Absolutely delighted to hear the news that Novel Studio alumna Kiare Ladner has sold her debut novel. Nightshift, to Picador. Associate publisher Ravi Mirchandani, who acquired world rights to the book, has described it as "an immensely exciting debut, a novel of nights and shifts, between gay and straight, sober and carried away; of how it is possible both to find oneself in the city or to become lost entirely; of obsession and the sheer mysteriousness of ourselves and others”.
Kiare's star has always shone bright. After graduating from City's Novel Studio with flying colours, she secured a place at UEA to do their prestigious MA in Creative Writing and subsequently won the David Higham award for her writing. Her short stories have appeared in Wasafiri, Lightship Anthology 1, New Contrast and Eclectica, and she was recently awarded an HW Fisher scholarship for her place on the Curtis Brown novel-writing course.
Nightshift will be published in 2019 and we cannot wait to read it. Congratulations, Kiare!
A few years back, I was lucky enough to teach a young writer called Remy Salters, then a student on the Novel Studio at City. Remy was always a very talented writer with a fascinating story to tell so when I heard he'd got an agent, I wasn't surprised. A publishing deal was just a matter of time, or so I thought.
But for Remy, as for so many talented first-time authors out there, this didn't happen. The book was rejected by traditional publishers leaving him with some tough choices. Rather than give up, Remy began investigating alternative routes to publications. Here's his story.
"I began my novel, Butterfly Ranch, as part of the City's Novel Studio a few years ago. After several full drafts and lots of workshops with fellow writers, I got to a stage where I was able to secure an agent. This was invaluable, as the book underwent a couple more crucial rewrites with her advice. In the end, though, we failed to place the book with the agent‘s targeted imprints, and so I moved on to other projects. However, as time passed, I realised that I had unfinished business. Butterfly Ranch needed to 'live‘ regardless. This is when I decided to self-publish.
My first idea was to get the book typeset and a cover done by a designer friend, then publish on Amazon CreateSpace as an e-book and paperback on demand, and promote via social media. CreateSpace is a convenient system and the design was the easy part. Now for the promotion...Without releasing the book, I became more active on Facebook and Twitter for several months, but I eventually concluded that converting social media interaction into meaningful readership, as a complete unknown, required more investment in time than I could spare, and a long-term active role in a multitude of online communities. In my case, social media could help and enhance, but not be the only channel.
So I searched for a publicist. I was in touch with several, but always came away with a feeling that there is little interest in self-published authors (or rather interest in their cash, not their title). That was until I came across Matador, who describe themselves as a 'partner publisher‘ – i.e. you finance the design, production and/or marketing/PR of your book, but they advise, project-manage and promote. I have been impressed by this solution. I have had freedom in choosing the level of support I want, while feeling safe in the knowledge that whatever I choose will be delivered professionally and I can reach out for a real publisher‘s advice."
Remy's choice seems to have paid off. After a successful book blog tour last month, Butterfly Ranch has just won the International Rubery Award for fiction 2018 and Chill With A Book Reader's award 2018. As Seth Godin says, don't wait to be picked, pick yourself. Congrats, Remy!
Thrilled to hear that Novel Studio alumna Hannah Begbie has won the Joan Hessayon Romantic Novelist's Award for her debut novel, Mother, out later this month with HarperCollins. As if that wasn't enough, TV rights have now been sold to Clerkenwell Films, after a four-way auction, with her husband, Bafta-nominated screenwriter Tom Edge poised to adapt the novel. It's proving to be quite a year. Congratulations, Hannah!
It's a busy week in the City short courses calendar. City's year-long flagship Novel Studio programme, the course that inspired Hannah Begbie, Harriet Tyce, Deepa Anappara and Kiare Ladner, to name but a few, at the start of their careers, closes for 2018 applications on June 15. For more information head over here. And to read about the growing list of published alumni visit.
And City Writes, City's termly writing competiton, open to all past and present City short course students, closes its doors for submissions on 15 June. For a chance to take to the stage and read alongside short course alumna and rising star, C.G. Menon, visit and for tickets visit.
