Showing All Categories (Show all posts)

To the readers who have helped us in the past

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, August 31, 2017,

We've realised over the years that most of you don't have the time to read our manuscripts and give us feedback. So we're cutting you some slack - there will be no more annoying emails asking for your thoughts on work we've sent. We're going it alone. However, if you want to stay with us, read with us, help choose the best of the work that crosses into our laptops, then please email us the genre you like and we'll keep you in our decision making loop.

To all those readers who've helped us over...


Continue reading ...
 

Do you read during the day - Bryony Doran

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, August 14, 2017,


A guest blog from Hookline Books author, Bryony Doran - www.bryonydoran.com

I give the impression of being a very busy person all of the time so to admit to reading during the day is a bit difficult for me. I am self-employed, wear many hats and work from home all day and every day or so it would appear except I have a little blissful window in the late afternoon just as my energy levels are taking a dip, miraculously my cat, Nell, appears and demands my attention. I make a cup of tea and go a...


Continue reading ...
 

Read on!

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, May 15, 2017,
I'm a 'sinful' reader - I ignore housework and other chores and spend Sundays lying on the sofa reading a book. I shared my sin in a recent newsletter, adding that friends often thought I was wasting my time on books: "Think of all the other useful things you could do?" I've been told this by friends who might spend Sundays watching television.
The response to my confession shows I am far from alone in dissolute reading:
"I'm a culprit too. Reading in the day gives me pleasure, allows me to ref...
Continue reading ...
 

Alcoholism in fiction

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, April 12, 2017,
So many alcoholics are associated with fiction - or they used to be - Dylan Thomas, Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker (she is credited with the line: "I like to have a Martini. Two at the very most. After three I'm under the table. After four I'm under the host.") These classic writers had booze problems and passed their addiction on to their characters.
Today alcoholism has almost disappeared from fiction. Paula Hawkins brought it back with A Girl on the Train (which I have...
Continue reading ...
 

Tell us where you would go on a solo adventure

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, April 11, 2017,
Travelling solo isn't easy, but it beats waiting for friends or family to decide they will sacrifice time and money to make that dream trip with you.
The Solo Travel Guide by Dee Maldon has been published by our sister imprint, Bookline & Thinker, and we're helping to promote the title by giving away five books.
All we ask is that you tell us where you would go on your dream solo trip.
Five answers will be chosen next week and the books will be shipped out fast so you can make plans before the s...
Continue reading ...
 

Who is the most important person in the publishing business?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, February 28, 2017,

There’s a question many industries ask their interns: “Who’s the most important person in the office?” Many utter what sounds obvious, “The president.” Only to be met with a head shake. “The CEO!” Wrong again. They finally blurt out, “You!” But the questioner often gives a prim all-knowing smile before announcing, “The most important person is the patient/the client/the stakeholder.”

In publishing, the correct answer would be “the reader.”

However readers are us...


Continue reading ...
 

How to find a book club - or start one!

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, February 6, 2017,
Hookline depends on book groups and sometimes readers contact us asking how to find a book group or even how to start one.
If you wish to find a book group, there are two websites I would recommend:
Bookgroup.info is a UK website with recommendations on what to read and links to groups in a given area.
The Reading Agency has a formal relationship with libraries, can recommend books and help you find a book club in your area.
If there are no groups in your community or village then you may need to...
Continue reading ...
 

MA writers, we're waiting

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Friday, January 6, 2017,
So we're at it again!
A new year means new submissions. It's an exciting time for us, and I have to confess I love to see the manuscripts arrive in our email box. Why? Because the novels are all so different - the creativity among new writers makes my heart race with excitement. I'm not sure if other publishers feel this excitement - I hope they do.
So bring it on - all writers who are engaged in or have graduated from an MA writing programme, send us your early chapters. We'll ensure the work ...
Continue reading ...
 

Readers, if you were to write a novel...

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, December 20, 2016,
The saying goes that we all have a novel in us. As we prepare to take down 2016 submissions and start all over again in 2017, I can't help but wonder what we will see next year.
Personally, I have a good imagination and always think I could write a novel. I see something unusual - a woman crying on a park bench, a family cold with each other at a restaurant table - and I think, 'Oh, that's the beginning of a novel.' But, of course, a novel takes so much more than that - a plot that lasts longe...
Continue reading ...
 

Writers, 8 questions for your characters

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, November 8, 2016,
Readers love characters - they are our connection with the plot, what makes us reopen the pages, what makes us care.
I sometimes hear writers say, "Well, she's a middle-aged woman with an empty nest and feeling lonely." Okay, that tells us her current circumstance but it does not tell us who she is. And who she is depends upon her past and how she now looks at her past. Has she changed? How has she changed? Have those around her changed? (Think Shirley Valentine). And before you decide to ins...
Continue reading ...
 

7 tips on plotting your novel - make the ground move beneath the reader's feet.

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, October 11, 2016,
I receive a lot of manuscripts from new writers. I send them out to book clubs and often read them myself. However, sometimes it's difficult to read beyond a few pages. The story becomes simply a collection of words and I no longer care what happens in the rest of the manuscript.
The main part of writing any story is making the reader care. You have to make us want to turn the next page. Grab our attention so that we don't notice that our supper is burning or that we have missed our stop on t...
Continue reading ...
 

Child migrants - a little more history

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, October 5, 2016,
I've been a little bit obsessed by child migration recently. This is due to the fact that I've been editing Listen to the Child, a novel which tells of British children shipped out to Canada in the 1870s and distributed as indentured labour to farmers there, and reading The Lightless Sky by Gulwali Passarlay, a contemporary autobiography of a young Afghan boy sent to Europe with people smugglers.
Both books shine light on children far from home with no parent to care for them.
Gulwali is sent...
Continue reading ...
 

Child migrants - then and now!

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, October 3, 2016,
Child migrants are the topic of our next novel. Listen to the Child by Elizabeth Howard tells the story of children shipped from London's overcrowded streets to the wide open farms of Canada in the 1870s. This was before Dr. Barnardo and others took up the practice. The missionaries believed they were doing the right thing, that God had shown them this green and promised land and that by taking children from thieving, prostitution and gambling they were rescuing them from the sins of the worl...
Continue reading ...
 

Your Desert Island books

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Friday, April 8, 2016,
While I put my interests almost firmly in the non-fiction camp when choosing books to take to a desert island, it seems, dear readers, that you prefer the classics.
The Hobbit, Heart of Darkness, Wuthering Heights and D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love came top in the books you chose. The Hobbit seemed popular because many of you read it in impressionable youth. The others, all for romantic reasons. One reader said Women in Love reminded her of university days with their earnest discussions of soci...
Continue reading ...
 

Desert Island books

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, April 4, 2016,
Friends often ask me about the books I enjoy, and I recommend Hookline titles, of course - something for everyone right there.
However, when I really think about my favourite books, the ones I would take to a desert island, non-fiction titles come up on top. I'm not sure why, maybe my journalist heart still beats, the thrill of the true life story. And my favourite book is Wayward Women; A Guide to Women Travellers, edited by Jane Robinson. It includes brief biographies of women in history who...
Continue reading ...
 

New writers can learn from The Martian

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, March 7, 2016,
Let me begin by saying I don't enjoy science fiction. I have never yearned to read more sci-fi than I have ever tasted.
I read The Martian because I had to - it was a reluctant purchase for book group and I feared never getting beyond 20 pages. I hadn't seen the film and didn't care to, no matter that it was tagged as 'comedy'.
However, I have to say The Martian is brilliantly constructed and many new writers could take lessons from its author Andy Weir.
Throughout the read, I desperately needed...
Continue reading ...
 

