto Books media frenzy

Some good media coverage at the weekend, and coming up over the next couple of days. First up, Everything You Ever Wanted author and "intriguing character" Rosalind Wyllie had a 3-page (count em) interview in The Journal.

Then Rosalind, Being Normal author Stephen Shieber, and Team Tonto were all included in a feature about ebooks in the Sunday Sun. You can get Stephen's ebook free.

Tonight, Sin Cities author Ashley Hames begins his new TV series Top Trumps at 7.30pm on Channel Five.

And on Thursday morning at 10am, Paralympian Stephen Miller begins his quest for Paralympic gold in the discus event. You can add your message of support here.

Paul

Friday, September 05, 2008

Team Miller!

A reminder that the Paralympics 2008 starts this Saturday, September 6!
Our man in Beijing, Stephen Miller is psyched and ready to give it his all. You can show your support by clicking to our Stephen Miller page and leave him a message.
We had a message from him yesterday to let us know that all is well and he's flying into Beijing today. His first event, the discus, has had a slight change and will now take place at 5pm on Sep 11 - 10am our time - and will be live on TV.

Also today, Roger Stutter will be at Gosforth Library from 2pm discussing his book, Jonny Kennedy; The Story Of The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off.

Stu

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Stephen Shieber and Rosalind Wyllie promo and signings

Following yesterday's announcement that we will be offering Stephen Shieber's Being Normal in the brand new Sony Reader format free to anyone who buys the paperback edition from our website, The Bookseller has picked up on the story (Publishers rally for Sony launch). Hark at us jostling with Penguin and Random House...


Stephen Shieber will be hitting the road on Saturday (6 September) for a couple of book signings at Borders stores in Manchester Fort (from 12 noon) and Stockport (from 3pm). Stephen grew up in nearby Poynton, so this is something of a 'homecoming', and he will be featured in the local press today. If you are in the area, why not pop along and say hello?

Meanwhile, Everything You Ever Wanted author Rosalind Wyllie has selected her Ten book to break your heart at the Book Depository.

Rosalind will also be signing copies of her book this Saturday (6 Sept) at Borders Silverlink, Newcastle from 12 noon. Rosalind's last signing was one of the most popular we've had, so get there early before stocks run out!

Elsewhere, Roger Stutter, author of Jonny Kennedy: The Story of The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off will be talking about the book and his friend Jonny at Gosforth Library, Newcastle tomorrow (Friday 5 September) from 2pm. Entry is free.

Paul

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tonto launches FREE Sony Reader ebook!

Can a new-fangled ebook really compare with a lovely paperback? That's what we're hoping to find out by offering Being Normal, Stephen Shieber's acclaimed collection of short stories, in the brand new Sony Reader format, absolutely FREE. Full details are here.


We're no technological slouches here at Tonto Books - we launched our first ebook (some say electronic book) in 2006 - a short story anthology that was downloaded by more than 2,000 readers.

Now anyone who buys the paperback edition of Being Normal via our online shop will receive the ebook edition free. So you can decide for yourself whether ebooks are as good as the real thing.

Being Normal is one of the first UK trade books to be made available for the Sony Reader - newly-launched in the UK. It's basically a PDF that has been optimised to fit the Sony Reader's screen, but it can also be read on any computer using the free Adobe Reader.

You can order the paperback of Being Normal for the special price of just £5.99 (usual price £7.99) by visiting our shop. You will then receive your free e-book via email (and your paperback via real mail!). Get more details about the ebook here.

Paul

Monday, September 01, 2008

Tonto gets Loaded

Tonto author Ashley Hames is featured in the October edition of Loaded magazine! Not only is he on the Contributors page alongside a chimp called Cheetea, he's on p42 with his full page Great Moment in Life as well as the Loaded 'World Bacon Butty Eating Championships'.



Ashley was at Borders Charing Cross on Friday 29 Aug for another one of his author events for Sin Cities. With several events, signing sessions, interviews and features under his belt, Ash now has a few weeks off before doing some higher profile events in October.

And speaking of events and signings... Roz Wyllie will be signing copies of Everything You Ever Wanted this Saturday, 6 September, at Borders Silverlink from 12pm, while Stephen Shieber will be signing copies of Being Normal at Borders in Manchester from 12pm and Stockport at 3pm on the same day.

