There is always something hopeful about a new year. This time however there’s a lot going on in the world that causes us concern. Still, it will come right in the end, I guess, even though it will probably become uncomfortable on the way. I engage in the arguments but maybe my better contribution comes in what I write.
For our family 2018 has had its shadows and saddest of all is that we lost my mother-in-law suddenly on 18 November. But we’re feeling positive as we face 2019.
I’m pleased that I have come to grips with an effective submission strategy and am really getting my work out there. Oh yes, there are rejections, and more of them than acceptances, but there are enough acceptances now for me to feel that this is all going somewhere.
News about my writing
My own writing is carrying on much as I mentioned last month.
I'm now on the fourth edit of Peace Child 4. Between edits I write a short story and start my writing day with a bit of flash fiction if all I’m going to do for the rest of the time is edit. I’m continuing to work on my book about the dark side of children's literature – which is making me read a lot and also reread several works I’ve read before. I’ll also be visiting the MMU and Manchester City libraries soon as I investigate versions of Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding-Hood. Schellberg 5 is still on hold for the moment, but Schellberg 3 is being professionally edited in February.
Fun with UPS
Our printers, Lightning Source, are currently using UPS as a courier. They’ve used various ones over the years but this one is by far the worst.
We’ve had particular problems with delivery in the Republic of Ireland.
One real bug bear is that when we are sent the proof copies of the paperbacks they send an email and ask us to sign in advance. Why on earth would we want to do that? Yet they simply put the book through the letterbox, usually at 9.30 in the morning. Okay, so we get our books. Except one time we didn’t. It was delivered to a completely different part of Manchester.
“I think our driver needs to go to Specsavers,” said the manager of the local centre.
They kept trying to retrieve the book without success. However, a few days later it just appeared through our letter-box at tea-time. A good-hearted person had trekked through the rush-hour to redeliver it.
Proof copies cost £21.00 a time. We must see them before we release the book.
Whenever UPS can’t deliver, they issue an “exception notice”. A recent one said that the customer had refused the delivery. It made me worry that the books had been less than perfect or that there was something going very badly for one of our clients. No, it simply meant that they’d left the books in the porch. All was after all well. However, we do pay more for a “signed-for” service so this isn’t quite what we expect.
They often fail to leave notes about what they’ve done with parcels. We supply a customer telephone number so I’m puzzled as to why they don’t use it to contact people who aren’t in.
Other couriers haven’t encountered these problems.
I was impressed though with a delivery in Australia. Of course the books were printed there but shipping is relatively expensive. Nevertheless a consignment of books was printed and delivered within three days and we still made a healthy profit.
And in the end, most of our books are delivered successfully.
Catalogue of our books
I have now started work on the catalogue and there have been three issues: https://www.scribblersbooksbooksbooks.co.uk/
So far we’ve made offers on the little square books, the single author collections and on our charity books.
I’m still looking for a volunteer to be a featured author. Get in touch if you’d like to have a go.
I advertise via Twitter and Facebook and have started to build up an email list.
And I’ll let you into a secret: the offers are permanent though we only push them for a week.
Catalogue of books for children
I’ve added several titles to this over the last month. It is growing apace. You can find it here. Do take a look if you’re into children’s books.
Useful links for writers
My list of links for writers is also growing steadily. Find it here.
Just a reminder: this is a Facebook group for all people who write about the 1940s. Fiction and non-fiction, for young and old. Topics might then be: the Holocaust, World War II, Civilian Experience (all sides) and the battle front. We can exchange ideas about research and marketing. We may promote books and stories, - the last day of every month and on launch / release day.
If you feel that is you, do join us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2026868870924138/ Please answer the three questions.
Of course, with my Schellberg Cycle I'm constantly in that world.
Find members here.
This is a personal recommendation. Initially I intend to use my Dream Team a lot myself but gradually I would add in people that friends and friends of friends have recommended.
You sign up to a mailing list and every time a request comes in we mail it out to you or the enquirer contacts you directly via my web site. The conversation then carries on between you and the person making the request. You may also have a page set up on my blog and you may update that once a year.
Interested? You may sign up for more than one category.
Beta readers sign up here.
Reviewers sign up here.
Editors sign up here.
Illustrators sign up here.
Designers sign up here.
Proof-readers sing up here.
DO REMEMBER THAT AT ANY TIME YOU’RE APPROACHED AND YOU’RE BUSY IT’S PERFECTLY FINE TO SAY NO.
