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ACCENT PRESS – THE DEEPEST CUT BY NATALIE FLYNN

Time for book review number 6 for my 52 Books by 52 Publishers reading challenge. Today’s publisher is…

 

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Accent Press!

Accent Press is a feisty, independent publishing company.

 Founded by Hazel Cushion in 2003, Accent Press is an award-winning independent publisher which has become a major name for dynamic trade publishing. The company publishes a range of fiction and non-fiction titles across four imprints.  Accent Press was named Specialist Publisher of the Year and was shortlisted for Independent Publisher of the Year at the IPG Awards.  

The company is divided into four imprints:

  • Accent Press – The mainstream publishing imprint provides a wide range of fiction and non-fiction titles.
  • Xcite Books – This erotic imprint was started in 2007, becoming the UK’s largest erotic publisher and winning multiple ETO Awards.
  • Cariad – mainstream romance publishing sexy, contemporary women’s fiction.
  • Accent YA – There’s a new YA publisher in town. This exciting new list aimed at young adults launches in Spring 2016.

Find out more about accent press here.

 

And the book I’m reviewing is…

 

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‘You haven’t said a single word since you’ve been here. Is it on purpose?’ I tried to answer David but I couldn’t … my brain wanted to speak but my throat wouldn’t cooperate…

Adam blames himself for his best friend’s death. After attempting suicide, he is put in the care of a local mental health facility. There, too traumatized to speak, he begins to write notebooks detailing the events leading up to Jake’s murder, trying to understand who is really responsible and cope with how needless it was as a petty argument spiralled out of control and peer pressure took hold.

Sad but unsentimental, this is a moving story of friendship and the aftermath of its destruction.

I’ve been so lucky so far in that I’ve really loved every book I’ve read so far this year for my reading challenge. All but two of them have been independent publishers. What does that tell you? Yep, that indies pack a punch and are producing some of the best literature we have out there today.

The Deepest Cut is a young adult novel. No matter how old you are, I really think it’s enriching to read young adult novels. They really are something special, and with the huge popularity it has enjoyed over the last few years, it’s only getting better.

This book is sad, yes, and it made me bawl my eyes out on more than one occasion. It’s about a boy who lost his best friend to knife crime, after all. But it’s not just about the sadness. It’s about deep, undying male platonic love. It’s about the strength of friendship and about how no human being is infallible. It’s about grief and support and mental illness, specifically Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s about peer pressure and the fragility of teenager friendships. It’s about confusion and not really knowing who you are as a kid. It’s about craving acceptance and yearning for what once was. It’s about the difficulties of dealing with change.

What I especially love is that Natalie Flynn has managed to capture the voice of a teenage boy, a troubled teenage boy, so accurately and convincingly. I was a teenager only ten years ago, and I remember having some of the same worries and thoughts and feelings that the kids do in this book, and so it felt really authentic. Equally, his mental anguish felt very authentic too. It was particularly effective because for much of the narrative the focus is on simple teenager issues, and is then contrasted with very unusual ones, which deals an emotional blow.

The sheer contrast between the Adam before Jake’s murder and the Adam after his murder makes for quite heartbreaking reading. He just suddenly cares about nothing, except Jake. Life doesn’t matter to him anymore. He’s angry and resentful at his father for not caring about him and betraying him. He’s upset and terrified of people finding out how and why he’s complicit in Jake’s murder. He’s angry at people for not understanding him. And he’s angry at everyone who won’t just let him end his own life.

The story of Jake’s murder is told over a series of diary entries which Adam is writing for his psychotherapist to read in the mental hospital. These are interspersed with current-day narratives about Adam’s life in the present, post-murder and post- Adam’s mental breakdown. This kept me absolutely hooked as a reader, desperate to know who murdered Jake and why.

The most effective aspect of Flynn’s writing, for me, was how she brought Adam and Jake’s friendship to life. Their love for each other just radiates off the page. It makes the whole tragedy even more powerful to read about. It’s very good writing.

I think it would be especially important for teenagers to read this book as it highlights, very dramatically and colourfully, how important seemingly unimportant things are, at that age. It demonstrates the danger that can befall absolutely anyone. And it emphasises the seriousness of fighting and knife crime, which is often underestimated by young teens who sometimes feel invincible.

This book is a fantastic read for people of any age. Definitely one for your shelf. Well done Natalie Flynn and Accent press. I’ll be returning for more!

