Thursday, 14 October 2010


We’ve just made three moves that are just a tad scary ... and one that gave me great personal pleasure. ‘Three Nightmares and a Reunion’ will be the title of the film version of this blog yarn.

Scary A: We’re about to run with our first ever ebook-only project. We will now see if an ebook really can stand on its own feet without support from paperback and hardback sales. Regular readers and old friends know our passion for the future of the ebook presentation of work, so now let’s find out if our enthusiasm has run away with us or if we’ve been on track so far this century.

Scary B: Again for the first time, without the usual support of Ingram’s – the biggest book distributor on the planet – we’re faced with building an ebook retail base ourselves ... from scratch. No mean trick, is that. But we’ve carefully prepared (even to the extent of registering BeWrite Books LLC in the USA to get into the massive new ebook retail stores that exclude publishers without an official US presence) and have high hopes.

Scary C: We’re publishing our first non-fiction book with this release. Until now, it’s been strictly Novels-я-Us. And poetry collections, of course.

Pleasure A-Z:
I’ve been working along with an author who’s an old buddy from mid-seventies newspaper days in Fleet Street. We’ve not worked together or even set eyes on each other since we shared an office thirty-five years ago when we were both still in our roaring twenties and Fleet Street was much, much more than just an address in London EC4. And – wow – it’s been a breeze.

A bit scary for author Irene Thompson, too, because 1) she hadn’t a clue about ebooks and had never even read one when we snared her 2) the subject matter of her A-Z of Punishment and Torture seems to clash with her gentle persona as a popular human interest journalist and former ballet dancer.

The story of this reunion is pretty simple. Irene’s husband, John, is European editor of a major US newspaper group and, over the decades, we’ve touched base on international stories many times. So when Irene drifted from newspapers and magazines into books, I read what she wrote with interest and admiration. When I bought The A-Z of Punishment and Torture, though, it suddenly struck me that the mainstream UK publisher of the hardback version had not yet moved in the direction of ebooks. I dropped Irene a line about it. she thought once, then twice, talked it over with John, then contacted her publisher for the go-ahead, and decided to sign with BeWrite Books to run the ebook version.

We had a lot of fun along the way because the ebook is a significant revision of the hardback.  And it was such a whizz of a job because Irene – a thorough pro – understood all the editorial twists and turns without the batting of an eye and was so happy to learn about ebooks and technology as we progressed through the months of editing.

There was another wee bonus. Although her publisher had handed Irene ebook rights, they couldn’t (for contractual reasons) release rights to the original illustrations in her book. So we pulled in brilliant UK artist Catherine Edmunds, who is also an author, was part of the old BeWrite Community way back when and has always kept in warm touch. Cathy, Irene and I worked together to make the book fully illustrated with twenty-six drawings, one for each letter of the alphabet, as chapter-openers. (Cathy, by the way, also covered and illustrated BB's ALLAKAZZAM! by Daniel Abelman.)

Then partner, close colleague and pal, Tony Szmuk, who also handled inside text design and all matters technical, added the finishing touch of a striking cover that works magnificently in both colour and in the black-and-white used by e-ink ebook-dedicated reading devices like Kindle, Sony, Kobo et al. (B&N’s Nook, like Apple’s iPad, can give it the full colour treatment.)

We’ll see release of The A-Z of Punishment and Torture next month. Meantime, if you go back to the BB website (just click on the open book icon and the top right of this page) and enter the bookstore section, you can read about Irene’s new ebook in the ‘coming soon’ column in the right margin, about Irene herself, and also read a sample chapter from The A-Z of Punishment and Torture and see one of Cathy’s illustrations.

Irene has even made the brave new move – without any help from us or anyone else – of kicking off a blog. Her first foray into online interaction with readers. It’s lovely. And very personal. You’ll find it here: Do pay a visit and leave an encouraging note because it’s so new (Oct 13) that Irene only has two followers so far – husband John and me. I predict that her followers list will soon be bustin’ at the seams.

Cathy also has a blog. She’s on where she talks about her own new novel, Small Poisons, and poetry collection, wormwood, earth and honey. And you can see many examples of her art by Googling.

So that’s Three Nightmares and a Reunion ... from A-Z, folks.

Slainte ba. Neil


  1. Sounds like a useful writing resource for writers of the dark, like me.

  2. Sure is, Geoff. But darned fascinating reading all round. What I love about this one is that, given its subject matter, Irene and Cathy have avoided the slightest hint of sensationalism and the temptation to reduce their work to blood and gore. Just the facts ma'am. A fine piece of informative historical non-fiction ... and now I can give you a release date: NOVEMBER 10, folks. Available in all ebook formats from all important stores for every electronic reading platform under the sun from PCs to dedicating e-reading gizmos to the cellphone in your pocket! Neil