Today, I’m revealing rather more than usual over at Frances di Plino’s Crime and Thriller Reviews.
June 14, 2013
Today, I’m revealing rather more than usual over at Frances di Plino’s Crime and Thriller Reviews.
June 5, 2013
A week is a long time in politics.
Not to mention publishing.
Saturday saw the launch of four Triskele Books releases at Foyles, London’s award-winning independent bookshop. This photograph shows us with all our paperbacks, each with beautiful matt covers, printed by Lightning Source UK.
Triskele launch authors chose to talk about their books in a series of brief interviews with Liza Perrat, whose book Spirit of Lost Angels was published in the first wave of Triskele releases.
Complicit author Gillian Hamer explained how the atmosphere and history of Anglesey permeate her contemporary crime novels with a touch of the paranormal.
Jane Dixon-Smith confessed her love for all things historical as the driver behind her retelling of the Tristan and Iseult legend.
Jill Marsh (me) talked about Tread Softly, her crime novel set in the Basque Country, and her research into Spanish wines.
Catriona Troth discussed her novella Gift of the Raven, and how she identified with the main character’s quest for his heritage.
One of our lovely guests, Polly Courtney, got talking to Catriona Troth. Polly is famous for dropping her publishers after they insisted on marketing her incisive analyses of lads’ mags and City culture as chick lit.
Whatever she said seemed to take effect. The very next day, Kat rejected a publisher. Here’s her blog post. Go Kat!
Next, Dan Holloway, representing The Alliance of Independent Authors, sent out the call to the publishing trade. Open Up to Indies is a campaign to encourage booksellers, awards and festivals to recognise the burgeoning phenomenon of popular independently published books that readers want to read. If you support the initiative, sign the petition.
And in Words with JAM published mere minutes ago, Andrew Lownie, one the smartest guys in the business, talked to me about The Lownie Agency’s adaptation to the changing environment: Thistle Publishing.
The sands are shifting. Every day brings a new development for authors, booksellers, publishers, printers and ultimately, readers. The outlook is uncertain, but as an eternal optimist and believer in happy endings, I’ve bought my ticket and plan to enjoy every minute of the ride.
May 23, 2013
Fiction and Social Media …
A subject that scares and intrigues me, so I was only too happy to participate in MA student Jo Furniss’s research for her thesis.
In classic form and content presentation, Jo has posted her findings as a pop-up blog, including interviews, video and audio. (Yes, you can hear what I sound like – please bear in mind I was breathless and eating a blueberry muffin.)
Five brief posts, every one easily digestible over a latte. Each experience provides more food for thought than any form of pastry product.
It’s all about authors, trad or indie, creating an online image. For many more articulate opinions and ideas, have a browse through …
May 17, 2013
I’ve learnt a lot about teamwork, reliability, content and support.
Mostly from writers.
Writers are pretty good at coming to the rescue when you’re in a fix. No matter which route you’ve chosen, you’ll find assistance somewhere. Whether it’s advice on agents or marketing intelligence, writers generously share what they’ve learned.
Here I’m sharing a sample of terrific goodies which have personally benefitted me.
Over at the Triskele Books blog, you can dip into a selection of soundbites from writers on how to write: I just spent a good ten minutes trying to choose a favourite – impossible – although Patricia Duncker, Flannery O’Connor and David Applefield shall be printed out and stuck on my wall.
Andrew Lownie, nominated for Agent of the Year at The Bookseller Awards, is one of the smartest in the business. He regularly shares his intelligence on his website. Years of experience, plus contemporary nous make Andrew and his team one of the most informative sources around. Watch out for his article in Words with JAM on his new venture – Thistle Publishing.
On the subject of agents, AM Heath did an Agony Aunt session on Twitter last week, answering questions from writers. Rachel Monte delivered a neat summary, so no one need miss out. Thanks, Rachel!
Something which concerns both traditionally published and indie authors is Social Media. Joanne Furniss studied the subject for her MA thesis, and presented the results as a blog. (You may recognise one of the interviewees.)