 

five stars

 

 

DODO INK – Dodge and Burn by Seraphina Madsen

Hi guys. Slowly trying to catch up with reviewing for my 52 books by 52 publishers reading challenge. Here’s number 4, and the publisher is:

 

 

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Dodo Ink is an independent publishing company based in the UK. Founded by author Sam Mills (The Quiddity of Will Self, Corsair, 2012), digital publishing and marketing specialist Alex Spears, and reviewer Thom Cuell, Dodo Ink will publish original fiction, with a focus on risk-taking, imaginative novels. We are looking for books which don’t fall into easy marketing categories and don’t compromise their intelligence or style to fit in with trends. We are passionate readers, and we believe that there are many more who share our appetite for bold, original and ‘difficult’ fiction. We want to provide a home for great writing which isn’t being picked up by the mainstream.

Find out more about them here.

 

The book I’m reviewing is…

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We were told that our mother’s life was terminated by killer bees while vacationing in San Marcos, Mexico with Dr Vargas at his family home.

 After her mother dies in bizarre circumstances, heiress Eugenie Lund is abducted by Dr Vargas, a charismatic Svengali-like figure who educates her according to his own philosophy, an esoteric blend of anthropology and psychiatry. Isolated from outside influences, Eugenie’s life is spent on the run across North America and Europe, existing on the fringes of society, always trying to keep one step ahead of her past. 
Taking in Mexico, Las Vegas, and the underground rave scene, Dodge and Burn is a psychedelic road trip recounted in beautifully crafted prose that pulses with frenetic energy.

Inspired by the likes of Carlos Castaneda and Hunter S Thompson, this is an exciting, iconoclastic debut novel from a remarkable new voice. 

Well. Where do I start with this one? It is quite frankly nothing like I’ve ever, ever read before!

When it says ‘psychedelic’ in the blurb, they’re really not kidding. This story is all about one girl’s mission to find her missing sister and to make sense of the universe around her, and is written as a series of notebook/diary entries interspersed with the narrative and point of view of an outside character who is trying to track her down. Eugenie’s universe is quite different to many other people’s: she relies on heavy psychedelic drug use, Wiccan rituals, tribal practices, meditation and all manner of other things to make sense of her own world and access modes and forms of perception and existence that are completely alien to most of us. It leaves you wondering, quite often, what is real and what Eugenie is imagining or hallucinating. Often you’re left to decide that for yourself. For this reason the writing is lyrical, poetic, surreal, and quite ground-breaking. It is truly a reading ‘experience’ and quite unique.

This doesn’t mean it’s hard to read. On the contrary, I read in Seraphina’s essay on the writing of Dodge and Burn and she stated that she wanted Eugenie’s voice to sound “scholarly, yet popular in a generally even tone” and she’s achieved that perfectly. I did have to read a few passages a couple of times over, but that’s not because of the writing style, it’s because the concepts that were being described were so new to me that I had to try to understand them as much as I could in order to understand Eugenie. You get a real sense of who Eugenie is under the surface and you yearn for her missing sister along with her; you are endlessly curious about the world and alternative ways of living, just like she is. She pulls you into her bizarre reality along with her, and it’s a lot of fun.

I loved Ben, Eugenie’s husband. He is calm and collected most of the time, and only really aggressive if he perceives a threat towards Eugenie. You can feel the love between the couple radiate off the page. The way he doesn’t altogether understand Eugenie and what she talks about, but humours her and supports her and goes along with her rituals and things anyway, is truly adorable and lovely. He isn’t perfect and he has a fairly dark, criminal past, but Ben’s sole purpose before meeting Eugenie is to travel the world and take part in dance raves, and afterwards it seems to be protecting Eugenie to the best of his ability. And I like him for that. He is not averse to violence but doesn’t indulge in it for the sake of things.

Dr Vargas, Eugenie and her sister’s captor, reminded me a little bit of Count Olaf from a Series of Unfortunate Events. I guess this is probably an annoying comment for the author to read as obviously Count Olaf has never had any bearing or influence on this character, and in fact Seraphina’s own stepfather was the influence there. But just to give you an idea of what it’s like if you haven’t read the book, the circumstances are similar in that he makes the children’s lives miserable by kidnapping them and exercising his sheer dominance and power over them in an almost magical way to keep them under his thumb for years and years. He is dangerous and evil and conniving and greedy and, quite unlike Count Olaf, he should be taken very seriously indeed. He really is quite an unpleasant character.

The mystery of Eugenie’s sister Camille and where she’s disappeared to is truly fascinating. The ending of the book just utterly took my breath away; I did not for one second expect it to happen and yet it makes so much sense. Then, of course, you have to decide if you believe the twist to be real. I personally do believe it, but that’s up for you to figure out for yourself. I’d love to hear your interpretations of this book.

Books like these are the reason I love indie publishing companies: Penguin Random House or Hachette probably wouldn’t have looked at this twice and that is a massive, massive loss for them. Read it! Four big shiny stars from me.

four stars

 

 

 

Apply now! Exciting new Editorial Assistant job going at children’s publishing company.

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Image credit: LinkedIn (Bernard Marr article “The Tell-Tale Signs  You Should Find a New Job”)

 

***EXCITING NEW PUBLISHING JOB OPPORTUNITY***

Hi everyone!

