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

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Business is booming - it's official!

The Bookseller reports that 'the UK's independent publishing sector is flourishing'. Independent Publishers Guild (IPG) membership has an all-time high 515 members (the fledgling NEPub already has 10), and Nielsen are estimating that there are 20,000 active publishers in the UK. Hooray.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Free books! The future of publishing?

There's an interesting feature on Wired this week, Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business. It's written by Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, which basically explained how businesses, including publishers and booksellers, can shift away from focussing on a relatively small number of big 'hits' and toward a larger number of small niches. (Anderson discusses the 'long tail' of publishing in his original Long Tail feature.) The Long Tail was a business and publishing 'sensation', so we'd we wise to take notice of his new work.

In 'Free!', Anderson explores how companies offer free razors to make revenue from blades, free mobile phone handsets to make revenue from service plans, and so on. It's not a new concept - Gillette pioneered it in the early 1900s. But how can this be applied to publishing? Earlier this month, Suze Orman's book "Women & Money" was offered as a free download for two days on Oprah Winfrey's website, and was downloaded more than 1.1 million times. Despite the fact that the public could read it for free, the book shot to the top of the Amazon's sales rankings - because people tend to prefer physical books to online e-books. They were drawn in by the freebie, but ended up buying the book.

Offering stuff for free is something we've been actively discussing in the Tonto office recently. We tried it back in 2006 with our free Christmas short stories anthology, which 1,200 people downloaded. Everyone likes free stuff, right? Watch this space for more.


Friday, February 22, 2008

The Non-Beardy Beer Book

Another new book and cover, this one will be out in the autumn...

'Probably the best beer book in the world. An alternative to beardy and boring real-ale guides, The Non-Beardy Beer Book is a humorous and no-nonsense guide to Booze Britain's favourite drinks, featuring irreverent reviews of 100 of the UK's bestselling brands of beer, lager and cider, plus bluffer's guides to the most popular wines, alcopops, spirits and cocktails, lovingly put together by a panel of completely independent (possibly inebriated) reviewers. An essential companion for any trip to the pub, club, supermarket or off-licence, this king of beer guides refreshes the parts other books cannot reach.'


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Rosalind Wyllie: Everything You Ever Wanted

Another new book, today it's Roz Wyllie's debut novel, released in August:

'"I'm every woman they have ever dreamt of. I'll do anything – I'll do things they didn't even know they wanted."

Tiggy's stuck in a rut - trapped in a half-life as a stripper at a Mayfair club, surviving on dope and vodka, and desperate for her married lover to leave his wife.

Scarlett is different – she's more confident, stunningly beautiful, and willing to do absolutely anything to get exactly what she wants.

Tiggy is intoxicated by the enigmatic Scarlett, following her into an arousing world of sex and excitement. But Scarlett has her own agenda, and she doesn't do anything for free. Sooner or later Tiggy's going to have to pay.

Evocatively set in the summer of 1991, Everything You Ever Wanted is a smart and gritty tale of two young women's colourful adventures in a London sex industry where money talks, and boundaries are there to be broken.'

'A sharp and stunning debut. Taut prose, original voice, visuals that crackle and shock. Wyllie trips the reader into a foreboding world where sex sells and friendships are dubious.' - Caroline Smailes


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Stephen Shieber: Being Normal

Another forthcoming title in what I've just decided we're officially calling 'new book week', today it's a collection of stories by Stephen Shieber, to be released in August:

'A confident, poignant collection filtered with debauchery, melancholy and black humour, Being Normal is an examination of loneliness, rejection and the idiosyncrasies of living in and against contemporary society.

Stephen Shieber brings together the glory of everyday nothingness and elevates it to great drama; where loveless marriage, teen angst, childhood misadventure, lonely Christmases and family dysfunction are the norm.

Each character in this stunning debut provides a very different slant on the notion of mundane – a book for anyone who has ever found themselves on the outside, dancing to the beat of their own drum.'


Monday, February 18, 2008

Stephen Miller: Paralympian, My Autobiography

This week we'll be posting first looks at the covers for some of our our forthcoming titles, starting today with Stephen Miller's autobiography, released in July:

'Stephen Miller is one of Britain's most successful athletes. Record-breaking Stephen, who has Cerebral Palsy, has won three Paralympic gold medals, plus dozens of other international accolades in the club and discus events, and will endeavour to win more at Beijing 2008 and London 2012. A writer and poet, Stephen's inspirational autobiography tells of his struggles and triumphs, and is told with refreshing honesty and infectious humour.'


Friday, February 15, 2008

NEPub - North East Publishers group launched

We're pleased to be one of the founder members of NEPub, a new coalition of independent trade book publishers in the North East of England.