Welcome to a good (free) read

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, February 25, 2016,
Sometimes a good novel slides away unnoticed - lost to readers who might have enjoyed a few hours with its story.

Terms by Ben Lyle seems to have slipped into this category. It certainly hasn't had the rush to read we hoped for. Netgalley reviewers loved it. Hookline readers who received it gave it their thumbs up. Beyond this, discovery has been slow.
So rather than wait and hope, we're putting the novel out there - online to download, chapter by chapter, day by day, for free. We're willing to...
Continue reading ...
 

In the beginning, make us care

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, January 25, 2016,
A huge amount is written about first line - and rightly so! However the first bite to a novel is the first chapter. Draw us in with an acute scene of real drama and we'll be with you for the rest of the novel. Sharp writing and crisp characterisation will make us hang on till the very end.
However, great opening chapters are rare - it's tough to lead the reader into 80,000 words, opening the door to unknown characters, setting and conflict, creating a single scene that wraps together enough na...
Continue reading ...
 

Art in books

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Friday, January 8, 2016,
Novels set in the art world tend to be popular with readers:
The Goldfinch by Donna Tart
The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
The Moon and Sixpence by Somerset Maugham
All these works allow us to look at the artist or the obsessions they elicit.
At Hookline, we have our own art in a novel. The China Bird by Bryony Doran concerns an art student and her quest to draw a stranger who suffers from scoliosis. While others shy away from this lonely, and physically twisted character, the art...
Continue reading ...
 

The window on a novel

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, January 4, 2016,
Covers are the windows to a book. A bad cover can cost a publisher readers. But who decides what makes a good cover?
Authors often have a cover in mind when writing a book. When considering the cover, editors look at demographics and who are the likely readers of a manuscript. Designers, well, they want to make a mark, and good designers like to make a profound mark.
In reality, it is readers who decide a good cover - if it turns them away, it's a bad cover.
So, we've decided our original cover ...
Continue reading ...
 

Read and review - free

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Friday, December 11, 2015,
We're running our own version of Netgalley. We'll provide the PDF of a title if you agree to review it on Goodreads, Amazon or your very own blog. If you hate the book, tell people. If it leaves you cold, fine. But if you love it, and we hope you do, then ring out the praises.
For the uninitiated, Netgalley is a review site that provides ebooks to booksellers, reviewers, librarians and keen readers. It's a fairly expensive venture for small publishers, however it does raise awareness of titles...
Continue reading ...
 

Independent reviews of an unusual debut crime novel

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, November 19, 2015,
"Crime doesn't pay," goes the maxim. However, an unusual debut crime novel from CM Thompson has proven a success with independent Netgalley reviewers who, it seems, love What Lies in the Dark.
And we're immensely proud and keen to share - especially as Amazon have discounted the ebook to 99p.
Here are just some of the reviews:

“This is a debut novel that deserves to be read.”

“CM Thompson has perfectly captured human nature - our pettiness and rivalries; our emotions of apathy and anger, ...

Continue reading ...
 

The Secret Mother is a Netgalley success

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, November 2, 2015,
Our time at Netgalley is at an end, and we are no longer offering reviewers and readers free access to our novels.
It's been an interesting experiment, and one that has been affirming - readers who don't know us seemed to have enjoyed the Hookline novels. Last week I detailed the feedback on our crime novel, What Lies in the Dark.
Today, we'll look at the response to The Secret Mother by Victoria Delderfield.
Out of 11 reviews, five gave the novel 5 stars, with seven offering 3 or 4 stars and on...
Continue reading ...
 

Throwing open the pages for reviews

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Friday, October 30, 2015,
It's scary for an author (and a publisher) when a novel is thrown open for review. What if everyone hates it? What if we are the only people who see merit in the work?
Well, we did something scary earlier this year, something we've never done before, and threw all of this year's publications open to review by all Netgalley subscribers. Netgalley, is a book discovery site for booksellers, reviewers, bloggers, librarians and those who love books - even if all they do is read.
Well, the first titl...
Continue reading ...
 

How can a novel change your life?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, October 29, 2015,
President Barack Obama says novels taught him many things about the world - including empathy and how to be a citizen. There is no question that novels can take us out of our world and plunge us into others, giving us access to experiences we might never acquire.
Growing up, my grandmother bought me the classics and I loved Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn - I was a little Scottish girl with no connection to the American South, but I learned a lot about racism in those books. Growing older, it...
Continue reading ...
 

Ebooks - from the price to a latte and muffin to the cost of a bag of chips

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, October 15, 2015,
We've done something quite radical, scary almost!
We've reduced the price of all our older ebook fiction to 99p. You might ask why, and the answer is simple - the costs involved in producing an ebook are all up front, before publication. Once production costs have been earned, then why not share in the proceeds?
Our ebooks are usually priced from £2.99-£3.99 - the cost of a latte and a muffin in the standard High Street coffee shop. We keep the costs down because we want readers to try our fi...

Continue reading ...
 

Extract of The China Bird by Bryony Doran

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, September 22, 2015,
Edward watches the crows circling the fine black lines of leafless trees etched against the pewter sky. He hears the first thud of earth on wood and stares down at the coffin. The brass nameplate is already tarnished by the wet soil. He shivers, wishing he hadn’t come. On the journey over he’d asked his mother how they were related to the dead woman. The train was pulling away from Huddersfield station. He’d waited for an answer, watching the station clock grow smaller and smaller.
‘S...
Continue reading ...
 

An extract from The Secret Mother by Victoria Delderfield

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, September 21, 2015,

Blood

 

He hangs it by the ankles, its blue hands splayed, the small kidney-shape of its body crowned with my blood. I open my arms, but the yīshēng shakes his head.

“Look away, you hear? Look away.” He plunges my baby head first into a waiting bucket of water.

Pain roars in my haunches. I push hard, my womb emptying like a blanket thrown into the air. Between my legs…so much blood.

“Stop pushing, another one’s coming,” he bawls and discards the limp newborn beside the buck...


Continue reading ...
 

It's not just about the book

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, September 16, 2015,
Hookline has become my life. My children have left home. My husband is a workaholic, and Hookline Books has become my third child. It absorbs all my attention, which means I can bore my friends to a stupor.
However, when it comes to blogging, I can think of nothing to write. It's a strange phenomenon - I have terrific ideas, but when it comes to putting fingertips to keyboard, it all disappears into a dull fog - 'dull' being the key word.
So, from now on, you won't be only hearing about books a...
Continue reading ...
 

Mothers, Lovers and second novels

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, September 7, 2015,
We've written before about the pressure writers feel about that second novel. 
Seven Days to Tell You by Ruby Soames was one of Hookline's most successful novels - frequently in the top 100 Kindle sales, runner up in the People's Book Prize. Ruby's second novel is more humorous, less intense, but retains that personal touch. For this week only it is selling at 99p on Amazon.
Want to know more?

Ever wonder what it's like to date an actor who hits the big time? Intrigue, jealousy, resentment – a...


Continue reading ...
 

Read now! The Red Shoes

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, August 27, 2015,
A second novel is a tough assignment - ask any author and they'll tell you that a successful debut is a stressful act to follow.
Bryony Doran's The China Bird was Hookline's first ever novel - and, considering our naiveté in the industry, it achieved terrific acclaim:
Author Livi Michael called it, "A delicate and unusual novel that explores the precariousness of relationships."
Blogger Rob Around Books said, "A literary classic which should be, and must be, eagerly consumed by readers of all...
Continue reading ...
 

