Quick Link | Verbal Magazine Review Of Patrick Kavanagh & The Leader

Always nice to see one of my commissions getting a review, however late after release. Patrick Kavanagh & The Leader is the third book by the very talented Pat Walsh. His previous two were also published by companies I worked with (Nonsuch & Mercier). He has an ability to spot a great story and bring it to life and he does that again with this book.

Kavanagh was perennially poor, thoroughly abrasive and ready to bite all hands that tried to feed him. With no carapace to ease the world’s buffets he used an anonymous profile in a Dublin magazine as a chance to ease his hurt and make a bit of money. The resulting trial in 1954 became the finest piece of theatre ‘the blind and ignorant town’ had experienced for years.

via Verbal.

Blood & Thunder ~ Martina Devlin: Drumming up enthusiasm for the Glorious Twelfth – Martina Devlin, Columnists – Independent.ie

Blood & Thunder: Inside An Ulster Protestant Band was one of the books I commissioned towards the end of my time at Mercier Press. It sounded like it was going to be a cracker and the author Darrach MacDonald was great.

Since release, the book has attracted a lot of attention which I’m really pleased to see. It deserves it.

The allusion to blood and thunder, by the way, refers to the decibel levels and to the zeal of drummers playing until their wrists bleed and their drumsticks are stumps.

MacDonald concludes that marching bands are a vibrant manifestation of 21st Century loyalist culture. The Orange Order’s membership is dwindling in an increasingly secular society (it has fewer than 36,000 members in Ireland compared with more than 93,000 in 1968), but these bands offer an outlet to loyalist youths to celebrate their heritage.

If full reconciliation within the North’s divided society is to happen, MacDonald suggests that respect for loyalist traditions must be part of it. “Choosing to be entertained. . . rather than offended is the secret to a shared future,” he says.

via Martina Devlin: Drumming up enthusiasm for the Glorious Twelfth – Martina Devlin, Columnists – Independent.ie.

Working Hard, Getting Rewarded

Good Mood FoodDonal 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.

Well done Donal!
Eoin

Sometimes You Just Get A Feeling

Colm & The Lazarus Key
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.

Check out Kieran’s website or read an interview with him over at Mercier’s site. And buy and read the book!

Having a decent evening, but thinking about Great Aunts and Apple Tarts.
Eoin

Publishing Success in Ireland, Part Five, Summing Up

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This series has been an exciting and interesting one for me to write and research. The first four parts are the real meat. You can read them one by one:

Publishing Success In Ireland, Part One
Publishing Success In Ireland, Part Two
Publishing Success In Ireland, Part Three
Publishing Success In Ireland, Part Four

So what have we learned with this series?

    1) Success is a lot more mundane than most people think.
    2) 1500-2000 units will put your book in the top 1000 books of that year.
    3) The industry is dominated by the forces of UK publishing
    4) That Fiction outperforms but is heavily driven by hits (making this Fintan O’Toole article nonsense*)
    5) That Average Selling Price makes a real difference

Have I anything new to share?
I’ve three new facts to share today.
– Up to the last Nielsen figures (28/11/2009) the Irish Consumer Market was down approximately 4.52% in Value
– Volume was up 5.42% though
– ASP was down 9.43%

These three facts indicate a number of unsettling features of the Irish book market.

Firstly, price is driving higher volume, but that is at the cost of driving down the ASP. This is surely putting everyone in the chain under extreme pressure.

Secondly, while there are some startling figures for individual books (70K+ for Secret Scripture for instance) as a whole, the Average Sale per Title is down somewhat (if this figure means anything).

Thirdly, Irish publishers are doing A LOT worse than the market as a whole. Not having full data makes this analysis superficial only so treat it with caution, but I estimate that nearly every Irish publisher has suffered a fall in sales much larger than the market fall. This has been driven by the heavy push booksellers are sensibly putting into bestselling titles, making the space tougher for smaller titles.

In short, success however modest, will be even more precarious going forward!
Eoin

* Also Dan Brown (who O’Toole picks on) has sold, 57193 copies of The Lost Symbol in Ireland so far this year.