Friday, 31 July 2009

The Rooker

As I've said previously here before. For small independent publishers like Bluemoose, it is essential to get coverage in the local press. To this end, today in the Halifax Courier and Next week in The Yorkshire Post, there will be a two page feature on Bluemoose books and what we have achieved in the past two and a half years. Of course the nationals won't give a hoot, but with the Bluemoose family of writers , what is essential, is building a regional fan base first and then you see your books eventually get onto the national stage. This is how Tindall Street in Birmingham have done it over the past ten years and it has been incredibly successful. The London Houses speak disparagingly about the regions, however, it is the regional presses that are producing some fantastic books by great writers. I might start the Rooker, a regional Booker, but then everyone will think it is a second class prize. So I won't. The books stand out in their own right and eventually everyone in the UK will realise what we're doing, the tills will be popping and we can publish more new writers. Sweet.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Same old

The Booker long list is out. Nothing new to shout about. Oh well, there's always next year. And the year after that, and that, and that.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Red Carpet

I now have a film agent. Scary stuff. Now the hard work starts trying to find the production company with enough money and foresight to make the film. I spent an hour and half talking about options, percentages, clawbacks, back end and renewals. It won't happen over night but it is another huge step forward and to be perfectly honest if it means more money in the Bluemoose pot, its all well and good because we can publish more great stories from great new writers . In our conversation we talked about the rarified world of publishing and agents. I was told about a very senior CEO of a UK publishing company who had it written in her PA's contract that she had to take her pooch walking and clean up after it. Nice.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Special Day

It's a special day. Off to see the Queen and two film agents. Have deloused and ironed my T shirt. So far so good. Will let you know what hoops those gatekeepers for Hollywood try and get me to jump through. My aim is to speak to ten people on the tube. Looking forward to the banner headline. A Northerner from the Terrorist group Al Whippet arrested for engaging Londoners in conversation. The appeal fund will start tomorrow. Toodlepip.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Selling your soul

Off to the Smurk tomorrow to see some film agents. Getting excited but won't be putting on the Tux just yet for the Oscars. These things take time and I've had my expectations raised before. However, there is a chance that Anthills and Stars will be made into a film. After the meeting with the bods from the same agency that brought us Slumdog Millionaire, I am meeting our foreign agent, Jill Hughes, who is pitching three of our titles to foreign publishers prior to Frankfurt. Jill has already read Falling through clouds, by Anna Chilvers and thinks it is a great read, which of course it is. I have asked two of our authors to write a synopsis of their work. 250 words which get across the story, spirit and character of their novel. They found it hard but have come up with the goods. Writing a book nowadays is more than just putting down a great story. You have to sell your work. How can you expect the public to shell out monies if you can't , in a few words, encapsulate what your story is about. It's all abut selling. The story and you.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Rail Hell

Hetha, my wife and the leagl department of Bluemoose has returned form working in London. Due to the fact that the British Rail system isn't working, a journey that normally takes three hourse, took five and half. You buy a rail ticket and spend the best part of Saturday sat on a coach. Thank you Gordon and all your PFI nonsense.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

DJ Honoured

Steven Gerrard, footballer and possessor of a haircut only a mum could love has been acquitted of affray at a nightclub in Southport. Apparently he hit the DJ three times because he thought he was going to be hit. Its the Tony Blair defence. We bomb the shit out of you because we think you've got weapons of mass destruction defence. What is more alarming is that Stevy G, as he is known on the terraces, went into battle because he wanted to change the music and put some Phil Collins on. Now, pass me the black hat whilst I deliver my verdict. Surely if only for crimes against music and humanity he should have been found guilty and sent down for at least ten years. Perhaps if we'd have piped Mr Collin's 'No jacket required,' into Iraq, Saddam and his mates would have surrendered without anybody dying. The DJ might have lost the case but he deserves a medal for standing up to footballers who should never, ever, be allowed to choose the music at any given function. Mr G you stand guilty as charged.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Esoteric Bookselling

Spies have been coming out of the woodwork recently and I think I have discovered a way of finding out who is, and who isn't selling state secrets to the enemy. Anybody who wears a tie and went to Public School and studied The History of Art at Oxbridge is a spy. Can I now collect my £100 spy finding fee?

