Tuesday, 4 December 2012


As you know, BeWrite Books is currently winding down to absolute closure on March 31, 2013.

We were fortunate in November to establish an informal relationship with a dynamic new London-based digital house that's just now branching into full-length fiction and working through our catalogue to discover top-drawer works they can re-release under their logo. So please watch your email for updates on whether your book/s fit the bill so that you can negotiate a new deal should you wish with Endeavour Press. Already several formerly BB titles have been transferred and re-released by EP.

Those preferring to try their hand at self-publishing should contact Tony Szmuk as soon as possible for fully edited and designed text and cover files of their books. You may, of course, take it as read that in this case -- as in any arrangements with another publishing house -- your publishing rights are fully restored with no strings attached.

Royalties will be calculated and paid up to a book's removal from our catalogue and distribution.

The BeWrite Books blog and Facebook page is unlikely to be much up-dated before BB's closure and will be removed in March next year, I'm afraid. So please be sure to copy from its archives any promotional material that applies to your work. We waive copyright to everything but the very occasional 'guest blog' over the years, which remains the copyright of the guest in question.

Do also remember to print out or otherwise save from the bookstore section of the BeWrite Books website promotional brochures we produced for your title/s. Again, we claim no copyright on those productions. They're freely available for your future use.

Luck and best wishes to all. Neil, Tony, Hugh, Sam et al

Thursday, 11 October 2012


(Circulated October 11, 2012)

This is the most difficult blog I’ve ever had to write. Certainly it’s the most painful.
I’m afraid that, after thirteen years’ demanding work and unwavering dedication, some successes and many hard knocks, BeWrite Books must now wind down its operation with imminent closure in mind.
Although we’ve always been at least one step ahead of technological and marketing trends, have ploughed in the cash and effort to quickly adapt to this century's abrupt and dramatic industry developments, and by virtue of rigorous manuscript selection and the highest editorial standards, made respectable headway in an up-hill but fair fight with gargantuan legacy houses, what we did not see coming was the massive impact of easy self-publishing on the ebook field in 2012.
BeWrite Books’ authors represent the cream of those talented few who try the hardest and are world-class in anyone’s terms, but by applying months of intensive editorial, design and technical work to their manuscripts, our tiny team can publish our meticulously selected titles at a rate of no more than a dozen or so a year. Self-publishing authors cut traditional corners and quality controls to use push-button means of instantly releasing their offerings as ebooks at the rate of thousands each week – realistic projections in the trade press suggest several million new titles will see the light of day this year. Already millions of ISBNs have been assigned by official agencies in 2012, and it must be borne in mind that the biggest retailer of all – Amazon and its Kindle bookshop – doesn’t even use ISBNs, preferring its own ID codes. Many self-publishing authors don’t trouble themselves with any identifying registration numbers. Just think of the sheer volume of output!
Some of the biggest and best established houses in the industry have now jumped onto the bandwagon with self-publishing divisions of their own to cash in on the trend. All major retailers are at it. This is an easy, cash-spinning option BB has always strenuously resisted and, we feel, a sloppy and uncontrolled publication method our old school team members refuse to adopt. But the genie is now out of the bottle.
It must be understood that the professional editorial, design, technical and distribution effort that goes into every BB publication is invisible pre-purchase, pre-read. Confronted by a bewilderingly limitless choice, the book browser has now become price- rather than quality-focused.
At a break-even cover tag of $5.95 to pay basic standing overheads, our unknown authors compete against an overwhelming deluge of an infinite number of other unknown authors whose access to costless international publication allows them to offer their wares at 99 cents or even to give them away free for the sheer thrill of saying they’re ‘published’. Not by any means all self-published authors are worthless, of course, but far, far too many are. My experience of random reading over the past few years would suggest the vast majority fall into the embarrassing catastrophe category. And a browser will not recognise raw manuscript drivel until s/he’s bought into it and attempted to read a page or two. The reader must now sift the slush pile.
The result is inevitable … the cheapest holds the greatest appeal. Only star names and books with big-buck hyper-hype are exempt.
Even though no member of the BB team has ever claimed a salary and, for some years waived personal royalties, always carrying his own operational expenses, the standing cost of maintaining BeWrite Books now falls very much short of our 20% slice of sales income; author royalties and retail sales commissions constitute much of the rest. In a nut-shell, the sweeping, worldwide new craze for amateur self-publishing is the one unforeseen thing that we find impossible to compete with.
The situation has become so acute that Tony Szmuk – proprietor of BeWrite Books, Canada and USA, with exclusive access to the company’s accounts and revenue and sole responsibility for all BB’s financial commitments – took me by complete surprise this week with shocking news to the editorial team that he’s struggling even to pay royalties currently due. However, he does pledge that they will be paid in full, if unavoidably delayed in some cases.
Tony, my editorial teammates, Hugh McCracken and Sam Smith, and I have, therefore, agreed a policy to gradually wind down the house with, hopefully, minimal disruption and no financial loss to our excellent and loyal authors.
Here’s what we propose:
*Existing BB titles already fully distributed and on sale will be supported for the duration of written contracts with on-going royalties paid. However, those authors requesting an immediate return of all rights will be accommodated without quibble and royalties rounded up to the date when their titles are removed from sale by our retail outlets and from the BB catalogue. They will be supplied, on request, with a fully workable and complete file to offer elsewhere or for self-publishing purposes. All BB input – editorial, design, cover, book notes, promotional articles, review material, etc – will be freely offered for use with none of the usual copyright encumbrances.
*Authors of books in the pipeline – whether ‘officially’ contracted or merely agreed informally by any member of the editorial team – will be fully worked, editorially and technically, published and distributed, unless an author requests otherwise. However, Tony Szmuk can no longer offer his time-consuming in-house cover work, so books released under this system will remain with a text-only cover unless the author supplies what is deemed acceptable art.
*No unsolicited submissions from authors not already published by BB will be considered now. However, the editorial team has volunteered its usual pro input to established BB authors with works-in-progress. Tony will also freely handle the technical side of books as they move through the several editorial stages to publishable perfection. Whether the result is returned to the author for self-use or released by BeWrite Books for the duration of its existence will be at the discretion of the author and subject to Tony’s final approval.
*BeWrite Books will cease to exist as a publishing house no later than three years from today unless spontaneously adopted by a responsible, full-service publisher within that time. BB would ask for no financial recompense from a third party. In the unlikely event of this happening, remaining authors will have sole choice as to whether they and their titles will be included in a takeover.
So, there you have it folks. You’ll now understand why I said, in opening, that this is the most difficult – and heart-breaking – piece I’ve had to write since BeWrite was conceived for a new millennium by my son, Alex, and I (originally as a website to freely assist developing authors) at midnight on December 31, 1999, branching into publishing some months later.
I was warned by my cardiologist earlier this year that I can no longer physically support the long hours, general workload, heavy responsibilities and pressure of BB, so I’d intended to quietly retire from the front line anyway in 2013. But I had hoped to leave behind a healthy and happy house I’d helped establish and with a competent new addition to the editorial team in place to fill the slot I would have to vacate. Sadly, I can’t. Long-time editorial friends Hugh and Sam are similarly devastated by the decision we’ve had to jointly make. And Tony – who’s shouldered an unbelievably heavy burden since taking the reins four years ago to meet all known challenges head on – perhaps hurts most of all.
We can only hope that you feel BB has been of value to you and enhanced your work and careers … and that we’ll remain friends as well as former colleagues.
Very best wishes. Neil Marr (with the approval of Tony Szmuk, Hugh McCracken and Sam Smith)

