Thistle Publishing launch

This week’s Bookseller has a piece on the agency’s new imprint, Thistle Publishing:

Andrew Lownie creates own e-imprint Charlotte Williams

The Andrew Lownie Literary Agency has become the latest to set up an in-house digital and p.o.d. publishing imprint. The Thistle imprint will use Amazon publishing programme White Glove to release e-books and print-on-demand copies of titles where the e-book rights are not controlled by a publisher.

Lownie (pictured) said publishers risked being “left behind” by the higher royalty rates authors can command through the Amazon programme, and that the move was also a reaction to publishers commissioning fewer titles.

Meanwhile, Curtis Brown joint c.e.o. Jonny Geller said his agency was pleased with early sales through its digital self-publishing programme, Curtis Brown Creative, launched via Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace in December last year. He said the agency had already seen strong sales, with Alex Gerlis’ debut novel The Best of Our Spiesselling 4,000 copies in January.

Lownie’s fiction agent David Haviland will be overseeing Thistle, with the first title, Conclave by Mary Hollingsworth, an account of the 1559 papal election, released this week to capitalise on its newsworthiness. The White Glove programme pays 70% on receipts to authors, if the e-books are priced between £1.49 and £7.81, with the Andrew Lownie Agency to take 15% commission, paying publicists to support the titles and designing the books’ covers.

Lownie said: “With e-book publishers and Amazon offering up to 70%, publishers will be left behind if they don’t adapt.” He added: “This is something we do in addition to our main job. There are some books that don’t fit the conventional model, where publishers don’t see the market for it, but we do - or they can’t publish it quickly enough … We are still acting as agents - but we are giving a brand, through Thistle, to these particular books. We are giving people the opportunity to earn while we showcase the works.”

Other titles lined up for February release include Rasputin by Joseph Fuhrmann, a biography of the Russian mystic; The Soldier by Darren Moore, about the changing role of the military; and A Polar Bear Ate My Head by Paul Merrill, a memoir of setting up a lads’ magazine in the UK and Australia.