Thursday, 28 August 2008

101 Ways to Die Before You Die

Sometimes you just can't make these things up. With the publication imminent of Richard Wilson's Can't be Arsed: 101 Things Not To Do Before You Die, comes the news that Dave Freeman, author of the original 100 Things to Do Before You Die has, well, died. And not by doing one of his ridiculous things to do -- touching a tiger or swimming with dolphins or so forth. No, the guy fell over at home, hit his head, and that was it. Had he done his 100 things? Nowhere near, he'd done about half.

There's a word for this kind of stuff, isn't there?

Friday, 22 August 2008

It's like Christmas come early

One of the best bits of the job is when the advance copies of your new books come in. It's that moment when all the hard work is made worthwhile and you finally hold a finished copy in your hand. With autumn fast approaching (if not already here weatherwise), we've had a glorious glut of new titles coming our way in the past couple of weeks. These advance copies are there to check, and once approved, then the bulk gets sent on to the warehouse, and out into the shops. With the exception of one title, which the printer managed to print on the wrong paper, everything seems to be running smoothly and on schedule. Which is no easy matter when books are coming in from as far afield as Finland and the Far East...

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Northern Lights

This week, while David Cameron's think tank has been bemoaning the state of north and encouraging everyone to move down south, I've been going in the opposite direction to visit Portico's more northerly writers. First stop was Newcastle, to catch up with Harry Pearson, who is writing a humour book for us for next autumn. Then it was onto Edinburgh to see the authors of our 'I See' Spotters books, which are out this Autumn. Part of the visit was practical -- a bit of nuts and bolts here, and marketing and publicity ideas there -- but the main reason, really, was (to use that horrible phrase) face time: to say hello, have a chinwag and the sort of proper catch up you just can't do at long distance.

And despite what the think tank said, I came away (as I always do), thinking what fantastic cities the north has, and what a shame it is that publishing is, the odd exception aside, so London based...

Monday, 4 August 2008

Water Under the Bridge

Why do bad reviews hurt more than good reviews feel great? We've been riding the review rolloercoaster with Ken Burnett's 'The Field by the River' this week, with a wonderful review in the Mail on Sunday, followed by a less positive one in Friday's Daily Mail. Somehow, though, the negative points, however mild, seem to have a way of lingering longer than the glow of the good comments, however great. And it's not just the writer who feels like that -- any publisher worth their salt will also feel a twinge of apprehension about their own judgment. The remedy is normally a quick skim of the book itself, and the reaffirmation that although everyone is entitled to their opinion, in this case you're right, and they're wrong.

Dealing with reviews is a bit like learning to ride a bike -- however much it hurts, you've just got to dust yourself off and get back in the saddle again. After all, it doesn't matter how nice the bike is (and this case, it's a very nice bike indeed), there'll still be the occasional pothole in the road to deal with.