Friday, December 16, 2016

Hookline Books, A UK Publisher Works with Book Clubs to Find the Next Bestseller

Are you part of a book club? 

Then I think you'll like this...I came across this piece of info from Smith Publicity that I thought I'd share with you today. Hookline Books, based in the UK is not your typical publisher. First, they invite submissions from students and graduates of MA writing courses and second, they consult with book clubs in choosing the novels that go to print. That's right, they consult with avid readers as to what they will choose to publish. 

I was so curious about this concept that I took advantage of the opportunity to interview the CEO of Hookline Publishers, Yvonne Barlow. Scroll down to read below. But first, check out this video by BBC News as they visited Hookline and explored this new publishing model.

The BBC takes a look at how Hookline Books 
works with book clubs:

Interview with Hookline CEO Yvonne Barlow 

LCR: Welcome to Library of Clean Reads and thank you for allowing me to chat with you about your publishing company Hookline Books. Your selection process is unique. Unlike other publishing companies that let their editors choose which manuscripts get published, you consult with book clubs in choosing the novels that go to print. Can you tell us more about this process?

YB: I invite submissions from students and graduates of MA writing courses – they submit the first three chapters and I email these to book groups interested in that particular genre and also post a link to these early chapters on our website. Book groups and readers contact me if they wish to read the rest of the manuscript. I ask readers to look at the plot and whether it flows well, whether the characters are well developed, their opinion of the writing style and whether it was a satisfying read.

I encourage all readers to give feedback and this is passed back to the writer. If a manuscript garners favour then I contact the writer and we discuss a publishing contract.

Writers are only allowed to submit one manuscript a year. This means they have to submit their best and not a work in progress. It also means that at the end of each year we scrub the slate clean and begin each January with new submissions.

LCR: Can any book club be a part of this process or do they need to be vetted by you first?

YB: There is no vetting process. I believe book groups are made up of keen readers who like to give their views. Some book groups take time out to read other novels and then come back – it is a fluid process. No one has to read anything – rather, it is up to the writer to draw the reader into the novel in the early pages.

LCR: How do book club members go about helping you select which manuscripts go to print? And how do book club members benefit from the time and effort they put into this process?

YB: Book group readers help by simply reading and giving their point of view. If a manuscript is dull and they tell me this then so be it. I particularly like when readers give differing opinions on a read, with some saying, ‘I hated this,’ to others, ‘I couldn’t put it down.’ Many successful novels elicit varied reviews and I love when a novel brings forth strong opinions. For instance, a novel published last year, A Coin for the Hangman by Ralph Spurrier – some readers loved the unreliable narrator while others wanted to know exactly who did it.

LCR: What type of submissions qualify for Hookline?

YB: Any genre as long as the writers is enrolled in or has graduated from a post-graduate writing program.

LCR: How ​can ​other publishers learn from this publishing model​?​

YB: I think we should listen to readers. They are the mainstay of the industry – if they don’t like what we produce then we fail. Too many publishers run after trends created by the top sellers. I love when a reader says, ‘This isn’t what I normally read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.’ It means they have left their comfort zone and tried something new.

LCR: What is your mission for your publishing company?

YB: Like all publishing companies I want to sell lots of books and make money. I believe MA writers are overlooked, and I hope to find gems in their work. They have sacrificed time and money to fine-tune their craft and deserve to be read.

LCR: Thank you Yvonne, for taking the time to chat with me!

About Yvonne Barlow

Yvonne Barlow is a former journalist and has spent time in the U.S. writing for the Dallas Morning News. Barlow returned to the U.K. in 1995 to continue her freelance journalism career and thereafter ventured into book publishing. A member of the Independent Publishing Guild, Barlow is also the chair of The Galley Club, a publishing network group that is more than 80 years old.

To learn more about Hookline Books, please visit: and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

So what do you think of the idea of letting dedicated avid book readers choose which books are published?

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