Catch up with what’s happening on our social media feeds, and find out about the latest authors to publish with The Book Guild… there’s also company news, the latest author events and a round-up of our latest reviews and media coverage.

Video introductions


Catch up with what’s happening on our social media feeds, and find out about the latest authors to publish with The Book Guild… there’s also company news, the latest author events and a round-up of our latest reviews and media coverage.

Book Guild’s Cracking Christmas Reads – Day 5

On day five of Book Guild’s cracking Christmas reads we are sharing an interview with Amy Stone (A F Stone).

Q 1. When did you realise that you wanted to become an author?

I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I think I even signed a teacher’s yearbook in high school with something along the lines of, ‘if you ever see a book by A F Stone, it’s me!’ so there you go – all these years later he might actually do that!

Q 2. Tell us a bit about The Raven Wheel?

‘The Raven Wheel’ follows three troubled teenagers as they struggle to seize control of their lives. Wayward Tye wants to finally make his father proud. Bright but awkward Kian is desperate to reconnect with his estranged mum. Impulsive rebel, Ria, harbours a secret desire to murder her father. Their lives intertwine as they strive to succeed and find themselves in too deep, too late.

Q 3. What three things do you think your readers should know about you or your writing?

  1. I tend to gravitate towards tragic tales but I’m working on it.
  2. This work contains extreme violence and strong language. Graphic? Yes. Gratuitous? Never!
  3. I have to admit to using performance-enhancing-playlists.

Q 4. What’s the most important thing you have learned while publishing the book?

I think the main lesson to take from the process of getting published is how to deal with the journey up to that point – particularly all the rejection! If I were advising someone going through the soul-destroying process of submissions/queries, I’d just say keep going. You’ll be sick of people telling you to stick with it, but that’s the only way anyone succeeds. It took me ten years of obsessing, breaking my heart and melting my mind to finally get somewhere with my writing, and even then, it’s only a very modest first step. Just because you shouldn’t quit the day job doesn’t mean you should give up your dreams – we all have to make a living but if you’re lucky enough to have another endeavour that gives your life meaning, make time for it.

Q 5. If you were a character in your story, which would you like to be?

That’s a really difficult question! If you do read my book you’ll understand why there is no good answer here… Let’s just say there are characters I love dearly, but I wouldn’t want to live this particular chapter of their lives!

Q 6. Which book do you wish you had written? 

I’ve always loved ‘Junk!’ by Melvin Burgess and would like to think my book occupies a similar space. It’s one of those books that you read and think, this was in my head already, I swear, and you’ve just brought it out. ‘Junk!’ was the book that made me want to write YA.

Q 7. Where do you like to do your writing? Do you have a set writing process?

I would love to have a set place, time and process, but with a toddler and a baby that just isn’t possible! I find myself writing on the sofa, in bed, on the bus. I prefer to write on my laptop, but I do end up writing on my phone out of necessity. I find google docs is great for the first draft because you don’t have to worry about losing your work – I once had a laptop stolen with a lot of files I’ll never recover on it and still wonder if they could have turned into anything useful. 

Q 9. What is your favourite childhood book?

There are too many to pick one. I particularly liked collections of stories – ‘Tales for the Telling’ by Edna O’Brien, ‘Sleeping Beauty and other Favourite Fairy Tales’ by Angela Carter – the illustrations by Michael Foreman made them absolutely spellbinding. Another collection that really got under my skin was ‘Tales from the Threepenny Bit’ by Wendy Eyton and Penny Dann.

Q 9. What’s next in the writing pipeline for you?

I’m attempting to write another YA novel, but it’s quite a departure from ‘The Raven Wheel’. This one is a dystopian tale set in the future we could soon inhabit, if far-right populism continues its advance. It sounds like another dark one, but I’m hoping it’s ultimately a positive story about hope. There’s a good cat in it, too.

The Raven Wheel is available from our bookshop!

Book Guild’s Cracking Christmas Reads – Day 4

On day four of Book Guild’s cracking Christmas reads we are sharing an extract from Outreach by Shelly Berry, as well as a mini Q&A.

Extract (From Chapter 17):

Outside I could hear laughter from within the pub, no doubt at my expense. The wooden decking was slippery with a coating of winter drizzle. Tentatively I picked my way through the revellers outside, shivering in groups or glued to their phones as they smoked. Spotting an oversized planter by the window, I pushed past a couple immersed in each other’s embrace and perched on its edge. Tears were falling freely down my face, but nobody noticed. Nobody cared. A new wave of self-pity deepened my sobs.


I didn’t need to look up to see who it was. And I certainly didn’t want him to see how upset I was. As I quickly wiped my face with the back of my hand David sat next to me, wobbling slightly as he balanced on the narrow rim. I glanced at his knees, almost touching mine. His forearm was resting on his lap, a cigarette dangling from his fingers. He lifted it towards me.

“You want a drag? I’d offer you one but I had to skag this one off someone else.”

