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.

Winning a publishing contract with The Book Guild

To complete a novel is one thing but it is not the end of things; there is still a very long way to go before the first reader reads the first copy.


Children of Fire was envisaged as a possible first novel in a series, though I tended not to admit to that aspect of its creation. Having self-published the sci-fi novel I wrote on my MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, I wanted to get on and write another. I chose a Victorian who-done-it genre for the job and picked 1841, in the period when new local police forces were being formed along the lines of the Metropolitan Police Force in London. 1841 was far enough back to mean that I wouldn’t be tempted to get bogged down in CSI style detail. As a retired research scientist, too much scientific detail would probably mean the story would never see the light of day.

What the 1840s had in abundance was a hubbub of social change: in industry, religion and immigration from the countryside or from Ireland, into the cities of the North of England, especially Manchester, the first truly industrialized city in the world.

My first step in getting Children of Fire published was to try to find an agent to help me finish, perfect and sell my creation to a publisher. I made many approaches and got a few comments as well as a lot of silence.

As time went on I decided that I might be better to go along the route of crowd funding. I had completed the first draft of a second Victorian novel Circles of Deceit. So perhaps I should move on but at that point I noticed the Writing Magazine competition and thought it was worth a shot. I had a complete novel that had been copy edited, and I had the marketing plan that I’d already developed for the attempt at crowd funding. I could easily fulfil the terms of the competition which included a marketing plan.

To my astonishment I won! The astonishment was not so much in the sense of belief in what I’d written, but in being able to finish the race. Children of Fire was going to be published! I’ve been walking around since I found out with a sort of glow and the mantra running in my head I’ve got a publishing contract.

I will now see how it goes. Relationships with Writing Magazine are excellent, helped in no small measure by my experience of self-publishing. I met the Editor, Jonathan Telfer, at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School who was warm and friendly. Working relationships with The Book Guild are developing well and are already very good. The cover design is agreed, the final proofs very nearly complete and publicity is taking shape.

I am deeply grateful for my good fortune. Without the combination of the Writing Magazine and The Book Guild putting on the competition, I would not have got this chance.

It might seem that I’ve been lucky, and I have to say that I have been, but as I used to tell my PhD students, luck is really preparation meeting opportunity. Winning this prize has been a matter of great good fortune in exactly that sense.

Children of Fire will be published by The Book Guild on 28 November 2017!

An afternoon with Valerie Mendes

Philippa and Jack went to spend an afternoon with Valerie Mendes in Woodstock, Oxford to discuss her upcoming teenage novel, Where Peacocks Scream.


What inspired you to start writing Where Peacocks Scream?

I enrolled in a creative writing course with Oxford University’s Department of Continuing Education about ten years ago. When I first started writing novels for teenagers, the distinguished novelist Ann Schlee was my tutor. She was a marvellous teacher and editor of my first novel, Girl in the Attic. I’d missed her such a lot after she retired that every now and again I’d enrol in another class, looking for another Ann.

This particular class wasn’t going very well, but one morning our tutor took some cards out of her bag and handed them round. Each contained the name of a type – princess, pilot, smuggler – and we were asked to write a short story about them. My card said “Con man”. I remember feeling startled and excited, and the villain in Where Peacocks Scream leaped immediately into my imagination. Tall, thick-set, wearing a navy blazer, white trousers and a white cap, I saw him in front of me standing by a river. And Frank Jasper was born.

At the time I lived in Wolvercote, in north Oxford, within walking distance of a famous pub called The Trout. I realised this would be the most wonderful setting for a teenage novel.

The book is set in an area you know well. How did this help with your research?

It was essential: I could never have invented this magical place. The gardens of The Trout lead to the river and a bridge which links up to a wild island patch where the peacocks used to roam. I talked to the manager of The Trout who kindly showed me around the whole house so I could see the private rooms. One rainy morning I had coffee with the man who became Phil the Boatman in my novel: he looks after the yard and its swirl of river. I asked The Dragon School if I could watch their students at work there, and they took me out on the river one wonderful autumn morning. It was a joy to see them in action, and to listen to them talking together.

The audience for this book is slightly different to your other four teenage novels. Did you enjoy writing for a younger audience?