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


We’re often asked if there’s a difference between copyright and publishing rights … and you bet your wee cotton socks there is.

Queries about rights tend to peak when, as recently happened, many authors are caught up in the sudden and simultaneous closures of two or three smaller publishing houses.

Some houses have the decency and the nous to make fair provision in legal agreements for the immediate reversion of all rights if things come to the worst. Others lack one quality or the other, and that can make life difficult for those innocent authors cast adrift without a paddle.

And though it’s often more a matter of new publisher-inexperience than malice (not that becoming aware of this after the fact helps you reach safe haven), make no mistake that there is no shortage of nefarious dealers that will deliberately hogtie rights that should be yours.

So here’s the definitive low-down from Victoria Strauss who, together with Ann Crispin, runs the most sharp-toothed authors’ watchdog organization on the planet, the excellent WRITER BEWARE. Many thanks to Victoria for the generosity of spirit she shows in allowing us to, once again, re-publish on our own blog her dire warnings and astute advice.

BeWrite Books, by the way, is relieved to find that it ticks all the right boxes in the following article. And a sample of our draft author agreement is in plain view at the end of our detailed SUBMISSIONS GUIDELINES BROCHURE on site. (This is a mini-ebook in its own right, so please give it between two and five seconds to download.)

Victoria Strauss

Copyright, literally, is ‘the right to copy’. It guarantees the authors of creative works – including books, artworks, films, recordings, and photographs – the exclusive right for a set period of time to allow other people to copy and distribute the work, by whatever means and in whatever media currently exist. It also prohibits copying and distributing without the author’s permission.

In countries that are signatory to the Berne Convention (which includes the USA, the UK, Europe, and many other countries), you own copyright by law, automatically, as soon your work is fixed in tangible form – ie: the minute you write down the words.

Contained within copyright is the entire bundle of rights that an author can grant to others or utilize him/herself. For book authors, this includes the right to publish in print and electronic formats, to make translations and audio recordings and films, to create serializations or abridgements or derivative works ... the list goes on, and continues to expand as technology makes different forms of publication and distribution possible.

When you sign a publishing contract, you are granting the publisher permission to exploit (ie: to publish and distribute for profit) some or all of your rights for a defined period of time. Because you own the copyright, granting rights doesn’t mean you lose or abandon those rights – merely that you authorize someone else to use them for a while, either exclusively (ie: no one else can use them at the same time) or non-exclusively (ie: you can also grant them to others).

Eventually, once the contract term has expired or the book has ceased to sell in significant numbers, the publisher will cease publication and relinquish its claim on your rights. This is known as rights reversion. Sometimes reversion is automatic (as in a fixed-term contract); sometimes you must request reversion after the book has been declared out of print (as in a life-of-copyright contract). Once your rights have reverted, you are free to re-sell them if you can or use them yourself, as you choose.

For many readers of this blog, the above will seem pretty elementary. But confusion between rights and copyright is common – not just among authors (one especially frequent misplaced fear is that granting rights to a publisher means you lose them forever), but among inexperienced publishers. If I had a dollar for every small press contract I’ve seen that hopelessly conflates rights and copyright (for instance, requiring writers to relinquish copyright, but then reserving a variety of subrights to the author), my husband and I could treat ourselves to a very fancy dinner.

Some suggestions on how to untangle the confusion and protect yourself:

*First and foremost, understand copyright and the rights it gives you. The US COPYRIGHT OFFICE, the UK INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICE and the AUSTRALIAN COPYRIGHT COUNCIL all offer information. The more you know, the more likely it is that you’ll recognize bad contract clauses when you run across them.

*Try to submit only to established and reputable publishers. This can involve a lot of research (you can always CONTACT WRITER BEWARE to see if we’ve heard anything), but it’s well worth it on many levels. It’s not a guarantee of a standard, author-friendly contract – but it gives you much better odds.

*Except in specific circumstances, such as doing work-for-hire, don’t give away your copyright, not even temporarily. Inexperienced publishers sometimes ask for this, believing they need it to properly exploit authors’ rights. They don’t – and if things go wrong, it can work out very badly for you ... for instance, if your publisher goes out of business without bothering to return your copyright.

*You don’t necessarily need to be afraid of life-of-copyright contracts. In a fixed-term contract, you grant rights for a defined amount of time. In a life-of-copyright contract, you grant rights for the duration of copyright (currently, in the USA and most of Europe, your lifetime plus seventy years). New authors often find life-of-copyright contracts very scary – but they’re standard in commercial publishing, and many smaller presses have them also. They are not intended to allow the publisher to hold your rights until seventy years after your death, but rather to create an open-ended situation in which the publisher can keep your book in print for as long as it continues to sell.

Of course, you need to evaluate the situation. For a new small publisher, life-of-copyright might not be such a great idea, since the failure rate for new publishers is high. A fixed-term contract might be better, as it would at least ensure you got your rights back eventually, even if the publisher didn’t return them before disappearing. And a life-of-copyright grant term must be balanced by a rights reversion clause (see below).

*Speaking of grant terms, make sure there is one. Whether it’s three years or life-of-copyright, your contract should state the term for which rights are being granted. I’ve seen small publishers’ contracts that lack this important detail.

*Make sure your contract includes some provision for rights reversion. While you want to grant rights to a publisher that will properly exploit them, you also want eventually to get your rights back. When and how this happens should be clearly spelled out in your contract.

A time-limited contract is one way to ensure reversion – but beware of automatic renewal clauses that make it difficult for you to terminate, or that rely on you remembering to send the publisher notice before the renewal date and thus can easily be forgotten. Beware also of excessive grant terms – for instance, the contract of one well-known author mill extends for seven to ten years, which is longer than many commercially-published books remain in print. For a smaller publisher, three to five years, with the possibility of renewal if both parties agree, is probably the most you want to consider.

For life-of-copyright contracts, there should be a rights reversion clause detailing when the work will go out of print (ideally, this should be tied to minimum sales or royalty levels, rather than mere availability for sale, so that the publisher can’t hang on to your rights if your book is selling just a couple of copies a year) and what steps you can take to demand that the publisher return your rights (usually, a letter asking the publisher either to republish or return rights, and providing a time-frame for the publisher to respond). Never sign a life-of-copyright contract that does not include such a clause. Yes, they exist; I’ve seen them. (For a much more detailed discussion of the importance of reversion clauses, SEE MY BLOG POST.)

Also look for a clause requiring the publisher to publish within a specific period of time (say, 12-24 months), or else return rights. This will prevent the publisher from sitting on your book without ever publishing it, or from pushing the publishing date back indefinitely due to incompetence or malice.

*Last but very definitely not least, never rely on a publisher’s verbal assurances. A confused or devious publisher may assure you that, even though its contract requires you to give up copyright, ‘you aren't really losing your copyright, because we’ll give it back later on.’ Or, even though its life-of-copyright contract doesn’t include a reversion clause, ‘you don’t need to worry, because we never hold onto rights forever.’

Maybe the publisher means it, maybe it doesn’t – but do you really want to risk signing with a publisher whose contract doesn’t match its promises? One principle by which authors should always abide is this: If it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist.

For more information on copyright, including the reasons why you don’t need to register copyright for unpublished work and a discussion of several common copyright myths, see the COPYRIGHT PAGE of the Writer Beware website.


Thanks again, Victoria.

Take this sound advice, ladies and gentlemen, lads and lassies: Whether signing an agreement with BeWrite Books or any other publisher … be sure you know your rights.

Best wishes. Neil, Tony, Hugh and Sam.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012


If you follow the publishing trade press, this is what you will read this week ...



After more than a decade of simultaneously releasing its titles in print and ebook formats, Canada- and USA-registered BeWrite Books has switched to a new digital editions-only publishing model.

The move follows three years of state-of-the-art technical investment, the development of a wide and independent digital distribution base, and the successful six-months-long trial of an ebook-first publishing system introduced on January 1 this year.

Its international group of authors will have all print rights immediately restored along with freely offered, fully prepared files for personal print use and the recommendation of a major print and distribution company with which the publishing house has negotiated a special, free set-up deal for its authors with no return to BB itself. Ebook distribution and sales will continue uninterrupted.

And all authors will see an immediate increase in their former 25% ebooks royalty to 40%.

Over the past three years, BeWrite Books has seen a complete reversal of its previous sales performance of 99% paperback ... to 99% in digital editions.

Publisher and technical director Tony Szmuk said: ‘Clearly, BB print – sold almost exclusively on line (forgive the qualified superlative) – has become unsustainable. However, we do understand the feeling of some authors who perceive personal value in having their titles in print. We will enable this by providing them with fully edited, text-designed and meticulously proof read files, covers and extra assistance at no cost whatsoever. They are all our friends. Nobody leaves a friend short-changed.’

Those authors agreeing to make no substantial textual adjustment to BeWrite Books-prepared works and covers will also be permitted to carry the BeWrite Books logo and additional BB material in their print editions with no royalty or other form of payment to the publisher.

Managing editor Neil Marr said: ‘It came to the ebook tipping point – and the crunch – in early 2010. We can no longer afford to uphold editorial, design, cover, promotion and distribution of print and remain viable. As a highly selective smaller press with a massive level of professional in-house input but with no brand-name authors yet, an ebook-only policy is the one way we can benefit everyone involved in both the short- and long-term.

‘On the side, we believe we’ve cut an excellent print deal for our authors. And I must confess to a certain de-mob happy feeling when it comes to passing responsibility for print to a top-shelf international press and distribution company whose executives I’ve known and trusted for a decade or more. For the first time in some years, BB authors stand to gain significantly through self-generated print editions, and we don’t stand to lose. And, of course, everyone will benefit from our mushrooming ebook sales and the immediately increased digital royalty. Win win?

‘This new 100% focus on ebook editions will not mean any reduction in our high standard of manuscript selectivity, editorial, design, technical and other input. But print will now be a free by-product of the digital process to authors rather than be factored in as a negative financial consideration to the house. We can now more fully concentrate on not only literary and design quality, but on fully implementing our technological and digital distribution developments.’

Meanwhile, BeWrite Books has increased the size of its editorial team. In previous years, between twelve and fifteen exclusive new BB titles have been edited, prepared and released annually: forty new releases are scheduled for 2012, and the company projects a significantly higher release rate for 2013 and beyond.


And that’s it, folks ... after over a decade of print. BB authors, of course, have already been closely kept in touch with these latest developments. They’re pals as well as professional colleagues, and feedback so far has been 100% positive and supportive.

The BeWrite Books website content will be re-drafted accordingly this week. Take a look in a few days HERE. You’ll see what we mean. Sorry, I mean what we MEAN!

Now let’s see how readers vote! All studies suggest landslide in favour.

Bestests. Neil, Tony, Sam, Hugh et al at BeWrite Books

Thursday, 24 May 2012


BeWrite Books today (May 25) releases Mark Adam Kaplan’s new novel, DOWN. And the book shows just how much an author’s personal experience really can count … even in fiction.

