Oldcastle Books is launching a digital-only sister company, Verve Books. This announcement comes as the company prepares to launch their first title for publication, The Righteous Spy, an espionage novel by British author Merle Nygate. The novel won The Little, Brown Award for crime fiction at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and will be the first book from the course to be published. World English language rights were bought by Clare Quinlivan from Jon Elek at United Agents.

Verve Books is a separate entity but will run in parallel with Oldcastle Books, whose imprints include the award-winning crime fiction list No Exit Press, Kamera Books and Pocket Essentials. The new list is fronted by Clare Quinlivan, who has worked at Oldcastle Books for over four years as Editorial and Rights Manager and Katherine Sunderland, who is Oldcastle Books’ Publicity Manager and who also runs the popular blog Bibliomaniac UK (see photo). 

The pair say the company is ‘borne out of a love of brilliant, page turning fiction and a passion for digital publishing.’ They say Verve is ‘focused on finding stories that can’t wait to be told and launching author brands into the world.’

‘That’s just what we feel we found with The Righteous Spy, a twisting international spy thriller that follows two Mossad agents as they conduct an audacious operation on UK soil. It has all the elements you could wish from a classic spy thriller – but brought bang up to date – and is perfect for fans of Charles Cumming and John le Carré as well as popular TV shows like Spooks and NCIS. There are surprisingly few female authors writing espionage novels and we’re delighted to launch Merle into the genre.’

Merle Nygate is a screenwriter, script editor, lecturer and novelist; she’s worked on BAFTA winning TV, New York Festival audio drama and written original sitcoms; previously she worked for BBC Comedy Commissioning as well as writing and script editing across multiple genres.

Nygate commented: ‘The opportunity to be published by Verve, a digital publisher, is absolutely brilliant. Espionage is politics and politics is currently moving like a runaway train, so digital, with its short lead times, is the perfect fit. Researching and writing The Righteous Spy has been the most intense creative experience I’ve had. Inhabiting the minds of diverse characters who are doing bad but think they’re doing good has been fascinating and, I think, timely.’

Verve is open to submissions from published and unpublished authors of commercial fiction across all genres. As the company name suggests, each book project will be approached with vigour, spirit and enthusiasm. To this end, the list will be tightly curated, publishing just a handful of titles in its first year, allowing attention to be paid to each title with quality editing and bespoke marketing and publicity campaigns. 

Verve pay an advance as well as industry standard digital first royalties. The advance combined with the promise to authors that we are prepared to invest up front in marketing, is central to the Verve proposition.

Oldcastle Publisher Ion Mills said ‘Oldcastle Books has been in publishing for over thirty years and has always been keen to adapt to market changes. It makes complete sense for us to launch a digital-only sister company. Clare and Katherine are a fantastic team each offering a keen editorial eye and handling of the digital market. Their first acquisition is a brilliant one and I’ve no doubt they will continue to discover more talented authors.’

The Righteous Spy will be published on 18th October 2018. It is available for preorder now: bit.ly/RighteousSpy

For more information or to submit to Verve Books, visit vervebooks.co.uk or follow @Verve_Books on Twitter and Instagram

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