I shook my head vigorously before taking a peek at his face. His earlier joviality had disappeared. His blue eyes searched my own blankly. I dared to stare back at them for a moment before looking back down at the floor, wishing desperately that he was easier to read. I heard the tobacco crackle as he pulled on his cigarette. He was so close to me that I could hear his breath as he exhaled.

“So, are you going to tell me what’s wrong or am I going to have to try some amateur psychoanalysis on you?”

My response was half laugh, half sob. As I put my hand over my mouth, I felt David’s hand on my shoulder.

“Christ, Em, I know it was a bad joke but I didn’t think it was that bad.”

I managed a giggle in return and looked at him again. His face had softened, his eyes smiling. I felt a pang of guilt as it hit me how much seeing my tears had upset him.

“Sorry,” I stammered. David raised his eyebrows.

“Sorry? What for?”

I pointed at my damp face. His frown was exaggerated, clown-like.

“Hey, don’t worry about it. It’s a Christmas do. Someone’s got to have an emotional meltdown, right?”

I giggled again.

“I was starting to worry that I was going to have to do the honours. I thought it was Fran’s turn but even my best attempts to wind her up didn’t crack that nut.”

His mouth broke into a smile as I laughed some more. He released my shoulder to push his hair out of his face.

“That’s better. Now, tell your Uncle Dave what’s up.”

I shrugged and looked down at my hands, my laughter fading.

“Oh, it’s nothing…”

“No, it isn’t. Now spit it out.” He elbowed me softly as he spoke, his warm smile encouraging me. I took a deep breath.

“Okay, well…” I bit my lip and looked up at him through my eyelashes. He nodded his encouragement. “It’s Fran. If she isn’t criticising me then she’s making fun of me. You should have heard her just then.” The words tumbled out of my mouth, almost tripping each other up in their haste. David’s eyebrows drew together.

“Really? Why, what was she saying?”

I hesitated for a moment, suddenly unsure whether telling my manager, our manager, was the best way to deal with Fran. But it wasn’t just our manager; it was David.

“She was making comments about what I was wearing.” Involuntarily I sniffed. “I know I’m not exactly cool or anything, but…”

Hey, hey, enough of that.” This time his arm was around my shoulders, squeezing me. “No more tears, okay? And, you know what? There’s nothing wrong with how you dress. I mean, just because Fran chooses to dress like a skinhead stuck in the seventies doesn’t mean that you have to.”

I covered my face with my hand as I snorted another laugh.

“Okay?” He squeezed me again. I looked at his eyes. They were so close to mine, my face so close to his. I felt my stomach lurch with excitement.

“Okay,” I whispered, my gaze not leaving his, willing him to kiss me. He stared back for what felt like an eternity before his eyes flickered away. His arm fell away from me, taking with it the heat of his body. I followed his gaze as it scanned the scene in front of us. A handful of hardcore smokers were still gathered by the door, huddled together like penguins. Suddenly I was all too aware of the bitterness in the air around me. David put his hands on his knees and pushed himself to his feet.

“Good, that’s settled then,” he said, turning to face me as he dug his hands into his pockets. His smile was bright but void of the intimacy I had just felt. I stared at him dumbly.

“Bloody hell it’s cold. I’m going back in. You coming?” He shivered dramatically as he nodded towards the door, his hands still firmly in his pockets. I looked behind me through the window of the pub. The party was in full swing, my colleagues getting louder by the minute as alcohol melted away their inhibitions. But not completely. Even in his inebriated state, David wasn’t about to admit his feelings for me here, not with the entire service looking on. I turned to him. He grinned back before striding over to the door. He swung it open and waved his hand through grandly.

“Ladies first.” He nodded his head in a small bow as he spoke. I stood up and gingerly walked towards him, unsteadied by heels and wine. As I approached him I glanced up at his face. Meeting my gaze his smile intensified, deepening his dimples. I smiled back before walking into the pub, my head bowed, not with embarrassment, but to hide the joy that was illuminating my face.

Q 1. Tell us a bit about Outreach

Outreach tells the story of a young woman, Emily, who moves to London to pursue a career as a support worker and to prove to the world – and her emotionally distant father – that she can make it in the big city. It’s heavily influenced by my work in the public sector, but it really came out of my curiosity about what would happen if someone developed a crush that they were unable to let go of, even if all the signs suggested that they should…

Q 2. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love crafting and making art. I’m currently in the throes of making a couple of Christmas presents – I can’t tell you what though, as it might spoil some surprises… My day job as a counsellor can be quite demanding, so spending time relaxing with friends or my partner, whether it be by walking in Epping Forest, enjoying some live music or chilling with a glass of wine is an important part of my self-care. As is the occasionally Sunday morning lie-in followed by a roast!

Q 3. What books or authors have had the most influence on your own writing, and why?

