It's Friday – so what is the Valley Press newsletter, traditionally posted on a Sunday evening, doing here? I've decided to move it, permanently; to dedicate some time on a Friday afternoon instead of trying to piece it together outside working hours, over the weekend. You can still read on Sunday if you like!
Last week I confessed the volume of incoming tasks and emails at VP had far exceeded what I could keep up with, and declared they would go undone and unreplied to until I could find some help. So that's been my focus this week, and I'm pleased to report I've found them (or actually, they found me): an 'Assistant Publisher' to share the production and admin work, and a 'Submissions Coordinator' to keep manuscripts moving smoothly, once we re-open to new authors next month.
I'll introduce them to you in future newsletters, once they get their feet under the table and up to speed with the work (which will take a little while, I would think). Make no mistake, this is very good news – a huge relief, in fact! – and is part of the reason I felt able to move the newsletter to a Friday. I honestly think the era of constant delays, missed deadlines and muddling through could be coming to an end. Hooray!
(On a related note: if you're wondering about last year's subs, I'm still hoping to have sent at least one email to everyone by the end of March. We'll continue reading full manuscripts until we've done them all justice.)
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More brilliant news came in this week: both of the short story collections we published last year have been longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize (pretty much the only award for books of this type). Michael Stewart's Mr Jolly and Sue Wilsea's Raw Material will be up against collections from the likes of Susan Hill and Mark Haddon, with the shortlist announced in June and the overall winner in August. The winning author receives £10,000 (and probably sells quite a few books), so wish them luck!
If you'd like to read our entries and judge for yourself, you can have 20% off either (or both) by entering the code STORIED in your 'basket' when shopping on the Valley Press website. Follow the links in the paragraph above to reach the relevant book pages, and click 'preview' once you're there to read some intriguing sample stories.
* * * * *Mr Jolly got an airing in Birmingham this week, along with The Boy in the Mirror and Reward for Winter, as Michael, Tom and Di put on an amazing show for some lucky BCU students, lecturers and literature fans in general. I was genuinely blown away by their sets (and the student open-mic was good too!) I don't think I'm ever prouder than at a reading, seeing VP books getting out there into the world.
Here's a photo of the authors, taken just before the event started... as you can see, they meant business. (Confession: I was originally in this photo too, but I didn't get the memo and was grinning widely – looking, as everyone who's seen it has agreed, like a competition winner who borrowed his dad's smart shirt.)
I'll end by recommending a blog post from The Emma Press's Yen-Yen Lu, giving general advice for writers submitting their work; anyone who does that (or is just thinking about it) will gain something from this short article. I've also just heard about a great night of feminist poetry taking place in Oxford on April 8th, featuring our own Kelley Swain and Rowena Knight – details here. Otherwise, that's a full lid; see you next Friday!
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher