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The Best Books on the Publishing Industry

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The publishing industry is one of the most mystifying of all and there is scant information about the inner workings and tricks of the trade. While there are many books on how to write a best seller or on the art of writing, the realities of how books make it to market are much more opaque and often demoralisingly down to who you know. These mostly overlooked novels and memoirs, provide delicious glimpses into the neverland of the publishing world over the years.

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    Bestseller
    by Alessandro Gallenzi

    Jim Talbot, a writer with a dozen unpublished novels under his belt, has been roundly rejected by virtually every agent and publisher in the land, and is willing to go to extreme lengths to make his dream of literary stardom come true. Charles Randall, the eccentric founder and managing director of Tetragon Press, a small independent publisher that has managed to survive for thirty years in a fierce publishing environment dominated by corporate juggernauts, is about to be brutally sacked by a newly appointed business consultant. In the cut-throat world of modern publishing, Charles and Jim's paths towards literary salvation are fraught with the most unpredictable dangers. 'Gallenzi... slips in sound insider's judgements on how this business works. Read it for the lowdown on the low trade' --Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

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    The Censor
    by John Gardner

    It is the late 1960s and David Askelon, an American writer, has written a best-seller - a book that is popular for its graphic and violent sexual scenes. And now an English publisher has paid a great deal to publish in the UK. But they have decided they want to heavily censor the book. Looking of the list of changes, Askelon puts his foot down. The whole point of his novel was to portray the world realistically, in all its gritty, sordid and disturbing glory. So he decides to head to London to put his point across in person. He manages to persuade the publishers that the book needs to stay as it is, but how will the ‘powers that be’ react? Could he - or his publishers - face a fine, or even prosecution? As the publication date looms ever nearer he finds himself caught up in a whirlwind of publicity - not all of it good…How will the English public react to the novel? Will it receive critical acclaim - or should he have listened to The Censor?

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    Bentinck's Agent (Kindle Single)
    by John Lawton

    Jack Turner is a draft-dodger. Anxious not to be sent to fight in Viet Nam, he has ended up in London instead. By the mid 1980s he is single, approaching middle age, with only failed careers and failed relationships behind him. Then, much to his surprise, he is headhunted by a literary agency. His first client is Roger Bentinck – a man purporting to be a retired MI6 agent, who wants to write a memoir … a memoir Her Majesty's Government would much rather he didn't write. Bentinck is an odd combination, part slob, part aesthete, part rebel, part patriot … a combination that makes him both attractive and repellent. But Jack is a literary agent and he has no clients. He has one task ... agent to agent, he has to get the book out of Bentinck, whatever the cost…

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    Did We Meet on Grub Street?: A Publishing Miscellany
    by Emma Tennant

    Part memoir, self-help manual and polemic, this assortment of pieces mostly written by three ancient practitioners of the literary trade, whose professional lives all started when typewriters were scarcely electrified, posits a belief that publishing is more than just part of a global media division in massive entertainment conglomerates. With a combined age of over two hundred years and with more than fifty books written between them, three toilers in the literary furrows reflect on the 'literary life': anecdotes; memories; short fictions; reminiscences; critiques of feminist writing - even a list of Dos and Don'ts for Future Writers - create a perfect companion for those who still consider books have covers and live on shelves and is essential reading for all graduates on creative writing courses or in media study groups.

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    The Face Pressed Against a Window: A Memoir
    by Tim Waterstone

    Tim Waterstone is one of Britain's most successful businessmen, having built the Waterstone's empire that started with one small bookshop in 1982. In this charming and evocative memoir, he recalls the childhood experiences that led him to become an entrepreneur and outlines the business philosophy that allowed Waterstone's to dominate the bookselling business throughout the country. Tim explores his formative years in a small town in rural England at the end of the Second World War, and the troubled relationship he had with his father, before moving on to the epiphany he had while studying at Cambridge, which set him on the road to Waterstone's and gave birth to the creative strategy that made him a high street name. Candid and moving, The Face Pressed Against a Window charts the life of one of our most celebrated business leaders.

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