Monday, April 07, 2008

If you were thinking of buying my book....

If you were still thinking of getting hold of a copy of my first book Out of the Tunnel (see reviews in side bar) then you'd best order it quick.

The Friday Project, the book's independent publisher, has recently gone into liquidation, owing hundreds of thousands to creditors - for example, MPG Books, a Cornwall-based book manufacturing firm are owed over £150,000.

Harper Collins are still not commenting about whether they are going to acquire the publishing company.

As usual in such cases, authors, editors and freelancers - who are termed 'unsecured creditors' - are right at the bottom of the pile in terms of getting payments that we're owed from the liquidators, so as for our royalties and fees for work done - well, we might as well write them off.

Like many fellow-authors and freelancers, I'm owed money; in my case it's royalties due for the thousands of copies of my book that were sold. My advance was small - but many other authors got no advance at all - this isn't that unusual with an indie publisher.

As well as upset authors, investors and suppliers, there are cross editors and freelancers who did hours of work, which they will likely never get paid for. Some poor people have been excitedly waiting for their books to be published, having laboured over their manuscripts for months or years - and now they have found out that it will likely not happen, so all their dreams are currently in ruins. I hope that their books will find a new home - TFP say they are trying to place books with other publishers. But once a book has been published, it usually has a certain life-cycle, before its sales decline - sometimes weeks, sometimes, months - and it would be pretty unusual for it to be republished by someone else. Several people I know have already been told that their books will not be published. We don't know what will happen to remaining stock of those who were published.

It is hard, and people are very distressed. Unsurprisingly and understandably.

Many authors were told 'not to bother with agents' by The Friday Project. Fortunately, I do have an agent - the wonderful David Godwin, who represents some of the UK's best authors. To be represented by him is a huge help and gives me confidence that my writing career will weather this storm.

I'm luckier than many TFP authors. I write semi-regularly for the Sunday Times News Review, and I do freelance stuff, and I am working on my second book. I am also in discussions about film rights for my first book, with a US producer and a US screen writer who have both separately expressed interest. So at least I am able to hold my head high and know that this awful situation is no reflection on me as a writer - my book got good reviews, and was well-received. One of the best things was to have so many positive emails and facebook messages from readers - I have kept them all and I feel rich for having them. That's something to be happy about.

Out of the Tunnel
reached many, many people - despite there being no money for advertising. I worked very hard last summer doing the PR that all authors are contracted to do, and with help from the excellent Midas PR, and David Godwin, and my contacts, I achieved a lot of coverage, including serialisation in the Mail. I tried very hard to be professional and not to let anyone down - even though with Mum's sudden illness and death that summer it was a difficult time for me and my family. My Mum had a catastrophic stroke two days after the book came out in early July. She died in late August. She never finished reading the book, but she was so very proud of it and I remember the excitement on her face as I presented her with one of the first copies.

As I said, it's highly unlikely that I will personally get any money if you buy or bought my book, which is bit of a shame for me, (and for the small charity I was going to give a percentage to) - but I'd like to think that the remaining copies will be sold and read, rather than languish in a warehouse. Who knows, they may be collector's items in years to come. Well, you have to be hopeful, don't you?

Writing Out of the Tunnel was never about earning lots of money - if you leave a job in advertising and think you'll make a packet as a writer you're deluded, especially if you write the sort of book I did. I knew that my book dealt with troubling and painful subjects, and I am actually surprised and pleased that it sold as much as it did. But it would have felt good to get my first royalty cheque in my hands - a big moment for any first-time author.

Writing that book and reliving it all was actually fairly grim, but I had to write it. It was 'a great pressing weight of a story that wouldn't let me be'. I needed to get it out there - so I could then write about other things, other people's stories - and move on, be free to look to the future. I don't regret writing it. I'm proud of it for what it is.

The Friday Project quickly developed a reputation for discovering some great new writing talent on the web and they were nice people to deal with. I wonder what went wrong? We're still trying to find out.

TFP was always set up to be acquired. It picked 'the best of the web to make the finest books' and it had a big catalogue of titles. It had expensive offices. It published too many books too fast, it failed to meet its million-pound fundraising target. Their bank pulled their overdraft facility back in February last year. It got embroiled in legal wrangles, notably with JK Rowling's lawyers after TFP decided to put out an unofficial Harry Potter-related book. There were obviously a series of money problems, and publishing being the risky business it is, it folded.

My thoughts and sympathies are with everyone involved with the fall-out of The Friday Project - I'm in contact with many of the people involved and we're trying to support each other. Through this adventure I have met lots of talented and delightful people. I am sure that many of them will go on to have flourishing careers in writing, and hope that this set-back doesn't knock their belief in themselves as writers.

See also....