Off to see how the Waterstones staff are baring up. Not a week goes by without some new earth shattering technique is used to deceive the book buyer. Recently they were using the esoteric arts of that well known avatar, Dan Brown. White witches and sales dust are sprinkled from jets positioned at each entrance in a well known store in the North. The results have been phenomenal and each sales assistant is now required to have the sign of the beast tattooed on the nape of the neck.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Sizzling summer reads

Wel that's it. Sainsbury's have decided they want their customers to read, so they are promoting their 'Sizzling summer reads,' at the end of July. Two great reads for £5. Fantastic bargains for the shopper but perhaps not so for the independent bookshops. Well, I think those bookshops that specialise, cater for their customers needs, have quirky, different and local stock will survive. There are hundreds of indies up and down the country making a difference. When the high street and supermarkets seem only to be promoting the mass market paperback , there are now gaps in the market. Yes, independents will lose out in the sale of the top ten but can gain sales by becoming a central part of the reading community in their area. Bookshops can be become great centres for reading and writing. Meeting places for the like minded. Author and writing events. When schools won't let writers in because they deem them a sexual threat to their students, bookshops can become the oasis of literature that schools once where.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

John Siddique

I had a coffee and a chat with John Siddique on Monday in Hebden. John is a writer and poet. You can catch his latest offerings in a book of poems called Recital. It is published by Salt. Go buy a copy and help a great indy publisher and keep John in bacon butties. John has just returned form LA where he was the writer in residence there, a position sponsored by the British Council. He was telling me about a unique and very successful reading group which helps gang members in prison move away from violence and to try and turn their lives around. Run and organised by a previous gang leader, they are only allowed to read books, short stories or poems that don't glorify their positions. It has reduced recidivism from 85% to 30% which doesn't even go to show the turnaround in the lives of individuals, but to keep their funding, stats like this have to be trailed out for politicians to spout about. He's on a world tour of schools and libraries this Autumn. If you get a chance go and see him. He's got me interested in the short story writer and poet Raymond Carver, and for that I thank him.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

T'internet reviews

The Moose is on the t'internet again. I did an interview with those fine souls at The view from magazine, an online lit magazine with excerpts from well known authors, cutting edge short stories. Go download and buy a copy know and contribute to the lit community.You can read what I said at I've also just done an interview with Vulpes Libris another online lit magazine. With the once former lit broad sheet newspapers bogged down in their club styley review coverage of mates, mates of mates and people who pay large sums of money to advertsie their mates work, it is up to the online community to bring democratic review coverage to the airwaves. Let the revolution commence.

Monday, 20 July 2009

The Moose has landed

The Moose has landed and we have transported our HQ to the Moon Titan, three miles down the road from the new Waterstones HUB. We will be out of communication as we are passing the dark side but will return tomorrow as a new management buyout kicks in where we will be selling clothes from our flagship store on Mars.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Alan Coren

I'm just reading Chocolate and Cuckoo clocks, an anthology of the best writing by Alan Coren. He was one of the greatest humourists in the English language. I bumped into a chap from Birmingham once when I was on a small Greek Isle and we spent the best part of the hour conversing in Idi Amin, Alan Coren styley. Memorable. If you get a chance to pick this book up, please do and you will realise what a real wordsmith is. The columnists of today can't hold a candle to the man. Brilliant.

Saturday, 18 July 2009


The fashionistas at New Look have bought five prime site locations from Borders including their flagship store in Oxford Street, London. There's more money in £2 T shirts. I was in a Borders recently and saw that they were selling more sweets and crisps than books, which if you're trying to fill the till makes some retail sense but proves that you're not providing the reading customer with what they really want. Great range at competitive prices. I don't go into a bookshop to buy a Mars bar. Yes you might add, but it's all about add on isn't it? Indeed. But if they had a better selection and a more wide ranging stock, the odd on buy would be another book, or perhaps even two.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Child Catchers

The outrage about having to get a certificate to talk to children about books in schools is growing. You now have to prove you're not a paedophile to talk to classes of thirty children. And it will cost you £64.00 You're now guilty as charged if you don't become certificated. Absolute nonsense. All authors are now seen in the same light as the child catcher. Very sinister indeed. The dark arts are at work and they belong to those that want to ratchet up the fear in our society and a private company will make millions. Despicable.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Improvised party poppers of death

A friend and I went shopping yesterday for party things. You know, balloons, party poppers and other such things that make a day go with a bang. However, I couldn't find any party poppers and was told by an assistant that they didn't sell them anymore because they were dangerous. Party poppers are now officially banned because they can take down a party goer at fifty paces. Now I've been to many a do where I would loved to have downed several drunken guests, but with a party popper? Have they all been secereted to various war zones around the globe as a fiscally astute budgetary tactic on behalf of the treasury? Are our boys in Helmand province attacking the Taliban with the party poppers of peace and democracy? We must be told about these lethal improvised explosive devices that sear the flesh with their multi coloured streamer like capabilities of evilness. Madness. Absolute madness.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


