Friday 13 September 2013

Compass Points 54

Your weekly round up of publishing news, publicity information and trivia!

We start with a bit of a publicity round up – and this week it seems to be all about four titles from Biteback. Three of them are to be serialized in the Daily Mail and as this is a newspaper with a massive circulation this is absolutely brilliant publicity for the books! Pets by Royal Appointment (previously called Reigning Cats and Dogs – change of title!)  was serialized in the Mail on 12th September; and also yesterday they serialized Saving Gary McKinnon: A Mother’s Story by Janis Sharp. Janis was on BBC Breakfast talking about the book – and you can watch that interview here. 
Power Trip by Damian McBride will be serialized in a national newspaper from the 21st to 26th September which will coincide with the Labour Party Conference. This is the biggest serial Biteback have ever had. Newsnight are making a short film about the book to be shown on the night of Monday 23rd September and there is loads of press lined up for Damian beginning 24th September. This is a huge book!

And lastly from Biteback, Shirley Williams: The Biography by Mark Peel will be serialised in the Daily Mail on 17th September. This is a major £20 hardback biography of one of Britain’s most well-known and best-loved politicians, admired for her warmth, sincerity, compassion and integrity. It is sure to be a big seller this autumn, as she has many many fans, and this is the perfect Christmas present for them! The book exposes the roots of an extraordinary vulnerability at the heart of this remarkable politician. It was one of the paradoxes of a person who revered her parents but felt uncomfortable living in their shadow; a firm supporter of the sanctity of marriage who craved unfettered independence from her partner; a middle class liberal who appealed to the tabloids; a rebel on the surface, a conformist at heart; an egalitarian who preferred the statelier ambience of the House of Lords to the tribal partisanship of the Commons; a brilliant communicator in public, a less assured one in private; above all, a Labour loyalist who jumped ship. With full access to Baroness Williams’ papers, and those of her parents, this biography reveals new information about the pressure of living up to her parents’ high expectations of her; her equivocation between political ambition and family responsibilities, and her willingness to put individual principle before collective responsibility. This is a compelling portrait of one of the most complex and popular of modern politicians.

On Monday 23rd September at 10pm Channel 4 will broadcast a documentary film Sex: My British Job – a chilling exposé of the British sex trade. Investigative journalist Hsiao-Hung Pai specialises in undercover work on the lives of immigrant workers and in Sex: My British Job she once more works with director Nick Broomfield, whom she first collaborated with in 2007 for Ghosts, about the fate of undocumented Chinese workers in the UK and the deaths of 23 Chinese cockle pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay in February 2004.In this new film, Hsiao works undercover as a housekeeper in a brothel and unveils the terrible reality of the sex trade in Britain today. Hsiao embarks on a prolonged period of secret filming to expose not just why illegal workers turn to sex work, but how they are drawn into it by a complex combination of pressure from the brothel owners, the lure of high-earnings and the guilt they are made to feel about not providing for their families back home. Many also have to pay-off large debts; loans that enabled them to travel to the UK in the first place. In an incredibly personal account, Hsiao works in brothels across the capital. Taken on a as a housekeeper – there to answer the phone and manage the brothel – she is soon asked to do sex work. Despite protesting she is too old, too inexperienced and it’s not what she there to do, Hsiao experiences first-hand the trap that illegal immigrant workers face every day. Verbally abused and psychologically pressurised, this eye-opening exposé shows how easily Chinese and immigrant women can be drawn into sex work and highlights the shocking reality of what is happening behind closed doors up-and-down the country. This film is certain to attract a lot of media attention and Hsiao’s experiences while filming Sex: My British Job is also the subject of her book, Invisible: Britain's Migrant Sex Workers, published by the Westbourne Press which you can order here.

In a world dominated by shallow celebrity, many remarkable people often remain unknown and unrecognised. Author Donough O’Brien has hit on a splendid idea: listing and describing scores and scores of extraordinary people who played an important but hidden task in the story of our times, but whom we probably never heard of in the first place. Who? The Most Remarkable People You’ve Never Heard Of brings the unrecognised to recognition with over 200 names that should trip off the tongue, but don’t. Readers may wonder who was President Kennedy’s first dangerous lover? Who made rock music possible? Who was Simon Cowell’s mentor? Who stopped Catholic priests marrying? Who invented the ‘hole in the wall’ ATM? Who inspired the Red Cross? Who built the first bra? Which doctors finished off Elvis and Michael Jackson? Who first broke the sound barrier? Whose blood cells are ’immortal’? Well this book will tell them – and much more besides! With a foreword by Frederick Forsyth, this is a £12.99 paperback published by Bene Factum in October.  There is lots of good publicity lined up for it; Radio 5 Live is interviewing Donough O’Brien at the end of September; he’ll be a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends in October; there will be features in Country Life, The Lady and Saga Magazine plus lots of regional press and radio too – Donough is travelling all over the UK and is pretty sure to be coming soon to a radio station or newspaper near you! Who? is the book for the often unsung hero, the men and women neglected by history and rediscovered in this quirky collection. And, after all, who of us doesn’t love an underdog?

