Saturday, 21 July 2012

Hookline: an exciting new way to get published?

(by Claire Davis)

We all know that there are hundreds of unpublished writers out there, desperately waiting for their manuscripts to be read by some top dog editor could make or break their careers (if he even gets around to reading it). We also all take for granted that when browsing in a bookshop we’re sure to find something we might want to read, and if not, we can simply choose something from the bestseller shelf. That shelf full of the lucky ones, the books that made it, the authors who managed to get noticed in the swirling sea of other fish.

But what if there is a book, a gap in the market, something new and original that you personally would love to see published, which never makes it through? Enter Hookline Books.

A small and unique publishing company, Hookline Books runs a novel competition specifically for unpublished graduates from MA writing courses. Its principles: to give debut writers a fighting chance of being read and published, and to give the readers a real choice in the process.

Authors must send in their first three chapters, which are then distributed fairly amongst Book Groups across the UK, and scored on a variety of qualities. Book Groups are not limited to the middle-class, tea drinking females of England, either; Hookline sends its manuscripts to Book Groups in prisons, too, believing in the power of reading for every individual.

The highest scoring chapters are then short-listed, and the completed novels sent to the Book Groups, to be scored once again, and the highest-scoring overall is published, and crowned a Hookline Novel Winner. Winners have included Underground by Gayle O’Brien, the People’s Book Prize nominee Seven Days To Tell You by Ruby Soames, and Saxon drama The Half-Slave by Trevor Bloom, which surprised most readers in revealing a genre most would never originally have chosen to read.

Other winners include The Partridge and the Pelican by Rachel Crowther, in which a baby is discovered in a telephone box, and The China Bird by Bryony Doran, in which an art student becomes fascinated by a man with a twisted spine. Carrying On, by Gilly Wosskow, is equally heart-warming as it is a heart breaker, and will have you laughing and crying with each page.

What a nice idea, you must be thinking. Writer and reader both win, but really, how practical can such a process be in this digitally evolving publishing world? To publish one or two books a year, and to listen to the voices of the readers, instead of the market and trends of what is being purchased?

With the increasing success of self-publishing, however, why is Hookline so hard to believe? Talli Roland, the self-published and best-selling author of Build A Man, is making a living off of her writing, and proves that in this day and age, it can be done without a middle-man taking all of your profits. But for a first-time writer, stepping into the fast-paced and frightening cyberspace that is now the publishing industry, Hookline offers a fair (and, let’s face it, relatively) good chance of getting a first-time writer into print.

As a publishing company that values its readers equally as much as its debut novelists, and gives the writers a chance and its readers a say, it reflects the values that the industry may regret losing later on, when the rush of e-books and social networking has overwhelmed the pleasure we find in browsing for something we really love to read. Of course profits are important, and of course the market must be listened to, but sometimes important voices can be lost in the throng – and Hookline seeks to highlight such voices, allowing them to speak out, allowing you to choose for yourself.

If you would like to show your support for Hookline Books, please visit their website or follow them on Twitter @HooklineBooks. All of their published novels are available in print and as e-books, on Amazon and via any other E-Reader; the current competition shortlist is available on their website.


  1. Thank you so much for the mention!

    1. You're very welcome Talli! I really enjoyed hearing you talk about your self-publishing experience at Byte The Book :)

  2. Publishing is becoming more democratic - about time!