Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Guardian Hot Key Books Young Writers Prize – Submissions OPEN

Submissions are now OPEN for our Young Writers Prize, in conjunction with The Guardian. If you are between 18 – 25 and a budding author, we want to hear from you!

You have from now until 31st May to submit a partial manuscript (4000 word extract) along with a brief synopsis of your story to win the chance to be published by Hot Key Books.

For full details of the prize, to download the application form and read the terms and conditions, visit our dedicated Young Writers Prize page now.

If you have any questions about the prize, we will be running a live Twitter Q&A, Tuesday 1st March 5pm – 6pm on the @hotkeybooks account. Tweet your questions under hashtag #YWP12.

Good luck and we can’t wait to get reading!


The Fictional Gloss

How many of us have had that vaguely irrational urge to try to get through platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station? Even if you don’t take a full on run up with a trolley full of things, I can imagine you may be guilty of giving it the odd surreptitious prod when no one is watching. Even though the wall may not move, the platform still evokes a sense of mystery. Oxford is another place that has been re-crafted by the words of an author. Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials Trilogy has people thinking about windows to other worlds, and whether that is actually a regular squirrel or in fact someone’s daemon… More recently, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone elevated Prague from the normality of real life and gave it a fictional veneer. I know that if I went there my eyes would linger on doorways, searching for black handprints and a passageway to Elsewhere…

Being an intern at Hot Key Books brought back this rush of memories, for here there is a similar fictional gloss on everything. The grunge of a rainy London day disappears and you are presented with ceilings that stretch high above comprehension, arched doorways that could tell their own tales and an expanse of cloud-like walls. I think that this (slightly) romanticised perception of the office is due to the fact that it is a publishing house. Being charged with words, ideas and the imagination has turned this space into something out of the ordinary.

As my time at Hot Key Books is about to end, I know that I will never look at this building in the same way when I walk past. I will remember thinking that I had actually been allowed access to a different world, a world that usually only resides in the pages of a book.


Young Writers Prize – Live Twitter Q&A





Tweet your questions under #YWP12

Submissions open for our Young Writers Prize on Monday 30th April – we hope you are getting ready! If you have any general enquiries regarding the entry criteria, submission guidelines or the prize tweet us your questions on or before Tuesday 1st May 5pm, using the hashtag #YWP12 and we’ll do our best to answer them in the live Q&A session.

Until the terms and conditions and application form are released on Monday, all information regarding entry criteria can be found here.

A separate ‘Ask the Editor’ session will also take place later in the week – watch this space for more announcements!

Blog on Blog(s) – Part 5

Over the last few months we’ve been profiling some of the wonderful book bloggers out there, who give up their time to get behind the books they love. For anyone who has missed them – here are the first four posts below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

The feature is back today with the spotlight on Laura H, from SisterSpooky: Book Fangirl. Welcome to the Hot Key Blog Laura!

Name & blog

My name is Laura H and my blog name is SisterSpooky: Book Fangirl

 Tell us a bit about your blog…

 My blog is a YA review blog that has a mix of reviews and posts about just the books and authors I really love.  I try and put a bit of my personality in there too and so far people seem to like that.  Well; they haven’t complained or run off screaming so that’s a good thing I guess!

How did you start blogging?

I started blogging after years of doing a personal blog on good old Livejournal and found myself basically talking about books all the time on there.  I read a few book blogs and spoke to a few bloggers at events and they encouraged me to just start my own.  So I did. TA DA!

What’s the best thing about blogging?

All the other bloggers who treat each other like family.  Plus I’ve met and even become friends (don’t know if they’d call me that or just a chirpy fan) with some authors whose books I just LOVE.  I won’t name names but they know who they are for sure!

What kind of books are you most excited about reviewing?

Usually I love supernatural YA books because I’ve always had a thing for supernatural and paranormal stories since I was young, but I just love reading a book the makes me laugh.  Laugh really hard.  Plus anything that’s a bit geeky and nerdy appeals to my geek girl heart.

Who are your favourite authors?

How long do you have?  I love so many authors that I get a bit scared having to make a list in case I miss anyone off.  Richelle Mead, Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, C.J.Skuse, Marcus Sedgwick, Zoe Marriott, Will Hill, Keris Stainton, Sarwat Chadda, Cat Clarke, Tanya Byrne and also this little debut author who I may have mentioned once or twice Andy Robb (totally being sarcastic cause I haven’t shut up about him or his book since I read it.  Sorry!)

If I missed anyone then I’m so sorry but there are loads!  Maybe just check out my blog to see who I keep on about. *giggles*

Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

Read as much as you can, don’t do it to get free books or expect to be meeting authors every 3 seconds. Chat with other bloggers because they are the nicest people I’ve ever met and will always help and answer questions.  Most importantly: put a bit of yourself in the way you blog and review.  It’ll make your blog unique to you!

Thanks Laura! You can follow Laura on Twitter here.

If anyone else would like to take part in our feature on blogs please email me!. We’re also always on the look out for guest bloggers to post articles on our blog, so please get in touch if you’re interested in that too.


Hot Key Carnegie Challenge Book 3: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Our reading challenge has been slightly delayed by London Book Fair but we remain dedicated to the cause! We WILL read the eight books before the winner is announced in June…

Over the last few weeks we’ve been reading Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys:

The blurb goes: Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously-and at great risk-documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

We’ve had lots of people tell us how much they loved this book on Twitter, so let’s continue the discussion below!