For decades Kaplan has been working with at-risk youngsters and those whose tough childhoods scarred them and blighted their future. In the 1980s, he taught creative writing in a maximum security prison in Michigan, he was a public high school teacher in New York City for four years (including a stint as dean in a Brooklyn high school), and nine years later he taught in an East Los Angeles middle school.

He’s been around the block a time or two.

As an at-risk kid himself in his childhood and youth, Kaplan understands the challenges facing inner-city young adults today, both from their point of view and that of those appointed to care for them. He brings this unique blend of life-from-both-sides experience to bear in his second novel, DOWN.

Here’s what it’s all about …


Leon Mendoza starts the school year badly … with an electronic ankle monitor and a court date.

He’s determined to stay out of even deeper trouble. But the chances are slim with the pending charges against him, his probation officer breathing down his neck, a father in jail, a mother sunk in deep depression, and the local homeboys pressuring him to quietly take the rap and save their skins.

Will the attention of an attractive girl, the support of a caring teacher and a part-time restaurant job be enough to save Leon, or is he destined to follow in his father’s dead-beat footsteps and spend his life in and out of prison?

It all hangs on one fateful night; a night when Leon must risk his own life and the lives of others to break free of the streets or succumb to the violence and passions poised to drag him DOWN.


Author Mark Adam Kaplan
Kaplan is a husband and father, an internationally produced screenwriter, and a children’s book author.

He earned his Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan, a Master of Fine Arts from The American Film Institute’s Center for Film and Television Studies, and a Master of Arts in School Administration from California State University, Northridge.

His first novel, A THOUSAND BEAUTIES, was published by Bewrite Books in 2009. Kaplan released his first children’s book, MONSTERS DO UGLY THINGS, in 2011, and is the co-founder with Glenn Scano of MONSTERS UNBOUND. You can find more information about his work with a visit to HIS WEBSITE.

DOWN is now available in all digital formats from all online ebook stores for reading on all electronic platforms from PCs and laptops, through the full range of ebook-dedicated devices, tablets and smart phones. It’s also available from the BeWrite Books BOOKSTORE.

There’s a free forty-page DOWN browsing brochure, including chapter one, HERE.

For those interested in the detail – Author: Mark Adam Kaplan. Editor: Hugh McCracken. Cover, text design and technical preparation: Tony Szmuk. Distribuition: BeWrite Books Digital Distribution Division. Additional input: The BeWrite Books in-house team.

Best wishes for good reading and a happy weekend. Neil, Tony, Hugh, Sam et al at BB

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


Maggie Hall’s Mish-Mash Marmite: A-Z of Tar-in-a-Jar is released today (May 18) by BeWrite Books. And if you’re one of those rare folks who've never even tasted Marmite, you can win a specially minted collectors’ ‘royal’ jar in the fun BB contest below.

But for the initiated, whether your mouth waters at the very thought of a Marmite treat or you hold your nose in disgust at the subject ‘matter’, we have good reason for this uniquely courageous publishing eccentricity. You see ...

From New Zealand’s Waikikamoocow to Yum Yum, Tennessee (yes, these places actually exist), there’s little as iconically English as the humble Marmite jar.

But as in the case of other gourmet specialties like haggis, stewed sheep’s eyeballs and grits, the planet’s seven billion souls are sure to be immediately and clearly divided in their taste … in Marmite’s case statistics gathered over its 110 years of existence suggest exactly 50-50, with 3.5 billion lovers and 3.5 billion loathers.

So it takes an intrepid – if none too impartial – globe-trotting reporter of decades’ experience like Maggie Hall to stick her nose into that pot of thick black goo and spell out Marmite from A-Z. Her book is a mish-mash of facts for lovers and loathers alike.

It’s jam-packed with gems of information from vital scientific research proving amazing health properties in the product – a simple yeast extract made from brewery waste that could improve or even save countless lives – to hilarious trivia about the Marmite shrine she discovered in Antarctica, NASA’s admission that Marmite has been squirreled aboard its spacecraft at least twice, that it’s a Hollywood set painters’ trade secret for lending an antique brush-stroke to scenes in historical movies, that the British royal family fiercely guards its Marmite recipes … and even how it’s ingeniously used behind drawn bedroom curtains to spice up love lives.

Whether you find the black stuff a delicious treat or gag at the very thought of the world famous tar-in-a-jar, Maggie’s illustrated encyclopedia is perfect to dip into for bite-sized chunks of the utterly fascinating and the downright whacky world of Marmite. Use her findings as justification of your addiction ... or as a weapon against the Marmite goo-rmets.

Marmite lovers’ reactions to this book … 

Black magic personified! A-Z author and journalist Maggie Hall

I have a new respect for that jar in my kitchen cupboard. R. Oldroyd. Amazon

Marmite haters’ reactions to this book ...

Like Marmite, Maggie is English. Unlike Marmite, I like Maggie. Imagine putting hundreds of anchovies in a blender, adding salt and axle grease, pureeing, pouring the contents on an asphalt roofing shingle, baking under a hot sun for several weeks, then scraping off a black, gooey precipitate and eating it. That is Marmite … My toast carefully Marmited, I took a bite and immediately felt as if I’d been hit in the face by an ocean wave, a wave befouled by oil from a sinking tanker, oil that had caused a die-off of marine birds and invertebrates, creatures whose decomposing bodies were adding to the general funkiness of the wave that had found its way inside my mouth. John Kelly. Washington Post.

(His lengthy review, praising the book but bad-mouthing Marmite, resulted in such an avalanche of passionate letters from Washington Post readers in both love-it and loathe-it camps that his prestigious newspaper had to open a special column for them. Kelly was so battered that he was forced to write a follow-up article to claim he was only joking.)

A pot pourri of weird and wonderful tales about Marmite’s history, its influence on some of the key events of our times and the antics of some of the lovers (and haters) of the spread ... best digested in book form. Tim Fletcher. Burton Mail

Author Maggie Hall
MAGGIE HALL has always fallen into the ‘love Marmite’ category. But until she spied one of the first connoisseurs’ special edition solid silver lids many years ago she had no clue as to the huge hold the black goo has on her home country of England. Her immediate thought was: What’s going on here? Now having researched for years to assemble Mish-Mash Marmite: A-Z of Tar-in-a-Jar she knows that it’s a bizarre, serious, zany, wholesome, off-the-wall, carry-on.

