Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Speaking at London Book Fair Women's Fiction Event & Richmond Adult Community College Author Event

It has been a busy start to the year. I am presently gathering together my latest self-publishing hints and tips for two fabulous author events I will be speaking at this month.

In case you happen to be in the same part of the UK as me on either of these two dates, here are the details.

The first is on Wednesday, January 20th, 7-9pm at

RACC Theatre
Richmond Adult Community College

Richmond underground station is nearby. It's suitable for all writers or those thinking about writing or taking a course at RACC. It's free and there's no need to book. I will be speaking alongside authors Jacqui Lofthouse, Diane Chandler and Susan Lee Kerr about the various publishing options now open to writers.

This is the college where I started writing back in the 90s and I can't recommend it highly enough. I loved my beginner's course so much I enrolled again for a second year and those Monday afternoons were the highlight of my week. For my third and fourth years I moved on to the Writers At Work more advanced sessions where I met authors (and teachers) who have become lifelong friends. A big, big plus is the creche, catering for babies and children from 6 months to 4 years.

The second event is a whole weekend in a beautiful Bath, hotel in Somerset. Tailored specifically for authors who write in the Women's Fiction genre.

Sat/Sun 23/24 January
Write Now!
Bailbrook House Hotel

Powered by The London Book Fair in partnership with HarperCollins' new Carina imprint, this is a unique opportunity for authors to mingle with and learn from some influential publishing industry figures. Speakers include Victoria Oundjian, Commissioning Editor, Carina, HarperCollins; Caroline Sheldon, Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency, Sam Missingham, Head of Audience Development, HarperCollins, Author Fanny Blake and more.The programme includes a pitching competition. I will be sharing all I've learnt about self-publishing on Saturday afternoon. The £300 cost includes accommodation and food (with a gala dinner). Have a look at the gorgeous hotel website here. From the London Book Fair booking page:

Who is it for?

This event is aimed at the London Book Fair's ever-growing author audience, whether self, or traditionally published, new to writing, or already some way down the writing path, but wish to learn more, and network with like-minded people. 

What does it include?

Sessions will include an introduction to publishing; marketing and pr; using social media to develop your audience; rights, contracts and important legalities; case studies that inspire; and all important networking and sharing sessions with other attendees, plus publishing and agenting professionals. 

It will kick off on Saturday morning, with an action-packed programme and includes accommodation, refreshments and lunch, plus a gala dinner with a big name author after-dinner talk. Speakers include: agents; publishers; authors; marketers; and consultants.


"The Bible of Ebook Publishing"

 "Stephanie Zia tells you what you want to know, and need to know,
and what you never realised you needed to know. If you only ever buy one book on ePublishing, this is the one to buy."

"This book is a gem. I can't believe how much information is packed into it."

"I started out the year knowing absolutely nothing about publishing an e-book. Now I have 2 e-books under my belt, and I never could have done it without Stephanie's book. I used a few other resources, but Stephanie's was the most thorough and the easiest to understand. Thank you for all of your hard work on this excellent book!"

"Well written, contains masses of useful stuff, dead easy to follow & costs less than a cup of UK coffee. Highly recommended. eCommerce at its best."

"Filled with interesting, informative, and up-to-date material, and the author somehow conveys the feeling to the reader that "You can do it!"

(That's enough, ed..)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Christmas...

...and all the very best wishes for 2016. Many thanks for sticking with me through 2015. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