It’s Stephanie, the SYP North Chair, writing to you today. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and an amazing New Year.

So, New Year, New You! And what better way to start the year than to bag yourself an awesome #publishing job as Editorial Assistant (without having to relocate to London!)

There is now a #vacancy at the children’s #book publisher where I will shortly be leaving as I move on to pastures new! The role is #Editorial Assistant and is a perfect opportunity for those looking to get into the industry, or are already working at entry-level and would like to take on more responsibility and play a vital role in developing a #publishing frontlist.

Based in a beautiful location just outside of Worksop, Nottinghamshire (within commuting distance of Lincoln, Newark, Nottingham, and Mansfield, among other towns and cities), the job is a really exciting introduction into the colourful world of children’s books.

Please find information about the job below. Please share with anyone you might feel would be interested in the position. The deadline for applications is 30th January 2017 but early applicants will be interviewed before then. If you’re interested, please send your CV and covering letter to me at stephanie@awardpublications.co.uk. Or, PM me  on Facebook for more information about the job. Can’t wait to hear from you! Good luck!

Award Publications Ltd

Job description – Editorial Assistant

An exciting new opportunity for a motivated individual with a passion for children’s books to join an award winning independent children’s publisher based near Worksop. This wide ranging position will play a key role in supporting the International Sales and Production teams and is an excellent opportunity for someone looking to develop a career in publishing.

Key Editorial duties:

· Assist in the creation of new concepts and commissioning of new titles
· Authoring of text
· Proofreading and editing
· Coordinating authors, illustrators and freelancers and maintaining close working relationships with them
· Writing and managing author/artist project briefs

Key Design duties:

· Assist in designing and creating new products
· Making up samples and materials for Book Fairs

Key Sales Support duties:

· Use in-house systems to compile and maintain product lists, advanced book information and sales presentation materials
· Ensure sales team and agents are kept informed and supplied with necessary materials and information
· Assisting the sales and marketing team with marketing campaigns on social media and blogging sites

Experience / skills required:

· Excellent IT skills, including strong Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel, and preferably InDesign/Creative Suite
· Excellent time-management and organisational skills, particularly the ability to manage own workload and prioritise accordingly
· Strong communication and interpersonal skills
· Good written and verbal communication
· The ability to work on your own initiative and solve problems
· A good eye for detail
· Education or experience to degree level or equivalent
· Prior experience in sales support or publishing, and/or fluency in an additional European language would be an advantage but is not essential.

The closing date for applications for this role is Saturday 15th January 2017, though interviews may take place throughout the application period. Earnings potential to £20k, dependent on experience and performance.

Introducing International Rights Manager Richard Carman

I am delighted to welcome today’s interviewee, a former colleague of mine at Award Publications. Richard Carman has now moved on to pastures new and his new company is an exciting new children’s publisher which is set to do big things. Read on to find out more about Richard, Fourth Wall Books, and the role of International Rights Manager within publishing…

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Please can you introduce yourself and give a brief overview of your career?

My name is Richard Carman, and I am International Rights Manager at Fourth Wall Publishing. I started in the book trade aged about 6, when I started sticking labels into the fronts of my Enid Blyton books and lending them to my friends as a library. I had my own duodecimal system of numbering. No-one was interested! I dropped out of a Master’s degree and got a job in WH Willshaw booksellers in Manchester, and from there joined David & Charles as a rep. I was headhunted by Hodder to join them in the same role, and went on to my first managerial role, aged 31, at Omnibus Press. From there I was UK Sales Manager for Penguin, then South Africa Sales Manager for Dorling Kindersley, which let to five very happy years as Head of Export. Made redundant when DK went bust, I was a freelance for nearly ten years in Africa working for people like Orion, Walker Books, Kingfisher and Kogan Page, and I joined Award Publications in 2010. I joined Fourth Wall in March of this year.

 

Can you tell us a little bit more about Fourth Wall Books? How did it come about?

Fourth Wall Publishing was originally conceived a few years ago, but the owners’ background led them to found a very successful branding and marketing agency first. We work with some very well-known high street brands as well as a lot of the Premier League football clubs. Fourth Wall Publishing was launched at London Book Fair 2015, and the first ten titles published in the autumn of that year. Our pace picked up this spring, and we’ll be publishing around 50 books a year.

What is the most challenging part of your role as International Rights Manager?

A lot of the companies I worked with in the past publish different kinds of books to those that we specialise in, so finding new customers and establishing relationships with them from scratch is probably the most challenging element.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I like people, I like being in a busy team and in a creative environment. Because the majority of my colleagues are designers, it’s good to be involved in every book from day one of its creation, and to be able to look up from my desk and see books being developed just across the room. And I love book fairs (anyone in publishing who tells you they don’t are liars), and travelling.

