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So.  Remember we announced our Digitals Originals project a few months ago? And how we were looking for brilliant new novels that we would publish in eBook first?

Well.  We are delighted to be able to announce that the first novel we will publish as part of this project is…. wait for it…. drum roll please…. The Two of Us, by Andy Jones, in Spring 2015 – first in eBook and then in paperback a few months later.

And, trust me.  You are going to LOVE IT.

The Two of Us tells the story of Fisher and Ivy and is about falling in love and what happens next.  It’s a heartbreaking emotional story of love, life and everything in between and manages to be both funny and warm… it’s captivated everyone here at Books and the City Towers, and we just can’t wait for you to read it, and fall in love with Fisher and Ivy.

More news will follow soon, including the cover reveal, sneak peak at the opening chapter, a wonderful Feature from Andy, and a very exclusive event to meet the man himself!


Stay tuned, follow Andy on twitter and look out for the #TheTwoOfUs news alerts.

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 Aimed at as-yet-unpublished writers, the event will consist of a morning of one-to-one sessions with editors Jo Dickinson and Clare Hey and uber literary agent Lizzy Kremer, and afternoon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 JohnsonPeter 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


The opening of VB’s Mayfair store. The announcement of Baby No 2 for Wills & Kate. The bendy IPhone 6 launch. The long awaited film adaptation of Gone Girl hitting the Big Screen. The priceless photos of jubilant female ISRO scientists after they successfully launched a robotic probe into space to orbit around Mars – for tuppence-hapenny.  New Caramel Brûlé Latte red cups at Starbucks. The wedding of an internationally acclaimed barrister to a middle aged actor. The hugely exciting follow up to One Day – Us by David Nicholls - hitting the shelves. The announcement of Nicole Shirtswinger taking to the West End stage in Cats… it’s already been a blinking brilliant Autumn hasn’t it?

Yes it may be raining, grey and muggy here in the Big Smoke but at BATC HQ there is a trembling ripple of excitement bubbling around the corridors. Strictly’s back. The GBBO contestants are nailing the technical challenges. Mel B is nailing being the most judgy judge on XFactor since Mrs O. And any second now Super Thursday will hit the publishing world – and some 315 hardback titles will be hitting the shelves ahead of the key Christmas sales period – and authors, their editors, Design, Sales, Marketing and Publicity bods will be holding their breaths, crossing their fingers and hoping, praying, begging that the books they’ve all worked so blinking hard to produce are HITS.

Here, nestled in the bosom of S&S, we are launching the autobiographies of Billy Idol, John Lydon and Torvill & Dean on Super Thursday.  We’ve got the debut Sci-Fi novel by Agent Scully herself – Gillian Anderson.  We’ve also got a new Rachel Hore novel, with a cracking competition to win a holiday in France, and the next instalment in the Clara Vine trilogy by Jane Thynne – The Winter Garden (with one of my favourite jackets of the year….)  We’ve got Dan Walker’s Football Thronkersaurus; we’ve got new children’s books by Meg Wolitzer and Darren Shan, and a brand new picturebook – Monsters Love Underpants – by bestselling pair Claire Freedman & Ben Cort.  Fly my pretties, fly like the wind!

But it’s not just books hitting the shelves on Super Thursday.  Oh no.  The wonderful Books Are My Bag initiative, launched in October 2013, reaches its crescendo on 9th October as well, and 1800 bookshops around the country will be hanging bunting and balloons in celebration.

Foyles’ beautiful new flagship store on Charing Cross Road will be playing host to some of the highest-profile book signings, followed by 3 days of festivities and parties at bookshops from Aberdeen to Penzance.  There will be  cake, fizz, special events, signings galore, there is a very special limited edition Tracey Emin tote as well as the opportunity to grab one of the iconic orange graphic Books Are My Bag bags … it’s going to be awesome!


