Commissioning

Go Read This | Serious Nonfiction in the Digital Age

Great piece. And one that warrants a solid response, which I will think on before I write anything else:

So when digital evangelists prognosticate about the future of publishing, as they love to do, and about what “needs” to go away, serious nonfiction is now one of the first things I think about. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and want to read more of it and notice twentysomethings have little perceived patience for weighty tomes. Maybe it’s because I’d rather have pragmatic conversations about what categories are best suited to digital — genre fiction obviously, certain commercial strains of literary fiction, basically any book that needs to have a completed manuscript done before it’s shopped around, or can be finished very quickly post-proposal — and which ones won’t be. Maybe it’s because the very institutions that support serious nonfiction are themselves in more financial trouble than they used to be.

via Serious Nonfiction in the Digital Age.

Commissioning For The Irish Story

Last year I launched a niche Irish History site, The Irish Story. The idea was to create a vibrant site where people could discuss Irish history in an intelligent and interesting way.

I also commissioned five titles and have published each of these as Kindle ebooks and iOS Apps. It seems to have worked pretty well. The titles are each between 10 and 15,000 words each with a detailed timeline of events surrounding the particular focus.

The central focus of the website is the free material that gets posted weekly by a variety of contributors.

There are now over 100 posts on the site of varying length from a few lines to full-length essays, all free. Many of them feature exclusive audio interviews with scholars too, brought to you by the excellent John Dorney who also penned three of the first five books, and who is, in my view one of the most interesting young writers of Irish History.

Based on the success of the site (which is slow but steady) and of the first group of titles I’ve decided to commission a fresh batch of books and this series is to focus more on individuals (though if anyone has ideas for an event based title, I would welcome it too). I created an initial list of targets for 2011 commissioning, it’s here. Have a look at it and if any of them appeal to you, drop me a line and we can discuss the project.

I’ve already added two biographies with this batch, Kaye Jones will be writing two titles from the list in 2011.

So please, get in touch if you are interested, I would love to hear from you.
Eoin (Eoin AT eoinpurcell.com)

Some Notes
1) There are no advances for writing these books, however royalties for the digital editions start at 35% of Net Receipts and go up from there.

2) While many of the titles will be made available through Print On Demand avenues, I cannot guarantee this for ALL titles.

Things I Like | January, February, March, March, March – The Irish Times

I’ve mentioned Blood & Thunder on this site before, it was one of the commissions I made at mercier Press. Well it got a full review this weekend from The Irish Times. And a favourable one at that!

Loyalists tend to be cautious about opening up to journalists, but the former Castlederg bandmaster and former Ulster Unionist assembly member Derek Hussey paved the way for MacDonald to get to know the band and its workings. But he said pointedly to MacDonald, “Pity it’s a Taig who’ll be [writing the book]”, a warning against any stitch-up – again a long-standing fear among many loyalists when dealing with the fourth estate.

But it’s the generous and different-footed perspective that makes this book. With objectivity, perception and a strong degree of empathy MacDonald tells the story of the band, interweaving through the narrative the political, religious, cultural and social impulses that drive its members and in a broader sense drive unionism, loyalism and Protestantism.

via January, February, March, March, March – The Irish Times – Sat, Sep 18, 2010.

Go Read This | Rethinking the Publishing Company | Booksquare

This sounds about right!

Our thoroughly modern editor will sometimes go by the the name project developer. Rightly so. Even today, books are projects. Acquisition, editing, artwork, production, marketing…all of these are part of the final product that is known as a book. This project must be shepherded through the entire process, guided by a strong vision. Fragmentation of vision is a guarantee of failure.

Someone needs to be in charge of all aspects of the book — whatever form it takes — from beginning to end. This is particularly true if the book is slotted as a transmedia project. Nobody — nobody! — is better positioned to execute the vision than the acquiring editor. It’s a different kind of job. It’s a visionary kind of job.

via Rethinking the Publishing Company | Booksquare.

Things I Like | Liffey Ships and Shipbuilding – Pat Sweeney | The Irish Catholic

Nice review in The Irish Catholic for Pat Sweeney’s Liffey Ships & Ship Building, one of my commissions while at Mercier Press.

The book is not only the result of very detailed archive research, it shows too the benefit of Pat Sweeney’s skills as a professional photographer in recording so many of the ships while they were still sea-going.

Attractively produced, this is not just a book for the enthusiast, but for anyone at all interested, not just in Dublin’s past, but in a much neglected aspect of our national history.

Over the last few months I have heard three different Government ministers, including Mr Cowen, extolling the importance of ”heritage” to tourism and the creation of those all important ”bed-nights” around which our economy seems to spins.

The ship builders chronicled in these pages are part of that heritage, part of the heritage which the Maritime Institute of Ireland museum was set up to foster, but which central funding has neglected. Let us hope that Pat Sweeny’s excellent book will be a foundation on which a new future for Ireland’s total maritime heritage may be built.

via Books: Liffey Ships and Shipbuilding – Pat Sweeney | The Irish Catholic – Ireland’s biggest and best-selling Catholic newspaper since 1888.

Things I Like | Tales of the Burren, and other places – The Irish Times

Delighted to see two of my Commissions in the Irish Times at the weekend:

Burren Villages: Tales Of History And Imagination
by Sarah Poyntz

This sense of something beyond the everyday pervades the book, which is a collection of essays about the area and its people. There is a concise, well-put-together account of the history of the area by Poyntz and Jim Hyland, a lyrical description of the personal effect of the beauty of the Burren by Tony Hartnett (“There is something here that pulls at you inside”) and a deeply personal piece by Lelia Doolan, who spent her childhood summers in the Burren.

And

Bygone Limerick: The City And County In Days Gone By
by Hugh Oram

a lavishly illustrated portrait of the city and county, charting the changes in the historical areas, such as the Georgian Quarter and St John’s Castle, as well as towns and villages such as Adare, Bruree, Kilmallock and Newcastlewest. One of the more fascinating sections is about the building of the Shannon scheme at Ardnacrusha, which put Ireland on the map internationally and helped to raise the profile of the infant Irish Free State abroad.

via Tales of the Burren, and other places – The Irish Times – Sat, Aug 21, 2010.