I think my writing has a dark streak which perhaps originated from my love of Roald Dahl as a child. As an adult reader I have devoured the work of many great female contemporary authors who don’t shy away from writing about challenging situations, from Donna Tartt to Zadie Smith to Margaret Atwood. ‘Notes of a Scandal’ and ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ are hugely inspiring novels that really get under the skin of characters that leave the reader feeling more than a little uncomfortable.

Q 4. What advice would you give to other budding authors?

I think it’s really useful to go on some writing courses and read some books and publications like Mslexia to help get you started – but at the same time, don’t let them take away your unique voice.  And keep going – the more you write, the better your writing will become.  I swear by diarising writing time, setting myself a target, and keeping going – even if I think what I am writing feels like drivel. Quite often when I read it back, it isn’t as bad as I thought it was when I first sat down to it!

Q 5. What’s next in the writing pipeline for you?

On December 7th I hosted a writing workshop as part of Walthamstow’s High Street ADVENTures event (a creative response to supporting the local night-time economy). I supported participants to write about their sensory experience of Advent. It’s a new venture and one I am very excited about. I’m also in the middle of writing a series of short stories I intend to amalgamate into a novel. It’s about a group of people whose paths cross on a housing estate in central London riddled with crime and ‘anti-social behaviour’. Watch this space…

Outreach is available to buy from our bookshop!

Book Guild’s Cracking Christmas Reads – Day 3

On day three of Book Guild’s cracking Christmas reads we are sharing an interview with Trisha Hughes.

Q 1. What drew you to write in the historical fiction genre?

I’ve always loved history so when I was in a car with my grandson on the way to the beach, he told me one of his subjects at school was history. I was delighted to have something to talk to him about, so I asked him, ‘So you know all about Henry VIII?’ Because well, doesn’t everyone? When he looked at me blankly, I was shocked. It started me thinking. Why don’t we know more about our history? It was that day I decided to write a book on British Monarchy. Two years later, after I’d been gathering research notes, I realised I had enough to fill three books.

Q 2. Tell us a bit about your books and what they cover

I’ve published three books on British Monarchy. The first one is called ‘Vikings to Virgin – The Hazards of being King’ and covers the early Vikings up to the day Elizabeth I stepped up to the throne. The second in the series is called ‘Virgin to Victoria – The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen’ and covers the life of Elizabeth I until Victoria took the throne. The last is called ‘Victoria to Vikings – The Circle of Blood’. The one covers the life of Queen Victoria and all the monarchs after her, including the current monarch, Elizabeth II. I gave it the sub-title, ‘The Circle of Blood’ because this book explains that it’s not just the present monarch who can trace her lineage back to the Vikings, but her husband Prince Phillip as well.

Q 3. What, in your opinion, makes your characters so memorable?

British history is amazing. Stories of early monarchs are shocking, heart wrenching, horrifying, brutal and sometimes funny. But what is truly amazing is they are real. And that’s what makes them memorable. My stories are not fictitious stories. They’re real characters who fought real battles, won the heart of their women and suffered diseases… just like us.

Q 4. What are your top tips for an aspiring historical fiction writer?

The best tip I can give is to do your research. It’s time consuming and boring at times. But it’s absolutely necessary if you are telling a historical story. It needs to grab the interest of your readers and it has to be believable. Know what they ate. Know what they wore. Who they loved and who they hated. Only then you can weave the story the way you want it.

Q 5. What research do you carry out before writing your books?

My best research came from reading other books. Some were written by academics and some were written by other historical fiction writers who had done their research. Wikipedia always gives reference books to search and this has been invaluable to me.

Q 6. If you could invite one character from your books to dinner, who would it be and why?

That’s difficult. I have two characters that I can’t choose between. The first one is Richard III for obvious reasons. Did he actually kill his nephews or was he just vilified by Shakespeare because Shakespeare had to kowtow to Elizabeth I, a Tudor, and the granddaughter of the king who usurped the throne from him during a Battle of Bosworth Field?

The second one at my dinner table would be Charles II. I’m a little in love with Charles. In history, he was a philanderer, a spendthrift and he was definitely arrogant. But he was a lovable rogue and he was loyal to his country and loyal to the people he loved. When Parliament told him to rid himself of his wife who could not bear him any children, he refused. When Parliament told him to disown his Catholic brother James as the heir to his throne, he refused. And when fire was destroying London during The Great Fire, he was out there with his people filling buckets of water and trying to save them. I definitely would have Charles II at my table, and I’d sit him next to me.

Q 7. What topic or subject have you found most challenging to write about?

In all my books, the most challenging would be World War I and the lead up to the war. It’s intricate and detailed and there are so many reasons behind what happened. Nothing is ever cut and dried and this particular story pulls at my heartstrings. Many will read about Kaiser Wilhelm and his betrayal of his family, but deep down, that’s not what happened. Inside he was just a little boy who felt rejected by his family and strived his whole life to prove to them he was worthy of their love. He just went about it all wrong. Then there is the story of the massacre of the Romanovs and their little boy with haemophilia. It’s brutal and heart-wrenching and I found it difficult writing that part of the book because of the intense sadness. But then, isn’t all war sad?