Hookline and Netgalley, we need your help

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, August 26, 2015,
We are Netgalley virgins - have never used the review system before.
So we paid our money and uploaded Ben Lyle's debut novel Terms to their system. 
So far, so slow - only one review.

To refresh your memory, Terms tells of t
welve-year-old James who hates life at his hippy boarding school where lessons are optional and homework forbidden. All he wants is an academic education with proper exams. When a strict new maths teacher strides into his world of peace, love and fringed ponchos, James latch...
Continue reading ...
 

Four novels in one year - who would have thought it?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, August 18, 2015,
It was all a step in the dark. For six years we trundled along running the Hookline Novel Competition with terrific participation from book groups, but all the time knowing we had to change.
And change we did! 
The Facebook page - Hookline's Discover New Author's Page was set up in February and already we have signed up two authors. 
Terms by Ben Lyle will be out on 1 September:

Twelve-year-old James hates life at his hippy boarding school where lessons are optional, homework forbidden and school...


Continue reading ...
 

It's not you, it's me

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Friday, August 14, 2015,
Ok, after the last post, I've been asked about the books I gave up on.
I don't want to make this personal, but it is - purely my opinion on why I didn't continue to the last page, so here goes: 

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
I've loved his previous novels, couldn't put them down, but this novel left me cold. Maybe it was the adolescent narrative in the beginning (runaway refuses to go home no matter the dangers). I gave up during the first entry to the dark side and only resumed reading beca...
Continue reading ...
 

Riding a dull narrative? When do you give up?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, August 12, 2015,
When do you give up a book?
My motto used to be, "I've started therefore I must finish," and doggedly I would plough through text I no longer gave a damn about. Looking back, I blame my Scottish education and teachers who pushed me to complete novels like Ivanhoe and Moby Dick - novels that had some merit but gave me no pleasure.
I'm not sure when I changed. What novel I was reading when I decided that I no longer wanted to ride that dull narrative till the end. But it was a relief to jump to t...
Continue reading ...
 

Third Time Lucky - Helen MacKinven, guest blog

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, July 8, 2015,

In October, my debut novel will be published. Some folk have assumed it’s the first book I’ve written when in fact it’s my third.

My first novel, Sunbirds, was inspired by a Caribbean cruise I went on with friends from work in 2004. I’m sure I’d cringe reading it now as it was a ‘practice’ novel.  I knew I needed professional guidance so in 2009 I went on an Arvon residential course called ‘Starting to Write a Novel’.

The experience kick-started my second novel, Buy, Buy Baby...


Continue reading ...
 

Who are the most important people in publishing?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, July 6, 2015,
Most students of publishing would answer say, 'the publisher.'
Ask an author, especially one desperately seeking publication, and they would say, 'the editor.'
Ask the editor, enlightened ones would suggest, 'the author,'; others might point to the sales team and cite 'the marketing director' who pushes sales so that books make a profit.
Everyone of these roles is important - a good author creates a successful story; a good editor is needed to represent the reader and catch sticky plot details, ...
Continue reading ...
 

A better prize than money

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, July 2, 2015,
It sounded like a good idea at the time. A promotion offering the chance to win your name in a future novel if you signed up to our newsletter. Well, it worked - the name Chris Rose will appear in a Hookline novel, probably in 2016. Both Terms and The Secret Mother are too far along in the editorial process to have name changes, but...watch this space!
Of course, we are aware that this is not exactly fair to our current newsletter subscribers, so another competition is lined up so that current...
Continue reading ...
 

It's not about the garden

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, June 24, 2015,
Why did you choose your house?
Perhaps it was schools, family or transport links that helped make the decision. For me, it was the book shop! I live around the corner from a very good book shop - and that's not an accident!
The joy of a good book shop within walking distance can never be overlooked - estate agents should include this in their home specifications. - like good schools or west-facing garden.
I love my local book shop. Over that last five years, the staff have learned my taste in fi...
Continue reading ...
 

What I learned from my MA in creative writing

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, June 15, 2015,
From Victoria Owens, author of Drawn to Perfection
Discipline:
Like any other art, writing requires regular practise. The course framework, with its submission deadlines and workshop expectations, ensured that I wrote whether or not I was ‘in the mood.’ Over the MA year, I got used to putting words on the page when I was sick, miserable, hung-over or guilty about neglecting my family. Much of what I produced under these conditions was rubbish, but at least it was something to work on, and t...
Continue reading ...
 

What did an MA in writing do for you? Part 2

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Friday, June 12, 2015,
There have been a few comments on my previous blog 'What did an MA in writing do for you?' And I hope to post some of the responses next week.
In the meantime, I've had a few more thoughts. Mainly, they concern dismal plot devices that I might have forgiven before I earned my MA, now they can prompt me to toss the book aside.
1. Dreams - a boring way to provide a character's fears or hopes. I did this in my dissertation MA and shouldn't be surprised that it didn't make publication.
2. Telling us...
Continue reading ...
 

What did your MA in writing do for you?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, June 9, 2015,
Once upon a time, I was a journalist. My prose consisted of static attribution - he said, she said. I studied for an MA in writing to loosen my style - and, for the most part, it worked. Now I try to come at each sentence from a differing angle, varying sentence length and structure - no more 'just the attribution of facts.'
My MA dissertation had to be a complete novel 'worthy of publication.' Until this point my maximum written piece had been around 5,000 words (an advance obit on Mother The...
Continue reading ...
 

The joy of a first line

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, June 4, 2015,
There is nothing like a first line to draw you into a book.

My favourite:
"Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person." Haven't we all had that feeling? And don't we want to know more? This is from Anne Tyler's Back When We Were Grownups.

I also love Tolstoy's Anna Karenina: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

The joy of a good first line is that it pulls you into story - a bad first line, however, makes you ...
Continue reading ...
 

Writers, be brave!

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, June 2, 2015,
"Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it kills your egocentric little scribbler's heart, kill your darlings."
Stephen King.

A dramatic quote from someone who really knows how to tell a story.
Many manuscripts land in our in box and, sometimes, I want to send the writer this quote from Stephen King. We know that writers grow close to the characters they create, and their instinct is to protect their creation. But...the characters are there to make the reader's heart race with anticip...
Continue reading ...
 

More than a little patronising

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, May 21, 2015,
Leading women unite to launch #ThisBookClub
The Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction have asked six 'inspirational women' to reveal the novels they most want to share - and their suggestions are supposed to 'inspire book lovers across the nation to get together to talk about books.' The celebrities we've to be inspired by: Janet Ellis and her singer daughter; Emily Blunt and her sister; Mary Portas and her wife.
Hmm! Who has been inspiring book groups until now? Who are the readers who have been o...
Continue reading ...
 

The Joy of Listening

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, May 5, 2015,
As much as I love to read, I also love to listen to a good story. In the car, I choose to drive during Radio 4's Book of the Week or Book at Bedtime. But this isn't always convenient - hence, the joy of iPlayer and listening when to the story when it is convenient.
But sitting listening to a story isn't an easy thing to do - what do you do with your hands? (I don't iron!) This is where hand crafts come in and, for me, that means knitting my very own Andy Murray. He's small, doesn't require muc...
Continue reading ...
 

The audience are not stuffed cabbages

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, April 27, 2015,


Great fun at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival this weekend - everyone from Baroness Trumpington - who took the conversation where she wanted it to go - to Sheila Hancock, who remains a strong, political and a terrifically entertaining speaker.

We sponsored two events: Jesse Armstrong, a script writer from The Peep Show, The Thick of It and The Four Lions, talked about his new novel; and Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan talked about their book group, their novels and their lives. 

