Curtis Brown's self-publishing list 'exciting', say authors

Curtis Brown's self-publishing list 'exciting', say authors

Authors Tony Parsons and Jane Fallon have said Curtis Brown’s new digital self-publishing initiative CB Creative Books is an “exciting” way to penetrate the difficult US market.

The programme will see upwards of 200 titles released this month as e-books and print-on-demand by literary agency Curtis Brown through Kindle Direct Publishing. The vast majority will be backlist titles which are already placed with UK publishers but have not had a print or digital release in the US. However, a few original titles will receive a worldwide début through the programme.

Parsons, all of whose novels bar Man and Boy will be on the programme, said he was “fantastically excited” by the new scheme which he called “a fantastic way to avoid the dead hand of New York publishing houses”. He told The Bookseller: “My experience of American publishers is probably quite typical of many authors in the UK. You tend to get a US deal after you’ve had a degree of success in your own country. They pick up a successful writer, throw a lot of money at them, then they try to get you on the big TV chat shows and if they can’t do that they put you on a plane to Milwaukee to an empty Barnes & Noble book store. Traditional US publishing is slow and stupid.”

He added that self-publishing with CB Creative Books was “not that different” from conventional publishing. “You discuss the covers, look at the proofs. It just feels wonderfully free of the things that don’t work,” he said.

Jane Fallon, with three titles on the programme, said: “As a writer you want to get your work out there to as many people as possible. Getting Rid of Matthew came out in the US, and I know that lots of readers have wanted my later novels [which didn’t get US publication], buying them on or paying huge sums of money to get them shipped over.”

Fallon has a lot of US readers among her 6,000 Twitter fans, and is alerting them to the availability of the books through tweets. She added: “It’s great for us as writers being published in such a way that we retain the rights and have a degree of control.” Choosing the covers of the books is something she particularly enjoyed, Fallon said.

Adele Parks, Emily Barr, Colin Bateman and Rosie Goodwin are also among the authors with backlist titles on the programme. Meanwhile, two début novels will receive a worldwide digital release in mid-December: Alex Gerlis’ Second World War espionage thriller The Best of Our Spies and Brian Hollywood’s The Comeback, a thriller set in the 1980s.

Curtis Brown’s Anna Davis clarified the agency’s role. “We are not acting as publishers, so there is not a 50/50 split. We are taking commission and providing services,” she said. “We have a menu of services, some provided by Amazon and some provided by us. We are happy to do all the liaison with Amazon. Authors can choose between covers Amazon will provide or they can provide the covers themselves or commission a cover from a stable [of designers] we can provide. Something we are doing as a service is to provide ISBNs.” John Bond’s agency whitefox is providing services including cover design and proofreading.

CB Creative Books will be published exclusively to Amazon for a limited period. Curtis Brown said the exclusivity periods varied from book to book and were therefore not being announced publicly.