Wednesday, 14 September 2011


BeWrite Books has grown much too big for its britches ... and that’s good news all round.

On October 1 we launch a vital new imprint: LIMITROPHE PUBLISHING. (Interesting and fun etymology as an addendum to this article.)

It’s a publisher-to-publisher project that will benefit those many, many larger publishing houses not yet fully geared to in-house ebook production and effective digital distribution. It won’t cost them a red cent at any stage, but it will be invaluable on a generous royalty basis that’s hugely in their favour.

And it will provide an important capital injection to BeWrite Books itself to more fully develop in areas like marketing and promotion of BB’s own titles and authors, and perhaps even to hire much-needed additional qualified and experienced editorial staff to supplement our currently tiny team of three work-hardened pros and, thereby, increase annual release output. Everyone’s a winner.

All’s now in place for the launch of Limitrophe Publishing.

A professional and highly experienced copy-editing core team of three specialist editors has been signed and is on stand-by. Formal proposals – strictly by invitation only – are already winging their way around the publisphere. (No interesting etymology to ‘publisphere’, I’m afraid; merely a handy word I just this moment conjured up as I typed to encapsulate a broad idea. It's a bad habit of mine. Sorry.)

Several weeks ago, WWW.LIMITROPHEPUBLISHING.COM (see next paragraph), .net and .org, were claimed, bought, parked, content-complete and ready to go live later this month. Limitrophe Publishing is already fully registered by our legal representative as an imprint of BeWrite Books, Canada and BeWrite Books LLC, USA, and therefore internationally recognised on launch.

So watch this space for progress reports. And you’ll be able to read exactly how it all works in a week or so when the websites go live. (They currently re-direct automatically to the existing BeWrite Books website.)

Just for interest to those who know us – our BB author pals and others – this whole thing came about by sheer fluke of fortune.

For the past two years, tech and design partner Tony and I have waived all our own BeWrite Books royalties and ploughed these and healthy company profits from all sources back into expensive, state-of-the-art development in the digital field. Thank ye gods for generous, supportive, patient and enthusiastic wives, eh, chaps? Calina and Skovia are our superstars. May ye same gods, bless ’em both.

These developments include specialist hardware and software – which cost an arm and a leg (etymology of term available on request) – retained professional services, brilliant, but expensive, accountancy software and professional hands-on bookkeeping maintenance on a retained monthly basis to keep ahead of royalty payment deadlines, other retained professional services, and legal and administrative costs involved in gaining additional USA registration last year to deal directly with the major ebook retail stores, handle our own company tax commitments, and to develop an independent and broad distribution base to beat even Ingram’s massive digital distribution scheme.

Whereas in the previous decade we achieved a high of only 5% digital against 95% print in sales, 2011 has startled us with a remarkable swing: Ebooks now account for a whopping 98% of BeWrite Books’ sales ... without print sales (admittedly, always modest at best) taking any apparent hit.

And that’s when we realised that we’d grown too big for those britches of ours.

BeWrite Books’ own rigorous submissions selection process and small but nit-pickingly professional editorial team can effectively release only a dozen or so exclusive new titles each year right now, you see. The almost incredible resources we’ve recently built from the ground up in technology, digital expertise and distribution can be used to only 2% capacity by BeWrite Books itself. That ain’t a typo, chums ... two percent, not twenty percent!

So we set ourselves the brain-teasing task of finding a way to put our untapped potential to effective and constructive use.

Another early happy toss of the coin was when we then realised that we’d already run a successful feasibility study on the as yet undreamed of Limitrophe Publishing venture in teaming with a small niche publisher in 2010 to produce ebook editions of its print title catalogue and in our first ebook-only project with an individual author a year ago whose own major publishing house admitted they had not the resources to take her work to ebook themselves.

Our BeWrite Books ebook editions of that title in its very first quarter (when not all returns were in) looked well set to rival and even later overtake sales of the traditionally published and marketed print equivalent over the entire period since its first hardback release almost two years earlier. The niche publisher has seen digital success it had never considered before.