However,...


Continue reading ...
 

What I learned at the London Book Fair - eat, drink, breathe and...

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, April 22, 2015,
1. Eat - this may sound elementary but it's easy to rush past the long lines at cafes thinking you don't have time. Running on empty means you're not thinking properly. Keep snacks in your handbag - savoury and sweet.
2. Drink - and I don't just mean beer and wine. It's a dry old environment at Olympia and running from floor to floor can feel like a mini-marathon. Carry a water bottle - with water in it!
3. Breathe - it gives you time to think about what people are proposing. In fact, don't ans...
Continue reading ...
 

All the fun of the book fair

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, April 9, 2015,
The London Book Fair begins next week - a trade fair devoted to books. It's a joy to be there, and my wee head spins at all the book covers, spread surely over several acres. But before you think it's all fun - browsing blurbs, talking about authors and seeing what's new - let me tell you that there is serious work to be done. For the London Book Fair is less about day to day sales between publishers and book shops (although I wish some of it were), the event is more about meeting foreign pub...
Continue reading ...
 

To MA or Not To MA?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, April 7, 2015,

Guest blog by Vicky Delderfield. Her novel Effects and Belongings will be out later this year.

I remember the precise moment, driving out to lunch with my in-laws, when I first floated the idea of doing an MA in Creative Writing. Yes, I told them, it would involve quitting my job as a Marketing Manager, relying on Mark’s, my husband’s income, and making sacrifices as we saved up the hefty tuition fees. Er, no, I admitted, the MA was no guarantee of publication. But it was a sign of my seri...


Continue reading ...
 

Beyond the book

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, April 2, 2015,
Sometimes a book comes into your life that you know will be special. 
It happened in a book shop overseas. We were browsing through English language holiday reads, when my son brought me what looked like a library book - old, hard-backed, a biblio sticker on the spine, it even had library stamp dates on the fly leaf. 'Look,' he said, and pointed to the title: The Ship of Theseus. We grinned at each other - Theseus had been popular in his bed time stories.
Between the pages were newspaper cuttin...
Continue reading ...
 

All the fun of the book fair

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, March 31, 2015,
I once took four authors across the country to a literary festival. We drove from different directions, all geared up to talk about novel writing, editing, where the ideas came from, what was next - to say we were pumped was no exaggeration. So you can imagine how we all felt to see seven people in the audience. 'It's a Wednesday,' said one of the organisers, as though that would make it alright. Needless to say, we gave it our best until one of the audience walked out because I wouldn't acce...
Continue reading ...
 

If everyone is writing, who's reading?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Friday, March 27, 2015,
Small bloggers often worry about who reads them - those with many followers don't worry about this, they simply write.
But I worry about it - I give advice on starting a book group, my thoughts on e-book prices and even show you about the dress I bought for the London Book Fair, all with a vague niggle on who, if anyone, is reading my rants.
I recently went to a Bloggers and Vloggers networking event. The confident were out there discussing their Klout - a social networking rank that is based o...
Continue reading ...
 

Ebooks - the coffee and muffin test

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, March 25, 2015,
They have the same number of words, they tell the same story, yet they are often half the price. Ebooks are so much cheaper than paper books. And they should be - you can't pass them onto friends and you can't store them on your bookshelf. 
Personally, I still read mostly paper books, but occasionally a link crosses my tablet and I get the whiff of a read that looks interesting. I read the blurb, the reviews and then I look at the price. If it comes under the cost of a coffee and a muffin, I u...
Continue reading ...
 

The clothes, and the woman

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Friday, March 20, 2015,
The London Book Fair is coming up and there is a huge amount to do - creating brochures, researching businesses, making appointments, etc. But there is another very critical issue - what to wear?
And while that might sound trite to some, to me the wrong outfit is like wearing a sack cloth to Buckingham Palace - not that I've ever been to her ladyship's abode. But I have made mistakes in dress code before and felt looks of disdain where even waiters with free champagne have avoided me. The righ...
Continue reading ...
 

Starting a book group

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, March 18, 2015,
People often tell me they would love to belong to a book group, but they either don't have one in their community or, if they do, it is full.
'Start your own,' is my reply.
It sounds like a huge task, but it really isn't.
Firstly, put the word out - through word-of-mouth, a local newsletter, posting in a library or cafe, twitter, whatever. Provide an email address where people can contact you.
Choose a public spot for your first meeting - a cafe, pub, library. Check with the venue that you can ha...
Continue reading ...
 

Tilt your head at those book shelves

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, March 12, 2015,
Remember the old days when browsing a bookshop meant tilting your head at shelves? We saw only the spines, each with a title, shade of colour and the author's name.
Choosing a novel from spines means some dismay as the book you pull out may have little appeal, and so you are forced to put it back and move your eyes further along the shelf. And then joy when you find the novel that you are taking home.
Today, that kind of bookshelf browsing feels like hard work compared to sweeping your eyes ac...
Continue reading ...
 

Every day should be World Reading Day

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, March 9, 2015,
I have a confession - I don't like World Book Day! It feels contrived and a little self-important. We who love books know who we are, we don't need to shout it out to the world. I appreciate that it gives books sunlight, drags them out from beneath all those cinema reviews and You Tube shares, but does anyone not switched on by books ever have a Eureka moment on World Book Day and realise what they have missed? Most of Friday's media attention focused on the plight of parents desperate to put...
Continue reading ...
 

Taking our book groups online

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, March 4, 2015,
Change is never easy. We know that alterations to the Hookline process has not been popular among our book groups, but converting manuscripts to paperbacks and mailing them out was expensive. In addition, the ten-month judging process was too long.
We have kept some book groups on board but we have lost many.
In an effort to keep individual book group readers, especially those who own e-readers, we've set up online book groups on Facebook and Goodreads. 
I will post synopsis of manuscripts, and...
Continue reading ...
 

Jaw-dropping moments in fiction

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, March 2, 2015,
I've just finished reading Bring Up the Bodies for the second time. Friends looked at me aghast - why would I reread such a lengthy book when it has just been screened on TV?
The answer is simple - it is such a great story, and Hilary Mantel writes it so well.
The scene where Henry is reported dead, knocked off his horse at a jousting tournament, and Cromwell is summoned. We are there in the confusion as Cromwell sees the faces around him anticipate their own bid for power and realises that cri...
Continue reading ...
 

Hookline's times - they are a'changing

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, October 9, 2014,

Publishing is evolving. When Hookline began, we were on the front line of changes. Lately we have felt as though we are standing still. We love the Hookline process of letting readers find manuscripts worthy of publication. However, it is time to speed up the process – over the years, we have lost out as good writers were snapped up by other publishing houses during our lengthy ten-month, two-stage selection process.

The first thing is to assure you all that book groups will remain an inte...


Continue reading ...
 

Urgently seeking book groups who read specific genre

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, September 22, 2014,
I love Hookline. I love watching feedback from the book groups who read our manuscripts and I get excited watching the vote tallies that finally reveal a winner. However, I have long felt some sadness for writers who submit work that comes from less popular genre - sci-fi, fantasy and the dark arts tend not to find favour among book group readers.
But I know there are book groups who read these sectors of fiction - and specialise in only reading others such as crime, historical fiction, etc.
As...
Continue reading ...
 

When is 'The End' not 'The End'? Five tips on polishing your manuscript

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, March 11, 2014,

The scene is quite clichéd. A writer hits a paragraph break, types ‘The End’ and lets out a huge sigh.