Compass Points loves a bit of poetry, and we’re very pleased to represent Carcanet Press, one of the outstanding independent literary publishers of our time. Now in its fifth decade, Carcanet publishes the most comprehensive and diverse list available of modern and classic poetry in English and in translation, as well as a range of inventive fiction, letters and literary criticism. The Bookseller featured a double page spread article on the state of the poetry market on 23rd August which included substantial quotes from its Carcanet MD Michael Schmidt and was great publicity for Carcanet:  “Manchester-based poetry publisher Carcanet Press has published more first collections over the last two years than we’ve ever done before.... it’s great that we now have a large range of new poets coming to the board.” Lots of  Carcanet titles and authors have been getting some press attention recently – you may well have noticed a lot of publicity for Sophie Hannah who was featured on the Today programme and BBC Breakfast TV discussing the announcement that she is the ‘new Agatha Christie’. She has been asked by the family to write the next Poirot novel – and while her name is in the public eye it’s a good opportunity to remind the public of what a popular and best-selling poet she is. The Poetry Review declared of her first book “Shall I put it in capitals? SOPHIE HANNAH IS A GENIUS.” You can find all of her titles on the Carcanet website. Sinead Morrissey’s Parallax (9781847772046) received a glowing review in the Guardian who said “Parallax is something of a treasure trove” and her poem Migraine was also poem of the week in The Scotsman magazine. Richard Price has been awarded the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Award for Small World (9781847771582). This is a major prize and, as winner of the Poetry category, he’s a contender for winning the overall prize of £30,000, which will be announced on Saturday 2nd October. Jorie Graham’s The Taken Down God (9781847771940) was reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement and Frederic Raphael’s latest memoir There and Then (9781847771407) was reviewed in the Spectator who said “This is a thoroughly enjoyable read. Diaries promise indiscretions and the joy of gossip”. Sujata Bhatt’s poem ‘Lodz’ was Carol Rumens’ Poem of the Week at the Guardian online and BBC3 broadcasted a Tsvetaeva's ‘Poem of the End’ as an interval talk for Prom 71 on Wednesday September 4th read by Imogen Stubbs. The poem is included in Elaine Feinstein’s translation of Tsvetaeva Bride of Ice (9781847770608). A review of Hitting the Streets by Raymond Queneau 9781847771575 was featured online at Stride magazine: “One I shall treasure and return to” and finally Benjamin Britten’s poetry was discussed in the Guardian recently which is a great chance to promote Benjamin Britten’s Poets (9781857542400) which is new from Carcanet in hardback in November.
Have a look at some more forthcoming poetry titles here and you can catch up on all the latest from Carcanet on their website

Sometime a really brilliant film can totally transform the sales of a book – and I’ve a feeling that might just be the case with Twelve Years a Slave, the harrowing true story of Solomon Northup who was kidnapped and sold into slavery, enduring unimaginable degradation and abuse until his rescue twelve years later. A powerful and riveting condemnation of American slavery this autobiography was written in 1853, and has now been made into a major Hollywood film directed by Steve McQueen. The film has just premiered at the Toronto Film Festival which tends to be a bellwether of Oscar glory – and believe you me; Oscars are definitely being predicted for this film. You can read a full review of the film in The Telegraph here – they describe it as the most shatteringly powerful treatment of slavery you’ll ever see depicted. And most encouragingly they actually credit the book Twelve Years a Slave from which this film is adapted – it’s an £8.99 B-format paperback published by Hesperus and is available now. This film is going to be absolutely colossal – it stars Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Chiwetel Ejiofor and you can watch a trailer above on YouTube to see what all the fuss is about! It opens in the US in October – and comes to the UK in January. Twelve Years a Slave pulls no punches, honestly and brutally addressing an important but distressing period of nineteenth century history and is a unique first-hand account detailing the realities of slave life. Tricked by two men offering him a job as a musician in New York State in 1841, Solomon Northup was drugged and kidnapped. His life in jeopardy, he was forced to assume a new name and fake past. Taken to Louisiana on a disease-ridden plague ship, he was initially sold to a cotton planter. In the twelve years that follow he is sold to many different owners who treat him with varying levels of savagery; forced labour, scant food and numerous beatings are his regular fare.  Against all odds, Northup eventually succeeds in contacting a sympathetic party and manages to get word to his family. The ensuing rescue and legal cases are no less shocking and intriguing than the rest of the tale.