And on the subject of marketing one’s work, David Gaughrean has done it again. Let’s Go Digital, his guide to e-publishing, has been invaluable to me as an indie writer. Now, we can all benefit from his intelligent insights as to e-marketing. Let’s Go Visible is concrete, clever advice on getting your book seen.
Lastly, for those brave folk considering transmedia storytelling, apps and technological experiments, go explore The Writing Platform, aimed at arming writers with techo-tools.
There. Spreading the love.
May 5, 2013
I took the decision quite early in the publishing process to have different covers for my ebooks and paperbacks. And for the latter, I needed a fine artist. My inestimable designer, Jane Dixon-Smith, who creates the covers and formats the interior, found just the right person.
James Lane. As soon as I saw his work, something felt absolutely right. He lives in California, I live in Switzerland, we’ve never actually met, but our creative collaboration has been a joy.
I asked James if he’d talk about the process, answering and asking some questions. As always, he exceeded expectations.
Jill: How does the artistic approach differ when trying to reflect 80,000 words, as to portraying a mood, or a moment in time?
James: When creating an image we’re working towards that “Aha!” moment that the viewer feels upon that first glimpse. It should spark someone’s interest quickly while remaining true to the content of the story. Having said that, the “Aha!” moment is exactly what I’m trying to avoid while working with an author because it behooves us both to know what to expect as we move through the process. It doesn’t make any sense to leave the author in the dark in the hopes of loving the image at the final stage because if it doesn’t work, it’s back to the drawing board for both of you. Once we have arrived at a basic idea of how the painting should turn out, I can have fun with it and let the inspiration come through.
Jill: Have you collaborated with other creatives from other media, such as graphic designers, musicians, dancers, etc? How did you find the process?
James: As a musician I collaborated often, but painting and writing can be very solitary endeavors, aside from the feedback we receive. Paintings and books are generally not co-authored. I would love to see collaborations by contemporaries like Gauguin/Van Gogh or Sargent/Sorolla. It can be helpful for painters and writers to sympathize with each other and realize that you’re often in the same boat from a psychological standpoint. While working on these book covers it has been a tremendous help to be given a specific passage with a lot of visual imagery from which to draw. This also shows me that the author has taken the time to think of their story in visual terms.
Jill: What were your initial concerns about a) working virtually and b) on a book cover?
James: Working virtually was never a concern for me because it’s so common these days. It helped to have a few skype chats so we could get to know each other. I think small talk, joking around, brainstorming and commiserating will always help any creative process, rather than simply emailing back and forth.
Working on a book cover poses specific challenges, especially when you are painting it because you can’t just hit the “Undo” button in Photoshop until you get back to a previous stage in the image. Again, as long as you both agree to a plan you can move forward without too much stress.
James: I appreciated receiving a list of influences from you, including other artists and works that you admire, the palette and general mood of the painting, even musical scores. How do you go about determining what you need for your covers and what recommendations do you have for communicating those expectations to the illustrator?
Jill: While pondering this question, I realised I approached working with you purely on instinct. I had no formula or experience of collaboration with a fine artist so I admit to a certain amount of trepidation. But I have previously worked as a theatre director – communicating concepts to lighting and set designers whose methods I don’t really comprehend – so I know that when different types of artist understand each other, it quite simply works.
I remember trying to find a designer for Cyrano de Bergerac. I interviewed many slick, classy, experienced people, but didn’t click. Then a young Edinburgh design graduate turned up, bursting with enthusiasm and just ‘got’ it. We finished each other’s sentences, extrapolated on our ideas and she created some of the most beautiful and evocative stage moments I’ve ever seen.
As for determining my covers, a key feature of all my novels is place. Art also plays a minor role, yet each reference is carefully chosen to play its part. I wanted my paper covers to have a fine art feel, a Golden Age quality which states: This Is Not Your Average Crime Novel. The covers should suggest depth, culture, location, and be something people want to look at, touch and pick up again.