Q 8. Where do you like to do your writing? Do you have a set routine?

I write most days. If I’m not writing, I’m researching. I go everywhere with a pad and pen and when something occurs to me, I write it down for future reference. But sometimes, the juice doesn’t flow and these are the times to step away from the computer and let your brain settle. Things will come when they’re ready. You just have to be patient.

Q 9. What’s next in the writing pipeline for you?

I am putting the finishing touches to a mystery novel, the first I hope to be in a series based in my native country Australia. I have a lovable character and a crime that needs to be told. It’s very different from historical fiction but I love the challenge.

Trisha’s books are available to buy from our bookshop!


Book Guild’s Cracking Christmas Reads – Day 2

On day two of Book Guild’s cracking Christmas reads we are sharing an extract from A Hedgehog Story: Hedgehog Christmas by David Hills, as well as a mini Q&A.

Extract (From pages 1–4):

It is late December and the night is bright, as the ground is covered with the sparkle of fresh snow.

The air is cold, crisp and silent.

Alistair awakes. His room is lit by a strange light. The silence is loud.

Alistair sits up and stares at the window. He leaves his bed and pulls the curtains to one side and – “WOW!” – giant lumps of white, soft, cotton-like snowflakes are falling from the sky.

Alistair becomes excited and then a tiny bit worried that the hedgehogs will be in difficulty due to the deep snow.

“I will go to the garden first thing in the morning and help them,” he says quietly to himself.

Morning comes, and Alistair rushes to the garden as soon as he can.

The snow is deep and so soft, but a little difficult to walk through.

“The hedgehogs are sleeping safe in their warm homes, I hope,” says Alistair.

He leaves the garden and goes into his house.

He stops suddenly when he notices a small, white box on the table.

“What is in there?” he asks himself.

Hello!” he calls around the house. “Anyone here…? Mum…? Dad…?”

At first, no answer.

Then, “Hello, Alistair.” He hears his mum’s voice from behind him.

“Where did that come from? What is in it?” he says eagerly.

“We do not know!” says his mum. “It just appeared, have a look,” she says, smiling. “Be careful with it!”

Alistair hurries to the table. The box is white and has small holes around the top and a little handle that sticks out from the shaped lid. It is made from cardboard and is sparkling.

Alistair gently pulls the top of the handle. The box opens slightly.

Immediately, one big shape pops out of the top of the box.

“Is it moving?” the little boy questions, surprised.

Then, POP, another one. Same shape, size and colour.

Alistair stands back from the table. He is a tiny bit confused, but also amazed.

“Go on, then, look inside,” she says.

With that, the little boy peeks into the depths of the box, and there is a small dark shape…

Q 1. Tell us a bit about your Hedgehog stories

My stories follow the magical adventures of Hamish the sparkly, magical hedgehog and Alistair the young boy who is chosen by the hedgehog queen to become the hedgehog protector. These little stories take Alistair through the magical world of the hedgehogs.

Starting with a fun packed summer, a big birthday party and meeting the hedgehog queen, the stories then move through the autumn to a sparkly but scary forest and Alistair has his first chance to show that he really is the hedgehog protector, with new and lost friends, reunited families and some fireworks to celebrate. This takes them all to Christmas. The magic and splendor of Christmas is enjoyed by Alistair and all his best friends with an unexpected ending.

Q 2. What inspires your writing?

For ten years now I have been lucky enough to enjoy visits from this wonderful little creature of nature… the hedgehog. This is what inspires these stories.

Q 3. What’s your favourite thing about writing children’s fiction?

The best thing about writing children’s fiction is that you can use your imagination to its fullest and create something original.

Q 4. When did you realise that you wanted to be a writer?

For many years I had the desire to write a book, but completion was difficult. Thank goodness for my dear friends – the hedgehogs.

Q 5. What’s next in the writing pipeline for you? Will there be another Hedgehog adventure?

I have recently completed the next tale in the ‘Hedgehog Story series’, which will be available in 2020. 

David’s books are available to buy from our bookshop!

Book Guild’s Cracking Christmas Reads – Day 1

On day one of Book Guild’s cracking Christmas reads we are sharing an interview with Ian McFadyen:

Q 1. What inspired you to start writing and how long have you been writing?

I first started writing in 2000; the intention being to try and write just one book. However, I enjoyed the process so much that I carried on, with my latest book being number eight in the series.

Q 2. Tell us about the DI Carmichael series

All eight titles are based around the same core team of detectives located in rural Lancashire. The books are a series but are written as stand-alone stories, so they don’t have to be read in any particular order.  

Q 3. How do you develop the plot and characters?

