Ash Dykes - book coming in 2017

Welsh adventurer, extreme athlete, two times World First record holder, TEDx speaker, specialty master scuba diving instructor, Muay Thai fighter (and JBB client!), 26-year-old ASH DYKES will be publishing his first book in 2017 in a deal to be announced soon. FHM magazine called him ‘One of The World’s Most Fearless Outdoors Men’; he was 2015 UK Adventurer of the Year and 2016 Welsh Adventurer of the Year. His book will cover his latest Madagascar adventure, with messages of resilience and determination, as well as talking about how he has made it all happen at such a young age, coming as he did from an ordinary background with no special privileges.

Ash recently returned from China, where he gave a talk at the Nanshen International Mountain Film Festival in Shenzhen. The translated talk went down extremely well, and thanks to Ash's popularity at that event with many questions asked and photos taken, Mobi-Garden, the third biggest outdoor company in China, want him to model their clothing in a 5-day photo shoot in Bali and Bombok, trekking Rinjani volcano in November. He'll also give a talk in Shanghai. During his stay in Shenzhen he met government officials, sponsors and the biggest brands in China, TV companies and production teams. He's starting to learn Mandarin and plans to visit China frequently over the next year. 

In 2016 - Ash became the first person ever to traverse Madagascar's length through its interior, taking on 8 of the highest mountains on the fourth largest island in the world, 1,600 miles in 155 days.
He contracted the deadliest strain of malaria, was held up by the military, had to avoid bandits, was bitten by a spider, built a raft to cross rivers, was almost washed away by a river infested with Nile crocodiles on a night time crossing and had to hack through almost impenetrable jungle among much more. He met up with conservationists along the way, in order to spread the word on the work being done to protect Madagascar’s unique biodiversity.

In 2014 - Ash became the first person ever to complete a solo & unsupported walk across Mongolia, over the Altai Mountains, Gobi Desert & Mongolian Steppe, covering 1,500 miles in 78 days knocking 22 days off the predicted time.
He pulled 120kg in a wheeled trailer carrying all provisions needed to survive, he faced sand storms, snow blizzards, grey wolves, snakes, severe heat exhaustion & loneliness; he became known to the locals as ‘The Lonely Snow Leopard’, due to the wolves keeping a respectful distance from him, as they do the snow leopard.
Ash filmed and blogged his expedition, and people followed his journey from all over the world as he hit major news, and articles were shared globally & translated into a number of different languages. He became the youngest member within Speakers from the Edge and he was soon out on his first UK theatre tour as well as his footage being featured on Discovery Channel and Channel 5.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes: – “This young man’s completion of a ‘first’ solo trek across Mongolia, from the Altai to the Steppe, will have proved both physically & mentally challenging & is an example of great determination.”

Ash's exploits from the age of 19 include:
•           Cycling Cambodia & the length of Vietnam (1130 miles – 15 days)
•           Trekking the Himalayas in North India
•           Cycling 700 miles through Australia
•           Learning to survive in the jungle with a Burmese Hill Tribe
•           Working as a scuba diving instructor for 2.5 years in Thailand where he trained & competed against the locals in Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing)

He has been featured in The Times, Forbes, The Guardian, Mail Online, BBC World News, ITV, Arise TV, Discovery Channel, Channel 5, FHM etc. His Mongolia and Madagascar expeditions gained a global reach of more than 350,000,000.
He toured the UK, visiting 10 different theatres in Scotland, England and Wales, speaking of his world first expedition across Mongolia and will go on tour again in March 2017 with Speakers from the Edge and present to 13 venues.

A few press articles from his most recent expedition: -

THE VISITORS - Catherine Burns

Publishers' Weekly
Scout Welcomes Burns’s ‘Visitors’
In a U.S.-rights deal at Simon & Schuster’s new literary imprint Scout Press, Alison Callahan bought Catherine Burns’s novel, The Visitors. David Forrer at Inkwell Management brokered the deal for Burns, who is British, on behalf of U.K.-indie Legend Press. Calling the novel “Grey Gardens meets Room,” S&S said The Visitors, which is scheduled for winter 2018, follows a spinster who must confront the “horror” that her brother has kept under lock and key in the basement of their crumbling mansion.