So I think an author, director or any kind of collaborator can use random references to illustrate the image – music, art, fabrics, food, seasons, imagery and lines from the book which encapsulate its essence. If the artist is worth her/his salt, they can appreciate a synaesthetic vision.
James: Most authors and publishers work with illustrators who use Photoshop and Illustrator. What tips would you give to an author who is working with someone who uses traditional methods such as oil paints, pen and ink, etc?
Time. Give the artist space, time, and do not expect results in 24 hours. One of the things I loved most about the creation of the first cover is the video you created of its gradual emergence. That gives such a clear perspective on how much work and thought goes into such a piece.
Also, and this goes for all kinds of media, be receptive to what the artist can introduce. The line between knowing what you want and micro-controlling is a tough one to call. Creative skill comes of talent, experience and training … and vision. If I hadn’t trusted you and followed your judgement, my books would look a great deal poorer. So I recommend openness and communication, with a healthy dose of respect.
Lastly, a reader pointed out how very dull and generic he found a lot of book covers. He picked up mine because it was different. As an independent publisher, thankfully, I am not dictated to by marketing departments or sales teams. That creative freedom is priceless, so should not be squandered. Finding an artistic partner who’s willing to take risks, who’s prepared to tackle new sets of parameters, who’s happy to cope with creative direction via email/Skype and who even reads the books first … it sounds a near impossibility. I guess I got lucky.
Tread Softly, in paperback and ebook, is released on 1 June 2013.
April 27, 2013
Right, I promise to shut up for a bit after this.
But I have to share the beautiful, evocative covers for Triskele Books summer releases. Launch date – June 1st.
Jane Dixon-Smith is an incredible designer and just wait till you read her writing.
Next month, I’ll be knocking around ideas regarding artistic collaboration with James Lane, the fine artist who paints the covers for my print books.
‘On the beach stood the adverse array (of Britons), a serried mass of arms and men, with women flitting between the ranks. In the style of Furies, in robes of deathly black and with dishevelled hair, they brandished their torches; while a circle of Druids, lifting their hands to heaven and showering imprecations …’
When Roman historian, Cornelius Tacitus, recorded the invasion of the small island of Mona Insulis off the North Wales coast in 60AD – the beginnings of a propaganda war against the Druidic religion began.
Two thousand years later, that war is still being fought.
For two millennia, descendants of a small sect of Anglesey Druids have protected their blood lineage and mysterious secrets from the world. Until members of this secret society are murdered one by one.
Detective Sergeants Gareth Parry and Chris Coleman, along with new girl, DC Megan Jones, must stop this killer at all costs. What they discover will shock the whole police team and leave consequences which have an impact like no crime in the history of the force.
Set along the dramatic Menai Straits, Complicit is a story of greed, loss and obsession.
“You don’t attract trouble. You go looking for it.”
Disheartened by her recent performance, Beatrice Stubbs takes a sabbatical from the Metropolitan Police for a gourmet tour of Northern Spain. In Vitoria, she encounters a distant acquaintance. Beautiful, bloody-minded journalist Ana Herrero is onto a story.
Beatrice, scenting adventure, offers her expertise. The two women are sucked into a mystery of missing persons, violent threats, mutilated bodies and industrial-scale fraud. They are out of their depth. With no official authority and unsure who to trust, they find themselves up to their necks in corruption, blackmail and Rioja.
Beatrice calls for the cavalry. The boys are back, and this time, it’s a matter of taste. But when her instincts prove fallible, Beatrice discovers that justice is a matter of interpretation.
In a land of fog and desperate tribes, Tristan fights to protect western Briton from Saxon invaders. In the wake of battle, he returns to Kernow bearing grave news, and the order of power shifts.
As Tristan defends the west, his uncle, King Mark, faces enemies to the east beyond the sea: the Irish Bloodshields. Mark is determined to unite the tribes of Briton and Ireland and forge an alliance that would see an end to war and the beginnings of peace.
