Sunday, 20 November 2016

This week at Valley Press, #36: 'Heroes and villains'

Dear readers,

We held another great launch for Take This One to Bed this week, on Friday at the marvellous Friargate Theatre in York. I'm opening with this because, during the course of the evening, a dozen people I didn't previously know told me they love these newsletters – apparently they read them 'religiously', and one person said 'it's the only group email I get that's actually worth opening'. I was so touched, as I always am when someone writes back and says they enjoy my weekly ramblings. In just thirty-six editions, these have gone from being a rather dubious experiment to pretty much the beating heart of Valley Press. Here's to the next thirty-six!

A successful night was just what I needed to take away the sting of there being still no hardbacks to show at the event – that's the special edition of Antony's book with the golden fish on the front, if you've not been keeping up. Rather like the recent political news, printing these hardbacks has been a saga where I continually think 'this is bad, but at least it can't get any worse'; only to be hit with some new jaw-dropping development.

I don't want to whinge, of course, but those of you who pre-ordered the hardbacks do deserve some kind of explanation. The concise version of the story is as follows: about eight weeks ago, as none of my usual printers were quite suited to doing 100 luxury hardbacks, I thought I'd try someone new – a specialist Yorkshire-based company (I'm not going to name them just yet) who were up for the job and offered a reasonable price. As I write this, long after the deadline I gave for delivery, I am down several hundred pounds without a single copy to show for it. Delays are one thing, but there's been no explanation, and they've teased me by constantly suggesting the books are about to arrive – you may remember last week, they were 'just waiting for the glue to dry'.

'As least we still have the paperbacks!' George points out, helpfully. I'll keep you updated.

In brighter news, I've finished production on one of the year's remaining books, Guests of Time – an anthology that emerged from a three-poet residency at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. You may be wondering how this Oxford-based project came to be published in Yorkshire; I think it's mainly thanks to one of the three poets, our very own Kelley Swain, putting in a good word on our behalf. Or, could be a sign of the publishing industry moving ever-more northwards...

This is something totally new for us: a high-end, full-colour hardback, featuring eighteen outstanding photos of the museum and its exhibits, along with plenty of poems old and new (some of them with extraordinary layouts). I'm looking forward to sharing some content with you in the next few weeks, but for now you can see a tiny preview here. This is the most expensive Valley Press book ever, priced at £24.99 – but to make that a little more manageable, anyone who pre-orders the book this week and uses the voucher code OXFORD can have £5 off. Don't say I don't treat you right!

A couple more things to mention: Michael Stewart, author of the fantastic short-story collection Mr Jolly, was on BBC1's Countryfile today talking about the Brontës (in the house where four of them were born), with regard to a trail of commemorative stones he is organising. Catch it on iPlayer here, ten-ish minutes in, if you're interested. Elsewhere, Felix Hodcroft has written an article titled 'Seven Things You Need to Know About Poetry'; well worth a look, you'll definitely learn something (I did).

To finish on a note of justice being done – Antony mentioned the offending hardback printer during the York event, and they got an actual, lengthy 'booooo!' from the audience. I guess we are heading into pantomime season!

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

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