A retired Fleet Street reporter – who started life in Cleckheaton, Yorkshire but ended up in the heady New York bureau of one of the world’s biggest newspaper groups – she now divides her time between Washington DC, Whitby in Yorkshire and traveling as a writer and researcher. So none of what she discovered on this voyage around the world of Marmite should have surprised her.

But it did. And it will surprise you, too!

A free 35-page browsing brochure for Mish-Mash Marmite: A-Z of Tar-in-a-Jar is HERE.

The book’s available in all digital editions from all online ebook stores for reading on all electronic platforms. Digital editions are also available from the BeWrite Books BOOKSTORE. Paperback edition by Revel Barker Publishing is also available from online stores.

So, never tasted the stuff? Interested? Here goes … the wittiest email messages to BEWRITE BOOKS, comments to this blog or to BeWrite Books’ FACEBOOK EVENTS PAGE – for or against Marmite – will get a free ebook edition in the format of choice. The outright winner can look forward to a package in the post containing a jar of Ma’Mite, a swanky new collectors’ edition produced by Marmite to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II this year. (HRH gets a commemorative jar, too, but one can expect that direct from Marmite and not from BeWrite Books, unless one cares to join the fun.)

The runner-up (to risk the ire of our [so-far] friends Down Under, who go out to bat for it at every opportunity) will get the consolation prize of a jar of Australian Vegemite … the real thing’s pale pretender. But for once, all hate mail is welcome, as long as it’s good for a laugh.

For those interested in the detail – Mish-Mash Marmite: A-Z of Tar in a Jar. Author: Maggie Hall. Illustrator: Dave Jeffrey. Cover art: Tony Szmuk. Editor: Neil Marr. Text design and technical preparation: Tony Szmuk. Digital distribution: BeWrite Books Digital Distribution Division. RBP paperback distribution: Ingram.

Happy weekend and bon appetit, folks. Neil, Tony, Hugh and Sam at BeWrite Books 

Thursday, 10 May 2012


Few authors develop the rare knack of bridging a perceived gap between fact and fantasy; Phil Locascio has.

In his The Harbor of Ill Will, it’s not a matter of the reader discovering where reality is suspended and its alternative state takes over; not a question of where dreams end and nightmares begin. That would be too tough a call because Locascio has used his art to expertly smooth over the cracks where these very human perceptions of the world we inhabit meet.

A measure of its subtlety is that it could conveniently fit into many genre pigeon holes – psychological thriller, fantasy, war, romance, commercial intrigue, mystery and suspense – but the novel is a comfortable fit for none.

The Harbor of Ill Will is released today (May 11) by BeWrite Books in paperback and ebook editions. Here’s what its back cover text tells us …


In 1928 Demetri Davos discovers a mysterious crystal ball that has the power to grant him anything he asks.

But when two selfish requests result in the death of innocent people, the boy realizes the terrible price that must be paid for every vain wish and resolves never to use the globe again.

When the Nazis begin their march across France, though, the desperate half-Jew Demetri is forced into a life-or-death decision and has to break his vow to escape, regardless of the consequences.

Years later in Chicago, he is rich and happily married – but a vengeful nemesis, aware of the globe’s power, now wants what he’s owed. And he’ll stop at nothing to get it.

When his family is put in peril, Demetri is forced to pay the piper for his past … and for wishes granted … time after time … after time …

From Europe to America, across the years, Phil Locascio’s The Harbor of Ill Will traces one good man’s struggle to combat his own inadequacies and resist overwhelming temptation in a deadly moral tug-of-war.


Author Phil Locascio
You can read on screen or download a free thirty-page mini-ebook brochure of Harbor of Ill Will including cover, author biography and picture, and the first chapter HERE.

Phil Locascio is the author of three novels, The Sins of Orville Sand, The Sorcerer of Hooterville and The Restoration of Josef Mundt. He is also the author of a collection of short stories, Howling Hounds, and has had dozens of short stories published in magazines and anthologies. Several of his tales have received Honorable Mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. He welcomes comments from readers of The Harbor of Ill Will BY EMAIL.

The Harbor of Ill Will ebook editions are available in all formats from all major online stores for reading on all electronic platforms from PCs, and laptops, through the full range of ebook-dedicated e-ink devices and tablets, to smart phones (RRP $5.95). You can also buy any ebook edition format direct from the BEWRITE BOOKS BOOKSTORE. The paperback will be available from all major online retailers in a few days.

For those interested in the detail behind the book … Author: Phil Locascio. Editor: Hugh McCracken. Cover, internal text design and technical preparation: Tony Szmuk. Print: Lightning Source USA, UK and Australia. Print Distribution: Ingram. Ebook distribution: BeWrite Books Digital Distribution Division. Added input: The BeWrite Books team.

Happy reading and happy weekend, folks. Neil, Tony, Hugh and Sam at BeWrite Books

Thursday, 3 May 2012


The reader can only gasp in wonder at the talent, skill, productive energy and sheer scope of creative vision displayed by author Steve Attridge.

He’s written a dozen popular TV series including smash crime drama, The Bill, hit feature films, eleven children’s novels, a scholarly historical nonfiction book published by Macmillan, has picked up two prestigious BAFTA nominations, the Gregory Award for Poetry and the Royal TV Society Award for best drama with his Queen’s Nose. He recently completed a Science Fiction movie script. And, as anything but the archetypal Oxford Don, he has also lectured on literature and screen writing at universities throughout the UK, Europe and Asia.

Then Steve turned to novels with his debut, the hilarious but visionary Bottom of the List, published by BeWrite Books in 2011 ... and now to gritty fantasy with BeWrite Books release today (May 4) of his The Harrowing of Ben Hartley.

Here’s what his new adventure in psychologically-grounded fantasy is all about ...



Timid Ben Hartley’s life is not easy. His mother’s boyfriend is a malevolent bully. School is a friendless ordeal. His sleep is increasingly hijacked by strange dreams ... and the world  becomes more real when he is asleep than when he is awake.

But when his mother takes him to a psychiatrist, things only get worse. Dark figures from his dreams start to leak into waking life, including the strange and uncompromising Wolf.