Iseult, the daughter of Irish kings and a woman of the blood, resigns herself to her inevitable fate: marriage to Lord Morholt. A bloody duel changes her course, and she finds herself stranded on the coast of Kernow bringing with her the possibility of peace. But when she loses her heart to one man and marries another, her future and that of Briton flutters grey.
Three people and a hope that will never fade, this is a story of promise; the legend of love.
The people of the Haida Gwaii tell the legend of the raven – the trickster who brings the gift of light into the world.
Terry always believed his father would return one day and rescue him from his dark and violent childhood. That’s what Indian warriors were supposed to do. But he’s thirteen now and doesn’t believe in anything much.
Yet his father is alive. Someone has tracked him down. And Terry is about to come face to face with the truth about his own past and about the real nature of the gift of the raven.
April 22, 2013
As a performance poet you delight in words, rhythm, sound and the visual pictures words can make on a page so why a novel in numbers?
Interesting, I hadn’t thought about that as a contrast – I think maybe I’ve got to the stage where I feel too comfortable with doing things that are lyrical and rhythmic, and that’s a bad thing – it can make writing really lazy. That may have pushed me. The main reasons though were to do with wanting to see what was possible in taking the author, and the shackles of language, out of the text and free the characters – and readers. That, and just wanting to find new ways of telling stories, to see what’s possible. I am in love with the conceptual art of the 1980s and 1990s, with the way people like Tracey Emin made people question what art is. I think we’re too comfortable with our idea of how stories are constructed, with how we represent both our own lives and those of others to ourselves. I wanted to ask why we assume that a satisfying emotional arc can only be conveyed in a book through words. Because we shouldn’t assume. And as writers it’s almost criminal to let assumptions go unchallenged.
On early reading, evie and guy seems leaves a lot of space. My reaction to that as a reader was to fill it with my own ideas and interpretations. Was that your intention?
Yes, that’s absolutely it. I wanted readers to bring Evie and Guy to life, both individually and separately, to let their lives grow from the page any way they wanted.
Comprehending one life through such a unique lens is a challenge, but two, and their interwoven history must have been a complex undertaking. Can you talk a little about the creative process?
Ooh, now that’s a tricky ask, and I feel really conflicted. Not because I don’t like talking about it – I could waffle on forever – but because I am wary of telling readers how to read it. Not just wary, that’s sort of the whole point of the book, not pointing readers in one direction or another. Having gotten that out of the way…
Having decided what numbers I’d use (which in itself took two years, during which time I experimented with variations on the notion of “digital”, ditched only when I had a moment of inspiration involving Lacan and the fall from jouissance into language, and how listing moments of solitary sensual pleasure might offer a ladder back out of language), my first step was to get hold of a virtual calendar. What I didn’t want to do was just put down random days and dates. I wanted to take readers seriously. It was very important to me that if I was serious about self-publishing being the home of innovation, I needed to expect readers to take me seriously in return, to scour my numbers for meaning and clues to my characters’ lives then I needed to respect them for it. I didn’t want them picking holes in my timelines because I hadn’t been bothered to check when Easter was for example, or to check my weekdays from my weekends.
So with what was to become a very well-thumbed perpetual calendar and a list of Easter dates by my side my next step was to write out the whole of their lives, in broad brushstrokes at first, creating narrative arcs that had their own internal logic and then the points at which they intersect and weave together and unravel and weave back. At that stage I started extrapolating into numbers, having first done some background research and taken steps to ensure verisimilitude such as plotting out with the virtual calendar a lifetime of menstrual cycles for Evie and then both the baseline and the evolving physiological and psychological rhythms of her sexuality within those cycles. At this point I found myself creating incredibly detailed lives for them, because every single instance had to be “real” (to me, at least, even though readers may find wholly different scenarios for each). It had a very disorienting effect compared to writing other novels – the lack of any truncation or elongation of time was almost hypnotic. I hope very much it induces something similar in the reader – a mix of infuriation and intrigue that they can’t drill down or skip over but everything happens at the same pace – that eventually turns almost into a trance, because it’s a fascinating thing to feel in relation to a book.