News from all of our writers
Do keep sending news like this and remember to supply a link to where reader can buy the book.
We have two calls for submission out at the moment:
http://www.bridgehousepublishing.co.uk/index.php/waterloo-festival-2019-call-for-submissions The 2019 Waterloo Festival Writing Competition. The theme is “Transforming Being”. Follow the link for full details.
Our annual anthology next year will have the theme of “Nativity”. Again we don’t just want retellings of the Christmas story or about what went right or wrong at the local nativity play though such stories would also be welcome. Full detail of how to submit are here: http://www.bridgehousepublishing.co.uk/index.php/call-for-new-submissions
We’re still getting plenty of interest in our single-author collections. These are now only for authors we’ve published before and they may include stories we’ve already published, ones they’ve had published elsewhere and new ones. The description for this is now on the web site. http://www.bridgehousepublishing.co.uk/index.php/single-author-collections You may recycle stories we’ve already included in another anthology, and you may reedit these if you wish. You may also add in new stories. We’re aiming at a total word count of between 30,000 and 70,000 words.
Your work will go through three stages of editing, and will be proof-read twice in-house. We design the book and the cover. We hook it up to all the distributing channels and we complete first-level marketing. We are risking all of this on you as well as the set-up costs and the copies to the British Library and legal deposit agency.
You’ll probably not get rich quick: anthologies by new authors do not sell in big numbers initially. Each month we post to a dropbox information about books’ performance. A link is sent with the monthly newsletter. See below for how to access this newsletter.
We have a huge backlog so please be patient. You can always check our progress at: http://apublishersperspective.blogspot.co.uk/p/work-flow.html
In the end we had more than enough stories for the Christmas period and in fact some have even been scheduled for Christmas 2019.
Stories are at 4.00 p.m. Afternoon Teatime, Kaffee and Kuchen time and it's also when the kids are home from school. Just the right time for a cuppa and a good story.
In December we had stories from: Sheila Barclay, James Bates, Alan Cadman, Steve Carr, Lynn Clement, Alyson Faye, Janet Howson, Gill James, Dawn Knox, Mark Kodama, Geraldine McCarthy, Roger Noons, Helen O’Neill, Paula RC Readman, Michal Reibenbach, Hannah Retallick, Copper Rose, Kathy Sharp and Robin Wrigley,
Highest performing posts in December were:
Tree People by Hannah Retallick 165
No Room for Them by Dawn Knox 150
The Untrodden Snow by Paula R C Readman 148
Staff Shortages by Jane Howson 135
A Song for Christmas by Steve Carr 103
I’ll shortly be asking those people who appeared in The Best of CaféLit7 to help me to choose what to put into The Best of CaféLit 8. Look out for a separate email about that. You may be interested to know that the top performing posts in 2018 were:
Accentuate the Stubble by Hannah Retallick
A Field for Polly by Bronte Pearson
Goodbye, My Lush... by Shawn Klimek
The Payback by Foster Trecost
She Says We’ll Get There Soon She Says by Hannah Retallick
These may also be included in The Best of CaféLit 8.
If when I go to my editor’s dashboard I see that a story has fewer than 20 hits, I put it on my own Twitter feed and the Facebook page.
Our stories are generally spread in the following ways:
- 36 people have signed up to have the stories fed from the blog site
- I tweet about the site from time to time
- some members visit daily or when they have time
- authors make efforts – blog, website, FB, email signature, word of mouth
- casual readers come across the site
- one story being read leads to another
Maybe you could all share your ideas of how to make us more visible and tell us what you do?
You can read all of the stories here.
Here's a reminder of how we select stories: I open my inbox and I'll often see four or five submissions. I'll select the best of the bunch and schedule it for in a few days' time. I'll let you know. I may reject one or two but ones that are basically sound I'll keep forever or until they’re published. Consequently if one you've submitted to us has not been rejected, and you find a home for it elsewhere, let us know the name of the story and the date you submitted and we'll remove it from the archive. Try to include the drink each time. Do put CaféLit in the subject line so we can identify your submission. Remember to include your bio (50-100 words including links for longer stories, just links for 100 words or less) each time. I haven't got time to look up an old one and in any case your bio is probably changing all the time.
We're always open to submissions. Find out to submit here. Remember, this gives you some exposure, you can add in a short CV each time, and there's always the chance that your work might be accepted for the annual anthology.
