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

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...


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!).


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...)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.