Ben learns that he has been assigned a seemingly impossible task requiring courage he does not possess. And when people around him start disappearing and dying, he must face the greatest ordeals of his life.

His enemies are legion – the Nomads, the Hunters, and the vague and destructive figure that is always just on the blurred edge of vision. His own friends and family are not to be trusted either.

Ordinary life is threatened by its mirror image, and as everything he knows crashes and collapses, Ben is forced to make life-and-death decisions to save humanity from a hellish twilight world where nightmares are both real and everlasting.
Award-winning screen writer and novelist Stephen Attridge’s ‘The Harrowing of Ben Hartley’ fantasy thriller reveals how the surreal dream world of an asthmatic, solitary and frightened teenager becomes terrifyingly real – for everyone.

Author Steve Attridge

The Harrowing of Ben Hartley
is available now in paperback from all online stores and selected brick-and-mortar bookshops. It’s also released in low-price ebook editions for the full range of electronic reading devices and can be bought from any major online bookstore and from the BeWrite Books BOOKSTORE.

A free downloadable twenty-five page book brochure for The Harrowing of Ben Hartley, including cover, book description, author biography and photograph, and first chapter, is HERE and a similar brochure for Bottom of the List is HERE. (Please allow five seconds for these mini-ebook productions to download.)

For those who like to know the details ... Author: Steve Attridge (of Warwickshire, England and sometimes of Spain). Editor: Hugh McCracken. Cover, internal text design and technical preparation: Tony Szmuk. Publisher: BeWrite Books, Canada and USA. International print distribution: Ingram. Ebooks distribution: BeWrite Books Independent Digital Distribution Division. Added input: The BeWrite Books team.

Happy weekend and best wishes. Neil, Tony, Hugh and Sam at BB 

Thursday, 26 April 2012


No query mark after the headline because it’s a statement and what follows is intended as something of an explanation rather than as a question ... that should keep amateur proof-readers at bay.

Regular visitors may have noticed how very seldom this blog is used to express the personal opinions of those on the BeWrite Books in-house team. But I hope you and my BB colleagues will forgive me if I make an exception and have a wee rant this week.

I’m sick to the back teeth of the general reading public complaining about allegedly low editorial standards at publishing houses on the one hand ... and then demanding cheaper ebooks on the other.

Of course, their comments on articles and blogs criticizing the industry during its struggle with the ebook explosion are about obvious typographical error; they glibly and/or innocently overlook rigorous manuscript selection and the actual and more subtle editorial process that precedes formal proof-reading. And their demands for lower cover prices is based on the premise that ebooks cost nothing to produce.

I do understand the first grouse. Typos should be very, very rare or non-existent in a professionally prepared print or ebook, whereas behind-the-scenes editing should be as invisible as the editors themselves. Sadly, though, readers do not seem to understand pricing.

So let me put the record straight: The printing, warehousing and physical distribution costs of a major Big Six house and the bigger independents represent only 12.15% to 15% of paperback or hardback cover price. That’s less than two thirds of what they pay to retailers in terms of sales commission for an inch or two of shelf space and about as much as the author’s own royalty. Other in-house costs remain fixed. So there is only a minor saving on print to pass onto the ebook buyer.

Smaller houses like BeWrite Books often use a non-inventory print model that means their print costs per-item can be fifty percent of cover price or more. So there’s a greater production saving to pass on to the consumer when ebooks are sold, even though ebook production and independent digital editions distribution does carry unique extra costs of its own.

If you appreciate this, you must then add to the mix the lower cover price (BB ebooks are $5.95, which is less than a third of the cost of a BB paperback equivalent) and author expectancy of a higher royalty in digital editions (industry standard is 15%, BeWrite Books pays 40% when ebook editions are released ahead of print, 25% if ebook and print are simultaneously produced) and you’ll start to see where the boat starts to rock.

So my rant against those who claim typos are littered liberally throughout professionally published ebooks (that they expect for peanuts or nothing at all), as opposed to those self-‘published’ at the tap of a key without selection or any other editorial intervention and input, is that, whilst this may be the case elsewhere (remember that some newer companies claim to ‘publish’ half dozen books or more an hour), it is not general in the mainstream publishing industry and it certainly doesn’t apply to BB.

Our editorial process is similar to that of legacy publishers and their traditional approach to the job:

*Careful selection of about 2% of synopses and sample chapters submissions received by an editorial team of just three but with a combined professional experience of over 120 years. Reading and sifting submissions to discover the hidden gems takes time – a lot of time. That’s why bigger houses don’t even consider work that isn’t sent into them by an established agent and why even BB has only two three-month windows open each year to unsolicited offerings.

*Assessment of full manuscript of between 70,000 and 150,000 words in the case of those projects we express an interest in. We have, perhaps, about a 30% success rate at this stage in taking a speculatively offered manuscript to contract and publication.

*If accepted, a first line- or copy-edit of the ms runs to catch obvious word-repetition, clumsy sentence structure, fact-checking, etc.

*Then painstaking deep editorial work in the slightly cleaned up ms – often over several months – to polish the manuscript to as high a shine as possible.

*Subsequent and nit-picking multi-reader proof-reading and the incorporation of corrections into yet another updated draft.

*Even further proof reading, when all earlier proofing has been completed, of an Advance Reader Copy and/or the digital equivalent of ARC, bound proof or galleys.

*Inspection by author and editor of finished files before setting for print and creation of ebook editions.

*Quality control for any print-generated error in paperback and technically-generated error in ebook editions before eventual release.

*Meanwhile, cover-design, text design and technical preparation has been a key factor in tandem with the editorial process for the duration.

It is by no means unusual for much more than one hundred working hours of editorial input to be lavished on a single title, and twenty or more design and technical hours. And that doesn’t include the absolutely vital thinking time between screen and keyboard sessions!


And where ebook was once a by-product of the publishing process, that situation has very recently reversed for many smaller houses like BB. Now print is the by-product. Readers must decide whether they want darned good books or dirt cheap books.

It would interest us tremendously if our authors and readers might respond with comments to this blog post as to their experience with BeWrite Books’ working practices and the released result. Asking for trouble? Well maybe, but I’ll take that risk.

