Friday, 4 October 2013

Publishing and exclusive territories

Last week I said that I would explain the situation regarding publishing areas in the world. When a book is published in, say, German it is assumed that the only people who will want go buy it are those who speak German but English is spoken in many countries and that creates a problem.
A little while ago I mentioned that most of the colour has gone from Dartmoor.
Not so in our garden as this and the following photographs demonstrate.
There were two English speaking nations when mass publishing started - the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Publishers in these two countries were faced with a decision: outright competition or some sort of agreement to enable them to work together. No doubt driven by the thought that there was more profit in cooperation than in war, they choose the latter. 

Thus the contracts Marcia has with Transworld do nor give them world rights but only over what are known as “The Exclusive Territories”. This list is too long to reproduce here but it includes most of Africa, America (Central and West Indies), The Falkland Islands and French Guiana in America (South), parts of Asia where English is generally spoken, most of Oceania and virtually all of Europe and Scandinavia.

Likewise when the same books are then published by St Martin's Press - the same but sometimes under a different title - their rights too are restricted. They have “The United States, its territories and dependencies (including but not limited to U.S. Diplomatic, military and educational establishments wherever located), the Republic of the Philippines and the same rights, but non-exclusively, in the Open Market.”

These two lists do not cover all the world and the sale of English titles in the rest of the world is available to both publishers as suggested in the paragraph above. Translations into other languages are outside this agreement and these are available worldwide.

None of this, of course, stops readers in one territory from buying books sold in another. Indeed, I know that a lot of Marcia’s readers in the U.S. buy her books from the U.K. and have them shipped over The Pond. This can be done either through some of the bookshops here or on-line. (If you want help in this regard, send me an email and I will do what I can). Usual address for me is

Indeed the arrival of internet bookshops, e-books and Amazon’s Kindle books has thrown a rather large spanner into the works and has caused problems that have yet properly to be addressed. We shall have to wait to see how it all pans out.

Meanwhile, Marcia and I are still hunting down her people. Some of the ideas with which she started have been discarded. This is usual and the explanation nine times out of ten is that they come back again for another book. You will remember how often in the past characters from two books have caused all sorts of problems by jostling for attention at the same time. Well, Marcia is now more aware of this tendency and can talk quite severely to them if she feel they are speaking out of turn. Liv (you will, I am sure, remember Liv from The Way We Were) is such a one and will not be in the book Marcia is working on right now but will, I suspect, be back. Watch this space.

While all that is going on, I am working on a book I have titled Hattie’s Mill Revisited. Telling you about this is pretty stupid. The idea is that it will be available by mid-December but that timetable is by no means certain. Just to explain a bit more, here is an extract from the Preface.

As many readers know, and especially those who read my Friday blogs, the way in which Marcia discovers her characters, where they live, what they do, where they shop and so on is . . . well, let us say “unusual”.
This little booklet is the first of what I hope will be a collection covering a number of her books. It shouldn’t be the first, really, as Hattie’s Mill was the fifth novel to be published. It was, however, the first one where we worked together by exploring ideas and then talking endlessly until Marcia was satisfied that we had both met the demands (and it seems they really are demands) of her characters and my stubborn insistence that there has to be at least a shred of reality for me (and readers) to hold onto. That will make more sense as together we revisit “Hattie’s Mill”.

Part of this booklet consists of quotes from the book and, at the back there are a few pages devoted to some history about the Dartmouth waterfront. Why? A good question but it happens that my grandfather, then the Royal Borough of Dartmouth’s Engineer, reclaimed the last cove and built the last part of the embankment so this is, if you like, in memory of him.

Anyway, as all who have read the book will know one of the most important characters is Admiral Jellico. That being so the blog dog this week is of our last Newfoundland, Trubshawe, on whom “Jelly Baby” was based so this is, if like, in memory of him. Clearly he has just come in after running about in the long wet grass of the field next to where we then lived.