However finishing a novel is never like this. ‘The End’ doesn’t happen until the editor says it happens. Prior to this point, an editor will highlight issues – plot discrepancies, dialogue that could be improved upon or even recommend a structural change. I compare this to the polishing of a very rough table top – it might look beautiful at a distance, but run your fingers ac...


Continue reading ...
 

When is 'The End' not 'The End'?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Friday, February 21, 2014,
Just because you type 'The End' doesn't mean the work is finished.
Find out what else might need to be done by visiting my guest blog at The Chipping Norton Literary Festival page:

http://www.chiplitfest.com/blog/meet-one-of-our-sponsors-hookline-books/



Continue reading ...
 

My first e-Reader - you were lovely but far from perfect!

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, February 12, 2014,
I have a soft spot for the Sony e-Reader and was sorry to hear that Sony are giving up on their Reader Store. Their e-reader hit the digital shelves long before any Kindle, and it broke new ground - it's cover made the device look and feel like a book, there was no back light to irritate the eyes and book marking was easy. Everything about it felt comfortable - until you tried to buy an e-book! Then the process became complicated as the newly purchased ePub landed on our laptop, and we strugg...
Continue reading ...
 

Novel descriptions

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, December 2, 2013,
The back cover description of a novel can be more difficult to write than a novel itself (sorry, overstatement, but it got your attention).
This descriptive text should intrigue the reader so much that they take the book to the sales till - or at least open to the first page so they can gain a sense of your writing.
The best novel descriptions are short and give us a sense of the main character, the setting and the conflict the character faces - no more! Tell too much, and we may feel we know t...
Continue reading ...
 

Book groups and new writers

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Friday, October 25, 2013,
What brings readers and writers together?
Last night I met with a book group who have judged Hookline submissions for three years. We had a keen discussion, but one of my questions was: Does reading the work of new writers make you consider writing a novel yourself?
The group were flabbergasted at the idea, and "no way" was the definitive response. Many in the group said that reading the work of new writers made them appreciate the elements that go into a good novel - stretching the scale of th...
Continue reading ...
 

Booksellers - we want to work with you

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, September 24, 2013,
I often receive calls from customers saying their local bookseller can't or won't order our books. I am always happy to supply direct however I dislike having to explain to a potential customer why they should experience any difficulty with a bookseller. Our books are printed by one of the largest printers in the country. We pay a huge percentage to a distributor to carry our books from printer to book shop. Why should a customer encounter any difficulty?
It all gets down to accounting.
There a...
Continue reading ...
 

Calling booksellers, join us in reading the Hookline five

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, September 9, 2013,
Who is best at choosing a good read?
Obviously we think readers are - especially book groups who meet regularly to discuss the parts of a novel that moved them or simply left them stalled.
We've been asking book groups to choose what we put to print for five years now and we've been more than pleased with their ability to spot a good plot. So we're calling on those within the publishing industry to join our book groups in reading the five finalists in the Hookline Novel Competition. Specificall...
Continue reading ...
 

Looking for something new to read - ask your bookseller!

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, September 3, 2013,
How do we find the books that we read?
Traditionally, we find new titles through the literary review pages of weekend newspapers. Getting a mention on these pages is almost a guarantee of best seller status. I read the literary review pages, however I'm always disappointed to see the same titles reviewed in all the newspapers - which makes me wonder about the new titles they are missing. 
Studies show we trust recommendations from friends more than reading any review. I know there are particula...
Continue reading ...
 

Hookline - bringing together new writers and good readers

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, January 29, 2013,
Many years ago, a new writer sent their manuscript to a publisher, and they would hear a 'yes', 'no' or 'maybe'.
Today, new writers send their manuscripts to publishers, and they are likely receive a postcard telling them to get an agent. Many agents now act like editors, helping their writers through rewrites. In turn, publishers turn to agents they trust - and agents stick to writers who have earned their royalties, or are writing in a fashion that is likely to earn good royalties (hence the...
Continue reading ...
 

How to find or start a book group

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, January 8, 2013,

There may already be a book group in your area. Ask at your local library or check with The Reading Agency, a charity that aims to promote reading:  http://www.readinggroups.org/find/location/

Or try: http://wwwbookgroupinfo.co.uk

If a group doesn't exist in your area, or the existing group is full, you may have to start a reading group from scratch.

First, ask among your friends, co-workers and neighbours. You are likely to be surprised at how many people like to discuss books.

If you ar...


Continue reading ...
 

Publishing - who is it all for?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, January 3, 2013,
Much is written about how it's the turn of the author, and publishers must take a back seat.
An article in Forbes magazine states: Publishers need to evolve their business models to reflect a new reality and one that is closely aligned to the authors
Self-publishing, author cooperatives, and pay-for-publication imprints are all receiving a massive amount of coverage right now. 
For a small publishing company such as ours, this discussion can make us wonder why we get out of bed. Yes, anyone ca...
Continue reading ...
 

Print on demand ideal for many African countries

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, November 28, 2012,
Ebooks for Africa! Tablets for Africa!
We hear a lot about digital technology being transported to Africa, and it's a wonderful ideal. The problem is that much of the telephone fibre in Africa is just that - made for telephone usage and unable to support the passage of bulky data (think of the old days of internet dial up).
So while ebook technology may not yet be appropriate, there is another digital mechanism that is ideal - the Espresso Book Machine! This physical printer operates like a ven...
Continue reading ...
 

Is it normal for writers to pay toward print costs? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, November 26, 2012,
Do all publishers charge writers to publish their work?
According to some, it is a legitimate part of doing business in today's world, and I've just had a rather heated debate with a publisher who feels that not charging is impossible. 
Hmmm! I have been known for my Polly Anna tendencies, but a work should be accepted because a publisher feels that their investment in editing, typesetting, design, printing and royalty costs will be returned by enough readers purchasing the title. We all make m...

Continue reading ...
 

How do we find the quiet books?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, November 19, 2012,
'To own a certain book, and to choose it without help, is to define yourself.'
Julian Barnes


When browsing through a bookshop or library, we are often reluctant to stake our time and money on an unknown author. It feels safer to opt for the novel that has had attention in the media - either through reviews, author interviews or a billboard picture or two. But, as we all know, not all highly hyped novels turn out to be wonderful reads, and not all unhyped novels are worthless.
So how do we discov...
Continue reading ...
 

Hookline Winner 2013

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, November 5, 2012,
Congratulations go to Victoria Owens, of Bath Spa University, with her novel Caelica's Bridge. Set in 18th century Wales, the novel follows a young woman who finds the courage to stand up to her father and her fractured community.
Hookline book groups said:
"The characters were strongly developed as the novel progressed."
"It had a good sense of period."
"This was definitely our favourite."
I look forward to working with Victoria, and we aim to have her novel published by April.
Congratulations to ...
Continue reading ...
 

Hookline 2012 - no clear winner, so far

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, October 25, 2012,
Book groups are sending in their results as we move toward the conclusion of the Hookline Novel Competition.
Usually, we see a particular novel rise above the others, and I can easily bet on who might win. Interestingly, so far, there seems to be no clear favourite. So all bets are off.
For those unfamiliar with the Hookline Novel Competition: We take submissions only from students and graduates of MA writing courses and ask book groups to judge their work - in short, we bring together serious ...
Continue reading ...
 

Do ebook consumers dip into books the way music fans select tracks from albums?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, October 16, 2012,
I remember a time before itunes and CDs when music came on vinyl albums. Oftentimes you weren't keen on all the musical tracks, but you listened anyway and oftentimes those unpopular tunes grew on you. I'm not the only person who sat in a bedroom listening to every single track on an album while reading the cover from top to bottom - including the copyright details - while the eighth, ninth or tenth song grew more appealing.
Today when we download digital music files, we pick only the album tr...
Continue reading ...
 