So listen, as readers we all have a duty to support the industry that gives us so much pleasure.  We need to visit bookshops more.  We need to buy more books – in whatever format takes your fancy.  Research shows that 10 to 16 year-olds who read for pleasure do better at school and that regular reading is associated with a 35% reduction in the risk of dementia.  AND it can reduce stress levels by 68%.  And yet 35% of adults don’t read for pleasure. Crazy fools.  Go to the library.  Join a Book Club.  Swap your addiction to Candy Crush Saga, to an addiction for the new Richard & Judy Autumn picks.  Talk to your friends, colleagues and family about books.  Encourage them to read something that you think might take their fancy.  Buy your Nan an audio book.  Buy a Waterstones Gift Card as your Secret Santa gift this year.  Go on.  Show that books really ARE your bag.

Guest Post by Isabelle Broom, author of The Wedding Speech


weddingspeec_ebook_1471138984_300So, it’s been a month now since my story, ‘The Wedding Speech’, which won The Great British Write Off, was officially published and OH MY GAWD what a month it’s been. If I say I wasn’t nervous about what everyone’s reactions would be, then I’d be lying – I was pretty petrified, truth be told. It’s not that I wasn’t confident about the story, more that I knew some people would probably think it was a load of old gubbins. Thankfully, 99 per cent of the feedback I’ve had has been really good, which is amazing and hugely humbling.

I stayed up the night before publication so that I could download the story onto my own Kindle (and iPhone) as soon as midnight arrived. It was such a bizarre and mind-boggling experience to see my words appear on the page, along with all of the standard front-of-book stuff. Here was my story, on an actual Kindle, like a real author’s story. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

As it was a short story, it wasn’t very long before the reviews started coming in on Amazon and iTunes, as well as Goodreads, numerous blogs, Twitter and Facebook. I will honestly never have enough thank you’s for all of the people who have taken the time to read and rate the story. It sounds cliché, but the reviews really do make all the difference, and I value every single opinion, both good and bad. The main criticism so far has seemed to be simply that the story was too short, so I’m taking that as encouragement. The next thing I publish (hopefully – crosses every single finger and toe for good measure) will definitely be a lot meatier, so don’t worry about that.

I was lucky enough to get reviews of ‘The Wedding Speech’ in the print media too, namely Heat, Closer and Grazia – plus a mention in Private Eye, although I think that one was a bit tongue-in-cheek. Nevertheless, any publicity is good publicity and all that, so I’m very grateful. Shortly before the story was published, I was contacted by the team over at the Sunday People magazine, Love Sunday, and they asked me if I’d submit some new short stories to run in their mag. Needless to say, I leapt gazelle-like at the chance, and have since had two stories published – ‘The Message’ and ‘The Dinner Party’ – with another, ‘The New Arrival’, due on 12th October. I also have a brief to write another: a spooky tale in time for Halloween.

I have been working on a novel, too, and having all this continued support for ‘The Wedding Speech’ has really spurred me on and made me all the more determined to write something that I can be truly proud of. Without giving too much away, I can say that in October I’m off to a Greek island for a week to do a spot of research… Yep, this writing malarkey really is the best job in the world. Now all I have to do is become the next J.K. Rowling! Ahem…

Thanks so much to everyone who has read ‘The Wedding Speech’. I will continue to be grateful, humble and beaming with happiness about it for the rest of my days. Let’s hope it’s the first of many!

Digital Originals news

Digital Originals Font (4)

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, but we’ve now responded 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 have emailed all of 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 have invited those authors in to @TeamBATC HQ for a chat over a cup of tea and a biscuit.  

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. 


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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Andy Jones & Pals
Andy Jones on ‘The Two of Us’
October 17, 2014  |  Features  |  Comments are off

I have a confession to make: I have never read ‘female fiction’. And I certainly didn’t mean to write any. And yet here I am on Books and the City, ‘the home of female fiction’. The home, I tell you! Don’t get me wrong; I’m actually quite partial to a …