Quarsan, The Man who Fell Asleep, E-Luv , Monday Books, Wilf, Mark Farley, Novelr, Eoin Purcell, Guardian blog, Literary Saloon, Bigmouth Strikes Again, Jamieson Wolf, Eoin Purcell again

An interview in January 2008 with TFP,
M.D Clare's blog
Commercial Director Scott's blog

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Blogger Debi said...

Heartbreaking but I'm convinced this will just be a blip in your writing career. Hope that's true for all the other disappointed TFP authors too. xxx

April 07, 2008 4:06 pm  
Blogger zoe said...

Good post, Rachel - very well thought out. The way that TFP behaved was, IMHO, atrocious. Just trying to get them to reply to an email took a while - if at all, and not living in the UK didn't exactly help.

I hope those who were due to be published this year do find a decent publishing company, well away from anyone who anything to do with TFP.

April 07, 2008 4:32 pm  
Blogger Motheratlarge said...

Good post - thank you - it's difficult to know quite what to say about the TFP problems, isn't it. Glad you wrote something about it. Feels wrong to pretend it hasn't happened, but self-destructive to rehash all the awfulness, and is hard to get that middle ground. If that sounds garbled, forgive me. I'm still processing everything myself. Best of luck with your writing - you deserve every success. Let's hope we all can move on to happier times now (not meant in Pollyanna-ish way, simply that my head will explode if I don't focus on other things)

April 07, 2008 4:44 pm  
Blogger granny p said...

Expressed and set out as well as it could be, Rachel. Good to find someone clarifying this mess. It's the heartbreak - the stress - for writers gets me most. The journalists talk about losses, mismanagement, etc etc etc, but what matters, what doesn't get said so much - except by people like you - is that this is about peoples' lives, careers, hopes, ambitions - and their income - What a mess. xx

April 07, 2008 4:51 pm  
Blogger Marina said...

I've been waiting for your book to be available on the American, but I guess that won't be happening. I just went ahead and ordered it now, screw the shipping costs! I hope something good comes out of this for you. If nothing else I'm looking forward to finally being able to read it soon. :)

April 07, 2008 6:00 pm  
Blogger Wilf said...

Thankyou for putting Wilf's name up, Rachel. I shall start again and hope for better luck.
All the very best with your books.

April 07, 2008 6:05 pm  
Blogger Graham the Funky Aardvark said...

Rachel, I knew things were bad with TFP, but not "that" bad.

Thank you for the enlightenemnt, and it is a DAMN shame that this had to happen to many writers. Two of my favorite real life books were/are published by them.

They would be "Blood, Sweat and Tea" by Tom Reynolds, and, of course, "Out of the Tunnel" by Rachel North.

Tom's book, I actually read as the free pdf file they released (under the Creative Commons license), but then realised, I like the feel of a book in my hands, so I purchased it at the same time as yours. It might just be that his 2nd book may be lost to this process... which would be a real shame.

I can recommend Tom's book (and it was dramatised on Radio 4 last Friday too, staring Martin Freeman - excellent work)

Anyway... enough praise of that book, now, a further word or three about your story.

To anyone that has thought about buying this book, I suggest you do so now (whilst there are still copies of it)

It still is a harrowing tale, one of many lows, but equally, one of spetacular highs! It is one of those stories, that even though I read it unfold here (and originaly on the BBC news web site), I could not wait to read it again in book form. The self editing process has brought things into "sharper focus", where emotions are stronger, and the "soul" is more intense.

It is a story of how a person is able to go into a form of hell, and yet, still retain a sense of hope at the end.

I know "that" hope came from many places, mainly from family and friends, like your parents, J and so on, but also even some blog readers.

I will never be a writer as good as you, I have not really got the paitence... but you have a rare gift, one I hope you never give up.

Above all, though this book seems to be full of the bad parts of life, at the end, you feel that the good parts are stronger. And... Love... is the strongest.

May you write forever more, and I look forward to the next book.

Best wishes to ALL the TFP writers, I hope that this cloud does get it's silver lining.


April 07, 2008 6:24 pm  
Blogger Graham the Funky Aardvark said...

Goodness, I sound pretentious...

"A writer as good as you..."

As if I am even "a writer"

sorry about that

April 07, 2008 6:27 pm  
Blogger Vanessa said...

It's such a shame that things have gone so wrong for TFP's authors and creditors - have masses of sympathy but you're a strong person and you'll come back from this.

Good luck with the second book - looking forward to hearing more in due course.

April 07, 2008 6:30 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thanks very much everyone for the lovely comments.

I feel like one of the luckier ones really - the book did come out and get well-received so...much harder being one of the authors with a book contract waiting to be published and all excited about - only to find that their book won't be coming out after all.

