Friday, 6 October 2017

This week at Valley Press, #75: 'Year Ten'

Dear readers,

Valley Press is now nine years old; October is the start of our tenth year of publishing in Scarborough. When I registered with the Nielsen ISBN agency as an 'official' publisher (on a paper form!), I had to say when my first books were coming out: I just put 'October 2008', which they then noted in their system as 1st October 2008. I can't remember if I had the books by then or not, but that's the only confirmed date I've got from that era – so that's our official birthday.

The first two books were out of print by the end of that year; good luck finding them anywhere now! They were both written by me, a novel from my late teens and a collection of semi-respectable poems. I went on to self-publish two more books of poetry under the Valley Press name, but realised when going 'professional' in 2011 that it might be a bit of a faux pas have myself on the roster... so those early books were swiftly dropped. Tenebrae, by Nigel Gerrans, is the earliest VP title still for sale; that dates from October 2009.

Since going into publishing full-time, I haven't written a single word of 'creative writing', though my book about snails was resurrected (pun intended) by The Emma Press in 2014. There's some news on that front, however; I've decided to celebrate VP's tenth birthday (next October) by writing a company memoir, and have made a decent start already. So far it reads like a really long, rambling, nostalgic newsletter – if you've enjoyed these last three paragraphs, you'll like that book when it appears. Watch this space.

While we're looking back (and speaking of The Emma Press), here's a great photo of myself and Emma from last week's 'Free Verse' Poetry Book Fair:

We have done a lot of book stalls together over the years; so being in a nostalgic mood, I searched my computer just now to find a classic snap with a similar pose. This is the closest I could get, from a time when Emma only had two books of her own; hard to believe when you see what her stall looks like now! (Also hard to believe: I used to wear a suit to book fairs?)

That's from mid-2013, judging by the books on display. The latest plan for Emma/Valley harmony, adding to our ongoing joint blog, is for us to host a fortnightly podcast discussing 'how to make books, a living, and a difference' – it's still in the early stages, but I find announcing plans publicly makes them more likely to happen. (That's also why I mentioned the book I'm writing, above.) Again, look out for that!

One genre of writing I didn't abandon was the 'informative article', and I've done another one this week, with advice for aspiring small press publishers on how to price and discount their books. If you'd rather just read books, and not see how the sausages are made, you might like to give it a miss – but otherwise, you can find it here.

One final bit of entertainment for you this week: John Wedgwood Clarke appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday, discussing his latest poetry collection Landfill. You can listen on iPlayer here if you missed it on the day; jump to 1 hour 41 minutes (and 40 seconds) in to catch the exact start. It's another great opportunity to hear the thinking behind Landfill; they even get the boss of our local tip on the phone, to get his view on John's year spent visiting and observing the mechanisms of waste.

I'm not going to lie to you: it's still a thrill to hear one of our books discussed on Radio 4 (for the third time, that I know of). If you'd told me back in 2008, when I filled in my ISBN registration form, that a hundred books would follow – and the 101st would get discussed on Today, just after the papers – I'd have thought you were absolutely bonkers. But here we are! Thanks for reading, as ever, and I'll see you next week.

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

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