What trends are you currently seeing in the children’s book market?

YA fiction continues to be a big pull I think, but really good, contemporary, international-feel illustrations seem to be increasing in popularity. There’ll always be the pull of Disney and big-branded products, but underneath that it’s a healthy market too I think.

What upcoming Fourth Wall books are you most excited about?

My favourite of the next batch is “When The Sky Was Too Low” by Adam Bestwick, which is based on an old Native American myth. In ancient times, the sky was very close to the ground. Adults couldn’t walk upright, elephants were as big as dogs, and giraffe’s necks pointed sideways, not upwards. The children can’t fly their kites or kick their footballs high, so they get together and – after some false starts – find they can push the sky up high if they join up all their sticks and push together. When night comes they see the stars for the first time, because the light shines through the holes they made with their sticks. It’s a beautiful story about kids being able to solve problems that adults can’t, and about working together being the best way to work.

How do you go about marketing yourself as a brand new book publisher?

With a lot of hard work. Networking, visiting customers, social media, distinctive and memorable stands at book fairs, joining in everything we can really – getting our name seen and included. One has to be realistic and realise Rome wasn’t built in a day. But by the time it was finished, Rome was a beautiful place and people are still going there. So I want us to be a beautiful, successful publisher to whom people are still coming many years in the future.

You are based up in the North of England – how do you feel this will both benefit you and hinder you?

You can get a decent coffee anywhere in Cheshire now, so that’s the first thing. I think companies based outside of London obviously benefit from being immune to the costs of being in the South East. There’s a whole wealth of untapped talent in the North West, and we have access to fabulous illustrators and designers, writers, and people looking to work in marketing and production are welcome to contact us too. There are lots of people not based in London who want to work in “proper” book publishing. We can’t give a job to everyone, but we’re not short of options. We can be in London in a couple of hours maximum if we need to be. If you work in Hammersmith and live in Brockley, that’s going to take you the best part of an hour. I can’t actually think of any downsides!

You can follow Fourth Wall publishing on Twitter @4thwallbooks

Like them on Facebook

Check out their website at http://www.fourthwallpublishing.com/

 

Young, Gifted & Blackburn

Wow, so many interviews at once! Here I am being interviewed by Richard Carman of Fourth Wall Books, about chairing the Society of Young Publishers.

Fourth Wall Publishing

In the first of an occasional series of industry interviews, we talk to Stephanie Cox, Chair of the Northern Branch of the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) about her career and the society itself.

Stephanie Cox

Fourth Wall: Can you start by introducing yourself, and explaining what you “do”?

SC: I’m Stephanie Cox, and I work at a children’s publisher in the UK, called Award Publications. A truly working-class Northern lass, I hail from Hull and I’m very proud of it! I’m very much at the beginning of my publishing career, having moved into children’s publishing earlier this year after a year and a half as a Publishing Editor at academic publishers Emerald Group Publishing. I’ve also just become the Chair of the Society of Young Publishers Northern branch, which is pretty exciting considering just over two years ago I was still desperately trying to break into a notoriously hard-to-get-into creative industry.

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How to build a career in publishing outside of London

It was my turn to be interviewed today! Check out my interview with Book and Brew about the Society of Young Publishers and publishing in the North.

Book and Brew

Ever wondered how the publishing industry works? Wanted to crack into the business but don’t know where to start? I spoke to the Society of Young Publishers about to how build a career in the industry, and what they’re doing to support publishers in the North.

Publishing is one of the toughest industries to get into. Primarily based in London and the south east, it can be difficult to access and the recruitment processes are notoriously prickly. Getting a foot on the ladder with that one job that might allow you to climb is the goal for young publishers eager to break into this world.

I was recently lucky enough to chat to Stephanie Cox, the Chair of the Society of Young Publishers (SYP)North, to get some tips on how those north of the Watford Gap can carve out a publishing career.

Stephanie Cox Stephanie Cox, SYP North’s Chair Hi Stephanie. Thanks…

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What we learnt from Richard Carman

Learn more about my latest Society of Young Publishers event!

Society of Young Publishers North

image5Following our fantastic Q & A event with International Rights Manager of Fourth Wall Publishing, Richard Carman, we thought we’d give you all the juicy gossip.

Firstly, how did he get where he is today in the publishing industry?

Richard completed his English literature degree and went on to study for a Masters, however after six months he realised that it wasn’t for him and worked full time in a book store. He wrote to 150 publishers for advice on what he needed to do to break into the industry, to which most responded by telling him to work voluntary to gain experience.

Richard’s first role in the industry was as a Sales Rep for David & Charles, where he stayed for three years. After this. he worked for Hodder, Omnibus press and even spent six months with Penguin. He worked for almost seven years as an export director for…

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