And that, in a nut shell, lads and lassies, is how Limitrophe Publishing was accidentally conceived ... It was as unexpected as the best and most welcome of babies (and I should know; that’s how my pair, Alex and Kirsten Marr, made their entrance to the world thirty-eight and thirty-five years ago – a hard double-act to beat).

If anyone's ever wondered about my secondary byline for the past coming-up four decades, 'Alexander James', by the way, that's about my son, Alexander James Taylor Marr (Sandy in the family). Sandy's and Kirsty's wonderful mum, Angie, my ex wife, and her equally wonderful husband of almost thirty years, John (very much a partner-dad and granddad to the new generation), are our closest friends. We live for their regular visits to Chez Skovia & Neil here in the south of France. The very best of good company.

And older BB friends will remember Alex as a key member of the original BeWrite Books team from the turn of the millennium, astutely handling final proofing with an impressively well-read head and a natural hawk-eye, and much of the technical and administrative tasks as the IT professional he is.

Along the way, there has been generous and astute guidance from highly-placed professional friends in the big publishing league who helped hone our rough Limitrophe Publishing idea to a keen edge.

Too many mentors to fully credit here, but they’re all in regular touch on a personal basis as old pals and know how much we appreciate their guidance and generosity of spirit.

The core trio of thoroughly pro and highly experienced copy-editors is also made up of old and trusted colleagues in the business, one going back to the sixties when we shared a desk as publishing cubs, writing and editing. I've long known the quality of their work, their reliability and accuracy. And their hearts are entirely in the Limitrophe Publishing project. For their advice and faith, we have them to thank, too, for turning a wild notion into a reality.

So, you’ve just became the very first outside the team itself to know about Limitrophe Publishing.

We reckon we owe you that for your own loyalty to good ol' BeWrite Books.

If you’ve puzzled this year as to why Tony and I might sometimes come across by phone and even in emails as tired, weary and pretty well jiggered, it’s because of working shifts of up to forty-eight hours a stretch, without even butty breaks, to keep ahead of BeWrite Books' requirements and to kick-start Limitrophe Publishing

It’s a minimum of a 16x7 job. As I post this blog, I’m already twenty-two hours into a current working stretch with a couple more hours to follow before I can hit the sack for forty winks. Tony’s graphics will be inserted at around his own twelve-hour stint mark, again with many more hours to come at his end, and nine hours behind me as the clock flies. Sometimes time zone differences are a bonus to us. We can often work together in 'real time'.

Should you wish to curse Limitrophe Publishing for any reason, please do so using its correct pronunciation after the initial outrageous explicative. It’s (roughly) ‘limmutroff’ (adj\ li-mə-trōf).

If you’re not clear on the true definition of ‘limitrophe’ I’d highly recommend a coffee (or stiff whisky) break and a chuckle over the below from everybody’s friend and world famous etymologist Michael Quinion of World Wide Words.

Best wishes and happy weekend. Neil, Tony et al at BB/LP

. His weekly newsletter is a source of Saturday fascination to me. You’d love it. And it’s a free sign-up to boot (etymology of expression available on request). His books are an educational scream, too.


Michael Quinion 
A young guest in the ancient and renowned Lexicophilia Club, who ought to know better, buttonholes the oldest member in seclusion of the James Murray Memorial Library.
‘Limitrophe? That looks foreign.’
‘Your perspicacity astounds me. It was introduced from French by English members of the diplomatic corps in the eighteenth century, when – as you may know – French was the language of diplomacy.’
‘So what did French diplomats mean by it?’
‘Situated on the frontier; bordering another country. As a noun, border-land.’
‘And where did the French get it?’
‘From Latin “limitrophus”, lands set apart for the support of troops on the frontier.’
‘I don't have any Latin. It’s all Greek to me.’
‘Astonishing. You’re actually half right. The second part is indeed Greek (“trophos”, supporting) but the first is from Latin “limes”, a limit or boundary.’
‘That’s enough etymology, thanks.’

‘Within these walls, young man, we can never have too much etymology.’