Very excited to announce that Imogen Hermes Gowar, a former City short course student, will be star billing at the next City Writes event in March. Imogen's debut novel, The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock has been picked as the 'most anticipated book of 2018' by. amongst others, Vogue, Sunday Times, Observer, The Times, Sunday Mirror, Daily Express, BBC Arts, Red Magazine, Stylist, The Pool, Emerald Street, Independent, The Herald, Irish Times, Irish Tatler, The Journal and Irish Independent. The novel sparked a bidding war with ten publishers, a war finally won by Harville Secker for a six figure sum.
Imogen was inspired with the idea for the novel while working at the British Museum as a Gallery Assistant. In the evenings she attended creative writing classes at City, taking Novel Writing and Longer Works and then Writers’ Workshop, both taught by Katy Darby. She went on to study for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, for which she received a distinction and won the Curtis Brown award for her year.
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock is due out later this month and has been chosen as Harville Secker’s lead debut fiction title for 2018. Congratulations, Imogen!
It's not all doom and gloom out there. 2017 is turning out to be a bumper year for Indie publishers. According to Inpress, a distributor for 60 of the smallest independent publishers, sales are up by 79% this year. One of those authors helping to buck the trend for indie presses is Monique Roffey who signed with Dodo Ink for her latest novel, The Tryst, after Simon & Schuster pulled out. What began as a gamble is fast becoming a shrewd move on Roffey's part. The Tryst is climbing high on the bestseller list and has garnered some great reviews from the heavyweights, The Guardian calling it 'perfectly judged', The TLS “occasionally terrifying.” Not content with writing books for a living, Monique can also be found teaching at Manchester Met, Skryos and City, University of London.
So thrilled to hear that the phenomenally talented Hannah Begbie has sold her debut novel to HarperFiction. Hannah was a star student on the Novel Studio where she also won the new writing competition. Her novel, Mother, developed while on the course, is a brilliant, and brutal, exploration of motherhood in the most complicated of circumstances. Her agent, Veronique Baxter has said that Mother “is a book you don’t forget in a hurry: unflinching, dark and deeply compelling, it moved me profoundly”. Very proud of you, Hannah, and cannot wait to read the finished book!
This autumn City Writes opens its doors once again with a writing competition open to all past and present City Writing Short Course Students. Submit by 17 November to win a chance to read alongside City short course alumnus Greg Keen, whose debut crime novel, Soho Dead, came out in July. Set up and run by The Book Edit's very own Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone, the next City Writes event will be held on 13 December and is well worth attending, even if you don't win the competition! Tickets available here.
Novel Studio alumnus Greg Keen has signed a two book deal with Amazon Publishing’s Crime Imprint, Thomas & Mercer. His first book, Soho Dead, came out in July and is described as a “fast-paced, darkly funny crime novel” in which the hero, PI Kenny Gabriel, finds that “the further he investigates the unnatural death of an old friend's daughter, the more he confronts his own past.” This follows hot on the heels of Greg’s CWA Debut Dagger award which helped secure his agent, Veronique Baxter at David Higham. Soho Ghosts is due out next year.
Harriet Tyce has sold her debut thriller, Blood Orange, to Wildfire. Rights have also been sold in ten other territories. Set to be a ‘major debut launch’, Wildfire have described the novel as ‘a stunning piece of psychological suspense...’ with a ‘spectacularly dark and satisfying ending.’
Harriet was a criminal barrister for ten years before starting her writing career. A graduate of the Novel Studio in 2010, she is now part way through the MA in Creative Writing Crime Fiction at UEA, where she received a distinction in her first year. Blood Orange will be published in the UK in January 2019.
Last week saw the launch of Emma Claire Sweeney and Emily Midorikawa's hotly anticipated book about female literary friendships, A Secret Sisterhood. Based on their hugely successful blog, Something Rhymed, A Secret Sisterhood delves deeper into four transformative female friendships which have been largely overlooked. Writing in the foreword, Margaret Atwood notes that 'In digging up the forgotten friendships chronicled in A Secret Sisterhood, Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney have done much service to literary history.’ We couldn't be more delighted for Emma and Emily and wish them every success with this important book.
Delighted to hear that HarperCollins have bought Peng Shepherd's debut novel, M. Peng's agent at Curtis Brown describes the book as "a virtuoso debut by an unparalleled talent. Peng Shepherd has created a world filled with big ideas about mortality and self but it is the small intimate moments that pierce and stay with you long after you’ve finished reading".Read More