Yes, of course, although writing for eight-to-twelve year olds is the same as for any age: you have to tell a really gripping story that your readers don’t want to put down. You have to limit the level of violence you can use, but make what you do have utterly believable. There’s a real sense of David and Goliath between my Daniel and Jasper. My villain is a wealthy, powerful man with a cunning, criminal mind. Daniel fights back and in doing so he not only defeats Jasper, but he grows as a person and becomes more confident. I wanted to give him a real sense of empowerment, so he can take on the fight he has with his parents to stay in Wolvercote and to go on living near Chloe with whom he has fallen in love.

Is writing for adults a very different process?

Writing historical novels for the adult market involves a great deal of research, often in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Linguistically it can be the other side of the teenage coin. When I’m writing for the teenage market, I need to know the language I use is current, but not dated slang. When I’m writing historical fiction, I need to strip away all modern phrases, and be very careful that I’m not quoting from songs that haven’t yet been written! Each presents its own problems – and its own rewards.

Have you enjoyed working and publishing with The Book Guild?

Yes, I have. I particularly appreciate the fact that you produce books to the highest standard without making editorial changes.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing a third historical novel which is set in 1911, one of the hottest years that England has ever endured. It has major medical themes – my two American brothers are doctors, my heroine is told that she can’t have children, the sub-plots include typhoid fever and appendicitis – so I have quite an ambitious job on my hands. But it’s amazing how tackling big ideas inspires me to return to my desk and soldier on. I am sure that more novels for teenagers are on the cards.

Where Peacocks Scream will be published by The Book Guild on 28 October 2017.


People are falling in love with Isabel

Paul A. Mendelson writes a piece upon reflection of his recent book signing for “In the Matter of Isabel”.

The best-book-written-almost-entirely-in-Costa award

Forget the Costa Book award. This was the real thing. A launch of my new novel, In the Matter of Isabel, in the place where most of it was actually written – Costa of Pinner.

It was meant to be a small, intimate affair. To kick-off BookShuk, the book-site of a friend, who actually specialises in books of a Jewish interest. Mine isn’t, although happily quite a few Jewish people have been interested. But it was a lovely opportunity for me to sign some books and do a reading.

And that’s where the nerves began.

Firstly, what words do you actually use on the signing page? And, for that matter, on what page do you actually sign – the title page, the dedication, the cover? Even more crucially, how should your signature look? Wildly imaginative as suits a storyteller – or suitably distinguished as befits a man of letters? I tried out a few test-signings at home and my disturbing scribble looked like a cross between late primary-school and early serial-killer. How would I ever manage “to Geoffrey, with warmest wishes”, or “hope you enjoy it Doreen, cos you’re not getting your money back”?

Then of course there is the reading itself. A lot of people know me from my TV work, which has been predominantly long-running comedy series for the BBC. So the expectation – unsurprisingly – is laughter. Yet as well as ‘wonderfully funny’ (The Independent) my novel has been variously called, by gracious advance reviewers, a ‘cracking courtroom drama’, ‘deeply touching’, a ‘sexy coming-of-age story’ and a ‘legal thriller’. As you can’t very well cry out ‘spoiler alert’ then happily read a passage that gives away one of the many plot-twists, the reading for the day seemed obvious. That moment early on when my young legal hero (and narrator) meets his client, the exotic and enticingly more mature Isabel Velazco, for the first time. With all the comic yet raw awkwardness that ensues.

Happily, all went well. People listened, laughed, clapped and bought. I bowed, smiled and signed. The lovely staff at Costa, who had nourished me throughout the process, served coffee and cakes to Pinner’s thirsty readers.

And the next day I absent-mindedly signed one of those electronic machines delivery people bring to your door, “warmest wishes Paul A Mendelson.”

So I’m clearly a natural.


Photo credit: Asher Dresner

An interview with Robin Le Mesurier

Philippa and Jack went to visit Robin Le Mesurier in London to discuss his auto-biography, “A Charmed Rock ‘n’ Roll Life“, and to find out a bit more about his publishing journey with The Book Guild:

Hi Robin, thank you for joining us today. Please tell us, why did you decide to write the auto-biography?

I’ve been nagged…so many people, my friends and my remaining family said “Why don’t you write, you’ve got such a great story to tell?” Then, after Andy wrote my Mum’s biography, it was so good and he did a lot of research, so I decided to ask him if he would help me… and he did.

How did you find the experience of putting together the book?

When I was on the road and on tour I used to make notes all the time, and then I just started writing it and would send Andy transcripts, and he’d say “That’s great, can you elaborate on this little bit…” and then he said “Why don’t you write a letter to your brother?” I thought this was a great idea. Andy put it all in chronological order and did a lot of research and interviews. I never found myself with writer’s block; I just used to write for hours upon hours on my iPad.