World English rights in THE VISITORS were sold by Jennifer Barclay Books to Legend Press in June. The author, Catherine Burns, was born in Manchester to a trade unionist and a school cleaner. She graduated from Cambridge and worked as a bond trader in the City of London before studying at the Moscow institute of film and teaching film theory at Salford University.


News about Brad Smith, Sara Alexi, Bradt Guides and Ventura Press

Fabulous new covers for Brad Smith titles now being launched in digital format by the UK's Endeavour Press:

Brad's also just signed a contract for a new Carl Burns thriller to be published by Severn House next year. His first Carl Burns thriller, ROUGH JUSTICE, will be available in paperback soon.

Bradt publishers launched two new travel literature titles in June:


Andrew Fraser goes on a jaunt around ten European cities including Skopje, Girona, Brussels, Thessaloniki, Gdansk and Oslo for £144 and describes how aspiring travellers can create their own dream travel itineraries on flights that cost less than an airport latte. Uncovering the little known travel gems which you can fly to for under a tenner, it is also an often surreal, idiosyncratic and funny account of one man's adventures on the move.

John Carter, having spent half a century globetrotting during an illustrious career as a travel writer and TV presenter, seeing the world via press trips, cruise ships and Concorde, recounts the tales he couldn't tell at the time: being savaged by a duck during the Pamplona bull running, meeting Sophia Loren and drinking vodka with Walter Kissinger, sharing a small island with a bottom-biting hippo, eating scorpions on toast and taking an unplanned flying lesson.

Sara Alexi, author of the bestselling Greek Village Series of novels (17 published so far!), was interviewed in Prima magazine:

Portuguese rights have been sold by our co-agents Sandra Bruna Agency to SUPERFOODS by Seana Smith, originally published by Ventura Press in Australia.

While TALK LESS, LISTEN MORE by Michael Hawton, also published by Ventura in Australia, has sold more than 25,000 copies in China.


Guest post on self-publishing by Simon Wilcox, author of MUDLARK RIVER

Simon Wilcox published his first book, MUDLARK RIVER, in October 2014. It tells the story of how, after finding a Victorian map of the Thames in a London antiques shop, he used it as a basis for walking the Thames from source to sea; and how along the way he explored the hidden history of the river. 

Some very prestigious publishers liked the project but in the end he self-published the book. I asked Simon if he'd like to share his thoughts on the experience of self-publishing, and he's contributed this typically eloquent guest blog post. Thank you, Simon - over to you.... 

It is often alone late at night, with a glass of wine in my hand, when an old memory sometime pops into my head. It is of me crossing a finishing line, arms aloft, in the pole position of a race that I shouldn’t have started, let alone win. I was 17 at the time, and pulled in as an eleventh hour replacement to run the 800 metres race for my school in the regional athletics championships. My opponents had no idea who I was; but against all the odds I left them flailing in my wake on the last bend. Overnight I became a school hero, and for about a year afterwards I believed that this was what the rest of my life was going to be like. A series of spectacular dashes to glory.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out like that. Like most people, I’ve had my moments, but I’ve also had my fair share of disappointments. One of the biggest of these was a couple of years ago when a travel book I had written missed out on getting a traditional book publishing deal when at one point things looked hopeful. I had some nice feedback from book editors, Simon has “a rather charming voice” said one, but in the end I didn’t make the cut. At that point, I had to make the painful decision to self-publish.

Yet, self-publishing can bring its own rewards, not least the sense of personal achievement in doing the whole thing yourself. So how did I go about it? Well, at one end of the spectrum are the services of a publishing package provider, and at the other end is the DIY option, and then there is everything in-between.

