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

Monday, June 30, 2008

Places mentioned in this book...

Google's ongoing efforts to digitise every piece of information ever imagined continue apace. I've noticed an interesting feature on Google Book Search that displays on a Google Map "places mentioned in this book". So far, the only Tonto book that seems to have been mapped out in this way is The Rocketbelt Caper. Hopefully our other titles will follow soon - it would be nice to see Johnny Lonely's road trip mapped out. For now, if you want to see where the Rocketbelt 2000 was flown, or hidden, or where all the other shenanigans happened, click here. Who knows, if you zoom in really, really close you might spot the rocketbelt itself...


Friday, June 27, 2008

New Novelists News

Both Nik Jones and Sarah Shaw are now into the mentoring process for their new novels. Updates from Caroline Smailes and Wendy Robertson tell us that both novels are coming along nicely, and they are enjoying working with our new writers.

Caroline and Wendy are not just mentoring them as writers, but also helping out with tips on the promotional side of being a writer. I'm a believer in self-promotion and I think with t'internet bringing us such things as blogging, Myspace and Facebook (even I'm on them!), it also brought us innovative and cost-effective ways of flogging our wares. Social networking is a great way of reaching people and both of our other mentored writers are at it too! Roz and Stephen are building up a good fan base with their respective online presence, and now so is Nik Jones.

You can keep up with the progress of 9987 by watching here.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

State of independents

There's an interesting post on the Guardian's blog, Why writers can't go it alone by David Barnett, which sums up some of the gripes we have regarding the book industry.

'Flying the flag of independence is a mark of respect in most areas of popular culture ... apart, it seems, from literature,' Barnett writes. Why are independent cinema and independent record labels celebrated, while independent book publishers are shunned? As Barnett says, 'Can you imagine any serious film reviewer refusing to watch anything other than the major Hollywood blockbusters?'

The fact is that book reviewers at national newspapers and book buyers at national book chains tend to equate 'independent' with 'crap'. At least one major UK bookseller is in the process of severing ties with independent publishers. That's a kick in the nuts for the publishers, their authors, and - ultimately - readers, who are seeing bookshops turn into literary versions of multiplex cinemas, with a small range of lowest common denominator-pleasing tosh piled high and wide.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - let's board this whole industry up like an old abandoned mine and start a-bloody-gain.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Irresistible new fiction offer

Here's an offer that should be difficult to resist: pre-order both Being Normal by Stephen Shieber and Everything You Ever Wanted by Rosalind Wyllie for just £10 with free UK p&p. Both books are published on 11 August, but we'll deliver the pair of them to your door as soon as we receive them from the printer, usually several weeks in advance of the release date. You'll save £5.98 on the cover prices, plus about £3.50 in postage. It's a limited offer, so act quickly before stocks disappear like some kind of rare gas. Place your order here.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Paralympian in stock

Paralympian, My Autobiography by Stephen Miller is now in stock and available to purchase from www.tontobooks.com with free UK p&p. The book is not officially released until 28 July. It features a foreword by Stephen's friend Kevin Keegan.

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. Still only 28 years old, he will endeavour to win more honours 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.

'I know how hard it is to compete at the highest level. It takes dedication, courage and self-belief, and Stephen has those qualities in abundance. His story is truly unique and inspiring.' - Kevin Keegan.

Monday, June 16, 2008

New Novelists Results

Way back in January, we launched Tonto Books' North East New Novelists 2008 contest. There were 121 eligible entries, which is remarkable considering entry was restricted to writers in the North East of England with completed manuscripts. We knew there were lots of writers out there with ideas for books, first chapters and unfinished drafts stuffed away in drawers... but we were amazed by the number of entries as well as the high standard. The task of selecting the winners was performed by judges Wendy Robertson and Caroline Smailes.

And the winning manuscripts and authors are (drumroll please)...

'Make It Back' by Sarah Shaw.
In Make It Back, Muriel leaves her family to nurse sick and injured children in the Spanish Civil War. Forty years later, Muriel's decision leads her granddaughter, Dee,
into love, into danger and, finally, into the passion and dust of south-eastern Spain.
Sarah is from Blackhall Mill and is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University. She will be mentored by Wendy Robertson over the next couple of months as she puts the finishing touches to her novel, which will be published by Tonto in January 2009.

'9987' by Nik Jones.
Tragic and dark, 9987 is a story about a jagged and at times disturbing world where only three things are constant: fantasy, loneliness and love. It's a tale about a crime that only one person seems to care about.
Nik is a teacher and 'occasional barman' from Consett. He will be mentored by Caroline Smailes, and 9987 will also be published by Tonto in January.