How did you decide on what to put in the book? There must be plenty of things that didn’t make the cut.

There were so many things that I forgot to put in the book that I’m still thinking about now, great experiences etc. I find myself saying “Damn, why didn’t I write about that?” I think I knew when it was time to stop, but since it’s been published I’ve thought about so many stories that I could have put in there.

I can imagine that it was very difficult to remember everything from your past and childhood, and put it down into words.

It was cathartic actually – it opened up a lot of memories and one would lead to another, and that would lead to another story and I just took it from there.

There are lots of lovely photos of you and your family in the book, what was it like to arrange these and sort through them?

Well, I see a lot of them in our hallway at home so they’re there already. One photo that I hadn’t seen before was of my great-grandfather, Robin, who sadly died in a plane crash.

One of our favourite photos from the book is the one of you with all of your guitars – which one’s your favourite and how do you pick names for them?

That’s difficult – the Strat’s and the James Trussart’s are my favourites. They’ve all got names. It’s funny actually, I didn’t even realise when we listened to Keith Richards’ book that he named all of his guitars too. I just think of the first names that come to mind – Norman, Ernest etc.

How did your friends and family react when they knew you were going to publish this book?

They were so pleased and couldn’t wait to read it!

How have you found working with some of the “big names” in the book, with some of them providing contributions to the book too?

I just asked and they said yes! I love the foreword by Rod Stewart – it’s very funny.

How have you found the response so far?

I’m very happy; everybody who has read it or is reading it loves it. It’s got some great reviews, which I’m really happy about.

What are your next plans?

Well, if everybody has got time we’ll do a Faces reunion, but that really depends on Rod and Ronnie – everybody’s up for it. Next year, I’ll be out on tour with Johnny Hallyday again which will run until 2019. April and May is going to be international – we’ll do Canada, hopefully the Royal Albert Hall again, and the Far East. Then we’ll have a break, before doing the festivals in France in the summer and then we’ll start up again in September. I love touring, it’s my life and it’s my favourite thing to do.

I’d also like to record classical hymns, but without the vocals, using the guitar to play all of the melodies.

Thanks, Robin!

K. A. Lalani takes to the skies

Author K. A. Lalani shares his experience of the Croydon Airport Society open day… 

Last weekend, I participated in an open day event which was hosted by the Croydon Airport Society, to sign copies of my book Unto the Skies: A biography of Amy Johnson. Having the event take place on July 2nd, the day after Amy’s birthday was especially poignant, as she features heavily in the society’s documented history of the airport, which in its heyday was the Airport of the Empire.

Amy set off from Croydon as a virtual unknown on the 5th May 1930 – returning to cheering crowds of a million three months later.

I was enthusiastic about the event as the Airport Society promoted my book to visitors as they came in to look around and take the guided tour, and the volunteers pointed out that they had the author of the book in attendance.

Many browsed through the book and those who did purchase a copy were happy for me to sign it for them, while others came to talk to me about Amy, and what inspired me to write about her life and her enduring legacy.

Out and About…

The Book Guild has been in attendance at events this year, the most notable being the London Book Fair and Winchester Writers’ Conference. The London Book Fair again took place at Olympia, but a month earlier than usual in April. The Book Guild had a stand in the Writers’ Block, a stand opposite the Authors’ Centre upstairs in the main hall. Our Managing Director, Jeremy Thompson, was part of a discussion panel looking at alternative ways to get published, including Partnership Publishing and self-publishing. The general consensus was that there are many different routes to publication, and that an author has the responsibility to choose what is right for their own circumstances and aims.

Winchester Writers’ Conference is a well known highlight of the writers’ calendar. The Book Guild shared a stand with parent company Troubador this year, showing off some of our latest titles and discussing publishing in general with delegates.

We also exhibited at the 5th Self-Publishing Conference in April, again with a display of books and constructive discussions with authors and other suppliers. More to come later this year!

WIN a book deal, plus £1,000!


Want to see your book in print, and net a tasty advance too? Writers Online are offering a special deal…



  • The winning author will see their book published in 2017 by The Book Guild, and get £1,000 cash, courtesy of the David St John Thomas Charitable Trust.
  • The Book Guild will provide a copyedit, cover design, full text design, and layout, one set of proofs, for author to check, ISBN allocation, bookshop sales representation, marketing to the trade and media and distribution to the book trade for one year.