To take the fully-assisted path first, there are a number of companies – Silverwood and Matador in the UK are among the ones with good reputations – which can take your manuscript, prepare it for publication, publish it and make it available in book stores and through online retailers. This full service comes at a price – Silverwood’s cheapest package starts at £1795 – but, in return, you get a published book for a minimum amount of hassle. Should your budget not stretch that far, though, the same firms can offer tailored one-off services such as copy-editing, ISBN registration, cover design and book promotion.  

These might be of help if you are doing it all yourself, with a little help here and there. The DIY route was the one I chose, mainly for financial reasons. My first port-of-call was getting someone to look over my manuscript and check it for any mistakes in syntax (copy-editing). For this job I took on the services of an editorial contact (or rather a contact of a contact) who promised to give my copy the once over for a fee of £250.

All my words would have been worthless, however, if they had not been pleasing to the eye when they appeared in book format. My next challenge was the typesetting and formatting of my raw text into a particular typographical style – a challenge made doubly difficult by the fact that I was running to a tight budget. Some in my situation would have done it themselves, using a simple layout software; but in the end I decided to turn to Createspace, the assisted self-publishing arm of Amazon. For £140 upwards, depending on which service you choose, their designers based in Charleston in the US will consult with you over fonts and chapter headings and all that sort of thing, and come up with something that looks professional and readable.

The Charleston outfit can do a lot of other stuff for you too, but it was to a local designer near my home in Warwickshire, England, that I looked to for the design of my book cover. This artwork needs to communicate the ethos of your book so choose your graphic designer carefully. You also need to be aware that designing the cover is not only about looking good but also about getting the dimensions right. In order to comply with Createspace specifications, my designer had to think about the ‘trim size’ and ‘bleed’ and things like that, and that bumped up her fees to about £600.

One of the most important features of the cover is the ISBN product number. This is essential if you want bookshops or Internet retailers to order copies of your publication. Registering with Nielsen, the UK’s ISBN agency, for example, puts you on their international bibliographic database, which is used by libraries and booksellers across the world. You can order a single ISBN number from Nielsen for around £75. The bar code, which is created from the ISBN, can then be sourced from a number of suppliers for £25 or so.

With my bar code in place, I was now ready to publish at what I regarded as a reasonable cost. But as I said earlier, there are a number of paths a would-be independent publisher can follow. Mine was just one of them, and another might or might not have saved me more money. For every person who takes the DIY route, there is another who will buy a full package from a self-publishing company. For every Createspace, meanwhile, there is another print-on-demand provider such as Lulu. And for every Kindle Direct Publishing there is another e-book platform such as Kobo, or a distributor like Ingram Spark who can help you reach a lot of different platforms at the same time. If you need more advice then seek out the Alliance of Independent Authors, the professional association for authors who self-publish.

But how did my efforts turn out, I hear you ask. Well, through the Createspace service, I uploaded the print version of my book – Mudlark River – to the Amazon online bookstore, and then shortly afterwards an e-book version of it to Kindle. The uploading was free by the way, but there were a few costs that seemed to appear out of nowhere which served to dampen earnings. With Createspace’s print books you earn 60% royalties, but that’s after you’ve coughed up two printing charges – one, a fixed fee per book, and the other is a charge per page which, though tiny, soon mounts up when you have 343 of them. So, think carefully about pricing. E-book earnings are much better. An author earns 70% royalties with Kindle Publishing and there are no costs to speak of.

So, to sum up, self-publishing is never going to fund a retirement in the Caribbean.

But then I never thought it would. Some writers, I have heard, are making a good living out of self-publishing. These are the people who are beginning to challenge and redefine the rather cloistered, cliquey world of publishing.

But for me, going it alone was always about building a presence for myself. After I published my book, I shelled out £160 to a book publicity firm to pitch particular magazines and newspapers with a press release, and I also built a rudimentary website with the help of a geeky friend, registering my url with a web hosting service for under £50.

Small steps, but progress. In my mind’s eye, I am still running that school race. Self-publishing has given me the legs and the stamina, but what will happen next is anyone’s guess. 

