Sunday, 5 February 2017
This week at Valley Press, #40: 'The six bags'
We've got some catching up to do!
I spent much of January reading the book samples you submitted to Valley Press during 2016 – and February looks to be going a similar way. 'But what went wrong?' you cry. 'In newsetter #39, you were so confident; we were supposed to hear from you ages ago!' I hold up my hands: my bad. If ever there are delays in the Valley Press system, it's usually because I misjudge the time needed to complete a task, one that can't be re-assigned to anyone else; that's exactly what happened here.
It turns out glancing at the contents of an envelope is much easier than reading it properly, comparing it to a hundred others, and making decisions – and foolishly, I'd set aside the same amount of time for this stage as I did in 2015, forgetting that (because of our big Arts Council-funded promotion) there would be hundreds more envelopes than before. When I gathered together all of them in one place, they filled six extra-large 'bags for life' – there could easily have been a hundred in each one. Here's a visual representation:
I've not been completely idle, of course. As of this evening, the situation looks like this:
The only problem being, the remaining bag is still stuffed full of envelopes, and I really would like to read the full manuscripts for all of them. But that's literally impossible, so every evening I rule a few out, take them out of the bag and give them to Laura; she then sends those authors one of her polite (but terribly sad) 'bad news' emails.
When I've got it down to a manageable 12 or so, I'll write to those last authors and ask for digital copies of their full books. Then, it would be really useful if some of you lot could read them too and give some thoughts; if there are any volunteers out there, please get in touch. Finally, we'll settle on books to publish at the end of 2017 (and a few for 2018 as well). We can't do any between Helen's Collected and July; time has beaten me, so you'll have to re-read some classics!
After that, I guess we'll open subs again – god help us! I see now why the big publishing houses don't have a huge, open window for new work, but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop. I've not had complaints from any of you, which certainly helps. And there are a lot of worse ways I could be spending my evenings.
There's loads more to tell you: we have a new office (same postal address), a new face to see in it (and on Twitter, Facebook etc), those Antony hardbacks actually arrived, there's a new audiobook available, lots of great new reviews, and a dozen other things – shall we do those next week? The Yorkshire anthology 'results' are imminent too, you'll hear news on that here when it comes; and I must direct you to the second launch event for Norah Hanson's Sparks, which will be literally all-singing all-dancing (details here).
For now, thanks for reading, see you soon. It's good to be back!
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher