Songs of Love and War. The stunning new novel of love and secrets from th...

GET READY FOR #DigitalOriginals #ONEDAY – 15th July 2016

Digital Originals Font (4)What do Andy Jones, Heidi Swain, Holly Hepburn, Juliet Ashton and Penny Parkes have in common.  All lovely people?  Natch.  All smart?  Totes.  And funny?  Yes, YES.  All writers?  Absolutely.  All five publishing/published under our #DigitalOriginals programme? BOOM!

So here’s the news… for the third year running (on 15th July), we are throwing away, ripping up, laughing in the face of rules, tradition and standard process, and opening our doors to prospective new bestselling commercial women’s fiction authors like YOU, with our world famous (ahem) #oneday call-out for you to submit the first chapter of your novel on #OpenSubmission.

That’s right people, ignore everything you’ve been told, that you absolutely MUST have an agent, or know-someone-who-knows-someone-who-went-to-school-with-a-dentist-who-did-the-bridge-work-for-a-woman-who-works-in-books to get your foot in the door at a publishing house. Because for #oneday only, you really REALLY don’t.  All you need is a killer synopsis, a cracking first chapter of your novel and an email account!

Whether or not you’ve been previously published, this is the perfect opportunity to submit your work and have a chance to be published by the award-winning, international publishing house behind #DigitalOriginals – Simon & Schuster UK Ltd.

Here are some guidelines to help you….

The term ‘commercial women’s fiction’ is generally used to mean fiction that appeals primarily to women, though is not necessarily written by a women, and tends to be full of modern relationships featuring friends, family and lovers.  It can be funny, it can be sad, but most of all it covers great storytelling with believable characters and plot.  It rarely (NEVER) features aliens, blood, guts and gore, zombies, ladies in crinolines, dragons, child wizards or autopsies.

We are asking you to submit:

  • The first chapter of your manuscript – up to 5,000 words – as a word document, double spaced
  • a one page synopsis of your work
  • a 100-word mini biography of yourself.  Include your name, address and telephone number


If we are interested in seeing more of your work, we will contact you within six weeks , at which time we will ask you to send your complete novel (no less than 80,000 words, no more than 100,000) as a word document (or equivalent) double spaced.

We will consider novels that have been self-published, or have been previously published, providing you have retained full rights, or had rights reverted back to you.

We will endeavour to respond to all submissions within sixty working days and will provide feedback on your submission where appropriate.

If your novel is selected, we will publish in digital format, which will be available across all e-tailers in the English language across the World.  You will be working with our experienced in-house team, and will be provided with a contract, full editorial input including copyediting and proofreading, a suite of marketing and publicity promotion and an ebook jacket.

Only one entry is permitted per person.

All entries must be received on 15th July 2016.

Remember, we are not a vanity or custom publisher.  #DigitalOriginals is part of the Simon & Schuster UK publishing company.  A #DigitalOriginals author will benefit from the Simon & Schuster editorial, marketing, publicity and sales expertise and your contract with us under the #DigitalOriginals project offers you the same benefits as all Simon & Schuster UK authors receive.

We are not looking for: plays, poetry, short stories, essays, mind body spirit, religious titles, health and fitness, children’s books, educational texts, erotica, young adult fiction, non-fiction including memoirs, biographies, narrative histories and illustrated non-fiction.

10 hints and tips from @BookMinxSJV

  1. Write a book you would most like to read
  2. Make me laugh
  3. Make it fresh and original
  4. Make me cry
  5. Keep the story moving
  6. Grab me from the first page
  7. Tell me a story I haven’t read before
  8. Excite, engage and captivate me
  9. Create characters I will believe in and like
  10. Remember, we are only looking for ‘commercial women’s fiction’!

On 16th March 2016, Meeting Room 1 here at @TeamBATC HQ was full to the brim, full to bursting point, fuller than it is legally allowed to be, with authors, friends, bloggers, book lovers and lots and lots of cheese straws – as we held our second Spring Blogger Evening.

We spent a lovely evening in the company of Juliet Ashton, Holly Hepburn, Paige Toon and Penny Parkes hearing them read from their latest novels and talk all things romance, love, friendship, community, sisters, hot blacksmiths, hot doctors and everything in between.  We were also very lucky to get to introduce Georgia Clark (who had flown in especially to visit us) to our blogging friends.