5 Predictions for Trade Publishing in 2016 via the Publishing Technology blog

5 Predictions for Trade Publishing in 2016

At the end of every year it’s traditional for the CEO of Publishing Technology to dust off the crystal ball and look at what’s going to happen in publishing over the next twelve months. In previous years we’ve predicted the rise of mobile reading, which was a hot topic at this year’s Futurebook conference in the UK, and that the acid test for ebook subscription will come when the first ‘Netflix for books’ service closes its doors, as Oyster did this autumn.
So what does 2016 have in store for the world of trade publishing? Here are our predictions for next year’s publishing top trends.
1. ebook and print will diverge into parallel markets
The biggest story in trade publishing this year was the claim that print books are winning out over ebooks. Penguin Random House, Hachette and HarperCollins all reported slowing ebook sales this year, as sales of paperbacks returned to growth.
While the media has leapt on this story to assert that readers are now returning to ‘proper’ books, the reasons behind this are more complex than they appear, and point to a divergence emerging between the electronic and print markets.
Firstly, one reason why trade publishers are reporting stronger print sales in 2015 could be because, thanks to the reintroduction of agency pricing, publishers now have much greater control over the price of their books on major online retailers like Amazon. This has enabled many publishers to pursue a strategy where they price the ebooks of major frontlist releases, at near parity to the hardback or paperback formats. Faced with the choice of buying an ebook for £9.99 or the hardback for £11.99 it seems that many readers opted for the physical format and this could explain why big publishers are seeing fewer ebook sales this year.
Even if the major trade publishers are selling fewer ebooks, however, it doesn’t follow that the overall digital book market must be shrinking. It could just mean that major publishers’ releases now account for a smaller portion of the total ebook market.
This year, Author Earnings made the very interesting claim that 45% of books sold on Amazon’s Kindle store are not published by traditional publishers. If true this would mean that nearly half of all ebooks sold on the world’s most important digital bookstore are self-published, published by micro-publishers that fall below the radar of traditional market measures or published by Amazon’s own imprints.
These books – mostly genre fiction, published via Amazon’s KDP platform and competitively priced – seem to have gradually formed a book market that works in parallel to traditional publishing. The only reason we can’t see how big or important it is for overall book sales is that Amazon won’t release any data about it.
What this tells us is that there isn’t one book market anymore: there are two, and they exist in parallel. One continues to be dominated by major publishers, and increasingly uses agency pricing as a strategy to support print book sales. The second publishing market is almost exclusively made up of ebooks, and is driven by Amazon-published and KDP content sold at a substantial discount to the product produced by traditional publishers.
In 2016 we will see these markets diverge even further as they pursue their different goals in very different ways.
2. More pressure on the midlist as big publishers pursue ‘winner-takes-all’ publishing
Another trend we’ve covered on this blog this year has been how major publishers are reconfiguring themselves as media companies. This move involves publishers tweaking their business model so that their success depends on them successfully exploiting IP across multiple media and formats, not just books. An example of this strategy in action would be Penguin Random House Children’s in the UK, which has just appointed Richard Haines into a new role to head up the development of new TV series from its picture books.
The potential rewards of creating content that travels across the media are substantial for publishers, but so are the risks. And in order for their investment to pay off, publishers may find themselves even more reliant than ever before on a few best-sellers.
There are already indications that this is starting to happen in publishing, with a small number of authors and brands accounting for large proportions of individual publishers’ sales. By becoming more reliant on hits, publishers may well become more effective in exploiting those hits across media types. The fall-out may be, however, that some publishers choose to publish fewer books.
Next year we will probably see at least one big trade publisher cut their mid-list, and the definition of mid-list will move so that it includes some authors who were minor bestsellers just a few years ago. It’s then very possibly that these authors will then go on to join the parallel ebook-led publishing market we identified in our first prediction.
3. Audio and children’s publishing will grow fastest in 2016
While many publishers have taken heart from the small recovery in adult paperback sales in 2015, this is not the area that will deliver real growth to the industry in 2016 and beyond.
For the past 3-5 years, children’s books have provided the majority of growth for publishers. In 2015, the US children’s books market grew by 13% and by 3.2% in the UK. This will continue into 2016, as publishers’ strategic decision to refashion themselves as media businesses (as in our second prediction) leads them to concentrate on brand and print-led publishing. Big children-friendly brands like Star Wars, Harry Potter and Minecraft will be pivotal to the continued financial health of many publishers.
The other major driver of growth for publishers will be audiobooks. Audio enjoyed phenomenal growth in 2015. The latest AAP Statshot report for the first six months of this year recorded 31% year-on-year growth in $ for audiobooks. Comparable stats aren’t yet available in the UK, but anecdotal evidence from publishers suggests that audio is the only segment of trade publishers’ businesses that consistently delivers double-digit growth.
We’ll see more of this in 2016. In particular, the publisher Penguin Random House, which has invested heavily in audio in 2015, and Audible, the retailer-publisher that dominates audiobook sales, will reap the benefits of their considerable spending on the production and marketing ofaudio content.
4. Publishers will seek more brand partnerships to deliver book sales
One of the biggest and most surprising successes of children’s publishing in the UK in 2015 was a character killed off by its author nearly 15 years ago. Mog, the lovable, lazy cat created by Judith Kerr, got a second lease of life this Christmas when she starred in the supermarket Sainsbury’s Christmas advert. At the time of writing, Mog’s Christmas Calamity, a book that Kerr wrote to support the advert, had been at number one in the UK book charts for four weeks and sold nearly 75,000 copies in its first three days of sales.This isn’t just a heartwarming Christmas story, it’s a signal of just how much a partnership with a major consumer brand like Sainsbury’s willdrive book sales. And we can expect more like this.
Just as the success of colouring-in books in early 2015 prompted publishers to pile in, and publishers will aggressively pursue more Mog-like partnerships in 2016. It’s very likely that a few very high profile children’s books characters will find themselves at the centre of major advertising campaigns next Christmas.
5. Rights management becomes a hot topic
If, as we expect, publishers will become more dependent on big authors and licenses, cross-media content and brand partnerships, the other issue they will need to address in 2016 is rights management.
Publishers have been in the rights business for centuries, but compared to other creative industries many still have a primitive approach controlling, managing and paying for the IP in their possession. More than a few publishers are still trying to manage the complex rights businesses from Excel spreadsheets. This can seriously impact the efficiency of their operations, and the speed and accuracy with which they pay rights holders such as authors or brand owners.
As we enter 2016 we can expect more publishers putting the way they manage rights into fundamental review. This will mean the return of rights audits, the retirement of spreadsheets and, hopefully, the implementation of systems that are capable of helping the publishing industry make good on its ambitions.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Book Marketing Psychology