Obviously, the plots and characters are key to any crime fiction story. My method of devising my plots normally follows a similar sequence of events. Firstly, I try to think about the kernel of the story. This could be the twist, an interesting series of events that would drive someone to murder, or maybe just something as simple as a strong title that lends itself to a particular story. My latest book, ‘Blood on his Hands’ was inspired by a thought I had about someone confessing to murder. Once I have the kernel, I then spend a few weeks just thinking about the plot, occasionally jotting down some notes, so when I start to write I can pick up any train of thought I may have had. After that it’s simply a case of getting out my memory stick, plugging it in and then and starting to write. With regards to characters, my central characters tend to remain the same; DI Carmichael, his core team of detectives, his wife, family and a few regulars from the local area. Other characters, who tend to only appear in one book, are often created from people I know or people I’ve read about; although almost without exception the final creation will end up quite removed from the person who acted as his or her inspiration.        

Q 4. What provides the inspiration for your stories?

As stated earlier, it can be many things. The only common factor is that it normally just comes to me – so not something I’ve ever had to work hard to find.      

Q 5. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of a good crime novel?

Great question: I think crime novels need to have pace and should allow the reader to start trying to piece together the evidence and spot the clues almost from page one. When they’ve finished reading the book, I want my readers to feel they were given all the information they needed to solve the puzzle – but, of course, I don’t want them to have managed to work out what’s actually happening before it’s revealed.

Q 6. What’s your favourite part of publishing a book?

I love every stage, from the initial idea, the solitary activity of writing for months, right through to the post-launch marketing. In fact, the only thing I dislike is proof reading (but I’m afraid that’s absolutely vital).

Q 7. Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you

I very rarely read the work of other crime fiction writers!

Q 9. What advice would you give to a new writer, someone just starting out?

Don’t be scared! Just get on with it. Every author had to write their first book, not knowing whether they were any good, so don’t worry if you feel that way at times!

Q 10. What’s next in the writing pipeline for you?

I have three potential Carmichael storylines in my head at the moment. My plan is to decide which one I want to develop into number nine in the series during December. I’ll then start writing that book on 1st Jan 2020, with the aim of getting the first draft finished in about September.   

Ian’s books are available to buy from our bookshop!



At a glance: Ebook services at Book Guild

Stephanie Carr, Digital Marketing Controller for Troubador’s imprints gives an overview of the ebook services available to Book Guild authors:

Digital publishing is more popular than ever, and even though physical books still reign supreme in the publishing world, ebooks are maintaining a steady popularity; in today’s culture we have a growing need for content on the move, and the accessibility of ebooks facilitates that need.

From an author’s perspective, how would your work benefit from being available in ebook format? Firstly, ebooks can be made available quickly and have a worldwide reach, something which can be more difficult with printed books and ‘bricks and mortar’ bookshops. When ebooks first became widely available, they could only really be read on dedicated e-readers such as Kindles, but with the rise of smartphones and tablets, ebooks today can be read more widely – and more easily – than ever before. Most readers browsing Amazon will expect a title to have a physical and ebook version on offer, so having your work available in both formats ensures that you’re reaching the widest market possible and making your book available to everyone.

At Book Guild we offer ebook production, distribution, and marketing services. The process begins once the files for your physical books have been sent for printing; the files are then passed over to us in the Digital Department, and we begin work on the ebook conversion.

There are many automatic conversion tools available online allowing you to convert your Word document or PDF to an ebook instantly, but at Book Guild we convert all of our titles manually using specialist conversion software. This allows us to ensure that every element of the ebook will appear correctly when downloaded onto an e-reading device, and also gives us more control over the formatting and layout. The majority of ebooks are what’s known as ‘reflowable’ meaning the user can increase or decrease the font size, and so the amount of text that appears on the screen at once will vary depending on the size of the font and the size of the screen the ebook is being read on.

Automatic online conversion tools will often take your manuscript and churn out an epub (ebook) file, but with no quality assurance checks in place to ensure that no important formatting or styling has been lost in the process. At the Book Guild, once we’ve completed a conversion we check it thoroughly on a range of e-readers to ensure everything is as it should be before it’s uploaded to retailers for sale.

Our ebooks are made available worldwide through all major ebook retailers including Amazon, Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble (US only), as well as ebook subscription services like Scribd, and wholesalers such as Overdrive and Borrowbox who supply ebooks to libraries. We are always exploring new avenues of distribution for our ebooks to get them available as widely as possible.

We also offer a range of ebook marketing services, designed to get consumer reviews for your ebook left on retailers’ sites. Ebooks rely on word of mouth and good reviews to generate sales, and we use a review site called NetGalley to distribute review copies to bloggers, journalists, media professionals, and those in the book trade. The reviews we get are passed on to you as the author, and we follow up with all those who accessed a review copy to encourage them to leave a review if they haven’t done so already. The great thing is, any reviews left for your ebook on Amazon will also appear on the printed book’s page, so effective marketing for one format can really help to impact sales of the other as well.