We have some seasonal opportunities coming up now:
So, get writing.
On offer for CaféLit authors is a page on our web site. See examples here.
The list is growing. Click on the names to find out more about the authors and to access their work. If you're a CaféLit author and would like a web page, use the ones there to get ideas. You need to send me between 250 and 350 words about yourself, an attractive image, a list of up to six publications, up to six awards and up to six links. I then also link the page to your stories on CaféLit. Send to gill at cafelit dot co dot uk.
I’m happy to update the pages each January.
I’ve added another American café in this month: http://www.creativecafeproject.org/2018/12/the-rosendale-cafe-rosendale-us.html
This one has brought up a new Creative Café Project activity: salsa dancing. Well, why not? I just wish it was a bit nearer.
Keep sending suggestions and review them if you can.
Cafés might further support the project in the following ways.
- I could provide you with flyers about The Creative Cafe Project and CafeLit
- You could have the ezine up and running for people to browse and search – they should pick stories according to the drink they fancy!
- run an event on writing for Cafelit
- hold an event for local writers published by CafeLit
- stock some of anthologies (they are available through normal distributors)
- host a Writer in Resident – see http://www.creativecafeproject.org/search/label/writers%20in%20residence / http://www.creativecafeproject.org/search/label/Writer%20in%20Residence
- host a readers’ event where readers all read the same anthology and then talk about two or three favourite stories
Do you have any further suggestions?
I'm continuing my tour of creative cafés where I collect stories for an anthology. In some cases, writers may offer them and in others customers may tell me their story and I'll write it for them. Do you know of a café that might be interested in this? Let me know if you do.
Remember you can now buy merchandise for the Creative Café project. The profit on anything you buy here goes to the Creative Café Project. Check this out here.
We’re always looking for new cafés. If you visit one of the cafés in the project and would like to write a review of between 250 and 350 words – nice, too, to have a couple of pictures – send it to me here. Do the same if you find a new café.
The Red Telephone
I have some books now lined up to read. I'm particularly interested in near-futures speculative YA fiction. Again, I’m only accepting proposals form people we already know.
Facebook Group for the Imprints
Scribblers Sans Frontières - Here you can:
· Discuss all technical issues re our books
· Exchange marketing ideas
· Advertise and report on your events
· Promote any of your titles or successes
· Share good practice and ideas
· Get help with writing problems
· Anything else appropriate
The page URL is https://www.facebook.com/groups/185719828704485/
Please come and join us if you're eligible. Or you can ask me to sign you up.
I’m proactively promoting my school visits associated with The House on Schellberg Street project. I’ve now developed a whole workshop for this. It starts off with a board game, includes some role play and creative writing and ends with a discussion.
It is now possible to purchase the kit to work on on your own. Find details here.
Costs for my workshops = travel expenses plus £400 for a full day and £200 for a half day. This includes all materials and some freebies. Two schools near to each other might consider splitting the day and halving the travel expenses and fees. This is open to negotiation in any case.
I also offer a free half day visit, though you pay my travel expenses, if you allow me to promote my books.
I’m continuously adding materials for schools to the site that are different from the ones I use for the workshops. I’ve recently added in resources and books to do with the topic. See them here:
Query for a school visit here.
I’m also happy to tailor a visit for your agreed donation. This can be for either a Schellberg Cycle visit or a creative writing workshop. Any monies raised this way will go specifically to a project I have for a non-fiction book about a journey that will follow the footsteps of Clara Lehrs. I’m hoping to do the whole journey by train, including departing via my nearest Metrolink station. It’s important to feel the rails beneath my feet.
I offer as well standard author visits which include readings from my books, Q & A sessions and creative writing exercises.
Please remember, with these as well, I’m open to negotiation if you can’t afford the full price.
Free listing for our writers
If you are one of our writers and would like to offer school visits, please contact me. I'm offering a free listing on the imprint pages.
State: age groups you are prepared to work with, a definition of your work, distances you are prepared to travel. Appropriate links. Please provide an image.
Our celebration event on 1 December was as ever great fun. Many thanks to Allison Symes who gave it such a great write-up. She really captures the atmosphere of what our celebrations are all about. Read it here.
Current reading recommendation
This month I’m recommending Meeting Coty by Ruth Estevez. I know Ruth through SCBWI North-West. Like me, Ruth sometimes writes for children and sometimes writes for adults. This is one for adults.