As if that's not enough, the Paralympics starts on Saturday too, with Stephen Miller's first event on 11 Sep. You can leave a message of support here.

Stu

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sin Cities, Being Normal and Everything You Ever Wanted events

A busy weekend for Tonto events coming up:

Today, Friday 22 August: Sin Cities Ashley Hames author event, Clapham Books, Clapham 7.30pm.

Tomorrow, Saturday 23 August: Being Normal Stephen Shieber book signing, Borders, Silverlink, Newcastle, from 12noon.

Tomorrow, Saturday 23 August: Everything You Ever Wanted Rosalind Wyllie book signing, Borders, Team Valley, Gateshead, from 1pm.

These are Stephen and Rosalind's first ever in-store signings, so do pop along to support them, they probably won't bite.

P.S. Another quick mention for our Backing Stephen Miller for Gold! "minisite". Stephen jets of for the Paralympics on Sunday. Leave your message of support here.

Paul

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Backing Stephen Miller for gold!

Obviously, here at Tonto Books we're backing Stephen Miller for gold at the Beijing Paralympics. The Paralympian author jets off on Sunday to begin his quest for a fourth consecutive Paralympic gold medal.


We've set up a special website to follow Stephen's progress and to allow visitors to post messages of support. Stephen will be following the website from Beijing. You can read a message from Stephen, get the latest news, and post your messages of support here: http://www.tontobooks.com/miller

Paul

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

EYEW and Being Normal launch pics

What is is with Tonto book launches and torrential rain? Two years ago another August downpour threatened to wash out the Wor Al launch, but last night's storm, with lightning flashing across the black sky and striking the construction cranes that tower over Newcastle City Centre, was something else. Thankfully the weather didn't stop well over 100 hardy souls from turning up at Northern Stage to celebrate the launch of Stephen Shieber's Being Normal and Rosalind Wyllie's Everything You Ever Wanted.

Stephen, Roz and Beccy

The event was presented by New Writing North and compered by NWN's Claire Malcolm. The evening began with music from Newcastle's own Beccy Owen. Then actors Laura Norton and Vicky Elliot read excerpts from Everything You Ever Wanted, and Laura read from Being Normal. Roz and Stephen gave quick thank you speeches, there was a raffle(!) and then Beccy returned to the stage with more music.

Stephen and Roz sign copies of their books

Both authors then signed copies of their books for a queue of people that at one point stretched right across the room. Among those in attendance were Roz's mentor Caroline Smailes, plus forthcoming Tonto authors Nik Jones and Sarah Shaw. At this point I should say that the venue's moody stage lighting meant our photos are a bit rubbish. That's my excuse anyway.

Beccy, Laura and Vicky on stage

Thanks to both Stephen and Ros, Claire and New Writing North, Beccy (visit her MySpace), Laura and Vicky. Thanks also to Jill and Caroline for helping with book sales (again!). And thanks to everyone who turned up, despite the summer weather.

That signing queue in full...

Both Everything You Ever Wanted and Being Normal are available now from all good book shops, and if you're quick you can get both for £10 from our online shop. If you'd like to get signed copies, this Saturday (23 August) Stephen will be at Borders Silverlink from 12 noon, and Rosalind will be at Borders Gateshead from 1pm.

Paul

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Everything You Ever Wanted and Being Normal launch TODAY

The double-header launch event for Rosalind Wyllie's Everything You Ever Wanted and Stephen Shieber's Being Normal is today, Tuesday 19 August, at Northern Stage, Newcastle upon Tyne, from 5pm to 7pm. The event, organised by New Writing North, will feature readings from the books, a chance to get signed copies, and music from Beccy Owen. There will also be some special only-available-on-the-day book offers, so roll up, roll up. Photos will follow tomorrow.


Paul

Monday, August 18, 2008

Paralympian Miller is Borders bestseller

Another good weekend for Stephen Miller and his autobiography Paralympian. A signing session saw the book hit the number one spot in the instore chart at Borders in Gateshead, and meanwhile, across at Borders Silverlink - one of the biggest stores in the country - Paralympian sold more copies on Saturday than any other title.