Sure, we know we can lick the big boys in a clean fight and that our heads are well above the herd when it comes to scrupulous selection and quality of presentation, but just how many do realize what’s involved in properly releasing a high standard ebook title ... and was the author’s trouble and ours really well invested and at all appreciated when today’s readers expect their books at the price of a pack of potato chips or free?

Happy weekend and best wishes. Neil, Tony, Hugh and Sam at BB

Thursday, 12 April 2012


By BeWrite Books Poetry Editor Sam Smith

Simon Jackson’s sole-authored poetry collection, Fragile Cargo, is released today (April 13) by BeWrite Books.

Europe’s one official City of Literature, Edinburgh, Scotland will probably claim some of the credit for Simon’s inspiration; but we at BeWrite know that no matter where he might hang his hat, this globe-trotting artist can’t help creating – he’s just so talented.

For the moment – but with Simon one has to say for the moment – he does live in Edinburgh with his wife and daughter. But who knows where the future will take them?

He’s been a teacher and a journalist in East Europe, North Africa and South America (where he was Head of Drama at Newton College, Lima, Peru). He’s also a musician, and – as well as poetry – writes plays, short stories and original music, all of which have won awards. His short films have been screened by the BBC and internationally.

This impressive range of world and artistic experience shines through the sheer breadth of human emotions expressed in Fragile Cargo.

Author Simon Jackson
As award-winning poet and novelist Andrew Grieg says, ‘These poems take place in the world as we live (but do not necessarily know) it. Bars, hills, bus-journeys, bedrooms, classrooms and streets are their territory. Their underlying themes are those of our lives – love, transience, joy, anger, humour, the inevitability of loss and the possibility of recovery.’

Or as broadcaster and author Mark Wallington puts it, ‘Jackson is a brave poet. There’s an underlying tenderness to Fragile Cargo, but the poems are all written with such energy and bite that the reader is never allowed to feel comfortable. They’re funny too. Jackson captures our lives and dilemmas and works like a photographer to show us the way we really are. More please.’ And Mark Wallington should know 'funny'; he was writer for the hilarious Not the Nine O’Clock News TV comedy series.
Here’s Simon’s own way of introducing himself …


A creeping mimicry of foetal position,
shrinking from contact with the earth,
shivering forward, poised for flight.

It implies dishonesty
to approach like a thief,
walking in a whisper.

This is how I offer myself to you,
deceitful, on tiptoe;
come to steal.

Fragile Cargo is available in paperback from all major online bookstores. Ebook editions for all electronic reading platforms from PCs and laptops, through the full range of hand-held reading devices and tablets, to iPods and smart phones are also available from your favourite online ebook store or from the BeWrite Books bookstore.

A free brochure for reading on screen, downloading or printed out is HERE. It includes cover, book notes, reviews, author biography and picture, and more examples of Simon’s poetry.

For those interested in the fine detail ... Author: Simon Jackson. Editor: Hugh McCracken: Cover photograph: Simon Jackson. External and internal text design and technical preparation of print and ebook editions: Tony Szmuk. Print Distribution: Ingram. Ebook editions Distribution: BeWrite Books Independent Distribution Division. Added Input: The BeWrite Books team.

Best wishes and happy weekend. Sam, Neil, Tony, Hugh et al at BeWrite Books.

Thursday, 5 April 2012


Novelist, painter, illustrator, poet and musician Catherine Edmunds knows a thing or five about how art can become much more than a mere part of life.

And her multiple talents and passions shine through every page of her third novel, Serpentine, released today (April 6) by BeWrite Books..

She lives by her opening quotation in the book from 19th Century German philosopher, writer and composer Friedrich Nietzsche: ‘Art is the proper task of life.’

But although recognized and recorded human art dates back at least as far as the vibrant finger-daubings of our cave-dwelling ancestors, Catherine embraces new ways of expressing and exposing it. 

Serpentine is not the first of her heart-wrung works to make use traditional publishing skills and standards but also of state-of-the art technology to publish in modern electronic editions rather than print.

   Here’s what Serpentine is all about ...

Victoria defines herself by her art. Painting isn’t a job – it’s an absolute need and the reason for her existence. But how is she to bridge the gap between her ambitions and her yearning for human relationships ... and love?

José gives her the intensity she craves but has no interest in her as an artist. Simon is mature and loving but his gentleness and inability to understand her desires drives her to distraction. John understands exactly who she is, but unnerves her with his piercing perceptiveness and violent nature (she knows who gave her friend Emma the bruises she carries on her face).

And throughout the snaking tangle of burning emotions to decide, she paints: tying down memories in cadmium yellow, burning canvases that reveal too much, whilst trying desperately to pay the bills.

The story is set in London and the North East of England and written by a Londoner who now lives in the North East. Author Catherine Edmunds has haunted the London galleries and seen the works that moved Victoria to tears; she’s shivered on the beach at Alnmouth as the bitter haar mist rolls in from the grey North Sea; she’s been overwhelmed by Durham Cathedral; she’s sat by the Serpentine lake in Hyde Park. And she’s ached to sketch what she felt.

As a gifted artist herself – creating both the cover art and an inside self-portrait for Serpentine – Catherine probes the profound questions faced by Victoria. Why do contemporary artists do what they do? Why are they so seemingly hell-bent on self-destruction? And what does all that stuff in Tate Modern art gallery really mean?

Author Catherine Edmunds
Catherine Edmunds was born in Kent, England and educated at Dartington College of Arts and Goldsmith’s College, London.

After a successful career as a professional musician, she re-invented herself as a portrait artist, illustrator and writer. She still teaches music but also works professionally as an illustrator and author with more than 250 poems and short stories in print.

Her illustrations can be seen in Daniel Abelman’s ALLAKAZZAM! (BeWrite Books), Irene Thompson’s A-Z of Punishment and Torture and her solo poetry collection, wormwood, earth and honey (Circaidy Gregory Press). Her magical realism novel Small Poisons (Circaidy Gregory Press) was published in 2009.

Reviews, competition successes, other publications and examples of her work can be found at her lively website.

She now lives a busier-than-ever life in the north east of England.

A free 37-page mini-book brochure of Serpentine, including cover, book notes, author biography and picture, and a generous extract is available HERE for download, reading on screen or printing out.

