Donal Skehan may just be the hardest working author/blogger/chef/popstar I know (though I know few enough that meet that exact definition).
He has really been working himself to the bone the last while and it’s really delivering for him.
he won the best Food & Drink blog for his incredible blog The Good Mood Food Blog at the Irish Blog Awards in Galway. He also let everyone on twitter know that he has had over 1,000,000 hits on that blog!
His book, which I had the pleasure of commissioning while at Mercier Press and launching when it came out in time for Christmas (there’s a video of the launch here), Good Mood Food, has been reprinted and he has been on the afternoon show twice recently.
I’m sure there’s more great stuff to come from Donal and it’s all well deserved because he works so damn hard and above all is a thoroughly decent human being! It’s nice when the good guy gets his just reward.
Some time ago, while I was still working at Mercier Press, probably back in early 2008 in fact, I read a submission. It was for a book by a young man called Kieran Mark Crowley. The pitch was great, the text was zingy and the whole thing just read exceptionally well.
I met Mark, liked, him, pitched the book at the new title meeting and before we knew what was happening, Colm & The Lazarus Key was published and on bookshelves (complete with a rocking cover by the wonderful Snowbooks folks).
Last week the shortlist for the 20th Bisto Children’s Book of the Year Awards was announced and Kieran’s wonderful book was one of the ten books chosen for that shortlist. I’m delighted because I honestly believe that Kieran has many more fine books in him and that Colm & The Lazarus Key is one of the finest Irish children’s debut novels for some time.
The problem of course is that these price wars and ebook protests are driving a value perception home in consumers minds. On the one hand it reinforces the idea of ebooks being “worth” less than physical books and on the other, the price of physical books is too high, why else would retailers be selling them at such large discounts.
It’s nice to see Hachette launch a proper Irish web presence. As one of the biggest Trade Publishers on the island it seemed strange to me that they didn’t have a proper site (although I know they did in the past).
If I had one problem, it’s my perennial complaint. The news & events page which looks good doesn’t supply an RSS feed and they don’t offer a mailing list sign up. That seems to me a lost opportunity to engage with their readers.
One nice feature is that the author pages can pull in title info on request. They could do with increasing the content on those pages but for now they have a good solid site.