Ebooks are a great option for making your work accessible to as many readers as possible. With readers able to increase the font size, change the contrast and brightness of the screen, and zoom in on images, ebooks are ideal for those with different reading requirements and those who may struggle to read traditional print books. If you are interested in having your work produced in ebook format, please contact [email protected] and we’d be happy to advise further.

Staying on trend with cover design

Jack Wedgbury, Senior Designer for Troubador’s imprints takes a look at cover design trends and how we apply them to our books:

Keeping up to date with what is on-trend for book covers is an important part of our design team’s role. Spotting key trends in design, materials and enhancements allows us to understand what is popular within the industry, which in turn allows us to offer this to our authors. To do this, we read blogs and trade magazines such as The Bookseller, look at social media, attend weekly design meetings and make inspiration visits to printers and bookshops.

Following a recent bookshop visit, we noticed that foil blocking was a major trend, featuring within the cover designs of books from every genre. From historical fiction to poetry, shiny metallic foil was gracing the covers of new releases more than ever. Moreover, foil was becoming the main feature of some designs, like the UK edition of Circe by Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury). This incredible matte bronze foil finish inspired the design for Ayeme’s Circus of Redemption by Keith Blackburn, published by The Book Guild. Therefore, by offering cover enhancements such as foil blocking to our authors, as well as designing covers that would be suitable for this enhancement, we’re offering our authors the chance to take advantage of this trend. A shiny cover design can go a long way in enticing potential readers to pick up a book!

[Ayeme’s Circus of Redemption – The Book Guild]

In terms of design, we look at colour palettes, imagery and fonts to understand key trends in these areas. For example, looking at colour trends within genres enables us to know what readers expect when browsing a bookshop, and allows us to react to this, ensuring that our books fit in well within the trade. Applying this research to our cover designs, we recently spotted that purple was a key colour in children’s and young adult books, featuring within the cover designs of books such as Slay by Brittney Morris (Hodder), The Girl Who Stole an Elephant by Nizrana Farook (Nosy Crow) and Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo (Hot Key Books). Therefore, we chose to incorporate a purple colour palette into a design for a recent young adult fiction title published by Matador, Devil’s Mist by Liam Moiser.

By reacting quickly, we are able to take advantage of trends by incorporating elements such as this into our designs. In doing so, we ensure our cover designs stay fresh and up to date, and ultimately keep them commercially appealing. Keeping on top of cover design trends is a twenty-four-seven job, but for the book-loving design team at Troubador, it’s a welcome task.

[Devil’s Mist – Matador]

Recently, our design research was put to the test when Book Guild author, Awais Khan, completed his own market research, posting online the covers for both the UK and the South Asian edition of his book In the Company of Strangers. He held a poll for the covers in two different online forums, and the results were both interesting and extremely positive. The forum dominated by UK readers preferred the UK cover while the forum dominated by Pakistani/Indian readers preferred the South Asian edition. This goes to show how different each of the markets are and how each publisher has to understand their market in order to give the book the widest appeal possible. Thanks to Awais and his research, we’re able to see first-hand that the design research we undertake produces positive results.

[Left: In the Company of Strangers (The Book Guild). Right: In the Company of Strangers (Simon and Schuster, India]

From the point of view of a reader, or author, cover design trends are not something you’ll necessarily notice. But behind the scenes, a lot of work goes into market research in order that we can use this knowledge to make our author’s books as commercially appealing as possible. Having said that, next time you’re browsing a bookshop, you’re bound to start noticing them. See how many you can spot!

An afternoon in the spotlight – celebrating the launch of Gary Lloyd’s book

On Friday 22nd October, Marketing Controller Philippa Iliffe and Assistant Production Manager Rosie Lowe attended the book launch of My Life with Michael: 10 Years of Thriller Live by Gary Lloyd. Philippa recounts their experience of the afternoon:

[Image: Gary Lloyd, Rosie Lowe and Philippa Iliffe © Bonnie Britain Photography]

The Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue has been home to Thriller Live for almost eleven years. The show, which celebrates the life and music of Michael Jackson has become one of the UK’s longest-running musicals and has played around the world to over five million people.

Written by the award-winning director and choreographer of the global hit show, My Life with Michael charts Gary Lloyd’s journey working with Jackson’s legacy since its West End debut. Not only does the book delve into Lloyd’s childhood and early career but it also reveals an insight into the workings of the production itself. We see how the show is cast and follow the journey of various cast members around the world. Lloyd shares many of the amazing, funny and sometimes unbelievable stories as he travels with the show, constantly developing it and documenting its behind-the-scenes narrative.

My Life with Michael is a true celebration of Jackson’s music as well as the cast, crew and creative team that have made Thriller Live the show that it is today.

The afternoon launch saw members of the Thriller Live cast and crew gather in the Stalls bar along with many of the people who have played a part in Lloyd’s journey. After a prosecco reception, we gathered on the stage for a group photo. Here, we were also delighted by an incredible dance performance by ‘The Kid of Pop’, a young MJ tribute.