Author Brad Smith

'Carl Burns has returned to his hometown to support his estranged daughter, Kate, who is one of three witnesses in the rape trial of the town’s mayor. The trial goes bad, and Kate slips slowly into addiction and depression... Even in a hard world, however, there’s always room for fighting back, and nobody does stand-up guys better than Smith.'
- Booklist

ROUGH JUSTICE is Brad Smith's eighth novel, the first to hit the UK market; it was published in hardback in the UK, US and Canada in late 2015/early 2016 and a paperback will be out later this year. Publishers Weekly called it 'engrossing' and Kirkus said a 'slow-burning tale of vigilante justice leading to a satisfying ending'. Translation rights are available. 

Brad has previously been published in Canada by Doubleday, Penguin and Simon & Schuster, and in the US by Henry Holt and Scribner, and translated into Hungarian and Japanese. ALL HAT was made into a major feature film and he has also adapted other authors' novels for the big screen. Author Richard Russo called him a writer with 'lots of skill, lots of heart, lots of brains'. He's often been called a modern-day Elmore Leonard.

The next in the Carl Burns series has just been completed.

Brad's books are often set in farming communities near the US-Canada border, where he lives near the shore of Lake Erie (he connects regularly with his readers through events). Brad was born and raised in the hamlet of Canfield in southern Ontario, and as a child had a 'Huck Finn' existence, building rafts and catching frogs and falling off his bike. He grew up on stories - hockey books and listening to the old-timers in the village. Read more here.

Two years ago, in our first deal for Brad (though I've been a fan of his books for years), we placed reprint rights to his first novel, ONE-EYED JACKS, with digital crime publisher 280 Steps:
In addition to placing the new Carl Burns series with Severn House, we've now placed reprint rights to three other fabulously recommendable novels of his, ALL HAT, BUSTED FLUSH and BIG MAN COMING DOWN THE ROAD, with digital publisher Endeavour Press who will launch in a few months. New cover designs to come.

Eye Books - changing the way we see the world

Last summer, we were thrilled to see Eye Books publish JUNKIE BUDDHA. The book is Diane Esguerra's memoir of overcoming grief after the death of her son, when she makes an extraordinary journey in Peru to scatter his ashes. The book has had major national media coverage and received, as I write, 37 reviews on Amazon - all of them 5 star. 

So I'm delighted we're doing more with Eye Books. We have just licensed to Eye Books the rights to Maria KatsonisTHE GOOD GREEK GIRL, originally published to great acclaim by our Australian publisher client Ventura Press last year. 

The book is a memoir of overcoming depression, after she graduated with a Master's degree from Harvard then returned home to care for her parents, and for the UK market it will be re-titled THE MIND THIEF. Maria is a vocal advocate for mental health and a senior government executive. US and translation rights are available. 
Alastair Humphreys
Last but not least, we'll also be representing some exciting titles from Eye Books internationally. Alastair Humphreys is a full-time adventurer, author and motivational speaker, and the founder of the fantastic 'Night of Adventure' talks in London that raise money for Hope and Homes for Children; he now has a monstrous 32.8K followers on Twitter... His most recent book, published by William Collins, is about Microadventures, a project that earned him the title of National Geographic Adventurer of the Year.

His very first adventure was to spend four years cycling around the world, surviving mostly on jam sandwiches, and he has created a wonderful series of children's books about this. Part 1 is from Europe to Africa, Part 2 the Americas and Part 3 riding home through Asia, the last of which just came out a few months ago. They're original and fun and I love them. So on behalf of Eye Books I am representing THE BOY WHO BIKED THE WORLD to international publishers.

Product Details Product Details Product Details 

A Siberian Winter's Tale - a gripping travel adventure by Helen Lloyd

A Siberian Winter’s Tale: Cycling to the Edge of Insanity and the End of the World is a new book about the three months Helen Lloyd spent cycling across one of the most remote, coldest inhabited regions of the planet - Siberia - in the depth of winter. The book - which I edited last year - is an extraordinary tale of adventure filled with the characters she met along the Road of Bones; a journey of discovery, driven by the call of the wild.
Screen shot 2015-08-19 at 17.24.30 2
In temperatures down to -50C, she battled the cold, overcoming her fear of wolves and of falling through the ice of a frozen lake. Alone  in a hibernating land with little to stimulate the senses, her biggest challenges were with her own mind as she struggled with the solitude.