Could you see evie and guy interpreted in another art form? And if so, how much control would you want to retain?
I’d be happy to see people telling the characters’ stories in any way they wanted, but I think this book can only really exist in this form – though in a sense it exists in as many forms as there are readers. It’s like a musical score that comes alive in the performance. All books are like that of course, but books that use language less so, I’d like to think, because our brains are geared to cope with language, they have all sorts of shortcuts – and that can be constricting, make us lazy. This book has absolutely no meaning unless the reader “plays” it, works at it, makes it come alive – it has a recalcitrance, which I think is what I’m excited about. It does none of the work for you, and yet if you do the work, suddenly, out of nowhere it’s like these whole new worlds within worlds appear out of nowhere.
I’ve enjoyed your novels, watched your poetry and nodded at your articles on how broad and inclusive publishing could be. So I have to ask, what’s next?
All sorts of things! At the moment I’m putting the final touches to my first one man performance poetry show, Some of These Things are Beautiful. Poetry-wise, I’m also preparing for the Hammer and Tongue poetry slam final in May, for which I have to have two new poems ready to perform.
I’m also working frantically on NOTHING TO SAY (http://79ratpress.wordpress.com), an exhibition-like collection of poetry that will launch at Stoke Newington Literary Festival on June 8th before a week long show in Oxford. It’s built around collections by six poets that I’m editing and publishing, as well as a catalogue comprising what I think is some of the best poetry from a new generation of emerging poets. And, of course, it’s run more like an art exhibition than a publisher.
In terms of my own writing, I finally have a clear new project for a novel, which will take all my time after this summer – I plan to ditch everything except this, to see if I can do the whole single-minded thing. Writing evie and guy has been wonderful creatively – after three years of banging my head against a wall with it, it finally feels as though all the other ideas can come to the surface and have their space. The new novel will be my attempt to do the grand, sprawling epic, focusing (natch) on identity in cyberspace and post-communist Europe and on art galleries as places where the rules of physics do not apply. It will be set over the course of a single summer and echo Do the Right Thing, Summer of Sam, Three Colours: Blue, and anything by David Mitchell or Murakami whilst being not like any of them. Characters/POVs include a homeless street poet, a reclusive installation artist (of course), a policewoman who escaped the massacre in Srebrenica and spends her nights as a dominatrix, a philanthropist who may not always have been so philanthropic, a group of private school kids home for the summer discovering that their parents were once part of something very sinister, an elderly novelist and women’s rights campaigner spiralling into dementia and probably many others all of whom may or may not have any connection with each other. The working title is Ninety Nine Nights of Urban Dogging.
I admire you for taking risks with what literature means, in all your work. Which writers do you think are producing the most exciting alternatives to the mainstream?
I recently took part in a project to come up with an alternative to the Granta list and contributed five names (http://workshyfop.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/best-of-young-british-writers-day-4-dan.html). That’s a good place to start. Performance poetry in general has some incredible talent – Kate Tempest recently won the Ted Hughes Award, so she’s probably not alternative anymore. Penny Goring is astounding and quite the most original voice writing today. Lucy Furlong does wonderful things with poetry and maps. Andrea Coates has yet to publish a novel but has a burning ambition to change the literary landscape that means I’m eagerly awaiting when she does – and in the meanwhile I am publishing an astonishing poem of hers for NOTHING TO SAY. All of the writers I’m publishing for NOTHING TO SAY, of course, are incredible – and very different from each other.
There’s very little risk taking by and large in contemporary literature. Certainly not in the mainstream, and very little among self-publishers. Alt Lit does some fun things with the internet, has a Murakami-ish mix of playful and despondent, but it’s not really risk-taking by and large. There seem to be precious few writers out there who want to leave the world a different place from how they found it. I find that rather disheartening. Small presses are a ray of glorious hope – from tiny experimental ones like Lazy Fascist, Philistine, and Civil Coping Mechanism to the likes of And Other Stories, Melville House, and Peirene who are introducing the public to exciting work in translation and novellas. But I’d like to see more writers wrestling with literary history, demanding that we question what stories can be, trying to free the human spirit through – or despite – language. Not necessarily showily, or sweepingly (take a writer like Adelle Stripe, the UK’s finest poet at the moment, whose work is shot through with subtle savagery), but desperately wanting to leave culture richer than they found it. There seems to be almost a disdain for anyone who dares to want to do that publicly (whilst there’s an almost universal approval for anyone who wants to sell lots of books). We’re too afraid to look like fools – and that’s the first step on the path to ruin.