Stephen Miller with Gateshead manager Ron Wilcox

All this despite some rare glorious weather, and the fact that Silverlink store's popular Starbucks was closed for refurbishment, meaning 'footfall' was much lower than usual. (And of course Stephen's weekend was topped off on Sunday with a 'moral victory' for Kevin Keegan's Newcastle United team against Manchester United!)

Stephen, Ron, and Stephen's mam Ros

Following great coverage in The Sun, on the BBC, and in scores of other places, Stephen is now preparing to jet off to Beijing next Monday, via the Team GB training camp in Macau. We'll be setting up a dedicated website that will allow you to follow Stephen's progress and send your messages of support as he chases that fourth consecutive gold medal.

Paul

Friday, August 15, 2008

Stephen Miller Paralympian signings at Borders

A quick reminder that tomorrow, Saturday 16 August, Stephen Miller will be signing copies of Paralympian: My Autobiography at Borders Team Valley, Gateshead from 12 noon, and Borders Silverlink, Newcastle from 3pm. These will be your last chance to meet Stephen and wish him luck before he jets off to Beijing.

Stephen at The Back Page book shop last Saturday

Chances are, by the time he gets back home with his fourth (and possibly fifth) gold medal he'll be far too famous to mix with the likes of you and me! You'll be able to follow his progress on the BBC, and, of course, right here on our website.

Paul

Thursday, August 14, 2008

£5 off at Borders voucher

Borders are offering £5 off when you spend £25 or more in-store - print out your voucher here. The voucher is valid between 12 and 18 August 2008


Into a seamless plug - why not take your voucher with you when you go to meet Stephen Miller, who, coincidentally, will be at Borders stores in Team Valley, Gateshead (from 12 noon) and Silverlink, Newcastle (from 3pm) this Saturday 16 August, signing copies of his book Paralympian: My Autobiography.

This will be your last chance to meet Stephen and wish him luck before he jets off to Beijing in the following week.

Paul

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ashley Hames Juice 107.2 interview

Courtesy of Andrea at Brighton's Juice 107.2, here's a chance to hear her interview Ashley Hames prior to his Sin Cities book event at Brighton Borders last Friday. You can listen to it here (mp3 file, right click to save as).


According to Andrea's blog, 'The small edited excerpt he read made my face go redder than one of Ainsley Harriott's 'red tomatoes'.'

Paul

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

9987 Book Cover

Following on from yesterday, here is the first outing for the cover of 9987 by Nik Jones. Nik's novel will be released alongside Sarah's in the new year.



Stu

Monday, August 11, 2008

Make It Back book cover

Here's a first look at the cover of our forthcoming novel Make It Back by Sarah Shaw, which will be released on 19 January 2009. Click to view a bigger version.


Paul

Friday, August 08, 2008

Tonto Author Events and Signings

It's been a very busy time promotion-wise at Tonto Towers. All the PR is going out, the calls being made... interviews, features, signings and events being lined up all the time and a lot of media interest in the four authors we are currently working with.

Today Ashley Hames will be on Juice 107.2 in Brighton. This is a live interview where (hopefully) Ash will get a chance to shamelessly plug his Borders gig later that evening. Tune in by clicking 'listen live' at 5pm.

Today's itinerary also sees Ashley holding another author event at Borders Brighton. The gig kicks off at 6.30pm and is not a ticketer, so you can get there early to secure your first row seat. Due to the nature of the book, it is billed as an over 18s event. And very likely to end up in a bar or twenty.

Tomorrow (Sat 09) is another busy day. This time for Stephen Miller. Stephen will be holding a signing session at The Back Page, St Andrews Street, Newcastle. The Back Page is the biggest sports book store in the world, so we are pleased that they asked him along ahead of the Newcastle match. He will be signing books from 11.30am-12.30pm.

Look out for signed stock in Waterstone's Emerson Chambers in Newcastle tomorrow.

After watching his beloved Newcastle United in the afternoon, Stephen will be signing books at his local social club in Cramlington, The 'Bene' at 7.30pm.



Team Tonto: Wheatman, Miller, Brown and Hames out in Newcastle.