In the year 2000, Roz Savage seemed to have it all. But she felt there was a mismatch between the person she was pretending to be on the outside, and the person she wanted to be on the inside. Leaving behind her life as a London professional, she set out to row across the world's oceans. Her goal was to raise awareness of the heavy toll that human beings are taking on the Earth - and how it will rebound on us if we don't change course. Stop Drifting, Start Rowing: One Woman's Search for Happiness and Meaning Alone on the Pacific tells the story of Roz's record-setting solo row across the Pacific Ocean. In the course of her three-stage voyage, Roz braved 20-foot waves, was capsized 3 times in 24 hours, faced death by dehydration, encountered whales, dolphins, sharks and turtles, and witnessed the breathtaking beauty of nature. The ocean forced her to develop courage, tenacity, perseverance, and the strength to transcend self-imposed limits. Not only is her story an amazing adventure tale, but it is a timely message of hope and optimism for the future, emphasizing the power of individual action to make a difference. Roz Savage is a United Nations Climate Hero, and an Athlete Ambassador for She has been listed amongst the Top 20 Great British Adventurers by the Daily Telegraph and in 2010 she was named Adventurer of the Year by National Geographic. Roz Savage is writing a feature piece for You magazine in the Mail on Sunday (circ. 4 million). It will run on 13th October with a reader offer on the book. The author will also feature in a future issue of Woman’s Own magazine (circ. 222,571) and have a feature in Zest magazine (circ. 65,000). WI Life magazine will profile Roz (circ. 211,830) and she will be featured in a future issue of Cheshire Life magazine (circ. 15,024). is featuring an interview and video of Roz in October. The author is also being interviewed for Rowing & Regatta magazine (Circ. 30,000) in their September issue. Stop Drifting, Start Rowing is published by Hay House in October.

Now – how many of us can remember a really cracking book we enjoyed as a child – but which for some inexplicable reason now no longer seems to be in print? I know I can think of several – some of my favourites are by E Nesbit; author of The Railway Children and Five Children and It; who also wrote many other terrific kids reads. Well I’m pleased to say that a new imprint of Hesperus Press is to launch a children's imprint, Hesperus Minor, which will publish a select list of these forgotten children's classics – and one of their launch titles is in fact by E Nesbitt – hurrah! The plan is for "nostalgic books of which adults will have fond memories and want to share with their children and loved ones", and the three inaugural titles, each carrying a foreword by a contemporary author, offer a sense of what to expect: The Coral Island by R M Ballantyne, with a foreword by John Boyne; The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E Nesbit, with a foreword by Julia Donaldson; and The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, with a foreword by Joseph Delaney
To launch this new imprint, the marketing folk at Hesperus Minor have devised a competition to find the next out of print children's classic for publication in 2014. So if you or your customers are itching to see something you love back in print again – now’s the moment to do something about it! Entrants are asked to write no more than 500 words explaining why they love their chosen book and why it deserves to be republished. The deadline for submission is 27 September and the winning entrant will be announced on 25 October, when the first titles are published, and will see their 500-word submission printed in the republished classic in February 2014.This competition, is  being supported by a nationwide marketing and publicity campaign with guest judges to choose the winner. The panel comprises Annie Dalton (author of the Angel Academy and Tilly Beany books); Amanda Craig (author and Times children's books critic); Jennifer Bell (Foyles children's books buyer); and Melissa Cox (Waterstones children's bookseller). 
You can find out more about it on the Hesperus Press blog page here. And in the meantime, make sure you have ordered the three first Hesperus Minor titles – they have beautiful covers, and are real gems. My 10 year old son has just devoured The Coral Island – a swashbuckling adventure story awash with pirates, castaways, sharks and cannibals and despite it being written well over 100 years ago, thoroughly enjoyed it ! The paperbacks are £7.99 and published in October.

If however you prefer your children’s stories to be a little bit more up to date, then you’ll probably enjoy this clever parody of some Disney Classics  on YouTube below!

That’s all for now folks, more next week!

This blog is read weekly by over 600 booksellers, publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please click here to go to the Compass New Titles Website or talk to your Compass Sales representative.


  1. wow that film looks epic - would love to read the book.

  2. Sex: My British Job was devastating. I think you were right to pick out the psychological pressure and bullying as it illustrates the complex issues surrounding consent that come with people-trafficking.