From the Intern Desk : My Little List of Covetousness

If I had to summarise my childhood home, and my parents’ influence, I would have to say that I grew up in a house of:

  • Cheese (both of the edible and comedic variety)
  •  Theatre (from Shakespearian plays in Hatfield Forest to the most unabashedly ridiculous musicals possible!)
  •  And… mountains of books.

My parents’ shelves are sagging with the weight of them! Cookery books from low fat to coronary inducing, play scripts and poems, straight laced novels to holiday flutters, they are all present and correct. But there is one particular set of shelves which are special… Here there be treasure!


Here lie the oldest, best loved books. Beautifully bound and illustrated; only brought out for careful inspection and a chance to rediscover forgotten memories. Now, I know it’s selfish with brothers and sisters to think about, but I just can’t help singling out a few of the special ones that I’d someday like to inherit, along with photos, furniture, and the occasional teapot.

 So, here for your inspection are the two top contenders from my little list of covetousness:


Tales from Ebony is a gorgeous collection of fairy tales, published by Putnam in 1934 and given to my father from his, two years later. Its pages are well worn, and constantly trying to escape, but this is definitely one of my favourite books of all time. E. Harcourt William’s interpretations of Snow White and Rose Red, and The Tinderbox stand out in my memory and this book helped to instil a desire to help pass on lesser known/original versions of these tales. The more magical, and brutal, stories have gradually died out while ‘Disney-fied’ versions become common-place. I’m not sure if I was just a morbid child but I don’t think the story of Cinderella is quite the same without the comeuppances that originally befell the stepmother and stepsisters in different versions of the story; ranging from dancing in red hot shoes to transforming into pillars of salt.

(Tales from Ebony also happens to be one of the books that my dad relished reading to my sister and I, voices and all, along with many others such as the Hobbit. To this day his impersonation of Golem is spot on! )

 Another gem is The Silver Sword, given to my mum on her eighth Christmas in 1958. I think I was about the same age when I read this book…and then taking the story as inspiration I dressed as a 1940’s Polish girl for World Book Day in primary school.  I can’t remember what that outfit consisted of other than a wooden toy horse and cart that carried the book with me for the day. I think I had to explain to everyone which country I was supposed to represent as no-one could tell by my costume. To my eight year old self the story of three siblings surviving together despite all odds in the midst of the Second World War was  absolutely gripping, and I particularly loved the character Jan; the master pickpocket, the perfect war-time Artful Dodger.

There are many more gorgeous titles so, without boring you with the rest of my list, let’s just say it also includes the thrilling story of a Dr and his alter ego, a boy raised by wolves, a gentlemen in want of a wife, and downcast woman who finally lives for a day.

So come on guys, what heirlooms have you got your eye on? Don’t tell me I’m the only one!

On another note my month at Hot Key Books is over, I had an amazing time and have learned so much! I attended my first London Book Fair, sat in on many meetings and got completely addicted to reading book submissions. All I can say is: be prepared to drool when you look at the launch list and keep an eye out for future nail-biting releases! Thank you so much guys, I wish you all the best and I hope to bump into you all again soon.


Why Social Media? (or my LBF Children’s Innovation Zone Presentation)

On Monday and Tuesday at London Book Fair I gave a presentation on how we’re using social media at Hot Key to launch ourselves as a publisher. You can watch me run through how and why on the video below. It’s about 15 minutes, so sit back over lunch or with a cup of tea when you have time. I do make some interesting points, I promise. Unfortunately the slides don’t show on the video, and I wanted to get it up online quickly, but they are in the widget below the video (Thanks @BookBuzzrCEO) or available to download here

For those that missed it – the Meet the Team video can be found on our About Us page!

Now, as you know we take social media very seriously here at Hot Key, and rightly so in my opinion. Many people I talked too after my presentation are grappling with how to find the time to do social media, or how to work it into their marketing and PR strategy, or wondering who’s responsibility it is.  Since joining Hot Key, and to be honest, in my previous roles, I’ve had many, many people say with a sigh, ‘I’d love to have the time to blog/tweet everyday like you guys, but we’re just TOO busy‘, with almost an underlying tone of ‘clearly you don’t have anything better to do’.

It is hard, I admit. But it is also no longer just a nice idea, it’s a necessity. If you aren’t prioritizing social media into your company’s strategy, then there is a problem. You can engage instantly with far more people by spending a week on social media than you ever would with a tube poster advert. Also, many people assume it’s just the marketing or PR department’s responsibility. It shouldn’t be. If your company is serious about social media, EVERYONE should be doing it. It should be part of your day, not just part of your marketing strategy.

And finally, some simple tips if you are just starting out:

  • Don’t think it’s too late if you have no social presence yet. It isn’t. You can grow followers quickly in the social world if you commit to regularly doing it.
  • Don’t use it just for marketing messages, if you do people will turn off. Social Media is a conversation, you shouldn’t try to directly sell to people
  • Have Twitter or Facebook open at work at all times. Yes, tell your boss I said it’s okay. You need to monitor conversations to see if you can dip in and start talking. That’s a great way to pick up new followers.
  • Twitter has excellent recommendations of Who to Follow, based on your own tweets, so get out there and follow those similar to you, and all being well you might get some follow backs.
  • Use to short all your links, and then you can see if people are clicking on your content
  • Encourage members of staff to have personal twitter accounts too, it’s nice for people to see a personal face behind a brand.

Those are just a few nuggets. And if you still don’t believe that you should be doing social, watch this short video below. It’s a new version of something I’ve shown before, but it’s brilliant. My favourite bit is: “The ROI of Social Media…is that your company will exist in 5 years time”.

What do you think?