One for next week: Roz Wyllie and Stephen Shieber will be on BBC Radio Newcastle at 10.30am discussing their new books... officially released on that day! You can buy them here on a special offer.

That's all for now, folks!

Stu

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Stephen Miller in your super soaraway Sun

Some fantastic coverage of Stephen Miller and his book Paralympian in today's edition of The Sun. The full-length piece, "Miller is the undisputed king of clubs", runs through his achievements, mentions the book and its great launch event at St James' Park, and has a quote from Kevin Keegan. Stephen is the only Paralympic athlete featured in the paper's 20-page guide to Beijing 2008. You can read it online here.

This is yet more fantastic national coverage for our key titles - in no less than the UK's bestselling newspaper. (Hint, hint retail buyers...)

Meanwhile, our friends at NUFC.com are currently running a competition to win signed copies of Paralympian, ahead of Stephen's signing on Saturday at the Back Page Shop in Newcastle. They're also displaying a very old pic of Stephen from way back in 1991...

Paul

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Event planner...

We've got literally 14 upcoming events on our calendar at the moment (with more to be confirmed) including new events in Manchester and London, the Morley Literature Festival, plus Ashley Hames at the Cambridge Union (an event that he is no doubt referring to as a mass debate...).

The full list is:
8 August: Sin Cities Ashley Hames author event, Borders, Brighton, 6.30pm;
9 August: Paralympian Stephen Miller book signing, The Back Page, St Andrews St, Newcastle, 11.30am-12.30pm;
9 August: Paralympian Stephen Miller book signing, The 'Bene' Social Club, Cramlington, from 7.30pm;
16 August: Paralympian Stephen Miller book signing, Borders, Team Valley, Gateshead, 12noon-2pm;
16 August: Paralympian Stephen Miller book signing, Borders, Silverlink, Newcastle, from 3pm;
19 August: Being Normal & Everything You Ever Wanted launch event, Northern Stage, Newcastle, 5pm, free, featuring music from Beccy Owen;
23 August: Being Normal Stephen Shieber book signing, Borders, Silverlink, Newcastle, from 12noon;
23 August: Everything You Ever Wanted Rosalind Wyllie book signing, Borders, Team Valley, Gateshead, from 1pm;
5 September: Jonny Kennedy Roger Stutter author event, Gosforth Library, Newcastle, 2pm, free;
6 September: Being Normal Stephen Shieber book signing, Borders, Manchester Fort, from 12noon;
4 October: Everything You Ever Wanted Rosalind Wyllie book signing, Borders, Brent Cross, London, from 1pm;
18 October: Being Normal & Everything You Ever Wanted Rosalind Wyllie & Stephen Shieber author event, Morley Literature Festival, West Yorkshire, 1.30pm, free;
21 November: Everything You Ever Wanted Rosalind Wyllie book signing, Borders, London Colney, London, from 12.30pm;
24 November: Sin Cities Ashley Hames author event, Cambridge University Union Society, Cambridge, time TBA.

New events will be added to the blog and the main website as they are confirmed.

Paul

Monday, August 04, 2008

Miller wins again...

Stephen Miller's book Paralympian: My Autobiography is today the #1 athletics book on Amazon, outselling the likes of Paula Radcliffe, Colin Jackson and Kelly Holmes.


Stephen will be signing copies of the book this Saturday 9th August between 11.30am and 12.30pm at The Back Page book shop, St Andrews Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, ahead of Newcastle United's game with Valencia. For fans who are not able to get along on Saturday, The Back Page will reserve signed copies, and they also have a mail order service. For further information please call the shop on 0191 261 5005.

PS. Thanks to Ashleigh for her sterling work here at Tonto over the last couple of weeks - including commandeering the blog!

Paul

Friday, August 01, 2008

Behind the Scenes at Tonto Books

Ok I was a bit presumptuous yesterday, and today is actually my final blog, we will call it my encore!


So today I'm going to show you behind the scenes at Tonto, with a few photos. Firstly, this is me hard at work writing the blog, previous to my blog writing today, I have been using my skills of persuasion in book selling and setting up book signings for Rosalind's Everything You Ever Wanted and Ashley Hames' Sin Cities in the London area, lets hope I pulled it off. I have also been looking through the final draft of Nik Jones' book 9987 which makes for a very dark and interesting read.


