Thursday, 25 October 2012

Folio Society’s facsimile edition: David Attenborough’s Edward Lear Bird illustrations

The Folio Society are bringing out the most amazing edition of David Attenborough’s bird illustrations. At £895 a snip!

Delighted to announce a new limited edition: David Attenborough's bird prints by Edward Lear, published in facsimile

My dear friend Shabby Tattler (Right) insists I blog his (hah, hah) own watercolour set of birds painted for The Daily Tussock-grass (the UK’s leading ornithological ragwort).

He apologizes for the quality of reproduction here, but reminds me he kindly donated the originals to “cheer up” the gloomy cancer ward where my daughter was treated (successfully).

This cormorant he feels closest to in spirit, he says.

Personally I prefer the subtle monchromatic hues of his arctic tern

He counters with the gaudy oriole...

And parry with a holy roller!

Lost for birds, he fishes about for a reply...

Wild brown trout makes better eating – farmed rainbow, boxed ready for supermarket shelves

“Nuts!” I say, that’s no watercolour, that’s just crayon

Check this link to a recent illustrated proposal in my blog, aimed at the Folio Society – or some illustration-loving publisher! LINK


Book promo material update (and why not?)

• Raven’s Quill member of the Publishers Association and the Independent Publishers Guild.
• We are in receipt of UK Trade and Investment, grants to exhibit at international book fairs (Frankfurt and Bologna).
• We have sold translation rights to three countries – South Korea, Israel and now China this week.
• RQ is represented by Big Apple across Asia, Amo in South Korea and Ilustrata for the Spanish/Portugese bloc.
• Top literary scouts, Anne Louise Fisher Associates, have been showing Curd to their clients.
Faber Factory distributes its e-books.
Waterstones sales figures in more detail at bottom.
I, as author, have a literary agent at Sheil Land Associates.
My intention when starting this publishing venture was to achieve a critical level of sales above which publishers would find it difficult to ignore the quality and appeal of my books.

TWO BOOKS (so far - several in pipeline):
The Amazing Adventures of Curd the Lion (and us!) in the Land at the Back of Beyond - Alan Gilliland author & illustrator. 176pp. Hardback £14.99. 20 Oct, 2008. ISBN 9780955548611. An illustrated nonsense quest story with a real map. Sold nearly 9,000 copies to date.
The Flight of Birds - Alan Howard author (my pseudonym for adult books). 400pp. Paperback £9.99. 31 Oct, 2010. ISBN 9780955548628. A Gothic ghost tale set in Sussex between Elizabethan England and today, based upon a Greek Myth transposed into an Elizabethan context. Sold nearly 3,000 copies.
The Flight of Birds White Edition. Short run summer edition, 2012. (Different start and ending to original, Black, edition. This version produced in response to feedback from, mainly, females who loved the book but were often very upset by the ending. Both versions were written before original publication).
     I also have available a book of short stories, poems and illustrations, Ana    
           Thema, 100pp. Paperback. ISBN 9780955548635. £6.99.


•The Amazing Adventures of Curd the Lion (and us!) in the Land at the Back of Beyond” – Alan Gilliland author & illustrator. ISABN 9780955548611. £14.99. publ. 20.10.2008.
Sold nearly 9,000 copies to date in hard back at £14.99.
Translation rights sold to three countries – South Korea, Israel and now China this week.
Very nice reviews/articles from (see below): a Bookselling website (Lovereading4kids, Book of Year), an educationist (Margaret Mallett), an award-winning writer and radio broadcaster (Brian Sibley), a political philosopher (John Gray), an established children’s fantasy author (Katherine Langrish), a well-regarded children’s book blogger (BookWitch), the editor of Australian Children’s Book Council magazine (John Cohen), a well-known e-book pundit and organizer of international conferences (Mike Shatzkin), several regional newspapers and lots of children and adults.


