2014 – What a Year
It’s been quite a year for Silvertail Books. Planning year by year in publishing is difficult no matter where you are, but when you’re a tiny publisher moving from year 1 to year 2, it’s a serious puzzle. In mid-year 1, when I should have been lining up books for year 2, I had very little track record and not much in the way of working capital either. So this year – year 2 – was about securing books for next year (year 3) as well as actually publishing. But that is not to say our publishing was weak. Quite the opposite, in fact, because Silvertail put out two books which showed once and for all what a small publisher is capable of doing in the current publishing universe – by which I mean punching way above its weight. Here’s why.
Back in January, I was working flat out on getting Russell Miller’s book about L Ron Hubbard, Bare-Faced Messiah, ready for print. It duly came out in March and has been selling steadily ever since. I was a touch disappointed by the lack of media attention the book got (with the exceptions of this and this) but that doesn’t seem to be holding it back. For me this is simply down to the fact that not only is it one of the bravest bits of authorship I’ve ever come across, it also manages to turn a long, long series of stunning revelations into blissful narrative entertainment in a way which very few authors are capable of. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Bare-Faced Messiah is a truly great book.
Later in the year, I published When In Doubt Be Nice by Peter Mead. Peter is a giant of the advertising industry, one of the founders of AMV, the biggest agency in the UK. A genuine legend of the business world. His book is part business lessons and part life story, and all brilliant. The Financial Times described his advice as ‘wise words’ and Bernard Barnett, one of the most knowledgeable and distinguished writers on advertising around, said the book is ‘The best and wisest book on advertising I’ve ever read – and there are plenty of contenders.’ Given that he has probably read every book on advertising ever published, this is high praise indeed. A wonderful book by a wonderful man.
Speaking of wonderful things, Elephant Moon by John Sweeney, which I published way back in October 2012, has now sold more than 96,000 copies and at the current rate will hit six figures some time in January. Most of these are ebooks (thank you Amazon) but I have also reprinted the paperback three times which shows just how loved the book is becoming. John and I are delighted beyond words by this. Thank you to everyone who has bought, read and reviewed the book. And if you haven’t, you should.
2014, therefore, was quite a year, before I even get onto the books signed up for 2015. I have already announced three books for next year – Gallipoli 1915 by Joseph Murray, The Voyage of The Golden Handshake by Terry Waite and We Are The Cops by Michael Matthews – and there’s more to come. These three, plus a stunningly accomplished memoir about a young man growing up caught between God and sex and a classic Cold War spy novel, (both of which I will be blowing fanfares about in January) are coming out in the first half of 2015.
Further down the line, there’s a sensational literary novel from a former soldier, another devastating investigation into a dark chapter of the history of Scientology (maybe even two of these), a brilliant WWI romance and several more which I don’t want to mention because I might curse my luck. So all in all, things are getting very interesting. Silvertail Books is growing. I am proud of the books I’ve published so far and am excited about what’s coming up.
And what do I think of the publishing world? It’s changing, but doing fine. My view is that as long as publishers keep producing brilliant books, the future is rosy. Bookshops will continue to struggle (I’m sad to say I can’t see their situation improving, although some will do well) and some publishers will find life more and more difficult. But readers are buying books in unprecedented numbers and distributing books is easier than it’s ever been before. So in my opinion the good outweighs the bad. There’s not a great deal of point saying much more than that because even if I wanted to change things, I can’t. I and plenty of other people would be sensible to spend time trying to make the best of what’s on offer rather than complaining about it.
Finally, even if only three people read this (which will include me proofing it) Happy Christmas to you all.