You can see Dan perform live at Cheltenham on Wednesday
You can read evie and guy here.
Where to find Dan and his work:
http://danholloway.wordpress.com my personal website – books, poetry, videos
http://thecynicalselfpublisher.blogspot.co.uk/ self-publishing advice
http://agnieszkasshoes.blogspot.com (my raucous opinions)
http://lastmanoutofeden.tumblr.com/ my online playpit for 2012
http://eightcuts.com (a literary project and publisher I run)
http://www.youtube.com/lastmanoutofeden my YouTube channel – performance poetry
Last Man Out Of Eden http://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Man-Out-Eden-ebook/dp/B0083LLM00
Songs from the Other Side of the Wall http://www.amazon.co.uk/Songs-Other-Side-Wall-ebook/dp/B003LN1UBG
(life:) razorblades included http://www.amazon.co.uk/life-razorblades-included-ebook/dp/B003QTDLBW
The Man Who Painted Agnieszka’s Shoes http://www.amazon.co.uk/Man-Painted-Agnieszkas-Shoes-ebook/dp/B004QGYH6M
Black Heart High – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Heart-High-ebook/dp/B0053CPFDC
April 17, 2013
Taiye Selasi made her fiction debut with her short story ‘The Sex Lives of African Girls’. The Times called it a ‘standout piece of fiction’; Time Out wrote that the ‘prose glitters with beautiful, splintered poetry’. The acclaim is just another stamp of approval for Selasi, who has been championed by Toni Morrison and Salman Rushdie and whose first novel, Ghana Must Go, published April 2013, has already earned her a place in Granta’s 20 Best Young British Novelists List.
Last night, I heard Taiye speak at Kaufleuten in Zürich. She read extracts from the book, (add gorgeous voice to her list of talents) answered questions and laughed – a lot.
Impressions of Switzerland: My godfather was the Ghanaian Ambassador to Switzerland, so I spent three summers in Lausanne and Gruyère. I guess if I hadn’t been dairy intolerant, I might have enjoyed it more.
Reaction to Boston bombings: I got home last night after celebrating my inclusion on the Granta Best British Authors List to so many messages from friends and family in the Boston area. I couldn’t understand why they were all reassuring me they were OK. Was my Granta news so exciting it could induce health issues? Then I turned on the TV. This type of violence is inexplicable and inexcusable. I’m as shocked as everyone else.
On journey to becoming an author: I told my mum, aged four, that when I grew up, I would be an author. At twenty-nine, I hadn’t become an author, nor had I grown up. I quit my job as a TV producer, stopping running around and went to a Swedish retreat. As you do. One day, in the shower, the whole idea for Ghana Must Go came to me. I went to the retreat’s German organisers and pleaded with them to let me have my laptop back, just to make a few notes. They listened patiently … Ja, ja, ja, ja … nein. So I left. I’d waited twenty-five years for these characters to speak to me. Or maybe I just needed to be quiet enough to listen.
On her mentor, Toni Morrison: After I finished my Masters in International Relations at Oxford, I wrote a play. The person who produced it was Toni Morrison’s niece. When Toni came to the university, I was invited to a reception. Due to my being late, I ended up sitting next to her and talking about writing. When I returned to the US, she encouraged me to write, which led to The Sex Lives of African Girls. She wanted me to extend it to a novel, but somehow I couldn’t.