I was driving ove the moors yesterday and passed a country Inn which proclaimed that they were taking bookings for Christmas. It was the 14th July. I nearly left the road and eviscerated three sheep. Today I'm having a lie down. Christmas!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


Borders Bookshops are closing down 5 stores including their flagship store in Oxford Street, London. Everybody is saying its because of the enormous rents and a national fashion store wants the flagship site. Sad days but I don't think it is the end of the bookshop on the high street. In my travels up and down the country there are still some fantastic bookshops that are doing great things. Individually tailored shops that reflect what their customers want and not dictated to by the central buying constraints of head office. Borders orders centrally. They have some fine buyers but surely even they can't know what a store in Manchester wants as compared to London. I hope Borders survive and I'm sure they will. Its not brain surgery but why not get great managers, give them a budget and let them decide what to order. Surely, they know their market best?

Monday, 13 July 2009

Rumble Bumble McCrumble

I must stop reading Lit ed pieces in the papers. There was a piece in the Observer yesterday about the lit magazine Granta. Apparently there has been a bit of a clear out, one of the people now without a job is an ex colleague of the person who was writing the piece. He wasn't happy. Finger pointing, much puffing out of chests and the literary world is heading to hell in a handcart. What does it matter you ask? Well about a full page it seems. Bob McCrumble, lit ed and angry person is all of a tizz. Rich people now own Granta and apparently they're not worh a fig because they've got some American ne'er do well on the case as editor. Posturing at its worst.

Sunday, 12 July 2009


Its is Frankfurt time already. Well, for the Moose it is. Our foreign rights agent is already talking up the next two Bluemoose titles. Falling Through Clouds by Anna Chilvers and Gabriel's Angel by Mark A Radcliffe. Both authors are busy compiling their literary CV's this weekend plus a synopsis of their story. These will be pored over by foreign publishers in September before the bookfair in Germany and hopefully by the time Frnakfurt arrives, rights will be sold. Simple really. If only.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Schools out forever

The government has decided that all authors are potential paedophiles. Now admittedly some could fall into the dubious category of dissolute, badly dressed and partaking of the odd glass of claret, but child molestors? All writers who enter schools and colleges form November 2010 will have to be on the Independent Safeguarding Authority database. Philip Pullman is calling it 'the clause 28' for writers. Now it has taken over six months for me to clear the CRB check for a visit and talk to a gaol in West Yorkshire. Aside from the outragious premise that everyone is guilty before they get scanned by the governmets safety police, it will take an eternity. And what if an author, through no mistake of his or her own but because of the petty jealousy of some civil servant who doesn't like their books, is not given the all clear, and refused entry into schools? Will this impact on their professional writing career? I can see the Daily Mail and othert right thinking organs of the Fourth Estate, having a field day with their sanctimonious declarations of concern.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Swallowed by Amazons

Anthills and Stars is now available at Gardners wholesalers. I Sent off a load of books yesterday as part of the exclusively independent promotion. I've also been getting orders via Amazon Advantage, which, apparently is the all singing all dancing ordering system from the bookselling behemoth. However, it wouldn't accept my password and when I logged in to change it, it took umbrage and spat out the answers to the security questions. It told me I wasn't born where I know I was born and my mother's maiden name was not the one she was born with. Now I know Mr Bezos is a man with several brains and who am I to question him? However, I know where I was born. After several emails to the Amazon technical centre just left of some orbiting software planet a quark away form Pluto, all is well. I know you have to deal with 'The long tail,' but it's a pfaff and and a half. By the time I get paid I will have to resort to quantative easing from Moosebank International.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Moose versus Tabloiders

Moose HQ has been hacked into by Murdoch . I can't say too much suffice it to say our communications director and CEO of Spinning are filing a law suit. Nuff said Skippy.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Wades Bookshop

I was at Fred Wades bookshop in Halifax yesterday. It was all lights, cameras and action. Photograph taken, interview with local newspaper and hopefully some book sales. However,. the best bit was when I was leaving the bookshop and Jennifer, the owner of Wades Bookshops and a well read lady in her mid seventies, stopped me and said that she had just read the first two chapters of my book, Anthills and Stars, and they had made her laugh and giggle. Well, smiles all round. I'm a simple soul.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Surgeons of literature

The Moose is being interviewed today. I'm meeting a journalist form The Halifax Courier, Virginia Mason. I've bathed and brushed my teeth. They're doing a feature on independent publishers. Local boy made good kind of thing. Start local and then who knows next week it could be The New York Times Literary Section. Mmm not sure. Not sure I'd be up to the etymylogical half sibling brigade. Those didactic surgeons who take all the pleasure out of reading with their academic insight into structure and meaning. Semantics, semiotics. What about Soul and pleasure? Can't get an MA in Soul now can you?