[Image: Gary Lloyd with the Thriller Live family © Bonnie Britain Photography]

Gary Lloyd’s speech was a touching reminder of the impact of the show through its history. Lloyd said:

“When you first become a director and you start working on all these shows you spend a lot of your time saying, ‘I’ll put that in the book’, especially during tech week. I think we’ve all got hundreds and thousands of these insane stories about theatre that nobody would ever believe so it was always in the back of my mind that a book would happen at some point. I never knew what it would be about, and then Thriller happened.

“That horrific day when Jackson passed away. We were newbies in the West End, feeling very lucky to be here, and I write in the very first chapter about that day. Walking through this building to the front of house to see that the press had all arrived and fans that had arrived to create a shrine before 10am was incredible. Within minutes of this all happening, people were coming to us. So, at that point, it became a huge responsibility for all of us involved in this and that’s when the book started writing itself.”

Thriller Live is due to close at the Lyric Theatre early in 2020. The theatre itself will be undergoing renovations and the show will embark on a UK tour before finding a new home in the West End.

Reflecting on this, Lloyd said, “This has been more than a venue for all of us for the past ten years. It’s been a home for a lot of people and it’s going to be very sad to leave. There are ten years of history in this building with this show, so thank you to everybody that’s been involved. We will go on; this will carry on and we have a future.”

 It was a real pleasure to join Gary and so many others who have inspired the book and the show – the book-shaped cake was delicious too!

My Life with Michael: 10 Years of Thriller Live is available from our bookshop.


RAC Motoring Book of the Year Award: A Review of the Evening

On Wednesday 30th October, Senior Production Controller Joe Shillito and Editorial Coordinator Hayley Russell from Matador, and Marketing Controller Philippa Iliffe from The Book Guild attended the annual Royal Automobile Club Motoring Book Awards in Pall Mall, London. Joe recounts their experience of the evening:

[From left: Joe Shillito, Hayley Russell, Philippa Iliffe]

It was a pleasure to be invited to attend the prestigious annual Motoring Book Awards at the exclusive Royal Automobile Club (RAC) in Pall Mall, London, made all the more special by the fact that two titles from Troubador imprints had been nominated for these sought-after accolades.

Alan Shattock’s RGS Atalantas (Matador), a meticulously researched and designed volume detailing the creation and development of Dick Shattock’s pioneering sports racing cars, was nominated for the ‘Specialist Book of the Year’ award, described by the RAC as being presented to a book which is impeccably researched and flawlessly written. Meanwhile, Dave Roberts’s The Blunt End of the Grid (The Book Guild), a humorous and heartwarming memoir of the author’s motoring escapades, was nominated for the coveted ‘Motoring Book of the Year award’, for ‘an exceptional book with wide appeal’.

The event saw authors, publishers, members of the media and motoring enthusiasts converging on the RAC building in central London for an evening which promised to be one of the many highlights of a week of motoring celebrations. The venue itself was magnificent; we were guided through lavishly decorated hallways beneath vaulted ceilings to arrive in the expansive Mountbatten Room, where we were welcomed to a champagne reception and the opportunity to discuss the upcoming awards with the high-fliers of the motoring book industry.

It was a pleasure as always to speak with Dennis Buckingham from Star Sales, a company that represents many of the marketed titles for both Matador and The Book Guild. A number of books supported by Dennis and the Star Sales team had been shortlisted for the two awards, demonstrating the importance of proper sales representation in achieving recognition within the book trade. An opportunity to catch up with Book Guild author Dave Roberts was also very welcome. It was gratifying to hear a number of positive comments about both our titles from industry professionals and motoring enthusiasts alike.

[From left: Philippa Iliffe, Dave Roberts]

The ‘Specialist Book of the Year’ award saw with Alan Shattock’s RGS Atalantas pitted against stiff competition from industry-leading publishers. While Simon Taylor’s John, George and the HWMs: The First Racing Team to Fly the Flag for Britain (Evro) was the successful nominee in the end, it was heartening to hear positive comments about Shattock’s volume from the judges along the lines of ‘extremely well written.’

Dave Roberts’s The Blunt End of the Grid did not go unnoticed, receiving great interest from the room, and eliciting a number of highly positive comments from both members of the RAC and industry professionals. It was also hugely encouraging to see both titles stocked by the on-site pop-up bookshop, administered by Horton’s, an industry leader in motoring book sales, even more so when we were later told that Roberts’s title had sold out.

It was overall a highly successful evening for both Matador and The Book Guild, and while it was disappointing not to have left the event with either of the prestigious awards, it was a huge accolade for both books to even be nominated. Each title was pitted against challenging competition from industry leaders, and it was heartening to receive a multitude of positive feedback for both titles, not only from a perspective of content but also of design and presentation.

The Blunt End of the Grid is available to buy from our bookshop!