NEPub aims to be a support network in which members can share experience and knowledge, build contacts, arrange industry talks and training sessions, co-attend book fairs, and have a bigger voice in the industry. It already has ten member publishers, and looks like being a very valuable and worthwhile enterprise. You can find out more about NEPub and its members here.


Monday, February 11, 2008

New Tonto newsletter out today

The latest edition of our email newsletter is out today. The newsletter is sent out monthly, and contains news about new titles, projects, events, and submission opportunities.

You can read previous newsletters here.

To subscribe send a blank email here.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Fortean Times reviews The Rocketbelt Caper

Everyone's favourite chronicle of strange phenomena Fortean Times features a review of the publishing phenomenon that is The Rocketbelt Caper in the new March issue. Click on the image below to see a readable version.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Swap Shop for Books

Yep, the title is a bit of a clue. Maybe some of you have tried this before - I was sent a link to it recently and am keen to get logged in and have a look. As you'll see on the categories on the left, there are plenty to browse through - new as well as old books... even one of mine on there!

Here is the website link, Read It Swap It. Happy swapping!


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Top tips for formatting your manuscript

If you're thinking of submitting to our New Novelists competition, or sending your writing to another publisher or agent, you might find the following tips useful:

1. The first step, of course, is to get your spelling and grammar right - while the odd mistake will be overlooked and corrected in a copyedit, multiple mistakes will make the manuscript difficult to read and likely to be rejected. Refer to a good dictionary and Strunk and White's The Elements of Style.

2. Once you've got your spelling and grammar in order, there's no getting around the need to format your manuscript in a sensible font (e.g. Times New Roman 12pt) and double-space it. Don't try to be clever or quirky with this - a manuscript submitted in Comic Sans is unlikely to succeed.

3. Align text to the left margin. Don't be tempted to justify the text (stretching it between left and right margins) to make it look more like a finished book, as this makes your manuscript difficult to read.

4. Ensure there is just one space between your sentences, not two. For some reason, many writers are in the habit of hitting the spacebar twice after every full-stop. If you are one of them, you can use 'Find and Replace' to correct this.

5. Don't use bold or underline. Italics are fine, but don't overdo it - large passages of italics can be difficult to read.

6. Avoid any drop caps or other embellishments. You are not typesetting a book - that will be done by the publisher. Similarly, don't paste illustrations into your manuscript.

7. Paragraphing: Left justify the first paragraph of a scene or section. Indent subsequent paragraphs using one 'tab' key, not the space bar. Only double space between paragraphs to denote a change of scene or section. Don't paragraph every sentence. Think about how the words will be laid out on the page. If unsure about paragraphing, just pick a favourite book from your shelf and see how it's done.

8. Be consistent with your use of numbers, dates, titles, quotations etc. For example, you can spell out numbers one to ten, and use numerals for numbers 11 and up. You could use single quotation marks for quotes, and double quotation marks for quotes within quotes. You could put book, song or film titles in italics. But always be consistent.

9. Avoid using song lyrics unless you have written permission from the copyright holder. The use of song titles is fine.

10. If sending via hard copy, print onto plain white paper and don't bind your manuscript. If sending via email, save as a popular file format (e.g. .doc, .rtf) but don't 'zip' the file, and send as an attachment - don't paste it into the body of the email.

One final note is to check specific instructions given by publishers or agents. The guidelines for our New Novelists competition can be found here. Good luck.


Monday, February 04, 2008

New Novelists Reminder

Not much time to get your submissions in!
We've had a lot of entries to the New Novelists 2008 competition so far, and with the deadline of 31 March approaching, I thought I'd post a reminder.

As you'll know, this competition is supported by The National Lottery through the Arts Council England. This means that the competition is region-specific to first time novelists based in the North East of England, with full details on the website here, and is part of an overall regional project to support new writing. We’ve had people saying they live very near the North East... some saying they used to live up here... but that just isn’t good enough!
Please read the guidelines on the website. We also cannot review, comment, give feedback on novels.
Best of luck!


Friday, February 01, 2008

Ashley Hames blows into Toon

Tonto author and TV star Ashley Hames was in a very cold and windy Newcastle yesterday for a photoshoot for his forthcoming book, which will probably be called 'Sin Cities: Adventures of a Sex Reporter'. The title and this 'behind the scenes' photo should be fairly self-explanatory. Obviously Stu and I had to be there to make sure everything ran smoothly, and then take Ashley out for a couple of quiet pints. This publishing lark can be a right bummer...

Thanks to Twink for taking the photos, model Natalie Overton for being a very good sport, Mark from the Officer's Deck for the venue, Steve for fixing it up, and Ashley for braving the blizzards on his first ever trip to the Toon. The book will be published in July.