Sunday, 12 February 2017

This week at Valley Press, #41: 'Land ho!'

Dear readers,

Last week's newsletter was an epic tale; one man's battle against a bag of A4 envelopes, valiantly trying to make decisions on your 2016 submissions (with all relevant deadlines having long-since whooshed past). I spoke about misjudging the time needed to complete a task ... and I've realised since then just how often I fall into that trap. Every project I'm supposed to update you on this week is running late; some by a couple of months, some by half a year! If you've been irritated or inconvenienced by any of this, I'm truly sorry.

The problem is inexperience; even after six years of professional publishing, there's still much to learn. With some projects, like publishing a standard poetry collection, the journey is now familiar – I know the way, and can be pretty sure when I'll arrive. In the cases mentioned below, I knew the destination I wanted to get to, and roughly which direction to sail in ... but had no idea how long it would take, or what sea monsters I might encounter on the way. (I'm working on a nautical metaphor this week, in case you hadn't noticed.)

But I set off anyway, and had to suggest a date of arrival; who wants to hear their book will be out 'someday', or that I'll give them a verdict on their submission 'in the next few years'? The good news is, I think I spy land on the horizon; let me bring you up to date.

•  The 2016 submissions are still being narrowed down, and my call for volunteer readers last week received a huge response; dozens of you got in touch kindly offering me the benefit of your literary wisdom. The first full manuscript is in your inbox now. Together, we'll get some decisions made!

•  Our anthology of Yorkshire-themed poetry, delayed from last year, is now on the brink of completion. You'll recall this book is being edited by Miles Salter, who also came up with the idea; he has been facing his own waves of incoming submissions, but is now (to preserve the metaphor) approaching safe harbour. All being well, I'll announce a full list of the included poets in this newsletter next week.

•  Helen Burke's Collected Poems, teased in November as 'the most complicated book I've ever tried to put together', was originally due to arrive in 'mid-February'. I'm sorry to say that, with mid-February upon us, I don't yet have a firm delivery date for this book. On a brighter note, no less than three people are currently working like mad to get every word in the right place, and their efforts are set to bear fruit within the next few days. More news next week.

•  The new Valley Press office, mentioned briefly last Sunday, is now just a few hours from being tidy and having a connection to the internet – a month after I got the keys! (I think only two people are waiting for this, but it still counts as a late project, causing annoyance.) I mentioned a new face, too, who I'm pleased to say has the title 'Director of Publicity', helping me tell the world about our wonderful books. Formal introductions will be coming in a future newsletter.

Reading that back, it sounds like we've made only the very tiniest progress since last week; but at least the sails are up! And hey, I've provided you with something rarely found in a publisher's email newsletter – a sense of suspense. "Will they get anything done? Tune in next week to find out..."

I'll end with a reminder that you can see VP poet Norah Hanson and a star-studded supporting cast at Kardomah in Hull, this Thursday (16th) – more details here. It's a must if you can possibly get there ... when your ship has come in?

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

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