So cloudy with words, I can't see!

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, October 4, 2012,
Does anyone feel followed by a cloud of words?
I don't mean in the books we read, I'm more concerned with social media. 
I love Facebook for the contact with old friends and new, and I have found some amazing pointers to events and ideas on Twitter. But sometimes, it feels these forums have simply too many words.

I understand the democratic nature of social networking and even champion the lack of gatekeeper, but sometimes...
Ask yourself, who wants to know about your mood today? Do the public ne...
Continue reading ...
 

Vampires not allowed - at least in prison book groups

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, September 19, 2012,
It will come as no surprise to read that Fifty Shades is massively popular in women's prisons. The surprise may be that it is also popular among the men's prison population. "Their wives tell them to read it," said one reading group volunteer at the Prison Reading Groups conference at Roehampton University last week.
No matter whether it is requested, not all libraries will keep it in stock. Books with sexual content are sometimes banned. This is easy to understand in prisons holding sex offen...
Continue reading ...
 

Tea, biscuits and books - in prison!

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, September 18, 2012,
Tea and biscuits have a deep association with book groups, but this connection is significant for book groups that meet in prisons.
Almost every volunteer and librarian who spoke at the Prison Reading Group conference at Roehampton University last week, talked of tea and biscuits and how integral they are to meetings. It was just one of the details that fascinated me, that put prison reading groups on a par with any other reading group in any community.
The conference was held, primarily, to sh...
Continue reading ...
 

All the news that's fit to print

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, September 3, 2012,
Publishing tends to keep readers and writers far apart - writers write; readers read and the publishers take care of the bit in the middle.
But there is a huge overlap as almost all writers read, and increasing numbers of readers write. The two groups no longer sit at opposite ends of the publishing table.
Hookline Books already brings readers and writers together - we take submissions from new writers, and rely on book group readers to decide the manuscripts that go to print. 
We would now like...

Continue reading ...
 

Book Covers Are As Subjective As The Pages They Bind

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Friday, August 17, 2012,
When it comes to book covers everyone has an opinion. Some look at the design, professionals look at the techniques involved, readers look for clues to the story.
Personally, the simpler the better has huge appeal. I dislike peering through swashes of colour for a subtle hint of appeal. 
Which is why the cover of Hookline's A Young Woman's Guide to Carrying On is one of my favourites. And, at book fairs, I have seen women pick it out from among all the other books on our shelves. It's simplicit...
Continue reading ...
 

Where, Dear Reader, do you leave your mark?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, August 15, 2012,
It used to be that reviews were limited to the literary pages of our weekend newspapers. The books were often put forward by publicists, and the reviews were written by editor-appointed experts.
Then came Amazon!
Amazon allowed us all to be reviewers, and we loved it. Giving us the opportunity to rate the books we bought made us feel close to this company - the website was ours, we were contributing to it. Of course, some authors tried to create fake reviews, pumping up their book's assets. And...
Continue reading ...
 

First lines

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, August 14, 2012,
I love first lines - or hate them if they are really bad. When browsing a book shop, the first line has to grab me. If it isn't awful, I am likely to proceed to the next and onward through the whole paragraph - and if that keeps me happy, then the book is mine.
At the moment I'm reading The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. The first line isn't superb: Schwartz didn't notice the kid during the game.
Not wonderful, but I do want to know why Schwartz notices the kid now. 
 This is a novel centered ...

Continue reading ...
 

Underground by Gayle O'Brien - a great journey for only 99p

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, July 30, 2012,
This is our first 99p title and it sounds dreadfully cheap. 
After all, what can you buy for 99p these days? A chocolate bar, a small piece of fruit - but certainly not a cup of tea, a coffee or even a bus ticket!
Yet, 99p for Underground will take you places you have never been - the soft green landscape of the antebellum south where Samantha prepares for her debutante ball, not knowing she'll soon be heading north with two escaped slaves. In a parallel story, we have Annie in the mountains of...
Continue reading ...
 

Favourite lines from Jilly Wosskow

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, July 24, 2012,
A Young Woman's Guide to Carrying On is a very funny novel, and Jilly Wosskow, the author, is a very funny woman.
I've decided to post some of her lines and challenge anyone to find better in novels by Kathy Lette or Jilly Cooper.

" 'And don't think I'm going to give up my retirement to look after your illegitimate babies.' Mother had never gone out to work in her entire life so God alone knew what she would retire from - thawing TV dinners or spying on the neighbours perhaps."
 
"He unlocked the...

Continue reading ...
 

If you like Jilly Cooper, you will love Jilly Wosskow

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, July 19, 2012,
If you like Jilly Cooper, you will love Jilly Wosskow. 
While Jilly Cooper writes about wealthy jet-setting polo-playing characters, Jilly Wosskow sticks to people we know, girls from Sheffield who want fun and a man to love them. And she does this as she makes us laugh and loud with sex scenes that would make Jilly Cooper blush.
Jilly Wosskow herself is a shy woman - although you would never think that to see her. She describes herself: 
born in Sheffield in the mid-1950s and has been carousing...
Continue reading ...
 

Who knows best?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, July 17, 2012,
There have been wonderful statements made by the great and good in the publishing industry concerning listening to readers, and it makes me think of our first Hookline novel, The China Bird by Bryony Doran.
Given that we let reading groups choose the novels that go to print, I thought we would let our readers select the cover that went on the book. We had several images. The one I favoured featured a china pie bird. Not being domesticated, I didn't realise that it was a kitchen utensil for pre...
Continue reading ...
 

E-books - the evolution continues

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, July 10, 2012,
Another month and more updates on the evolution of E-books.
Faber Factory have organised a conference to brief members on new aspects of E-publishing.
Many of us are keen to know how the Waterstones-Kindle alliance will play out. Will Waterstones continue to sell ePub books alongside Kindle books? (For the uninitiated, Kindle uses a different e-book formatting programme from the rest of the industry - hence Kindle can only read Kindle books). If Kindle books are sold onto Kindle devices in shop...
Continue reading ...
 

Ebooks and VAT

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, July 5, 2012,
Tax on books is a terrible thing - especially when it's a full 20 percent.
No matter what you think of progressive and regressive taxes, £1 tax on a £5 book is excessive.
Fortunately, we don't pay tax on paper books, but it is a different matter when it comes to Ebooks. Apparently they are treated as computer games - hmm!
Ebooks are not cheap to produce. Editing and typesetting must still take place and then they have to be 'converted' to ePub. I'm not exactly sure what this process involves -...
Continue reading ...
 

The return story of print-on-demand

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, July 2, 2012,
Print-on-demand publishing is a growing segment of today's book market.
For the uninitiated, print-on-demand means that books are printed as they are ordered rather than having a fixed print run of ten, twenty or thirty thousand books. For publishers, not having to commit money and warehousing space to thousands of books means we can take chances on new authors.  
In the early days, print-on-demand technology wasn't great - the text wasn't even and the bindings often fell apart. This is no long...
Continue reading ...
 

National Reading Group Day

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, June 25, 2012,
Book groups are to be celebrated. As these dedicated readers meet each month and discuss their monthly read, they have become the backbone of the fiction industry. 
I will repeat my previous claim that Alexander McCall Smith and his Number One Ladies Detective Agency, Louis de Bernieres and Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Rebecca Wells and her YaYa Sisterhood would not be successful without word of mouth praise from book groups.
Here at Hookline, we have huge faith in reading groups. All the books ...
Continue reading ...
 

