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Thread: [Publisher] Bookline and Thinker Ltd. / Hookline Books

  1. #1
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    [Publisher] Bookline and Thinker Ltd. / Hookline Books

    I've checked the index but couldn't find a listing for this company, so figured I'd start a new Thread.

    The website for the company is here:

    http://www.booklinethinker.com/

    The company's been soliciting the directors of Creative Writing MA courses in the UK (including the course I'm studying) for entrants to its Hookline Novel Competition (link for which is here: http://www.booklinethinker.com/hookline.html). The competition is only open to students or graduates of such courses and if you check out the shortlist for the 2008 award on the above page, you can see that students from some good courses made the cut.

    I know a couple of people from my course who are thinking about entering and although I have no reason at all to believe that this is any kind of scam or there's anything sinister going on, there are a couple of things about it that make me concerned and I was interested in knowing what other people thought.

    From what I can see on the website (which they are upfront about) Bookline is foremost a non-fiction publisher. My understanding is that the non-fiction markets and fiction markets are not the same and my concern is whether the company is equipped to get the winning book out into the market and promote it properly. I see that they do promotions at the London Book Fair and they have a blog (http://www.booklinethinker.com/hookline.html) that sets out the work they're doing, but it is still a nagging concern.

    There's no mention on the website of whether books will be available for purchase in stores. The purchasing options for the non-fiction books on the site are either through Amazon or from the publisher directly and the proposed publishing contract only obliges Bookline to make books "
    visible to consumers on retail websites", suggesting that they have no in-store distribution
    . I worry that this would reduce the number of potential sales that could be made to the public, and those sales figures will be important for writers seeking to sustain their career.

    I have some major concerns about the proposed publishing contract that Bookline has put up for entrants to read before hand (http://www.booklinethinker.com/files...e-contract.pdf). Some of the terms appear to be more suited to a non-fiction book than to a fiction one but the big concern for me is that Bookline are not paying an advance for the winning book and although they are offering royalties at 10% of the RRP, if the distribution isn't in place in stores, then those royalties won't amount to much for the author. In fact, given that the contract states that the book will only be made available in POD format, I'd question whether an author would receive royalties in three figures.

    In addition, the contract appears to grab almost all of the rights that the author has. In addition to taking UK publication rights (including in e-book and audio book format, even though the company does not appear from its website to be publishing in either one and they're taking translation and tv/radio rights), they're also taking US rights. The US rights clause only obliges them to "make every effort" to arrange US publication on an advance and royalty basis (in which event they'll take 20% of that money if they've used an agent and 15% if they haven't), but failing that they can go ahead with publication anyway with the author stuck with their 10% royalty arrangement. This seems to be to be excessive.

    Like I said, I don't think that this is a scam, but it does strike me as not being a great move for MA students in the UK and I'm worried that some might, in their desperation to get a publishing deal, enter this without thinking of the potential long-term consequences.

    MM

  2. #2
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    I have some concerns about this contract, which is a life-of-copyright contract but doesn't appear to make adequate provision for taking works out of print. I need to read it over more carefully, though, when I'm not on drugs (bad back, lots of Percocet). Or at least on fewer drugs. Will do tomorrow.

    - Victoria

  3. #3
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Just yesterday I searched for a thread on this company, as a friend told me about the competition they're running--I'd intended on posting my concerns, too.

    The most recent winner of their novel competition took her MA at the same University as I did, which is local to me. I'll see what I can find out, but can't guarantee anything.

  4. #4
    Your friendly cynic Anna Magdalena's Avatar
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    I've just looked at the site's blog. Mmmm. Naive or what? I wouldn't want to be published by people who set up a business without understanding how publishing works inside out and backwards. (Not that they'd publish me anyway because I haven't got an MA in Creative Writing. Oh well.)

  5. #5
    Shakespearean Fool DreamWeaver's Avatar
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    I have to admit wondering what they were thinking when they came up with their name. "Bookline and Thinker" sounds like a play on the words "hook, line and sinker". I don't know about the UK, but in the US that phrase is used to describe how completely someone has been fooled: "Did he take the bait?" "Yes--hook, line and sinker".

    Perhaps that's not a common usage in the UK.
    Why doesn't George R. R. Martin use Twitter? He already killed off all 140 characters.

  6. #6
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    DreamWeaver:
    I don't know about the UK, but in the US that phrase is used to describe how completely someone has been fooled: "Did he take the bait?" "Yes--hook, line and sinker".
    Yup. It has the same meaning in the UK as well.

    Unfortunately, a couple of people on my course have made submissions to the competition, which I'm really frustrated about because they've both got great manuscripts that shouldn't be wasted on something like this. I'm going to see what happens but will definitely be recommending that if they win, they not sign the contract.

    MM

  7. #7
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Just wanted to post some more about this as I now know of someone who has decided to publish through them.

    My concerns about this venture still remain, although they seem to have made some effort with eBook distribution (in the sense that eBooks are available through Blackwells, a respected, if small, UK bookstore chain).

    The people I know who entered the Hookline Competition and who received favourable readers group feedback all told me that they the competition organisers strongly encouraged them to take the publication offer, even though there is no advance for the work and distribution remains patchy (with marketing mainly directed at readers' groups).

    I never saw any copies of the first Hookline winners' books in the bookstores near me, never saw any reviews in national newspapers or other review publications and saw no publicity materials. To date, the only marketing material that I've seen for one of the subsequently published books is a flyer sent from the author to an MA course director who on-sent it to the students.

    The whole emphasis of the operation is quick turnaround of manuscripts that win the competition, which I think is a flawed approach. While the organisers continue to target the London Book Fair, even if a commercial publisher decides to pick it up, in which case Bookline will get a proportion of the monies.

    Interestingly, the competition relies on the use of readers' groups to judge entries. One of my MA classmates had a narrow escape when the readers' groups gave exceedingly negative feedback on their manuscript - that same manuscript got a top 3 placing in a competition run by one of the largest literary agencies in the UK, who thought that it was great. I ended up telling them that they'd had a fortunate escape because I know that I wouldn't want my work to be given away so cheaply.

    MM
    Last edited by Momento Mori; 02-25-2010 at 10:55 PM.

  8. #8
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Hookline Books has its own site now: http://www.hooklinebooks.com/
    ICAO
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    I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage. -- Charles DeSecondat

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