‘I’ve never seen it before.’
‘Why am I not surprised? But your observation is accidentally perspicacious. Unlike French, where it’s often to be encountered, it has always been rare in English.’

‘Examples please.’
‘Pass me Sir James Rennell Rodd’s Social and Diplomatic Memories, if you’d be so kind. Thank you. Grand man. First-class diplomat. Got his KCMG for sorting out that nasty Fashoda business in Africa in 1899.

‘Here we are: “Countries limitrophe with Germany, such as Belgium, Holland, and perhaps Denmark”. 

‘And I can quote from a work by another diplomatist, Sir Charles Eliot. In his Hinduism and Buddhism – it appeared in 1921 in three volumes, absolutely splendid stuff, his life’s work, you know – he wrote: “In the reign of Mithridates the Parthian Empire was limitrophe with India and possibly his authority extended beyond the Indus”.’
‘These are very old.’
‘Not as old as all that, young man. But I take your point. It has always been rather a scarce word and it seems to have fallen even further out of favour during the past century.’
‘So nobody uses it these days?’
‘It’s still to be found if you would take the trouble to look. For example, “This belt of sovereign states is the Great Limitrophe: a kind of buffer zone separating Russia from the true centers of both European and Asian civilization”. That’s from Russia in Search of Itself, by James H Billington, published in 2004.

‘And here’s another, from 2008: “This stretch of international boundary, which the Colorado River forms, is known as the limitrophe”. That’s in Ecosystem-based Management in the Colorado River Delta, whatever that means, by Karen Hae-Myung Hyun.’
‘Why don’t we just say “border-land” or “bordering”?’
‘We would then lose an elegant word with which we can illuminate our discussions of political and economic geography.’
‘Show off your obscure learning, you mean?’
‘Impertinent whippersnapper! Enough! Away with you!’

Michael hadn’t heard of Limitrophe Publishing when he wrote that, and I didn’t know of his colourful definition when I hit on the word as fitting for our new imprint and Tony became enthusiastic about the title. When Michael published it, I wrote to him to tell him of our plans in the pipeline. For once, he was speechless. Just another happy accident.

And that’s all, folks. Neil


  1. So that's what you guys were up to. Amazing. Can't wait to hear more details when they become available.

  2. Brilliant! Best wishes for limitless limitrophic success!

  3. Thanks Rosanne and Nicola. As I just told Andrew Thelander in Queensland, Australia and Robert Craven in Ireland, who had both read this piece, Tony and I really did earn our degrees.

    We are fellow graduates of the Heath Robinson School of Business, you know.

    Yesterday's working stretch, by the way lasted for slightly over twenty-six hours. (It's a symptom of Tome Jones Syndrome, and it's not unusual.)

    Tony and I finished polishing, by phone, some rough edges on the new websites at coming-up 7:00am my time. He still had a long night ahead in BC, Canada, nine hours behind me as the clock flies.

    Forty winks and then back at the desk ... well in my case, this laptop on the terrace table under the shade of a parasol. The wallpaper's prettier out here.

    Yup, thank ye gods yet again for patient wives.

    Love and luck to all. Neil

  4. Anne aka amward at MR17 September 2011 at 07:30

    That's why we aren't seeing you on MR. Best wishes for the new venture.

  5. Yup, part of the reason, Anne, I've been so up to the ears in work on this project (and one other biggie soon to come called 'Tone Editions' along similar lines, and frantically trying to keep ahead of regular and heavy BeWrite Books commitments that I've had to cut way back on mt usual twice-daily networking rounds.

    It's temporary, though, and I particularly miss everyone's fine and fascinating company at Mobile Reads. If anyone ever mentions it, you can say with confidence that I promise to be back in full swing within the month, Same with Facebook (which I visit only very beifly every day or two), Twitter and all the writing, reading and publishing websites and forums it's my habit to keep in close touch with.

    I've also neglected my wife, my bed, my stomach and even (though less frequently) my beer fridge and pipe rack.

    Best wishes to all my MR chums and happy weekend for. And many thanks, Anne, for the much appreciated well wishes. Cheers. Neil