Monthly Archives: June 2013

Enter your book into the prestigious Costa Award

Costa Book AwardsOne of the most prestigious book awards, the Costa Book Award, formerly known as Whitbread Book Award is still taking nominations for 2013. The deadline is the 28th June 2013 so time is running out.

There are 5 categories:

  • First Novel
  • Novel
  • Biography
  • Poetry
  • Children’s Book

Each category winner will receive £5,000. One of the winners is finally selected as the overall Costa Book of the Year with a further £30,000 prize.

The category shortlists will be announced in November 2013 and the category winners will be declared in early January 2014 with an awards presentation following on Tuesday, 28th January 2014.

The 2013 entry form is available to download, you can find it here.

Short History:

In 1971 the Whitbread Literary Awards were first awarded which in 1985 became the Whitbread Book Awards. When Costa Coffee took over sponsorship from Whitbread the award was renamed to today’s Costa Book Awards. Winner of the past include Philip Pullman’s Amber Spyglass and Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.



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Winner of the 2013 East Midlands Book Award

East Midlands Book AwardThe winner of this year’s East Midlands Book Award was announced last Thursday, 20th June 2013 in a great ceremony that also marked the opening of the Oakham Festival. And it is … [drumroll] … Jon McGregor with his book This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You.

Congratulations, Jon!


About the Book:

It is a collection of stories which are all set in the low open landscape of the Lincolnshire fens. The sorts of things that don’t happen to someone like you do, in fact, happen to someone like you. A young woman is almost killed when a sugar-beet crashes through her windscreen. A boy sets fire to a barn. A father is arrested when he tries to watch his daughter’s school nativity play. A pair of itinerant labourers sit by a lake, talking about shovels and sex, while fighter-planes fly low overhead and prepare for war.

About Jon McGregor:

Jon McGregor is the author of the critically acclaimed If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and So Many Ways to Begin. He is the winner of the Betty Trask Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award, and has been twice longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He was born in Bermuda in 1976. He grew up in Norfolk and now lives in Nottingham.

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Speak at a book festival

Sign on bookshop during the Hay Festival

Sign on bookshop during the Hay Festival

With book festival (literary festival) season in full swing it might be a good time to talk about the benefits of having a slot as a speaker at one of those festivals. It’s a great opportunity to publicise your book, especially if it’s been released in the past 12 months. You get to talk about your book, answer questions about it and make it sound as interesting and readable as humanly possible. You might want to read a little extract from it, making sure you stop at a bit of a cliff hanger point so that people who haven’t read it yet will want to know what happens next.

If you’re writing fiction you can talk about the characters, what they might be up to next (if you’re doing a series) and maybe even get some inspiration from audience questions for further books. You could talk about the setting and what inspired you to write the book in the first place.

If you’re writing non-fiction you could talk about the research you have done that hasn’t made it into the book or how you came to certain conclusions. You could find out from your audience whether there is interest in more about this topic.

All in all it’s a great way to inform readers and potential readers about your work, what you’re up to next and to whet their appetite for your current and also your next book.


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Hay Festival Round-Up

Hay FestivalThis year I attended the Hay Festival for the first time. I only made it to the second weekend, so I can’t really comment on anything that happened before Friday, 31st. May. So here are my highlights:

I attended a marvelous talk by David Crystal, a linguist who talked about his book Spell It Out, The Singular Story of English Spelling. He covered questions such as why is there an ‘h’ in ghost and similar English spelling phenomena. Absolutely fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable to listen to. Who would have thought I can get excited about spelling?

There was also Alexander McCall Smith, the author of The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, talking to Paul Blezard. Again, an absolute joy to watch and listen. Mr McCall Smith talks so warmly about his characters and their lives, as a father would about his children. He has a lovely sense of humour and was simply charming. As a result, I went out the next day to buy two of his books, as I hadn’t read any of his work previously.

Another interesting event was Abigail Brundin’s “Only a Pen Can Ease My Pain” – the tragic history of 17th century Italy where 75 % of all higher class women were sent to convents because of changes in dowry laws. Amazing what people throughout history have thought would be good ideas.

Then there was Nick Ross’ talk about Crime. His premise is that a lot of what we’re told about it, and think we know, is wrong. Very interesting concepts and results of research. His book is another on my list to get.

And finally there was Miranda Hart. Her conversation with Claudia Winkelman had been sold out on the day the tickets first came out, but persistence prevailed. I went many times to the ticket counter, asking for returns and finally, an hour before the show was going to start the lady behind the counter took pity on me and I was able to buy 2 returned tickets. Word cannot describe my joy. And we were definitely in for a treat. Ms Hart is such a joy to watch and listen to, whether she does stand up or an interview in this case. She seems very modest and real and she is definitely on the top of my list of people to invite to a dinner party. (You know the one where people ask: “If you could invite anyone dead or alive to a dinner party, who would it be?”.

All in all, a great event and I’ll definitely be back another year.


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