INTERLOPER by Kim Erin Cowley

I am proud to announce the latest novel from Dandelion Digital:

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The main character, Lee Habens is an outsider, never really fitting in, and always feeling like an interloper in her own life.  The time comes when things have to change, and she decides to take radical action so that she can truly be herself, and claim her rightful place in society.  For Lee, this means transforming her body, to become the woman she has always been on the inside.

The novel is set in the 1980s, so for me, it was great to go back to the atmosphere of those days – London’s colourful clubbing scene and the flamboyance of being young in the eighties.  But gender re-assignment was hardly known in those days, so for Lee, there was a lot of research in the library, followed by the excitement of discovering that having a sex change was even a thing.  Not much was known about the science or the medicine behind it, so in the book, the GP learns alongside her patient, as they investigate and start the hormone treatment and everything necessary for Lee to build a new life.

But the book is about so much more than this, it’s also about friendship,  and

The book is a fascinating insight into what it’s like to make this incredible journey from one gender to another.  We see Lee’s wonder at her changing body, alongside her dilemmas about secrecy and her acceptance by other people.  Her emotions are often all over the place, but whatever happens, Lee remains resolute, in her quest for her real self.

But INTERLOPER is so much more than a book about changing gender.  It’s also about the power of friendship and love, as well as the pain of being an outsider; it’s about identity and re-invention, and it’s about living in London in the 1980s.

The book is very definitely fiction, but it’s written by an author with first hand experience of what the main character goes through.  Kim Erin Cowley is someone who has been through a lot in order to “resolve the conflict at the heart of my very existence”.

INTERLOPER is available to order from any bookshop from 1 July 2017.
Large format paperback, 466 pages: £14.99, ebook £9.99.  

PLSClear Makes the World a Better Place

Permissions come out of the shadows into the limelight

In my first job in publishing, it was down to me to do the permissions.  This meant granting other authors the rights to use extracts from our books in their own publications.  It was viewed as a humble and fiddly job, and one I was glad to leave behind when I got promoted.  Even so, I was proud that the income from my work on permissions always more than covered my salary, which is a good feeling in your first job (or maybe I should have had a higher salary …?).

In the digital age, the humble ‘permission’ is becoming the focus of attention.

There are so many things that can go wrong.  When I received a request to quote from a book, I first had to make sure it actually was our book: have the rights reverted to the author, or is it part of that list we sold to another publisher a few years ago?  If there isn’t a copy of the book in the office, it’s even harder to tell.

For an author applying for permissions, it’s even worse.  How do they find the right person to ask for the rights?  It’s not uncommon for requests to spend weeks going round the houses.

Is this a problem that can be solved by technology?

PLS thinks it is.  The Publishers Licensing Society has a huge database telling them which publisher owns which books, that it uses for distributing photocopying fees.  Why not open this database up to the public, so it can be used to point permissions requests in the right direction?  The result is PLSClear. (www.plsclear.com)

I was lucky enough to work as a rights consultant on the development of PLSClear.  On the way, I met a lot of publishers, and discussed permissions with them.

The frustration was evident: sometimes it feels as if publishers have to spend more time investigating the rights status of the book and re-directing requests, than actually doing the permission.  That’s time that could have been spent doing something more interesting and more profitable – like clearing that backlog …

PLSClear launched at Frankfurt 2014, and gradually more people are finding it, and using it.  My hope is that it will cut out that fruitless cycle of email, hope for the best, wait, repeat.  Authors know their request is going to the right place first time.   And publishers receive a much higher quality of request, filtered through the PLS mill, and can get on with their job, bypassing the frustrations.

Oh, and it’s not just for books.  You can use it to clear the rights to use an extract for anything – film, radio, TV, mugs – anything.

It makes the world a slightly better place.

Kobo steps up

Following my “bold prediction” that 2014 will be the breakthrough year for illustrated books, I am gratified to see ereaders beginning to step up to the challenge. It’s only when all the ebook retailers can sell the same interactive, multimedia ebook format that the illustrated book market will really be able to take off. This article in Talking New Media, about Kobo suggests that Kobo are starting to adjust to the agreed standards for ePub3 hammered out by the AAP last year. Kobo have revised their ereader app for iPhones, so it can read ebooks with audio clips in, and video clips, as part of the text.  I am hopeful that this is in response to the ePub3 white paper, which sets out how device manufacturers (is an app a device?) can take advantage of the new standards, and enable publishers to produce one ebook for all markets.