Monday, 6 July 2009

The Quill is mightier than the PC

I met a poet yesterday and liked him . A first. He didn't rant or shout or show off with his understanding of etymylogical half siblings. He liked reading, had a list of books that was chosen because he liked the stories and not their improving nature. He also railed against the education system in this country, telling us that teachers taught literacy and not literature. I enjoyed what he had to say a lot. His name is John Siddique. However, there was another writer of non fiction who stated that she always knew when a writer had written on a computer. Their sentences weren't constructed properly. Utter bolleaux me dear.

Sunday, 5 July 2009


Today Bluemoose is part of the Hebden Literary festival. I'll be appearing at Hebden Library with wares to sell . Writers talking at the event will be Jill Liddington, Mark Illis and John Siddique. They will be giving creative writing classes and answering lots of questions. I'll be selling books and chatting to the massed throngs. I'm sure it will be great fun unlike Mr Amis's review in The Grauniad yesterday about John Updike. What he was saying was that most of Updike's last published work was clunky and a tad shite but of course he had to dress it up in academic language to prove he has two brains. Kept on about etymylogical half siblings and rime things. No wonder half the population get turned off from reading when critics stuff their reviews with French and other long words trying to make people feel inadequate. Tell it as it is and you might get a better response. People might read and buy more books. Anyone for new teeth Martin?

Saturday, 4 July 2009


Both sons away at a music festival, so all is quiet in the Moose household. Trying to put together a pitch for the film wallahs in London about Anthills and stars. I'm putting together the standard seven word pitch. Apparently when Hollywood calls you have seven words to sell your film. Nightmare. Aliens was sold as, 'Jaws in Space.' I have been doing an electonic update on the telephone tree, emailing all firends and family and telling them about the Exclusively Independent showcasing of the book. I've asked if they could order the book through their libraries. Many have done so and the orders are starting to come through. Pyramid bookselling. It's the way forward.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Reviewing and Rants

Here we go....Lots of authors bemoaning the fact that critics sometimes are not very nice . Well, welcome to the real world. Perhaps your book isn't that good. Thought about that one? Some Literary Editors, as they like to call themselves, do have a problem with the very act of creativity in that they can't create much themselves bar a few nasty jibes, which their friends in the Lit Club find very amusing. I'm having a run in with one very famous (why is it that you need to see a picture of said lit ed next to his poisonious outpourings?) critic because I asked what his criteria was for reviewing books, apart from the very large advertsiing spend the big houses spend in his national newspaper? There was a double page review of the latest Sarah Waters novel and surprise surprise on the back page a full colour advert of said novel, which must have run to tens of thousands of pounds. Which came first the advertsing pound or the review? Answers on a postcard.He got all petulant and took his PC home and refuses to speak. However, with the demise of the newspaper as an organ of note, the tinternet is becoming the first port of call for readers to find out what a book is really like. Critics, high falutin purveyors of their own self worth will soon be nationalised and reduced to barking their thoughts from a darkened corner of The Graucho. Bless.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Charlie and the train

Banks and railways nationalised, Gordon Brown really is The Mao of his generation. Now that the East Coast line is not as profitable as it once was, we can use The Royal train. Instead of pulling it out of mothballs once or twice a year because Charles or Queenie wants to visit their friend Thomas somewhere up North, it can be put to some practical use. Perhaps Charles can be the driver and power the train with some of his organically grown electricity.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Milngavie Bookshop

I visited an independent bookshop yesterday 6 miles north of Glasgow,called Milngavie Bookshop, and the joint was jumping. The bookshop was rammed with browsers and the cafe teeming. The staff are enthusiastic, passionate, knowledgeable and the bookshop is stocked with a great range. Here lies the nub of their success. They know their customers and buy books accordingly. Waterstone's managers take note. You can succeed and make a profit. Leave it to those who run the shop to buy for their customers. They really do know best. Oh yes, and don't decdide to distribute your books from a hub that isn't working.