How To Enter

To enter, you must have a novel manuscript of 60,000-100,000 words finished and ready to go.

We need to see:

  • The first chapter
  • A one-line elevator pitch or tagline
  • A 500 word synopsis of the entire story
  • A brief account of your publishing and writing experience to date
  • A 500 word plan of any promotional opportunities and how you see your book fitting into the marketplace

Competition Closing Date

Entry to this competition has now closed.

Self-Publishing Conference 2016

Self-Publishing Conference 2016

The Book Guild was a co-sponsor of the 4th Self-Publishing Conference, held in Leicester in early May. As the company doesn’t offer a self-publishing service to authors, it may seem to be a strange thing for the company to do; but in these days of ‘authorpreneurs’ and author-led book promotion, the ethos of the event shares much with what The Book Guild does do.

In any form of commercial publishing nowadays, whether under a wholly traditional model or a partnership model (both of which The Book Guild offers), authors are key to the success of any new book. And authors are an essential part of the marketing mix; those authors who are active in promoting and marketing their work will generally se far better sales that those who sit back and expect the publisher to do everything. Sponsoring the event helps to encourage authors of any publishing background to get ideas and experience to make their publishing project a better and more successful one.

The Self-Publishing Conference covered a wide range of topics of interest to authors, from aspects of production through to author websites, self-promotion and even audio books. An excellent Keynote speech from The Bookseller’s Caroline Sanderson concentrated on the need for quality in books, however they are published. A plenary session from Kingston University’s Alison Baverstock looked at the rise of the independent author, and the many different and perfectly legitimate routes to publication that have developed over the last 15 years.

Participants at the event could choose from a wide range of sessions, 18 in all, covering editorial development, erotic writing, cover design and embellishments, structuring a children’s book, self-promotion, using digital and social media, metadata, opportunities in ebooks… an excellent range of subjects discussed by some very enthusiastic and knowledgeable speakers.

One of the most important aspects of events like this is the opportunity for authors – who are often solitary in nature – to network with like-minded people sharing a common goal. The conference included plenty of time for this, and by the first coffee break there was an obvious buzz going around the hospitality lounge as the ice had been broken and people shared ideas and experiences. When the sessions had all ended, a drinks reception got underway and the obvious benefits of the day to authors were self-evident, if the level of noise ion the reception was anything to go by!

Now in its fourth year, this conference certainly delivered on its promises, and has received only excellent reviews across author blogs and social media. We hope to be a sponsor next year!

London Book Fair 2016

London Book Fair 2016

April 12th saw staff from The Book Guild on their own stand for the first time in years exhibiting at The London Book Fair. Held at Olympia this year for the second time after its move from Earl’s Court, the trade exhibition is the UK’s premier event for publishers, retailers and all things ‘book’. This year in particular the Fair seemed to have grown again, at least judging by the number of stands and visitors attending.

The three-day event is a long and tiring one, but is essential for any publisher serious about book retailing in the UK. We welcomed a steady stream of our authors to the stand to meet the new staff and view their book, plus numerous suppliers, agents and retailers. With a new look to the company — though still based on the Siamese cat logo — the Book Guild stand attracted a lot of admiring glances and positive comments.

The event creates an enormous amount of follow-up work for the staff, so please bear with us in the coming weeks! Thanks to all those authors who dropped in to meet us, including Daniel Pascoe, Angela Fish, Jaime Manrique-Palacín, Sylvia Stock and many others. And thanks to Lauren and Hannah, stalwarts of The Book Guild LBF16 stand!


Wide coverage for Jimmy Hill celebration…


Bryony Hill’s new book My Gentleman Jim received wide coverage in the national media in November following its release. Coverage in the Daily Mail inevitably concentrated on Jimmy Hill’s decline in the last few years from Alzheimer’s disease, and the effect that it has had on his relationship with Bryony. Yet most of the book is a celebration of Jimmy’s life with Bryony, a life spent at the forefront of football in the last twentieth century, first as a player and manager, and latterly as a ‘pundit’.

Following earlier media coverage, other nationals also published features, including The Sunday Times and The Telegraph. Follow-up articles also appeared in the Daily Mail and other media, and Bryony was featured on local BBC TV news discussing the book and her life with Jimmy. Other media coverage is planned and executed at the time of writing.