“For hours now – days even, weeks perhaps, for time is frozen here like the rivers – my world has been evaporating into nothing. Now, there is no sound except the beating of my heart, heavy breathing and the crackle of my bike tyres over the packed snow …
This is how I imagine the end of the world will be ... all white – pure and untouched – seeing everything; seeing nothing. We'll each stand alone, in peace, surrounded by a blank canvas that can be transformed into any image our mind desires. But when you hear or see something emerge from this white nothingness, how will you know if it's real or in your head?”

In a touching story full of warm-hearted moments, humour and riveting descriptions that will have you living each moment with her, she also shows the joys of her astonishing adventure. A Siberian Winter's Tale is Helen's second book. Her debut book, Desert Snow, about her 25,000-kilometre bicycle ride through Africa, was a finalist in the Readers' Favorite Book Awards in the Cultural Non-Fiction category, and has received numerous five-star reviews.

"Cycling through Siberia in winter … encapsulates the very best of extreme adventure travel. Helen has proved herself to be a voracious traveller, a tough adventurer, and a fine writer." - Alastair Humphreys, British adventurer

"[Helen Lloyd] is brave, funny, thoughtful and writes in clear detail about how life is being a long-distance cyclist. I think Helen is one of the most interesting explorers
on earth today, on the young scene.” - Mikael Strandberg, Swedish explorer

Happy 2016... with client news

Samantha Verant's internationally successful debut memoir SEVEN LETTERS FROM PARIS has been optioned by a film studio. Her next book, HOW TO MAKE A FRENCH FAMILY, about her first few years of life as an instant stepmother and wife in the south of France - filled with food and faux pas - has been sold to US publisher Sourcebooks for spring 2017 publication. UK rights to both books are available.

Sarah Outen is busy writing her new book, DARE TO DO. Nicholas Brealey acquired world rights and the book is due for publication in June.

Brad Smith's new novel, ROUGH JUSTICE, has been published by Severn House and received this review from Booklist:

The quintessential Brad Smith hero is an ex-con attempting to live a quiet life who finds himself drawn back into the world of violence, usually to help out someone he loves. Following in the tradition of Ray Dokes (All Hat, 2003) and series hero Virgil Cain (Red Means Run, 2012), Carl Burns lands in prison after taking a quixotic stand against corruption and absorbing the unintended consequences. Now out of prison, he has returned to his small Ontario hometown to support his estranged daughter, Kate, who is one of three witnesses in the rape trial of the town’s mayor. The trial goes bad, and Kate slips slowly into addiction and depression. Burns watches helplessly, biding his time and helping the sister of his ex-wife attempt to battle a ruthless land-grabber. Typically, Smith combines elements of the comic caper novel with hard-edged thriller fare, but this time the comedy and the banter take a backseat to real-world realism. Even in a hard world, however, there’s always room for fighting back, and nobody does stand-up guys better than Smith.

Diane Esguerra's memoir JUNKIE BUDDHA has continued to gather fine reviews also - Therapy Today called it uplifting, commenting on 'eloquent writing and self-deprecating humour' ( Diane also appeared on Salford City Radio ( Links to all the reviews and interviews can now be found here:

'The Inca witch told me that Machu Picchu was the right resting place for Sacha... Yes, my son was a junkie. But he was also a Buddha.'  

Translation rights are available in Brad Smith's novel and Diane Esguerra's memoir.

An interview just came out with Ian Moore about being a father, comedian and author:

As editor of John Searancke's book PRUNES FOR BREAKFAST: ONE MAN'S WAR, I'm pleased to see the book selling well on Kindle and getting great reviews on Amazon.

More updates are to be found on the AGENCY CLIENTS page. Thanks to all authors, publishers and co-agents for your support in 2015. Very best wishes for 2016 from me and the 'office assistant' in Megalo Horio, Tilos!