Novels - who are they written for?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, June 20, 2012,
So many unpublished writers are out there diligently working away at plot, character development and writing style. Brown envelopes are mailed to publishing houses and pushed into the reluctant hands of editors, who may only be on a shopping trip to Sainsburys (yes, it happens!) There is a desperation out there. So many writers want their work to be relished by readers.
It's a tough world - lot's of people telling stories while the majority of readers are engaged by a narrow field of best sell...
Continue reading ...
 

An Underground Party

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, June 18, 2012,
Hookline Books do not publish many novels - one or two a year. So a party to celebrate one of our books is a big event. 
Underground by Gayle O'Brien topped the approval ratings from our book groups last year - and we trust our book groups so much we let them guide us in choosing what goes to print. Underground is our fourth winner and, as a lover of a good story, I am proud to put it to print.
Underground follows two young American women - one contemporary and another from the 19th century - a...
Continue reading ...
 

An appeal to independent book shops - let's work together

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, June 12, 2012,
Dear Independent Booksellers,
We know you face problems as you try to compete with Amazon, supermarket discounts and the rise of Ebooks.
On the publishing side, small independents also struggle - raising the profile of new works is not easy when our weekend newspapers all review the same high-profile books. Many of us have no money for sales reps never mind publicists and their campaigns.
Like other small publishers, we have some highly praised reads - books that may not be reviewed in our newsp...
Continue reading ...
 

Hookline Novel Competition short list 2012

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, June 7, 2012,
Our reading groups have voted and we have our short list of authors for this year:

Ainscow and the Children of Fire by Paul Beatty of Manchester Metropolitan University

The Net by Andrea Case-Rogers of Manchester Metropolitan University

Charlotte by Andrew Chesney of Anglia Ruskin University

The Ivy Stone by AJ Morgan of University of Wales

Caelica’s Bridge by Victoria Owens of Bath Spa University  


An interesting point to note is that three of the five are men - so far Hookline has publi...
Continue reading ...
 

Seven Days to Tell You - the readers' reviews

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, May 31, 2012,
Seven Days to Tell You came in the top three at the finals of The People's Book Awards - a huge privilege. Ruby and I had a fun evening - great to meet the other authors and publishers up for the award.
While Seven Days to Tell You didn't win, we did top the number of positive reviews on The People's Book Prize website.
If you have any doubt about the novel's merit, read below:

Excellent new writing; engaging characters and exciting plot. I devoured Seven Days to Tell You in one sitting... This ...


Continue reading ...
 

Long Live the People

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, May 29, 2012,
The People's Book Prize award ceremony is Wednesday night. Our very own Seven Days to Tell You by Ruby Soames is a contender in the fiction section.
The prize was established to give readers a say in the industry - much like Hookline Books. Rather than have publishing giants choose the best sellers by putting large budgets behind well-known writers, the organisers wanted to give readers the chance to promote a good book - from the bottom up!
We congratulate all the writers who have made the fin...
Continue reading ...
 

Rules in art are to be broken - except...

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, May 23, 2012,
I hate it when writers slip a dream sequence into a novel. I know they are trying to show the characters inner fears, desires, etc, but it is boring, and my eyes skip those paragraphs so fast that I almost reach the last page. I actually grow bored listening to friends describe their dreams - sorry, friends, I do try not to let my eyes glaze over.
So it is probably one rule that, according to me, should never be broken.
But this is subjective - other readers may like this skip into fantasy.
Anot...
Continue reading ...
 

The People's Book Prize

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, May 21, 2012,

This is the final leg of voting in the finals of The People’s Book Prize.

We are delighted that Seven Days to Tell You by Ruby Soames is a finalist in the fiction category.

It is tough for a small publishing company like ours to rise – we may have great stories, terrific writers and a wonderful niche in allowing reading groups to choose what goes to print. But what we don’t have are the finances for a publicity campaign.

So this competition is an excellent opportunity for Hookline...


Continue reading ...
 

Is it a review or is it a blurb?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, May 14, 2012,
Positive comments from famous writers or newspaper book reviewers are craved by every new novelist. It is a widely held belief that if Celebrity Writer A or Newspaper Writer B liked it then the book will sell well. But will it?
Anthony Horowitz has written a super piece in the Guardian on 'Who's Helping Who In the Cover Blurb Game'. 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2012/may/11/cover-blurb-book-recommendation 
He asks whether readers pay any attention to what is clearly a back scratchin...
Continue reading ...
 

National Reading Group Day

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, May 2, 2012,
National Reading Group Day is on June 30, and I think Hookline Books should do something to celebrate. After all, it is reading groups who choose the novels we put to print - we couldn't exist without reading groups.
But what do we do to celebrate this day?
Free books, deep discounts are all great ideas, especially for consumers.
But I'd like to do something to celebrate these communities of readers who meet regularly in homes, libraries, cafes and bars to discuss their monthly read.
How can we p...
Continue reading ...
 

The Power of Book Groups

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, April 23, 2012,
No one expects prisoners to read novels, let alone discuss them. 
But the Prison Reading Groups have released a list of recent choices among prison book groups.
Women prisoners choose fairly predictable titles by authors such as Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), Anita Shreve (Testimony), and Sarah Waters (Affinity).
But male prisoners selection of titles is a bit more surprising: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, and Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox.
Okay, Michael J. ...
Continue reading ...
 

All the fun of the book fair

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, April 11, 2012,
Five days to the start of the London Book Fair and it is the usual gamut of things going right and those turning wrong. 
I'm not going to bore you with details of printers, brochures, logos and egos, because today I am taking big breaths - in and out!
It's always the same at this time - the 'never again, I'm getting out of this business' shoots through me, and I think of taking up work in a war zone. But the truth is it usually all turns out well in the end - and it is that sense of things 'tur...
Continue reading ...
 

Hookline Books - the Maverick

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, April 2, 2012,
The London Book Fair approaches and there is much to do. However, immersed in it all, I can't help but look back at Hookline's first appearance at the London Book Fair four years ago. The China Bird by Bryony Doran was our first winner - we had no other publication - so our entire stand was stacked only with Bryony's book. 
We looked pretty foolish among the more seasoned publishers with their shelves of new titles and a healthy backlist. Many of them asked why we only had one title and, when ...

Continue reading ...
 

Underground - our latest Hookline Winner - by Gayle O'Brien

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, March 27, 2012,

On the run from a killer, Annie and her mother flee to a remote farmhouse in New England. When Annie finds an unsent letter from a debutante in the Civil War, she is drawn to the story of a Southern girl immersed in a love that cannot see light in the American South. Determined to find out what happened to her, Annie risks bringing the killer to her farmhouse door.Underground chronicles two remarkable journeys – one across modern-day America and another through a country on the brink of its...


Continue reading ...
 

Book groups, air your views

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, March 22, 2012,
Book groups rarely get a mention at literary festivals. Instead it is the great and good among authors who are feted and discussed.
But a small forum at next month's Chipping Norton Literary Festival aims to change that. Book Groups - Not All Tea and Biscuits will discuss why book groups are popular and will ask book group members to talk about how they find the books they read, how serious does it have to be and even, critically, how do you deal with a difficult or dominating member?
The event...
Continue reading ...
 

Why does this make me angry?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, March 19, 2012,
Who can write a novel? 
Any celebrity apparently - it seems to go with the gene that blesses them when they talk on television and appear at award shows.
The latest celebrity to sign a book deal for fiction is Richard Madeley - of Richard & Judy fame. Previous celebrities to be blessed with the fiction writing gene are Anne Widdecombe, politician and dancer; Michael Howard's wife, the former model Sandra Howard; Katie Price, model and feminist icon. We can also add to the list Naomi Campbell, S...
Continue reading ...
 