On role models: When someone says ‘Let’s talk about your parents’, it’s usually a therapist. My father is a surgeon and a poet, my mother is a paediatrician and advocate for children’s rights. My literary heroes … so many. Arundhati Roy, Scott Fitzgerald, Wole Soyinka and Thomas Mann. Of course, Thomas Mann. I mean, who else are you going to read when you’re writing a family saga.
On the concept of African Wünderkinder: I guess that belief comes from the books you read. In Beasts of No Nation, for example, the protagonist is illiterate and cut off from education. I think Nadifa Mohamed, another on the Granta list, writes more about a survivor, whose hankering is for something other than education. But from another angle, many immigrants from West Africa, both incredibly intelligent but incredibly poor, due to the mismanagement of nation states, passed on the innate appreciation of the opportunities in education and the rewards of hard work.
On being a high achiever: You should see my sister – surgeon, athlete, dancer, artist. It’s not easy being her twin. I work at home, so many of my Nigerian family see me as unemployed.
On living in Rome: I couldn’t find an apartment in Paris. A friend loaned me a place in Rome and I had dreams of being a cross between Josephine Baker and James Baldwin. I couldn’t speak Italian, but I’d studied Latin for six years, so I used that and put an ‘o’ at the end of everything.
I fell in love with Rome because of the city’s respect for the artist. In churches, in the Pantheon, in red marble, or the detail of an everyday piazza, everywhere there is evidence of love and respect for art.
Taiye had her serious Swiss audience enthused. She reads her work beautifully, but when answering questions, she’s not a performer. She’s unguarded, engaging, reactive and often direct. A fine mind and a fine writer.
April 12, 2013
As Swiss ALLi rep, I’ve had a lot of enquiries about the ISBN – International Standard Book Number. Here are some answers.
This is the information I shared at TIPE (The Independent Publishing Event), January 2013 in Zürich.
An ISBN identifies your book, like a fingerprint. If you’re based in Switzerland, you need to apply for Swiss ISBNs. Those with an address in the UK, US, Australia, etc, can apply via those countries. In Britain, you have to buy a batch of 10. The US, Australia and Switzerland allow you to buy individual ISBNs but do remember that you will need a different number for each format, paperback, Kindle ebook, Smashwords ebook. Also a single ISBN costs 115CHF, whereas 10 cost 300CHF.
Swiss site (German/French): SBVV
US site: https://www.myidentifiers.com/
Australian site: http://www.isbn.nielsenbook.co.uk/controller.php?page=121
If you come from somewhere other than the above, find your home site here: http://www.isbn-international.org/agency
Since TIPE, more questions have arisen on the subject …
Do I need an ISBN?
No, not necessarily. Amazon offers a free ASIN (an Amazon identifier), which identifies Amazon as the publisher. Smashwords and Lulu likewise. You receive all your royalties, naturally, but will be ‘published’ by those organisations.
How do I apply for a Swiss ISBN?
I have an ISBN. How can I get my book into Swiss stores?
Sarina Dupont, of Orell Füssli’s English Bookshop: “Previously we took some copies on consignment for three months. After that we checked how the sales went and if we could keep the title for longer. This procedure proved to be time-consuming due to correspondence, paperwork, billing etc. for every individual title. There were more requests than we could handle, so we decided to take no more books on consignment at this moment. It’s a pity, but we have to give priority to daily business.
If the book is in stock with one of the main distribution centres of your country (for example OLF or Schweizer Buchzentrum in Switzerland), it’s easier for a bookshop to order 1-2 copies to give it a try.”
So how do I make my book available via OLF?
Spokesman for OLF: “If your titles are listed with one of the three big UK or US wholesalers (Ingrams, Baker&Taylor, Gardners) any bookshop in Switzerland can order your books.” For listing in these companies’ catalogues, you need an ISBN (see below).
If I only have an ASIN, can I get listed in the Nielsen catalogue?
Spokesperson for Nielsen Bookdata UK: “For Nielsen, an Amazon identifier is not sufficient. In fact, most international bookdata handlers require an official ISBN.”
And finally, does the ISBN have a future?
If there are ISBN questions I’ve not answered, please let me know.