As we start the new year it strikes me that most publishers are stuck on a treadmill, running as fast as they can towards an ill-defined digital nirvana that is consistently beyond their reach, whilst at the same time scrambling to make good on their six or seven figure author advances for new titles
It came as something of a revelation this November that the majority of recommendations in the media's annual roundup of the best history books of 2016 were written by men. In response, Twitter was flooded with the names of inspiring female historians, past and present, under the hashtag #HistoryBooksbyWomen. 2016 has seen a plethora of publications by talented women so, to redress the balance somewhat, here are my top picks of the year:
Books are a window into another world, whether real or imaginary. They give us the opportunity to imagine life in someone else's shoes, to understand their hopes, dreams, perspectives and cultures. As Ian McEwan puts it so beautifully, "Imagining what it is like to be someone other than yourself is at the core of our humanity...
If you've written a book, chances are you have at least considered self-publishing. There are many excellent reasons to self-publish, even if you have the chance to publish traditionally. Where self-publishing was once seen as the last recourse of the desperate, it has fast become valid method of publishing.
You may have been toying with writing a book for your business for a while, but you're unsure. You're not good enough to write a business book. You're not sure it's worth the investment. You're terrified at the prospect of self-publishing. You're worried nobody wants to read about your business, and you don't really know what you're talking about anyway...
Today, 60 years on, Guinness World Records - as it was renamed in 2001 when it was finally sold by the brewery - continues to top the best-sellers lists. In 1974, it overtook Dr Benjamin Spock's Baby and Child Care as the biggest selling copyrighted title of all time, and it remains the world's best-selling annual book, with accumulated sales to date of more than 132 million copies.
The Writing the Future report puts a figure on this lack of cultural diversity, estimating that ethnic representation within the publishing industry is just eight percent. Another key statistic highlighted in the report regards UK literary festivals; at Edinburgh, Cheltenham and Hay festivals, a measly four percent of the programme was made up of UK Black and Asian writers.