Congratulations to Sarah and Nik, and thanks to the judges Wendy and Caroline, and everyone who took the time to enter the contest. The high quality and variety of submissions showed that the North East really is a hotbed of writing talent and thoroughly justified our desire to run this project.

Keep checking future blogs for updates on progress.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

... and on a positive note

It's no secret that I'm a bit of a Jam/Weller fan. A lot of my time this week has been taken up, as mentioned earlier, chasing orders, promises, features, reviews and sales, etc. Oh, the cruel irony as 'Running on the Spot' by The Jam started up on my Media Player after another frustrating phone call.

I was hoping we'd make real progress
But it seems we have lost the power
Any tiny step of advancement
Is like a raindrop falling into the ocean

... well said, Mr Weller.

I'm thick skinned now, I can take the knocks.
And it made me realise that even as a publisher, you still go through the same emotions as writers. So there is no difference in the great publisher vs writer hierarchy, really. We all get knock backs and face a constant battle - it really is how this industry works. You HAVE to stay positive.

Even John Blake has had his problems. I admire John for the impact he's had on the publishing world and this is a very interesting feature on him.

Competition rejections only mean that someone didn't get your work. If you believe in yourself and the work, it'll find a home.
Publisher/agent rejections? Same thing.
Keep passing it round, get feedback - there are loads of websites now where you can get feedback from other writers. Develop, improve, don't give up.

We'll be announcing the winners of our New Novelists 2008 competition very soon, and I dare say there will be a lot of disappointed writers in the region. Judgements are made on so much criteria... is it marketable? Will the story communicate to a large audience? Does it require too much work?
These are elements to bear in mind wherever you submit. But just because you don't get through, doesn't mean all is lost. Some may even make suggestions and ask you to resubmit, some may send you a more personal rejection (which means they did read it).

Unfortunately, we can't comment on any submission that didn't get through. This is because we didn't judge, but also because it isn't part of the project to offer that. And without touting for business, our editor runs a manuscript critique service at competitive rates, for those interested in feedback.

Keep the faith!


Monday, June 09, 2008

Going Solo

Well, with Marianne gone and Paul already on his hols, I'm on my Jack Jones at Tonto Towers. There's loads to keep me busy though: Sin Cities is doing well and it is only now that the hard work starts. Just like being in The Apprentice, this is where sales matter, and this is where you have to become a salesperson. But when its your own company, you can't just run around aimlessly shouting 'That's what I'm talking about!' and 'I'm one hundred per cent passionate about sales.'... none of that counts. Pre-orders and orders, following up leads, calling/charming buyers, bookstores, making sure orders go ahead - those are the most difficult and crucial calls. Then there's all the publicity to go with it, and in turn, they generate more sales. So it's all the PR elements, arranging signings, booking travel etc, contacting press, arranging interviews, following up all those initial calls, hassling, chasing up reviews and features.

We've got a few signing sessions arranged for Ashley to attend so far. I'll post them up nearer the time, as well as the other publicity we've secured. In the meantime, if you are a FaceBooker, why not join the Sin Cities Book Group where there are regular updates.

I fell a book submissions rant coming on... I'll hold back for a bit though.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Marianne's Final Blog!

Hi everyone,

Well today has been my last day working with Tonto Books and like always I've been kept busy. I've spent most of the day transferring all of my notes on the novel Everything You Ever Wanted onto an electronic draft for Stu and Paul to use at a later date.

The past couple of weeks seem to have gone really fast, like during my first work experience I've been given really interesting tasks and the opportunity to work with some very exciting projects and gain more insight into the process of publishing books. As always it's been lovely working with Stu and Paul and I want to thank them both for having me back and making me feel so welcome. Hopefully I'll be back at some point in the future, so keep an eye out for me on their blog!!


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Marianne's Second Blog

Hi Everyone,

Well today has been another productive day in the office, I finished proof reading Everything you ever Wanted by Rosalind Wyllie and I have to say I immensely enjoyed it. I think it's going to do really well when it's released later on in the summer, as it's very witty, and has lots of twists and turns that really keeps you guessing until the end. Also I think there is nothing worse than reading a book which has a rubbish ending but you'll be pleased to here this book isn't one of them, without wanting to give too much away, I thought the ending was very satisfying as you really feel like you're leaving the main character in an optimistic and hopeful, yet realistic place in her life, after everything she's been through previously in the book.

The bookmarks for both Everything you ever Wanted and Being Normal also arrived in the office today, so you'll have to do your best to get your hands on one!


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sin Cities in stock at Amazon

A full month before it's officially released, Amazon.co.uk have Sin Cities by Ashley Hames in stock. At the time of writing it's just £6.39, that's 20% off the RRP. (Buy three and get free p&p!) You can order it here. Or, if you prefer, you can buy a copy direct from us (with free UK p&p) here.