• Recently, Brian Sibley, author & broadcaster, WINNER of BEST ADAPTATION for The History of Titus Groan in the BBC Audio Drama Awards, 2012, and author of the official Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film   guides, wrote: “Alan Gilliland's delightful book for children is a heady mix of the tried and trusted format featuring nursery-toys-come-to-life with riddling, punning, nonsense in the style of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear punctuating a twisting, turning roller-coaster adventure story filled with dangers, outlandish encounters and weird and wonderful beings.
  There are a mass of subtexts and literary and historical allusions within the story (it is not accidental, for example, that the creature encountered named the 'Dodongs' is an anagram of that Carrollian alter ego, 'Dodgson') and readers armed with the map can trace the route of Curd & Co's adventures in the real location of Brimham Rocks in the Yorkshire Dales.
   With delightful illustrations by the author, this a perfect read-aloud book for bedtime readers  - and their listeners! A unique and wonderfully quirky book.”

Lovereading 4kids website: Book of Year, Debut of Year and Personal Choice of Founder, wider age-range than ever given before: “Reminiscent of the writing of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, this brilliant debut children's novel is completely unputdownable as well as being almost uncategorisable. …a terrifically funny yet mysterious story, full of larger-than-life highly improbable characters that I couldn’t begin to do justice to…other than to say they are wild and wacky and completely original. …full of tongue-in-cheek humour and skilful wordplay …will be loved by anyone from 7 to 107.”

British academic, Margaret Mallet’s book ‘Choosing and Using’ (for student teachers) won the UK Literacy Award: “In a necessarily selective account, I have been concerned to pick out some of the best writers and most memorable titles which have survived over the years and which I think are likely to continue to be read.” On Curd: “It is not surprising that this story has been compared to the work of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear: riddles and word play, mysteries and surprises are wonderfully interwoven. The play on names is superb.”

The philosopher, John Gray:“Gilliland's mix of upside-down logic and serious whimsy is nonsense of the highest calibre. The best thing to have happened to children's literature since Alice went through the looking-glass. I was particularly taken by the Labyrinth chapter. The whole seemed to me delightful - in the magical tradition of George Macdonald, but with an extra dimension of nonsense and wit of its own.”

Author Katherine Langrish: “I agree this is a really unusual book – with brilliant illustrations, too. Think Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, lots of wordplay and paradoxical fun, and you’ll be there. Not for every child, perhaps, but any budding chess players or crossword puzzle fiends will have a whale of a time. It demands something of the reader, and that’s not a bad thing at all.”

HiT Entertainment (TV company) wrote of Curd: “We really enjoyed the inventive witty narrative and surreal humour in the book. We can see that Curd the Lion might work very well as a family feature film.”

John Cohen, Editor, Reading Time (journal of Children's Book Council of Australia, Feb. 09, extracts from review). "This is an extraordinary book from a former graphics editor of The Telegraph, UK. What Gilliland has done is to lift what might have been another toy story onto a literary gold plate. His ability to play on words as well as to keep the story moving is a rare skill. The result is that the story can be enjoyed as a simple adventure as well as for its tongue-in-cheek word repartee that is reminiscent of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear."

Mike Shatzkin (the US e-book pundit and adviser to top publishers): "Alan, what a great story! I'm glad you didn't ask me before you undertook to do this because I would have told you it was nigh on impossible! But, having achieved this much, I think your Korea sale is just the first of many you'll make around the world. You should find a literary agent to sell rights for you in the US, Canada, and Australia right away." (He organizes international e-book publishing conferences)

The Flight of Birds - Alan Howard author (my pseudonym for adult books). 400pp. Paperback £9.99. 31 Oct, 2010. ISBN 9780955548628. A Gothic ghost tale set in Sussex between Elizabethan England and today, based upon a Greek Myth transposed into an Elizabethan context. Sold nearly 3,000 copies.