April 07, 2008 7:41 pm  
Blogger Philip said...

Who owns the copyright to your book now that the company is defunct? If it's you, then presumably you could get it republished elsewhere (shouldn't be hard given its sales and a good agent - or is that amateur thinking?), or publish it yourself using (which would at least allow the bereft to get hold of it over the internet).

April 07, 2008 8:19 pm  
Blogger Stratford Girl said...

Sorry to hear this, Rachel.

April 07, 2008 9:13 pm  
Anonymous Author said...

Those who were published stand a chance of being picked up by another publisher or an agent. But they have lost all the royalties they earned and won't make a penny out of stocks that the receiver sells.

For those who were due to be published it's back to square one with another wonderful experience of the publishing industry.

Either way a great many dreams have been smashed.

April 07, 2008 9:33 pm  
Blogger Deborah said...

I'm very sorry to hear this news, but am glad you're able to be so philosophical about it in terms of your book. Congratulations on the film interest - and on the next book too.

April 08, 2008 9:07 am  
Blogger Peach said...

duly purchased! I was always going to, just never go around to it til now. Glad you've got a publisher/agent on your side... hope your writing continues to flourish.

April 08, 2008 11:19 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thanks everyone who has bought copies!

The book has leapt 120,000 places and is now 3483 highest-selling book on

I am so pleased that people will be reading it - it would be sad to see the remaining copies vanish forever.

I'll try to buy up some stock myself so I can give copies away or even sell them, though I have no idea how to do this...


April 08, 2008 11:29 am  
Blogger Tim Worstall said...

I've had the email telling me that the rights to the one I did for them (a collection of blog posts, not as much work as actually writing something) have reverted to me. I would assume that appplies to everyone.

April 08, 2008 12:22 pm  
Blogger Graham the Funky Aardvark said...

Rachel..... how to sell

eBay - Signed by author, of course


Take care

April 08, 2008 12:58 pm  
Blogger NML said...

Hello! Sorry to hear about what has happened. Your attitude is admirable and you'll rise above all of this and unleash another fantastic book. Graham's idea is rather good, although of course you'd have to fork out to get your hands on all the copies. Onwards and upwards and I look forward to your next book :-)

April 08, 2008 1:07 pm  
Anonymous Justin said...

Hey Rachel, have you had any joy tracking down the remaining stock of your book? I've tried to get mine but nobody's answering emails, much to my non-shock.

April 08, 2008 1:15 pm  
Blogger Rachel said... is an email for them which is working.

0207 231 1525. Panos Eliades, Franklin and Company is the liquidator.

April 08, 2008 1:20 pm  
Anonymous Cat the cat said...

Hi Rachel,

I've just recently come across your blog (through Petite Anglaise and her Satin Pyjama award) and was immediately touched by your story and style of writing.

I bought your book last week and am in the middle of reading it now. I find myself having to stop reading because I am getting too emotional in public places! Thanks for writing your story and sharing it with us, and I deeply admire you for your strenght and sense of survival...

I was shocked to read your latest post regarding your publisher!! I hope you can recover some of the financial loss... and without a shadow of a doubt I can say that you have achieved something big in terms of touching others and I am sure that your book will not fall into oblivion!! I will definitely recommend it to all my friends and family...

Take care!

April 08, 2008 2:06 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

There's a different number listed on the liquidation notice - 0207 723 1525.

Fax 0207 723 3182.

April 08, 2008 2:36 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thanks so much Cat! That's really kind of you

April 08, 2008 2:37 pm  
Blogger pierre l said...

Hi Rachel. I bought many TFP books, and it is disappointing to know that the authors won't get royalties. I read yours ages ago, and ordered a spare copy yesterday.
If you get the opportunity, do buy as many spare copies as you can afford from the receiver (they should be cheap). Then set up a PayPal account (if you haven't got one already) and sell signed copies for a fixed price (not eBay, that's a bit unpredictable). Advertise in the sidebar (see Clare Sudbery at boobpencil for an example). When copies become hard to find, your new readers will be pleased that you have copies available.
Of course, when your second book is ready, your new publisher might want to reprint your first book in any case. Sorry for the long post, and good luck for the future.

April 08, 2008 8:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am very sorry to hear that. You have written a very good, very moving book, which came from the heart. I will buy your next book, it's the least I can do.

April 08, 2008 11:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Rachel,
sorry about this news. Where can the book be bought in the US?

April 09, 2008 2:35 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

At the moment the book is only on sale in UK bookshops or on

Sorry about that.

April 09, 2008 9:31 am  
Blogger jane said...

made me order it, I have been meaning to for ages, I live in France now so can't walk into a bookshop and get it, sorry to hear you won't get anything from my purchase and thanks for letting us all know

April 09, 2008 1:08 pm  

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