Goody bags stuffed full of proofs and treats, gorgeous cupcakes from our go-to bakers Crumbs & Doilies, flowing fizz – what more could you ask for?!

Thank you to all our guests, our wonderful authors and the brilliant team here at @TeamBATC.

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Cracking Reviews for THESE DAYS OF OURS

As some of you may remember, in May last year, after a particularly cocktail-heavy night out with a couple of friends, I begged one of them to send me the second draft of a manuscript she had written for her German publisher.  Having read all of her previous books, I knew the words, written in her own unique style, would be right up my boulevard – so much so, I immediately forwarded it on to some of the rest of the Team for their secret-manuscript reading pleasure, with a note that simply said ‘enjoy!’.

Two colleagues immediately put down whatever it was they were already reading, and by the end of that week we were all all enjoying a marvelous water cooler moment, discussing just how much we LOVED the German Book.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really just mean ‘enjoy!’ when I sent it to them.  What I meant was ‘I’ve been in love with this woman’s words for over 10 years.  I’m proud and honoured to call her my friend.  She’s funny, kind and clever.  I would LOVE it if we could be her publisher…’

So, having taken the bull firmly by the horns, the next step was an Editorial Eye.  Not just any old Editorial Eye.  I’m talking The Red Pen of Doom Queen, Editorial Director and Head Honcho here at #digitaloriginals, Clare Hey.

Forty-eight tense hours later, it was a resounding YES from She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed.

But it didn’t stop there, my friends.   Oh no.  There are a hundred processes and systems and stages to go through before a book goes from ‘secret manuscript’ to ‘acquired’.  It takes time.  And passion.  And vision.  And planning…

The German Book went through ninety-nine of these processes and systems and stages, and before long I’m in bits. Total complete bits. Might my dream actually be about to come true? Holy moly…

Fast forward four more months and Simon & Schuster, BooksAndTheCity, #digitaloriginals, Clare Hey and I were giddy to announce that the title of the German Book was These Days of Ours, the author was my BFF Juliet Ashton, and we published in e-book  on March 1st, with the paperback out on 7th April….

And excitingly, we aren’t alone in our LOVE for this novel about love….

Juliet Ashton Twitter card - Kate Furnivall (3)

Juliet Ashton Twitter card - Louise Candlish (3)

Juliet Ashton Twitter card - Chrissie Manby (3)

Juliet Ashton Twitter card - Hannah Beckerman (3)


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Welcome to the world Summer Nights at the Moonlight Hotel, the hilarious new book which was published in March 2016 from bestselling author Jane Costello!

‘LEARN TO SALSA DANCE,’ the card in the shop window read.

‘Experience the red-hot vibes of Latin America right here in the Lake District. Beginners and singles welcome.’

Lauren Scott lives in ‘The most romantic place in Britain’, but her love life is about as successful as her mountain climbing skills. The man she’s obsessed over for two years has proposed to someone else – and her only solution is to save up for six months to go travelling, so she never has to set eyes on him again. But when her friends sign her up for a dance class – in the same historic hotel where her beloved dad worked and her most precious childhood memories were formed – Lauren makes a horrifying discovery. It’s been sold to a faceless budget chain, which has depressing plans in store. Worse, the entrepreneur behind it all turns out to be among a group of guys her friend Cate roped in to join the very same salsa class they’ve signed up for…. Jane Costello’s funniest book yet – a story of love, friendship and some serious hip action . . . Get in the mood to mambo!


PrintWe are super-excited to share some of the amazing reviews we received for Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence – the very first novella in a series from a new writer to our #DigitalOriginals list, Holly Hepburn, which came out just before Christmas!