• Steve Sharpe, SVP, European Goldfields: Tweet to @OnundTreefoot: “Just finished The Flight of Birds - fantastic! it had me deferring theTimes Crossword on the commute to London each morning.”
Review: “This is a truly astonishing book. The cleverly spun threads will draw you into a web of intrigue and mystery that will have you gripped throughout. If you enjoyed the Quincunx you will love this - I can't recommend it highly enough.”
[Times crossword expert – 11-28 mins]
Waterstone’s staff reviewer: “The reader is thrust straight into an atmospheric drama, weaving history and fantasy together in this Gothic Danse Macabre, in parts reminiscent of some original brothers' Grimm tales, and the writing is so addictive there's never a good place to put the book down. As for the ending, nothing prepares you for that! I really was not expecting when I started this book for it to have such depth and diversity, horror and enchantment. It combines the magical twists of Neil Gaiman with atmosphere of Poe or Machen.”
Egmont on The Flight of Birds: “The Flight of Birds and its intended sequels make up what is obviously a very ambitious project, but after much discussion our editorial team felt that in some of its themes, and taking into account the literariness of its prose and complexity of its structure, it might be more suited to an adult publisher, or perhaps a teen imprint that is part of an adult publishing house.”
Martyn Drake Blog: “The story itself is hugely intriguing. After the death of her mother, Kate Pegler moves to a small village with her father where she befriends a local boy whose father works on the estate of the Tercel family. But things take a strange twist when Kate encounters the mysterious Shabby Tattler whose very appearance triggers a series of strange events in which Kate finds out about the terrible massacre that took place back in the village during the Elizabethan times. Kate’s future lies in the past and terrible secrets and revelations come to the surface. Intrigue is the key here. I absolute loved the story. Alan has created a rich history filled with high drama through to delicate relationships and some truly shocking moments. Buy this book.”
• Cyberbookworm Blog: “The flight of birds is a modern gothic novel with a twist. It is full of lyrical prose that transports you back into the world of the gothic novel. Full of dark metaphors and an uncomfortable back story that brings the horror alive. It is a story of love, hate, and vengeance on a grand scale. For those that love the gothic genre this will hit the spot. The flight of birds is the first book in an exciting series that promises more thrills and chills to come. Look out for The Toadman and Reprise, the second and third parts of the “Danse Macabre” trilogy.”
LOVEREADING WEBSITE: top of their ‘Horror, Fantasy & Sci Fi’ in December. “The reader too will feel utterly drawn in to follow Kate's story through the author's masterful storytelling powers and the two worlds, modern and historical are woven together in to a web in which the reader has no desire to leave but instead continue turning the pages to the surprising denouement.”
• Littlewriter, Waterlooville (age,18): “This is a book which fills your mind with wonder. The characters live on in your mind long after the last page has been turned and the story is clever, deserving applause for the gripping plots. This book is a book to read if you want to experience a beautiful piece of writing which will stay with you forever.”
• Catherine Hodgson (Teen) Blog: “I really, really enjoyed it. Okay, maybe it was a little bit gory in places (maybe a lot), but I thought that it was really clever and a
really good read. It’s what I’m always looking for - a mystery, stuff from the past, betrayal, horrid stuff like that; but that's just the sort of thing that is really very exciting. There is as much interest in the chapters set in the present day as there
is in the tales from the past; I love it I love it I love it. Thaaaank you, Mr. Alan Howard!”
Chris Bushe, 53: “A book that's sounds frankly weird. A girl goes back in time, whilst remaining in her current time and follows her family’s history back 400 years. This sounds all nonsense but in reality is one of the best books I have ever read. Readers of medieval whodunit novels (CJ Sansom lovers) will love this book. This is an author with great ideas, way beyond many others. He also could easily write separate books about many of the characters in this book.”
OK, these may not carry the same weight as the Curd reviews, but they give you an idea of the sorts of people who like the book.