I have been revisiting my post on

The Psychology of Book Marketing

for a presentation at Chiswick Waterstones.

Writing A Book? How Will You Publish?
4 approaches to publishing in a rapidly-changing marketplace with first-time novelist DIANE CHANDLER; self-published SUSAN LEE KERR; mainstream & indie published JACQUI LOFTHOUSE and Blackbird's author turned publisher STEPHANIE ZIA
Chaired by The Chiswick Calendar's BRIDGET OSBORNE
Waterstones, Chiswick, 220-226 Chiswick High Rd, Chiswick W4 1PD

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Singleton Mum: A novel about the work life imbalance

This novel, my first, originally released by Piatkus as Baby on Board has been due a makeover for a long long time. It was unashamedly styled on the Bridget Jones genre, which I loved. Now it would be called fan fiction I guess, so I decided to capitalise on that this time around with the title. 

 Bridget is, it seems, now catching up with my 39 yr old, as a movie about Bridget Jones having a baby is in production. This put a bit of a bomb under my update plans. The text had already been seen to (for the obligatory mobile phone/internet updates & removal of some of the more flowery first time author descriptions), and put out under various titles with a series of covers so bad I hadn't even included it on my publishing site. I use professional designers for my authors' covers but, happily employed as I've been as an editor and publisher lately, I haven't as yet been in the position to allocate the time or money to my own backlist. But I'm happy with this cover, which I made this morning with a photo agency image. For the font, I did what you're supposed to do and studied other books in the genre, along with the covers of Jojo Moyes whose brilliant, intelligent books have the audience all contemporary fiction authors dream of.  

To try and get some visibility going for this new one, The Widow's To Do List is currently free on Amazon Kindle (26-30 Oct 2015)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Writing A Book? How Will You Publish? Free Event

Still with publisher's hat on (it's not Nov NanoWriMo 1st quite yet), but with one toe definitely in the writer's world: It has been confirmed that we have our first London Waterstones event coming up on November 17th. Two Blackbird authors, Jacqui Lofthouse and Diane Chandler, independent author Susan Lee Kerr, and myself will be talking about the advantages and disadvantages of various ways of publishing, all from slightly different perspectives. To be chaired by The Chiswick Calendar's Bridget Osborne, the event is free and kicks off at Chiswick Waterstones at 18.30. Full details here.

More excitement: Love & Justice Blackbird author Diana Morgan-Hill is one of the Women of the Year 2015 and celebrating this very lunchtime at London's Intercontinental Hotel on Park Lane.

Generic Amazon Link

Monday, October 12, 2015

NaNoWriMo - I'm In...

I haven't written a jot of fiction for several years now.

All will change on November 1st when the annual NaNoWriMo fest kicks off.

I will write 50,000 words in 30 days. And not a word before that.

I'm making notes, though.