Set in a dilapidated pub which nestles on the edges of an idyllic village green, the novel follows the story of Nessie and Sam, sisters who have unexpectedly inherited the pub on their father’s death.  But village life is not all it’s cracked up to be – the postmistress and village gossip has set against the girls and is determined to take the rest of the villagers her way.  And the sisters have a job on their hands getting the pub back up and running in time for Christmas, and the traditional village New Year’s Eve shebang. Luckily there is some distraction on hand in the form of sexy village blacksmith, Owen, so maybe things aren’t so bad after all…

This is the first of a series, with more stories set at The Star and Sixpence to follow, so pull up a chair by the fire, grab a drink, and get ready to fall in love with village life…

‘A fresh new voice, brings wit and warmth to this charming tale of two sisters’ Rowan Coleman

‘You’ll fall in love with this fantastic new series from a new star of women’s fiction, Holly Hepburn. Filled to the brim with captivating characters and fantastic storylines in a gorgeous setting, Snowdrops at The Star and Sixpence is simply wonderful. I want to read more!’ Miranda Dickinson

‘The Star and Sixpence sparkles with fun, romance, mystery, and a hunky blacksmith. It’s a real delight’ Julie Cohen

‘Warm, witty and laced with intriguing secrets! I want to pull up a bar stool, order a large G&T and soak up all the gossip at the Star and Sixpence!’ Cathy Bramley

‘A super sparkling star of a story and I can’t wait for part two’ Alexandra Brown

‘Like the dream pub landlady who always knows exactly what you want, Holly Hepburn has created the most delightful welcome to what promises to be a brilliant series, in the first Star and Sixpence. The sisters who inherit a tired local and must bring it back to life are warm and intriguing, the neighbours are (mostly!) friendly and the gossip is utterly addictive. I was very sad when it was time for last orders, and am already looking forward to the next round. Especially if a certain blacksmith happens to be at the bar…’ Kate Harrison


Santangelo cover photocroppedIt was with huge sadness that we shared the news of the death of Jackie Collins, adored author and friend. We are incredibly proud to be Jackie’s publisher in the UK and Australia.

Jackie was, by any measurement, truly one of a kind. Her personality, her pioneering spirit and over thirty novels have given endless joy to readers worldwide. She will be sorely missed, and our thoughts are very much with her family.

Ian Chapman - CEO and Publisher, Simon & Schuster UK

A world without Jackie – and a world without Lucky Santangelo – is somehow unimaginable. Jackie’s characters may have been larger than life but they were always true to life. Jackie was a wonderful author to work with, so professional, astute, kind, loving, and passionate about her writing and her readers. She set the bar high in every way.

Suzanne Baboneau - Jackie’s editor

Thank you to our friends at Grosvenor House Hotel who kindly audio recorded the Jackie Collins Literati event on 8th September 2015 – Jackie’s last public appearance.  Do have a listen.  As you would imagine, she was warm, wise and witty.  Everyone here at Books and the City is devastated by her loss. We will miss her every day.


020February 12th 2015 was the eBook publication day of our first ever #digitaloriginals novel – the brilliant The Two of Us by Andy Jones!  Obviously we had to celebrate, so in typical @TeamBATC style we headed down to our friends Bea’s of Bloomsbury with 100 red balloons (if you’ve read the book already, you’ll know why!), 100 FREE eBook download codes from the lovely chaps over at Kobo, and a tray of 100 special Valentine cupcakes….


Thank you to everyone who came down to celebrate with us, and if you haven’t already bought a copy of this wonderful, heartbreaking and emotional story about Fisher & Ivy – love, life and everything in between, you really, really should


masterclassOn Saturday 15th November 2014 we held our very first (but hopefully not our last!) Creative Writing Masterclass here at Books and the City HQ, aimed specifically at writers of commercial women’s fiction.  The day was split into two, with morning one-to-one sessions with editors Jo Dickinson and Clare Hey and afternoon panels for a wider audience with uber literary agent Lizzy Kremer, bestselling author Milly JohnsonPeter Saxton (Publisher Liaison Manager at Waterstones Head Office), Isabelle Broom (Book Reviewer at Heat Magazine) and Lindsey Mooney (Content Lead UK & Ireland  from Kobo).

We all had a fabulous time, our Panel Sessions were brilliant – with some cracking hints, tips and advice from the very best in the business, all topped off with fizz and cake at the end of the day.  Perfect.  Here are just a few of my favourite snaps from the day…






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Notes From The Cotswolds – Numbers versus Words – A writer’s perspective
2016/04/11  |  Features  |  Comments are off

Lately I have been thinking a lot about numbers and, as an author, this has thrown me a little. These days, I am all about the words – a neat turn of phrase, a humorous analogy, a lovely alliteration. But the numbers kept creeping into my head and rather than …