Marketing Tips for Christmas

With Christmas on the horizon, now is the time to turn your sights to marketing. Our Marketing team share their top tips for marketing your book in the run-up to Christmas to help you during the festive season:

‘Tis the season to be selling – Jonathan White (Sales & Marketing Manager):

Christmas is obviously one of the best times in the year to sell your book, but it is also one of the busiest in the bookshops and one when there will be most competition from all the other books fighting for space on the shelves. When approaching bookshops around Christmas, be aware of just how busy they might be getting. Do some research and if you do want to speak to someone in a bookshop about your book, choose a time when they are at their quietest. If you are looking to sell more copies of your book in the run up to Christmas, you might find it more fruitful to spend your time approaching your readers directly, either through social media or any events you arrange. They can choose where they want to purchase your book whether online or from a bookshop as a customer order. Be as active as you can, but do not expect too much help from your local bookshop, they may well be just trying to survive the festive season.

Festive freebies and snowy sales – Alexa Davies (Assistant Marketing Manager):

Everyone loves a freebie and surely there is no better time to offer your readers a little extra than the season of goodwill! The idea of winning a prize is a brilliant incentive to get people involved. That involvement can be anything from simply following you on Twitter to browsing your website for the hidden snowman to writing a paragraph about their favourite festive story. You know your book best so get your thinking Santa hat on and come up with some creative challenges for your readers. If you can’t think of anything, consider running a simple giveaway on your social media pages or through your website – this is a great way to get people to follow you, share your posts or sign up to your newsletter. Make the prize even more irresistible with added extras like a ‘signed by the author’ copy or exclusive illustration.

Don’t forget that people also love a discount, especially when they’ve spent their book budget buying Christmas presents! Whether it’s in the run-up to the actual day, a Boxing Day sale or a little discount to help readers beat the January blues, you might be able to tempt people in with pound or two off the cover price.

Spread the joy with personalised pressies – Sophie Morgan (Matador Marketing Controller):

The sleigh bells are jingling and I’m sure I can hear Santa struggling to do up the buttons on his suit jacket. Must be almost Christmas and authors must be ready to sell, sell, sell their book at every opportunity this festive season. Whenever an author asks me what more they can do to capitalise on Christmas, I always recommend the little extras that can help even one person remember your book after you’ve given them a nudge. Whether you’re braving the cold with a booth at the Christmas fair or have a signing at the local library, being able to pass out bespoke bookmarks, postcards or business cards can make all the difference between a reader remembering your book title or not. Even better, at seasonal times such as these, you can go big and even send Christmas cards featuring your book – what better way to spread both Christmas cheer and news of your book from the comfort of your own home? Get in touch with your Marketing Controller if you’re ready to promote this Christmas – we promise, Yule won’t regret it!

Thinking outside the gift box – Philippa Iliffe (Book Guild Marketing Controller):

It’s no secret that Christmas is an incredibly busy time of year for the publishing and media industry. For journalists, they are particularly saturated so you need to think outside of the box and come up with a pitch that will catch the media’s eye. Consider the following:

Christmas Gift Guides: Gift guides including books are typically put together several months in advance of Christmas. It’s worth contacting editors of magazines that would typically feature or review your book as far in advance as possible, making it known that you feel this would be a great fit for their gift guide offering. The earlier you contact them, the more likely you are to secure something in their gifting pages.

A Christmas Hook: As the market is particularly saturated around this time of year, you need to come up with the perfect Christmassy ‘hook’ for your book. Some authors may be lucky in that their book has a Christmas theme. Others may have to work a little harder. Christmas is all about caring, kindness and giving a little back to those who you appreciate – so have a think about how your book could tie into these themes and get your pitch ready for action!

The New Year: Christmas is just around the corner, but those in the media are already thinking about their New Year features. Perhaps your book doesn’t have a suitable Christmas hook to grab their attention, but it could be perfect for the New Year. If you time it right, you can be right on the money in securing yourself an early New Year feature and getting 2020 off to a great start!

Sharing it up on snow-cial media – Emily Dakin (Customer Service & Marketing Assistant):

Social media marketing is key to getting your book out to the public! It’s a great way to shout about any book signings you have, events and rave about any great reviews you have been getting. A lot of bloggers are very active on social media these days and this is how they will, more than likely, hear about your book.

Make sure you get creative on social media over the festive period – there’s so much you can do. As you are getting all of your present prep reindeer-ready in the run-up to the big day, think about how you can use this on your pages. If you’ve decorated your Christmas tree, why not set your book up and share a festive snap on your Instagram? If you love making graphics, sneak a little Santa or snowflake into your designs for an extra festive twist. If you’ve got a festive discount lined up for your eBook, let your followers know so that they can get their copy to read over the Christmas holidays.

Don’t forget that the power of hashtags, especially on Twitter on Instagram, is key when it comes to social media. Keep an eye on the trending topics when you log in to your Twitter account – there will be lots in the Christmas season! By tapping into these trends and hashtagging key terms, you make your post (and as a result, your account) more discoverable to a wider group of people.