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Meet the Member: Bluemoose Books
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Posted by IPG
1 What's your company called?
Bluemoose Books.

2 What do you publish?
Fiction and some non-fiction.

3 What’s the story of the company?
Many years ago I won a national writing competition and got to meet a top agent and the publishing director from one of the big six companies. It didn’t go well. A year later I had read that all the big money was going to new young Irish writers, so I changed my name to Colm O’Driscoll and fired off the first three chapters and synopsis of my book to one of the leading literary agencies. They were interested, but I had to go down to London and confess I wasn’t Irish but a middle-aged Mancunian with long hair. They tried to sell my book but apparently the market wasn’t right for a comic novel, and it was rejected.

I spent a few years moping until my wife told me to do something about it. So we re-mortgaged the house and set up Bluemoose Books to publish new writers whose work didn’t fit what we were being told was ‘the market.’ The first two novels we published were mine, Anthills and Stars, followed byThe Bridge Between by Nathan Vanek. We made enough money from these to continue to publish, and we’ve published 18 novels since. None of which are mine.

4 How's business?
Business is good but tough. We have sold foreign rights to several countries including the US and Canada. Channel 4 has bought the TV rights to Stop! Don’t Read This by Leonora Rustamova and Fox TV has bought the rights to Nod by Adrian Barnes, which was shortlisted for The Arthur C Clarke Award. King Crow by Michael Stewart won The Guardian’s Not the Booker award and was a World Book Night recommended read. Pig Iron by Benjamin Myers won the Gordon Burn Prize in 2013.

Bluemoose Books is also a member of The Arts Council Fiction Group, along with other award-winning independent publishers. We have recently had two books featured in WH Smith Travel promotions, and two in Amazon’s ‘12 Days of Kindle Christmas’ promotion. All our digital books are looked after by Faber, which has been a tremendous asset in boosting international sales of our ebooks.

5 What do you enjoy about being independent?
I love the flexibility. If we fall passionately in love with a new book we can add it into the publishing schedule quite quickly. It is wonderful to know that we have started literary careers and continue to enable new writers to bring their books to readers.

6 What is the biggest single issue in publishing right now?
DRM, discounting and the lack of bookshelf space allotted to smaller independents.

7 What one piece of advice would you give to a fellow independent just starting out?
Be passionate about your books, but have a sales and marketing plan and don’t print too many copies. Don’t laugh at your bank manager’s jumpers.

8 What do you get out of belonging to the IPG?
The IPG brings a wealth of experience, ideas and help if needed. I am constantly asking for advice from fellow independents, and it’s always good to have a friendly ear when up against the behemoths in the industry.

Visit the Bluemoose Books website.

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