Serpentine is now available in all ebook formats from the BeWrite Books Bookstore or from all major online ebook-stores and many second-tier online retailers for reading on any electronic platform from PCs and laptops, through the full range of ebook-dedicated reading devices and tablets, to iPods and smart phones.

For those interested in the details: Author: Catherine Edmunds. Editor: Hugh McCracken. Cover art: Catherine Edmunds. Cover and text design and technical preparation: Tony Szmuk. Distribution: BeWrite Books Independent Distribution Division. Additional input: The BeWrite Books Team.

Happy weekend, folks. Neil, Tony, Hugh, Sam, et al at BeWrite Books

Thursday, 29 March 2012


Veteran author Ian Skidmore is a staunch believer in equal opportunity … his love-hate relationships with England and Wales are of admirable egality.

Blatant bias he reserves exclusively for pipsqueak bureaucracy, which in English he might describe as ‘codswallop’ but in Welsh as ‘lol’, coincidentally reflecting in lower-case internet upper-case LOL, newspeak for ‘Laugh Out Loud’.

And Laugh Out Loud is what his newly released BeWrite Books e-novel Island Fling is all about … sheer, rolllocking hilarity from start to fin, as Welsh islanders – in Celtic high dudgeon – cheekily challenge the might of Great Britain in an all out bid for uncompromising independence (a state which Skidmore personally enjoys and used in countless millions of words to keep readers and radio show fans in thoughts and chuckles for several decades).

In Westminster, more than tea is stirred when Daffyd takes a fling with his sling at Goliath and the ‘cachu’ (use your imagination or a Welsh-English dictionary) hits the fan. But that serves ’em right. Let them sue!

(WARNING: To avoid the attention of men in white coats, it is recommended that Island Fling not be read in waiting rooms at dentists’ or psychotherapists’ clinics. Also, for the tranquility of mind of others, please to not attempt to read Island Fling in crowded buses or in first class commuter rail carriages. Turbulence in planes can be reduced by application of duct tape over the mouth. Reading in the street could cause collapse and subsequent trip-over injury to other pedestrians. BeWrite Books’ insurance does not cover the consequences of irresponsible reading.)

So here’s what the cover notes tell us of Island Fling:


Touchy people are lords of Welsh manors – and Huw ap Gryffydd is the touchiest of all. For him, it’s not the last straw that breaks the camel’s back, but the first.

So when the Her Majesty’s Royal Mail has the effrontery to replace the names of the tiny but proud and ancient Welsh islands of Yns Becod and Yns Tad with mere postal zip codes, enough is enough, already.

And before the hapless British Prime Minister can even make any gargling attempt to say, ‘Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch,’ ap Gryffydd whips his 2,000 colourful islanders into a Celtic frenzy.

They make a Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the mainland and vow to stand, man, woman, child and Druid against any threat to their autonomy.

Centuries earlier the Romans sensed the power and peril of the wrath of the sleeping Welsh dragon, trembled in their togas, and left well enough alone. But those in Westminster’s corridors of power are too cocky for their own good, and rather than just go home for a nice cup of tea and a lie down as Caesar did, they lay plans to force the rebel islands back into line ... and abysmally underestimate what’s in store for their task force across a short stretch of sea.

Can Squire Huw and his makeshift defence brigade of wily Welsh defeat the might of the English so that the British become two islands short of being Great Britain ever again?

Skidmore’s Island Fling rolls swiftly from giggles to laughs to side-splitting hilarity as the Islanders lay their peculiar plans ... and those at Number Ten Downing Street, London desperately try every trick in the book (and some that aren’t in the book) to recapture the two little dots on their map, save face and keep upper lips stiff.


Author Ian Skidmore
One of Britain’s last great eccentrics, author Ian Skidmore has thirty books under his impressively lengthy belt – many of them best-sellers. He was also one of the most widely-read newspaper columnists and radio show presenters in the UK. After thirty years with BBC Wales, he was awarded by them the coveted Golden Microphone Award … and then fired a month later when BBC bureaucrats discovered he was English!

Ian Skidmore is a talent to rival Tom Sharpe. The funniest writer in Wales: Liverpool Daily Post. Hard act to follow: Wales on Sunday. Great eccentric: Western Mail. Hilarious: Anthony Hose, Director of Buxton, Beaumaris, Llandudno Festivals. Witty and erudite: Joe D Hendry, President of The Library Association. Witty and engaging. Tony Lewis Wales Tourist Board.

Skidmore’s sequel to Island Fling, The Magnificent Evan, will be released by BeWrite Books this summer. His outrageously funny Forgive us Our Press Passes about his days in newspapers is already available from BeWrite Books in OUR BOKSHOP SECTION HERE and all other major online bookstores. 

Over the coming months, BeWrite Books will be re-publishing much of Skidmore’s now out-of-print novels … and all new work, freshly produced in his NINTH decade of brightening the planet with wit, wisdom and belly laughs will now be exclusively in BeWrite Books ebooks editions. All author royalty he donates directly to charities.

And free mini-book brochures of Island Fling and Forgive Us Our Press Passes – including cover, book notes, author biography and picture, reviews and generous extract are instantly available to read right now HERE and HERE. Be sure to check into the author’s Saturday blog column at Skidmore's Island ... if you dare!

Artist John jensen
Cover art is by another revered and award-wining vet, the famously fun John Jensen, who has illustrated more than seventy books and whose brilliant cartoons – displaying wit, wisdom, art and a healthy dose of irreverence – have appeared in major newspapers and magazines all over the world for more than half a decade. Find out more about the colourful Jensen and check out some of his gallery of giggles at JOHN’S WEBSITE.

Island Fling is now available direct from the BeWrite Books BOOKSTORE, all major online retailers and in all digital formats for all electronic reading platforms from PCs and laptops, through the full range of dedicated ebook-reading devices and tablets to iPods and smart phones.

For those interested in the details ... Author: Ian Skidmore. Cover art: John Jensen. Editor: Neil Marr with invaluable proof-reading assistance in unfamiliar Welsh names and phrases from prolific author and editor Celia Skidmore. Text design, digital editions creation and distribution: Tony Szmuk. Additional input: The BeWrite Books team.

Happy Weekend, folks, and Iechyd da. Neil, Tony, Hugh, Sam et al