Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Friends of the Emma Press newsletter #3

Did you know you can support the Emma Press and all the work we do by becoming a subscriber? Become a Friend of the Emma Press for £5-15 per month and receive a quarterly thank-you package and an exclusive quarterly e-newletter. Here's a taster of the most recent one:
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Dear Friends,

Thank you for your support! Here, a little later than planned, is an update on the various things that have been going on with the Emma Press.

So, today is the last day of my long-awaited holiday! I've been in California for the last 2.5 weeks, staying with family and friends (someone I met just before I left said "Well done on having family and friends in California"), and I thought I'd enjoy my flight back this evening more if I'd sent out my overdue Friends newsletter. For the most part I've managed not to think too much about work while I've been away, as I wanted my brain to relax and return to Birmingham refreshed and ready to resume kicking ass/publishing recondite literary endeavours, but of course it was always in the background. It's hard to forget the reason why one is telling oneself every day to RELAX!! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD RELAX!!!

The main thing I've been trialling recently, even before my holiday started, has been letting go of all the things I've been telling myself I must be or avoid being. I'm very aware of how hard I've been trying since the start of the Emma Press to hold myself to the standards of the biggest publishers. Though my tagline was "small press, big dreams" and my business was the size of just me, I wanted to be just as professional and efficient as the big guys, and even more committed to accessibility and fairness. I think this was partly to avoid the stigma attached to the idea of self-publishing, and partly because I didn't see the point in aiming low. So, I tried to make lots of books, run publicity campaigns, organise lots of events for authors, stick to all my deadlines and committments, reply to all emails, create lots of opportunities for publication and give lots of people training in publishing through work experience and freelance work. Lots and lots. That is what I've been pushing myself to do over the last 7 years, and to no-one's surprise I've worn myself quite thin.

Before I left for California, I stacked up all the books I'd published this year and realised that I'd already published as many books as the previous year-with-the-most-number-of-books (2014; 15 books), and it was only June and I still have many more books yet to come. So that made an impression on me: I thought, "Well no wonder I need a holiday!"

And apart from the holiday, I've been taking care of myself in other ways: planning to do fewer books next year (maybe 12-14), just arranging one launch event per book, not beating myself up about getting behind on social media, moving some pub dates and deadlines instead of burning the midnight oil to hit them, having a little break from submissions, and letting my freelancers go.

The last one was kind of a big deal, as I really wanted to give more people opportunities to work in publishing and be part of the change I wanted to see, but it was costing a lot of money and I ended up realising that I don't need to take it on myself to try and single-handedly transform the publishing industry. I have done a lot already and I can do more in the future, when I'm less stressed.

When I return to my desk, I hope I can retain some of this clarity and keep making sensible decisions for myself and the business. I've been feeling good about the impact I've already had on the poetry landscape, as the various new pamphlets have been launched and I've looked back on all the other pamphlets they're joining in the Emma Press list. I'm glad that it means something now to be an Emma Press poet and I want to keep offering this platform to people, so I'm hoping I can open an new call for poetry pamphlet submissions in September but I'll see how I get in with work over the next few weeks.

I have another children's poetry anthology to typeset and illustrate, about insects, and some poetry pamphlets to get ready for the printer. Also, amidst all my thoughts about slowing down, an opportunity came up with the Arts Council to apply for a huge grant to develop my organisational resilience. My expression of interest was successful so now I have till 15th August to submit my full application. I'll send my next newsletter after that and let you know if I managed it!

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