Monday, November 28, 2005

The Highfield Mole

An anonymous commenter on K.D. Lathar's The Changeling has alerted me to the existence of an originally self-published book with two authors: The Highfield Mole, by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams. The book comes, as per usual these days, with its own web site.

The authors are two middle-agedish men with established careers, of sorts, though Mr Williams seems to have been at a loose end since he was 'let go' by an investment bank in 2001. These two men have known each other for a good few years, which is just as well, I suspect, for all writing partnerships must surely be subject to considerable stresses.

Anyway, if I have understood things aright, these two gentlemen seem to have noticed (as have we all) that books for kids seem to do pretty well these days. And, unlike most of us, they have decided to do something to take advantage of this marketing opportunity. Hence their book, The Highfield Mole, which is to be the first in a series.

Their first step was to set up a publishing company, Mathew and Son, and they proceeded to drum up publicity in various ways. The News page of the web site gives a short history of how it was done. Now their book has been taken up by Peter Straus of the agents Rogers, Coleridge and White, and he has sold The Highfield Mole to one Barry Cunningham, currently of Chicken House, which is an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Now, if you are really awake this morning, you will remember that Barry Cunningham was the one man in the entire universe who wanted to buy the first Harry Potter, when Harry was no more than a pile of paper and a gleam in the eye of some woman no one had ever heard of. So Barry has form.

Back in October last year, Barry was much mentioned as the man who had bought the next big thing, in the form of a book by Stuart Hill. Who? Well, exactly. The Cry of the Icemark got some good reviews (Guardian and USA Today, for example) but I wonder how well it sold. I don't have access to Bookscan figures, but Amazon says that its current rank is 26,913, having been published last January.

So, as usual we wish good speed to The Highfield Mole and all who sail in her. But we will see what happens.


Anonymous said...

Th Cry of the Icemark did well in hardback, and is now having a healthy sale in trade paperback. The regular paperback is yet to come. It also won the Ottakar's Children's Book Prize, which didn't hurt. So, while it's fair to say it's no Harry Potter, neither is anything else. And at least bookshops are making a few quid out of it - unlike Harry Potter!

gP said...

An interesting blog. All the best.

Anonymous said...

Amazon sales ranking figures can be very misleading. I understand they're updated hourly and with sales of a single copy can jump up thousands of places ... only to subside gradually as other titles outsell it during any given hour. Checking the sales rank number on a random day gives little indication of how well a book is selling, as you can't tell whether someone has just bough a copy. Only a consistant ranking over several consecutive days will give you an indication of how well a book is selling.

Anonymous said...

I love this book. I hear it's going to be a movie for Fox 2000. Can't wait to see it.

Anonymous said...

Somehow the carnie show flavor seems a bit overbaked, but if it works, more power to them. They worked hard for it.

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