2012 was a year in which whips and handcuffs played a major role, not merely in trying to secure an overdraft from my bank manager. It was the year of EL James and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ and the role Bluemoose Books played in this worldwide phenomenon.
Publishing is fickle and when the royally related contours of one’s buttocks can secure a £400,000 advance for Pippa Middleton, I decided it wasn’t enough just to publish great stories from here in Hebden Bridge but to jump onto the bandwagon that was ‘erotica.’ So I sent off a press release to The Bookseller magazine and told them Bluemoose Books had secured the worldwide rights to the unauthorised biography of Christian Grey. They published the story and also put it up onto their website. Within an hour I had 19 European publishers asking to buy rights, a literary agent from Warner Bros and Simon and Schuster, one of the biggest publishers in the world wanted to acquire North American rights. The world had gone mad. One problem, we didn’t have a book. In fact nobody at Moose Towers had read Fifty Shades. Hetha bought it and read it on the train going down to London whilst texting the outline of the story to one of our authors who fired off the first three chapters in an afternoon. The publishers and Hollywood were delighted. Now given the global interest, the print run would be in the 100’000’s. We didn’t have the cash; neither did the bank manager who was still trussed up after a previous visit. I contacted a major publisher. Fifteen minutes later I got a phone call from the publisher stating that corporate lawyers from EL James’s publishers Random House in New York plus her agent were sharpening their quills, donning their horse hair wigs, ready to fire off letters to Bluemoose Books ordering me to desist immediately. The litigious vultures were circling. Apparently it was ‘passing off,’ i.e. copyright infringement. My dream of untold wealth had been scuppered and I didn’t even have a royally related backside to fall back on.
However, the reason I re-mortgaged the house in the first place was to publish great stories. This year we have sold rights to three of our books to Russia, Hungary and Bulgaria. FALLING THROUGH CLOUDS by Anna Chilvers came out in Russia this October, and KING CROW by Bradford writer Michael Stewart is published in Russia and Bulgaria next year followed by Hungary in 2014. GABRIEL’S ANGEL by Mark Radcliffe is published in Russia next year too. We had a national review in one of the broadsheets, The Guardian for PIG IRON by Benjamin Myers, a brilliant young writer whose book is being read by Hollywood as I type. It is a truly remarkable story of a traveller who hasn’t travelled; a young man fighting for his surname and his very survival. We are also in negotiations with one of the world’s biggest TV/Film producers regarding STOP DON’T READ THIS by Leonora Rustamova and Stephen Clayton’s debut novel THE ART OF BEING DEAD is now a set text on the Leeds Metropolitan University MA English Literature course. All of our titles are now available on KINDLE and the ebook is transforming the industry. Our authors continue to attend book clubs, library events and festivals and although the world didn't end on 21st December, Bluemoose published a dystopian novel called NOD by Adrian Barnes, a Canadian author being compared to the great John Wyndham.
Books are transformative and here at Bluemoose we’re publishing stories that are travelling across the border into Lancashire, down to London and around the world. We’ve proved you don’t have to be in London to succeed. Dr. Johnson was wrong; I tired of London and found the landscape of Yorkshire far more conducive to publish terrific stories and post deluvian life in Hebden is wonderful.