Rounding up the business aspect of what I explained there: over the last three and a half years I have built a successful business around the Waterstones group through signings, selling a total, through Waterstone's signings alone, of 10,197 books, or £139,643.03 worth through tills from Oct 20, 2008 to 1 Sept. 2012, earning me £59,348.29 through signings over 46 months at av. £1,290 pm. or £15,482 pa..
   The last financial year was my best, with  Raven's Quill income (before costs) from sales at over £19,700. (Compare with traditionally-published author average in Britain)
• Last summer I sold over 1,103 books (£13,459 through tills) over 28 events averaging 39.4 per day (boosted by 3for2 offer on all fiction pb)
• From autumn half-term to Christmas 1,058 (£13,638) over 26 events av. 40.7. [more Curd books sold]
• This summer 809 books (£10,769) over 31 events, av. 26.

And finally – lots of lovely Children’s reviews for Curd on
(If you are tempted to buy – support them and buy from them!)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Comment to Janet Reid’s Hard Numbers piece

Janet Reid, US agent with sharp teeth, wrote a “hard numbers” piece in her blog:

It starts (forgive me for lifting a few lines – my comments won’t make any sense to anyone otherwise):

“Wednesday, October 24, 2012

some hard numbers

My query in-box has a new category these days: authors who've self published with the goal of a larger publisher noticing.  There have been some amazing stories in the news about authors who've done just that.
We watch those stories very carefully of course.  We're in this biz for money, not love, and if there's a place to find projects we can sell, you bet we're there.  If you're thinking of doing this, here's what to consider:  
1. To get noticed, you have to sell a lot of books. By a lot I mean more than 20,000.
If this number doesn't daunt you, ask yourself this question: have you ever sold 20,000 units of anything?  
If the answer is yes, ask this next question:  
Have you sold something to 20,000 people, one by one?  
If you self publish you are no longer just the author, you're the salesperson for your book. Do you have any experience selling?...”

Seeking clarification regarding what she deems significant, I wrote a comment to that piece that I reproduce here because I think it may have gone AWOL:

“The Agent Game retweeted your link to this. Query. Are the units sold e-books, hardbacks, paperbacks? At what price? I’m curious to see how you rate a smaller sum sold (in UK) as I have? I’ve hand-sold at signings 7,936 of my first book, an illustrated nonsense quest story, putting £118,960 through tills (of approaching 9,000 sold all told). 2,642 at signings of second Gothic ghost tale (£26,393 thro. tills) of nearly 3,000 all told. ie. 10,578 or £164,880 sold at signings. I collect 42.5 - 60% list depending on distribution method, but have to organize and pay for printing and warehousing. £15 book cost £1.75 per unit on 2,000 run including delivery to UK warehouse from China. £10 book cost £1,32 per unit on 2,000 run. Gardners wholesalers take from 300-1,000 at a time, saving some warehousing costs. Sold transl. rights for first book now to South Korea, Israel and this week to China. Have nice reviews from a political philosopher, educationist (UK Literacy Award winner), writer/broadcaster (winner of BBC Radio drama award this year), a Book of Year for Lovereading4kids website. My SP co. is a member of the IPG and PA in UK, receives UKTI grants to exhibit at international book fairs (Frankfurt & Bologna - but neither this year – terms became tougher). My company represented by Big Apple, Amo (Korea) and Ilustrata (Sp./Po). A lot of effort quite apart from the writing. I do this in my spare time when not illustrating for several publishers (adult non-fiction cutaways, 3D battlemaps – science through to archaeology). Now have UK agent. Shatzkin wrote he would have said beforehand what I have done is impossible and urged me to find US agent ASAP. I also illustrate for architects and developers incl. one several times winner of World Architect of Year. Previous careers in newspapers as photographer then graphic journalist – graphics ed. of Daily Telegraph (UK national) winning 19 international awards incl. UK Press Awards, Graphic Artist of Year (winner 3x and runner-up 2x) and quite a few of your US SND awards.”

This is not intended as any sort of boast, but posted to discover just what she means by significant.
It will deleted as soon as she responds here, if she does, to affirm she did receive my comment.
Have to ring off – blinded by a migraine..

See newer post for more detail on what I have managed on my own:;postID=7845014395628244484