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Digital Originals news

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On 15th July my inbox went into meltdown as #digitaloriginal submissions aplenty pinged through at a rate of knots.  If there was a Reading Challenge associated with our #oneday initiative to find the next eBook star of the commercial women’s fiction world, Clare Hey and I would be up on the podium holding aloft a well-deserved Gold medal, as we’ve probably read more novels in the past six weeks than many people read in a year. 

It has to be said, we’ve had to make some difficult decisions regarding the number of novels we are in a position to acquire as part of this project, as we were completely overwhelmed with entries, so we’ve started to respond to everyone who took the time to send us their novel.

Many of the novels we read showed potential, but aren’t quite what we are looking for at this time.  Many had an interesting hook and a good cast of characters but didn’t quite fit into the genre.  We read a handful of novels by authors with a strong and unique voice, but ultimately the story didn’t grab us in the way we want to be grabbed. We sincerely wish those authors the very best of luck for the future, and we will be keeping a beady eye out to watch their careers flourish!  

Some made us both chuckle, or reach for a Kleenex – so we are in the process of responding to the authors of those novels with, what we hope will be, some useful and constructive feedback.

And a handful of novels blew us both away.  They have been shared with the wider team and we are in the process of inviting those authors in to @TeamBATC HQ for a chat over a cup of tea and a sticky bun.  

So thank you to everyone who submitted their novels. And watch this space for some brilliant new authors for you to fall in love with over the next few months. 

Creative Writing Masterclass

masterclassFree on Saturday 15th November?  Why not book a ticket to visit us here at Books and the City HQ for a very special Creative Writing Masterclass aimed specifically at writers of commercial women’s fiction? Aimed at as-yet-unpublished writers, the event will consist of a morning of one-to-one sessions with editors Jo Dickinson and Clare Hey and uber literary agent Lizzy Kremer, and afternoon panels for a wider audience with bestselling author Milly Johnson, Peter Saxton (Publisher Liaison Manager at Waterstones Head Office) and Isabelle Broom (Book Reviewer at Heat Magazine).

Tickets will are now on sale so be quick, as this really is a super opportunity for all you budding women’s fiction authors.

Here is Editorial Director Clare Hey, who is one of the panellists and editors on the course, to fill you in with some more info.

‘We’re really excited to be running this one-day masterclass and I wanted to let you know what you can expect from the day. We know the world of publishing can feel impenetrable to those who are not yet published and so we want to help you with your next steps on the road to becoming published. Perhaps you are an aspiring writer with a great idea who hasn’t yet put pen to paper, or you may have already completed a novel and want to know where to go next. If so, read on…

This event will aim to help you on the next steps with your novel, pooling the talent behind the scenes at Books and the City to give you our top tips and insights into how to hone your writing, how best to get an agent and editor to notice you, and what booksellers and reviewers are looking for.

The day is split into two parts. The morning will consist of a series of fifteen-minute one-to-one sessions which will be perfect for writers who have already completed a first draft of their novel, or are very close to doing so. These sessions will be with either Jo Dickinson, Lizzy Kremer or myself (Clare Hey), and as we will have read the synopsis and first chapter of your work ahead of the meeting, along with your pitch letter, we will be able to give you personal feedback on what we have read. If you have something specific you would like to discuss, we will be able to advise, too. These sessions aim to be personal, detailed and constructive – your chance to have direct contact with an agent and editors who specialise in women’s fiction and to get direct and honest feedback.

The afternoon will be opened out to a wider audience in a series of panels, taking you from how to know when your novel is ready to submit, how you ought to submit and how best to get noticed, to sessions on what editors are looking for and how booksellers and reviewers spot talent. There will be some Q&A opportunities so you’ll have plenty of time to ask any burning questions you have, and there’ll be a drinks reception to give you time to mingle with your fellow writers and the team at Books and the City.

We’re excited to meet the writers of the future and look forward to a creative, fun and useful day.’

If this sounds like your sort of thing, click here for more information and to buy tickets. Any questions email bookminx@simonandschuster.co.uk

Guest Post by Isabelle Broom, author of The Wedding Speech


So, it’s finally happened: I am on Amazon. You know, only the biggest cyber bookshop on the entire planet, so no big deal. Except that it’s only the biggest deal EVER!

The news came via a tweet from @BookMinxSJV at Books And The City just after lunch on a Thursday. It couldn’t have actually been better timing, as I’d just returned from one of those lunchtime walks that you have to take yourself on when you’re in real danger of just standing against the wall in the office and banging your head on it repeatedly. As anyone who’s ever worked in a magazine office will know, press day is a very “special” time.

Anyway, that amazing tweet chirped up on my screen and all my stresses immediately vanished. Being able to go to Amazon and look myself up is something I’ve been dreaming of since the site first launched – and now I’m there. It even says “Isabelle Broom (Author)” – and that little word in brackets made me beam like a headlight down a dark country lane.

The official release date for The Wedding Speech is 28th August, but it can now be pre-ordered by anyone with a Kindle and a kind heart anywhere in the world. Baffling, isn’t it? Brilliantly, bogglingly, baffling. Needless to say, as soon as the link went live I started to tweet about it and post the news on every other social media site I could think of. My friends and colleagues have been so supportive throughout this entire process, and it wasn’t long before the excited messages started flooding in. I just hope they all think the story lives up to the hype when they read it!

I should mention the cover design of The Wedding Speech, too, because it’s just gorgeous. So romantic and special, just perfect for the story, and I have nothing but awe for whoever designed it. They have some talented folk over at Simon & Schuster, I tell you!

There’s nothing like seeing yourself on Amazon to inspire and spur you on to write, so I plan on doing little else this upcoming Bank Holiday weekend. I also have my meeting with Milly Johnson happening very soon, which I am beyond excited about, plus a follow-up with the awesome team at Books And The City. This crazy adventure I’m on just keeps getting better and better – and now that I have an actual publish date on the diary I can start planning the celebratory party. It’s going to be a big one – trust me!


Want to know which books the team here at Books and the City HQ recommend for guaranteed satisfaction over the Summer?  Sure you do!





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Jennifer Wiener
August 28, 2014  |  Features  |  Comments are off

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