Secondly we have a photo of the Tonto boys Stu and Paul, hard at work setting up book signings for their authors, working so hard they only had a few seconds to pose for this photo before burying their heads back in the books!

We have also been following up Stephen Miller's radio interview on REM radio which also went really well. They are backing him as their number one for the Beijing Paralympics and so should everyone else! I know I'll be tuning in come September.

So this definitely is my last blog for Tonto, as I have said before I have had an amazing experience here and have learnt many things that I will take away with me, and I'm very grateful to Paul and Stu for letting me come and work with them.

Maybe I will see some of you at the forthcoming book launches!

Ashleigh

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ashleigh's Last Blog!

Here comes the second and last blog of my two week stint here at Tonto Books. This week has seen me focus on getting publicity for Rosalind Wyllie’s Everything You Ever Wanted and Stephen Shieber’s Being Normal. This has involved creating Press Releases and mainly getting the local press involved in their books. It has proved quite successful and we have many things in the pipe line for both, so they will have a busy few weeks ahead of them, keep an eye out for it in your local papers and radio stations.


The pair also came in to Tonto a few days ago to have the promo photos taken which you can see; they took it in their stride and look like pros in the making. I got the chance to speak to Ros and Stephen and build on what I already knew, in order to sell them in the best possible way. Their books are doing really well and receiving positive reviews and they haven’t even been officially released yet.

This will be my last blog for Tonto Books, as tomorrow is my last day. I have had a brilliant time working with them and have been kept very busy. I have gained a lot of insight into publishing books, and it has not put me off one bit.

Ashleigh

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Keegan backs Stephen Miller book

Paralympian Stephen Miller met up with his pal Kevin Keegan at Newcastle United's training ground yesterday, and sent us some photos. Stephen has known Kevin since he was a toddler, and Kevin was kind enough to write the foreword for the book.

Stephen and King Kev

With Stephen's Mam Ros

A previous meeting...

...and another

Paul

Monday, July 28, 2008

Stephen Miller Paralympian media coverage

Here's just some of the media coverage for Stephen Miller's Paralympian book and launch. The Newcastle Evening Chronicle ran three days of double-page spreads, including a great interview that you can read here.

The Sunday Sun followed up on the launch here.

And BBC Sport ran a good feature about the book here.

Paul

Friday, July 25, 2008

More Paralympian launch photos

A few more photos from Stephen Miller's Paralympian launch:

Ian Payne interviews Stephen

Watching Miller the Movie

Team Tonto with Stephen (and Wor Al)

Stu, Stephen and Jill

A queue forms for signed books

Signing for the fans

Paul

Stephen Miller breaks another record





Not satisfied with breaking world records ahead of Beijing, Stephen Miller broke a Tonto Books record last night. Right, one down, now let's see how many other athletic clich├ęs I can shoehorn into this post...

We were amazed by the level of support Stephen received. You never know how many to expect at a book launch, but as we’d been at Tonto Towers all day, we’d been unaware of the TV coverage for the signing on BBC Look North earlier in the day. So setting up shop, we had a mild panic as we realised we’d have a busy night ahead of us. By the time everyone was in for the event, our Tonto Audience Reader was going off the scale at 300 plus – a new personal best for Tonto.

There were some great moments – a DVD was played to introduce the night showing Stephen winning medals where we cheered along, applauded and were silenced by some of the more poignant moments. Tyne Tees TV presenter Ian Payne was the perfect host in a This is Your Life-style Q&A session, covering some of the book’s stories in more detail. As it drew to a close, Stephen received a standing ovation and went straight back into signing mode (we hope he didn’t strain his throwing arm too much). At one point, I was amazed to see a longer queue for Stephen’s autograph than there was at the bar. How often does that happen?



Massive thanks to everyone who attended. We now have a new Tonto Books Barmy Army on hand at our events and it was nice to see the return of one particular Tonto irregular who was once in the running for ‘Ligger of the Year’. Also there last night: Boxing champ Glen McCrory, ex-Newcastle United goalie Kevin Carr, Mike McCloud and Players Inc editor, Steve Wraith. Thanks also to Jill and Caroline for helping out on the bookstall.

Stu