I’m intrigued, too, that this book is published by the small press: Kings Hart Books.Protagonist Tessa’s younger sister eloped from under the Mother Superior's nose. Her elder sister believed herself to be the Madonna Incarnate. Her mother spent entire days lying in bed. Her father hid in his study eating liquorice allsorts. Tessa herself decapitated flowers and plunged their heads into aromatic waters and dreamed of meeting Coty.
This is an intriguing story of a by-gone age. The characters are richly drawn.
A great read if you like historical fiction.
Find it here.
And another little note about Ruth. She works for the Portico Library.
Calling all writers
I'm running an occasional series of interviews on my blog.
If you would like to be on my blog just answer the questions below and send them with appropriate images to gill dot james at btinternet dot com.
Please feel free to pick and choose which of these to answer.
1. What do you write? Why this in particular?
2. What got you started on writing in the first place?
3. Do you have a particular routine?
4. Do you have a dedicated working space?
5. When did you decide you could call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact?
6. How supportive are your friends and family? Do they understand what you're doing?
7. What are you most proud of in your writing?
8. How do you get on with editing and research?
9. Do you have any goals for the future?
10. Which writers have inspired you?
Please write as much or as little as you like for each section and supply as many pictures as you like. Also let me know your latest publication and supply me with a link if it's not on Amazon.
I 'm also happy to offer you a post whenever you have a new book come out, even if I'm not your publisher. In this case answer the following questions:
- Tell me about your book.
- Tell us about your research for this book.
- What inspired you to write this?
- What's next?
- How can we get a copy of the book?
- Do you have any events planned?
Again write as much or as little as you please. Alter and add to the questions if you wish. Provide as many pictures as you wish.
Send to: gill dot james at btinternet dot com
I’m giving away the Kindle version of my first Schellberg Cycle book: The House on Schellberg Street. Access it and lots of other freebies here.
Note, that normally my books and the books supplied by the imprints I manage sell for anything form £0.99 to £10.99, with most on Kindle being about £2.99 and the average price for paperback being £7.00. We have to allow our writers to make a living. But we’re offering these free samples so that you can try before you buy.
Naturally we welcome reviews.
Some notes about my newsletters and blogs
They do overlap a little but here is a summary of what they all do.
Bridge House Authors For all those published by Bridge House or interested in being published by us. General news about the imprint. News for writers. Link to book performance. Sign up here.
CaféLit Writers For all those published by CaféLit. General news about the imprint. News for writers. Link to book performance. News about the Creative Café Project. Sign up here.
Chapeltown Authors For all those published by Chapeltown or interested in being published by us. General news about the imprint. News for writers. Link to book performance. Sign up here.
Chapeltown Books News about our books and our authors. Sign up here.
The Creative Café Project News about the project and CaféLit – for the consumer rather than for the producer. Sign up here.
Gill’s News: News about my writing, general news about what the imprints are doing, news about other writers I know, news about the Creative Café Project, a recommended read, a giveaway each month. Find it here.
Opportunities List Remember I keep a full list of vetted opportunities on my writing blog. See them here. New ones are added several times a day. Roughly once a month I go through it and take out all of the out of date ones. At that point I send it out to a list. If you would like to be on that list, sign up here.
Pushing Boundaries, Flying Higher News about conferences and workshops to do with the young adult novel. (infrequent postings) Sign up here.
Red Telephone Authors For all those published by The Red Telephone or interested in being published by us. General news about the imprint. News for writers. Link to book performance. Sign up here.
Schellberg Cycle Workshop News Offers and news of events to do with Schellberg Cycle workshops. Sign up here.
School Visits Offers and news of school visits. Sign up here.
Red Telephone Books News about our books and our authors. Sign up here.
A Publisher’s Perspective Here I blog as a publisher. Access this here.
The Creative Café Project Listings and reviews of creative cafés. See them here.
CaféLit Stories Find these here
Gill James Writer All about writing and about my books. View this here.
Gill’s Recommended Reads Find information here about books that have taken me out of my editor’s head.
Gill’s Sample Fiction Read some of my fiction here.
The House on Schellberg Street All about my Schellberg project. Read it here.
Writing Teacher All about teaching creative writing. Some creative writing exercises. Access this here.
Books Books Books Weekly offers on all of our books. Find them here.
Happy reading and writing.