Reading Groups - Not Just Tea and Biscuits

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, March 12, 2012,

Mention reading groups to most people, and they expect middle age, middle class and middle brow.
How wrong!
Reading groups are a growing force in publishing, and some big name titles owe their success to word-of-mouth recommendation through book groups. For instance:
Number One Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
by Louis de Bernières
Devine Sisters of the YaYa Sisterhood
by Rebecca Wells
The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini.

These novels were original...


Continue reading ...
 

The People's Book Prize - we're so happy to make the finals

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Friday, March 2, 2012,
Seven Days to Tell You by Ruby Soames has reached the final twelve in The People's Book Prize. We're thrilled, and it's all thanks to the readers who put their votes behind the title.
All our novels are published after their raw manuscripts are given a thumbs up by reading groups. Fiction is subjective - what receives praise from one reader, will be ridiculed by another. But if large numbers of book groups are thrilled by a work, then we are happy to put it to print and let other readers share...
Continue reading ...
 

Book group perks

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, February 29, 2012,
Yesterday we announced that Hookline authors were available to visit book groups in their area.
Today, we have another offer to make to book groups - 25 percent discount and free postage when you order directly with us.
Hookline Books could not exist without book groups - you choose the fiction we put to press, the least we can do is ensure a few perks.
Continue reading ...
 

Book group visits

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, February 28, 2012,
Readers like to meet writers - especially when they've enjoyed their work. 
Writers like to meet readers - especially when their work has been appreciated.
So Hookline Books is offering readers visits from authors.
Bryony Doran, author of The China Bird, and Jilly Wosskow, author of A Young Woman's Guide to Carrying On, are both able to visit book groups in the area around South Yorkshire.
Author of The Partridge and the Pelican, Rachel Crowther, can visit groups in Cheshire.
Book groups in London...
Continue reading ...
 

The People's Book Prize

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, February 27, 2012,

This is the final TWO DAYS of voting for 1st stage of The People’s Book Prize.

One of our novels, Seven Days to Tell You by Ruby Soames, has been nominated.

It is tough for a small publishing company like ours to rise – we may have great stories, terrific writers and a wonderful niche in allowing reading groups to choose what goes to print. But what we don’t have are the finances for a publicity campaign.

So this competition is an excellent opportunity for Hookline to air its wares...


Continue reading ...
 

Book groups

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, February 23, 2012,
Our 2012 manuscripts are going out to reading groups - always exciting as we pack, but daunting as we arrive at the Post Office and have to unload 30 boxes and queue for service. Those behind us fire daggers at the packages, but what can we do?
Reading groups - I hope you enjoy your work, and we look forward to hearing your results.
Continue reading ...
 

First Lines - Yours!

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, February 20, 2012,
We've received a few favourite first lines from readers:

'It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.' from George Orwell's 1984.
I haven't read this novel but the first line definitely wakes up the reader.

Another old classic came forth:

'Happy Families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way' from Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. A thought that cannot be denied.

But we also had first lines submitted from contemporary fiction:

'I'm unsure why one trifli...
Continue reading ...
 

First lines - the good, the bad and the plain old ugly

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Friday, February 17, 2012,
Sorry to harp on about these, but when browsing a book shop I am more likely to read the first line than the back cover. A good first line will make me read on, perhaps even to the end of the page. A bad first line, one that lies in a quagmire of unprepared detail, can make me shiver as I shut the page fast before it leaks out. Consider:
  
 The news about Walter Bergland wasn't picked up locally - he and Patty had moved away to Washington two years earlier and meant nothing to St. Paul now - b...

Continue reading ...
 

The best first lines are the simple ones

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, February 15, 2012,
For the next few days I will be airing my favourite first lines - and looking at why I think they work.
Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan sets the topic of the novel with his introductory sentence: They were young, educated, and both virgins on this, their wedding night, and they lived in a time when a conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible.
This novel is immersed in sex and intimacy, and this first sentence immediately introduces the reader to the characters and their challenge...
Continue reading ...
 

First Lines

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, February 14, 2012,
First lines are the entry into a novel. If you're like me, you read the first few lines, paragraphs or even pages when browsing for something to read. And if you're like me, a good first line can pull you straight into a story and have you at the till, ready to purchase, without a second thought. 
I felt like this when I opened Anne Tyler's Back When We Were Grownups and read, One upon a time there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.
I so wanted to know more.
The mos...

Continue reading ...
 

Uploaded to the printer

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Friday, February 10, 2012,
All submissions for this year's Hookline Novel Competition have been typeset and the files have been uploaded to the printer - I love those words, 'uploaded to the printer'. It doesn't mean our work is done - in the next two weeks, we should be in receipt of the paperbacks and the floor will be littered as we pack them for our book groups and drive to the post office where everyone in the queue shoots irritating looks at our 30 plus boxes. 
But 'uploaded to the printer' means that we can have ...
Continue reading ...
 

Hookline Books needs you

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, February 9, 2012,

This is the final two weeks of voting for The People’s Book Prize.

One of our novels, Seven Days to Tell You by Ruby Soames, has been nominated.

It is tough for a small publishing company like ours to rise – we may have great stories, terrific writers and a wonderful niche in allowing reading groups to choose what goes to print. But what we don’t have is the money for a publicity machine.

As a result, we rely on readers to promote our good name.

To refresh your memory Seven Days ...


Continue reading ...
 

So much to be learned from Charles Dickens

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, February 8, 2012,
Much praise has been heaped on Charles Dickens this year - rightly so! His stories have engaged generations, and his depictions of life at the bottom of the ladder helped alter Victorian sensibilities. But I think we have to discuss why his work captivated so many readers over so many years.
My theory is his serialisation - his chapters, written for periodic journals, had to grab readers so they couldn't wait for the next episode to be printed. So often today, a novel might grab us in the firs...
Continue reading ...
 

Is a week long enough to learn the truth?

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, February 7, 2012,

Kate and Marc have a perfect marriage – until one morning Marc goes out, and doesn’t come home. Where has he been? Is a week long enough to learn the truth?

Seven Days to Tell You by Ruby Soames has been nominated for The People's Book Prize - however it needs votes. Yours! Please follow this link to read an excerpt -
http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/section.php?id=6 
ease follow this link where you can read an excerpt -  http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/section.php?id=6 
































 ...
Continue reading ...
 

Book groups and the Chipping Norton Literary Festival

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, February 6, 2012,
Mention reading groups to most people, and they expect middle age, middle class and middle brow.
How wrong!
Reading groups are a growing force in publishing, and some big name authors owe their success to word-of-mouth recommendation through book groups. For instance:
Number One Ladies Detective Agency
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Devine Sisters of the YaYa Sisterhood
The Kite Runner
These were all small-time debut novels until discovered by reading groups.

Following the success of these books, publish...
Continue reading ...
 

It's time

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Friday, February 3, 2012,
Hookline is now four and we think it is big enough to have it's own website. To be honest, with so much work, we hadn't noticed that it had grown bigger than it's mother - Bookline & Thinker. 
So, this is it - a lot more work to do on the Hookline Books website, but we hope you will read, respond and air your views on what we do.



Continue reading ...
 
 

About Me


Yvonne Barlow Editor at Hookline Books - where book clubs and readers choose the novels that go to print.

Would you like to receive our monthly newsletter?

Email:

Tags

Categories