I have been inspired to do this by Into The Darkest Corner author Elizabeth Haynes. I was lucky enough to spend some time with Elizabeth at the Charroux Literary Festival this summer. Elizabeth does NaNoWriMo every year.

Here she tells how it all worked for her.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

From Digital To Print & Out From Behind The Computer Screen

The transfer from digital-only to digital and print at Blackbird gathers momentum as Diane Chandler's People's Book Prize 2015/16 finalist The Road To Donetsk makes the display shelves at Waterstones. Thanks to James Daunt's purchase of the UK's biggest bookstore chain last year, independent publishers can now get their books out there. A further step towards the democratisation of publishing. 

The Road To Donetsk in Waterstones, Chiswick

Diane Chandler at Waterstones, Chiswick
Tanya Bullock's That Special Someone is a Waterstones, Walsall Staff Pick.

Tanya Bullock At Waterstones Walsall
Recent appearances by Love & Justice author and motivational speaker Diana Morgan-Hill included this interview with the Hay Festival's Andy Fryers at Herefordshire New Leaf's hEnergy weekend. Diana has been invited to attend the Women Of The Year lunch later this month. 

Diana Morgan-Hill, in conversation with Andy Fryers from Catcher Media on Vimeo.

It all began in 2010 with one Amazon ebook by Susie Kelly:

The Valley Of Heaven & Hell by Susie Kelly

Susie has travelled further than all of us. She recently returned from a Writer in Residence safari trip to Kenya and is busy writing her 8th travel title for Blackbird. A follow-up to her much-loved I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

From Author To Publisher And Back Again (Hopefully..)

Time, time time! That's all it'll take. And discipline..

At the beginning of this year I started the crossover from publishing digital-only ebooks and paperbacks to mainstream print publishing, getting our books out there into bookstores and libraries as well. It's been a busy, busy time - with much to learn! We now have our first national book award shortlist for debut novelist Diane Chandler. I get to go to a televised Black Tie ceremony - as a publisher! Never in a million years...

Other highlights include acceptance by Waterstones and W H Smith; our first author event in a Waterstones store with Tanya Bullock, another wonderful debut novelist; lots of national press, radio and TV coverage for an extraordinary new memoir Love & Justice by Diana Morgan-Hill (podcast of fantastic interview this week by Ireland's Ryan "Late Late Show" Tubridy on RTE Radio 1,); a shout out for Blackbird in the Guardian; a Writer in Residence slot on an African Safari for our first ever author, Susie Kelly, who is just back and writing her 9th Blackbird book .... and dear friend and wonderful author Jacqui Lofthouse published her latest novel with us - The Modigliani Girl is set in the world of writing groups - boosting our literary kudos.

Two of our authors appeared at the Charroux Literary Festival, an Anglo/French literary festival set in Susie Kelly's home town of Charroux. As patron of the Festival Susie got to suggest some authors to the organisers. She picked Diana Morgan-Hill, Jacqui Lofthouse and our HarperCollins-published friend Barry Walsh.

Charroux Literary Festival

L-R Diana Morgan-Hill, Barry Walsh, Alison Morton, Stephanie Zia, Elizabeth Haynes, Isabel Ashdown, Jacqui Lofthouse 

The poets' table, Charroux Literary Festival

Elizabeth Haynes, Diana Morgan-Hill, Kate Mosse, Stephane Zia
Jacqui Lofthouse's Writing Coach UK Workshop

Diana Morgan-Hill, reducing everybody to as many laughs as tears 
 Spending 2 days in the company of writers and readers, talking nothing but books and writing has spurred me on to get back to it. I'm going to join in the NaNoWriMo fun this November and will be researching and note-taking between now and then ready for the off. I plan to be back here more regularly as well. A bientot!

Blackbird Digital Books

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hidden London: Affordable Art At The Petal Pusher Cafe, Kew Gardens

Another fab exhibition of affordable art from Armadillo Central is on at the gorgeous Petal Pusher Cafe in Kew, London. The Petal Pusher Cafe showcases artwork, floristry, fresh food, fine wines & champagnes and artisan coffees and teas.Through July you can see Iain Kemp's exquisitely photographed and framed vintage car collection.

More info about Iain Kemp at Armadillo Central

For an interesting cup of coffee, in beautiful, flowery, friendly surroundings, pop down to

235 Sandycombe Road, Kew, TW9 2EW
Tel 02082871651