Thursday, 12 March 2020

Book Covers

Image by DarkWorkX from Pixabay

Naturally the cover needs to give a good indication of what the book is about without giving anything away that will spoil the reader’s enjoyment. There is a whole debate the be had there. But in this post I’m talking more about the shape and colour of the illustration selected.

Often we’re asked to use a photograph or an illustration that authors themselves provide. And sometimes they just don’t work. Then there is the colour blue which can be very difficult to get right. It’s almost impossible to get a computer to show this accurately.

Occasionally a writer will find a picture they would like to use but we than have to check that the picture is not copyright AND that it is the right shape and colour.    

Sometimes an author will suggest a concept and that is something we can work with. We use pixabay. Not only are all of the pictures copyright free but they are also free to download. We actually pay a voluntary small fee each month and we always acknowledge the illustrator.

A neat little trick is to put our concept into pixabay’s research facility. So for example when we put Snowflakes together we put in the search term “snowflakes”. Here a few that we came up with today. 

Technically, this woks well. We would have to revers the image so that the Christmas tree, star and globe are on the right, representing the front cover. The left, back cover, is plain enough  tc. to inlcude a blurb. The titke and subtitle would go beneath the tree. Howeve, maybe this is  a little too Christmassy for our theme. 

In many ways fine but it would be hard to make the title, auhtor and blurb show up. 

Okay, snow flakes all right but a little insipid.

Our actual cover:

Note: the original picture had a brown background.

Nativity was difficult. The search brought up too many traditional nativity scenes. Instead we went for quite an abstract landscape and the abstract DNA in the first letter:

Challenge: our next anthology is Mulling it Over. What might fit there? 

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Writing on holiday?

After a busy personal period which continues I had a #SuccessfulSunday

Allison’s first edit is complete (thankfully I finished this earlier this week, gone). Today I submitted a short story into a competition. I was thoroughly immersed in my characters and lost track of time. When that happens when writing, editing or reading it’s special. It’s how it is when I’m in full flow. We talked about this recently at my Writing Group, Stories@Dogberry here in Okehampton, Devon and all of us could relate. Since childhood I could become immersed in this creationism.

Then later today I uploaded four more chapters of my online book to my website.

There are many competitions out there to enter folks, go for it! Gill here (owner of this blog and our awesome author, and publisher extraordinare) regularly keeps an eye on opportunities. Slowly I’m working on entering more and my Writing Group is making me write more; its purpose! Then there’s the list of writing festivals and events in the south west I’m compiling too.

Keep writing everyone! Here I am writing on holiday two years ago!

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

The Best of CafeLit 8

Clikc on image to view on Amazon


It’s always good fun putting together The Best of CaféLit books. For the last couple of years we’ve asked the writers who appear in the current book to select their five favourites for the next volume. We use a points system: five points for the top story four for the second, three for the third etc. We’re currently going through this process for The Best of CaféLit 9. This year may be interesting: we may have more stories than make a comfortable paperback volume. There seems to be less overlap in choices than in previous years. However, the solution will be simple: we’ll make out usual  volume of about 35,000 words to sell as a Kindle book and paperback. Then we’ll make an extra e-book of the rest. No one will be left out!

Freedom from editing

All CaféLit stories are edited as they go on to the site. The very best story is chosen each day anyway. So, all that needs to be done as the book is made is a light copy-edit and a proof read. However, the stories do have to be formatted and this can be tricky sometimes; all sorts of random code is embedded in the texts and it can make formatting the books tricky. Help us by first creating your story in a simple Word document then paste it into your email.  

A new financial model

We experimented recently with publishing our paperback version of a book via Amazon’s own print on demand service rather than Lightning Source whom we usually use. We were pleased with the results so we’re now going to use that for future CaféLit books.
It’s difficult to get Amazon paperbacks into bookshops. But that’s okay for CaféLit book; we don’t want to get them into bookshops, we want to get them into cafés!
We’ve tried to keep prices down to £6.0 RRP and £5.00 for authors. We may have to revise this. Currently The Best of CaféLit 8 hasn’t covered costs though authors are getting a reasonable royalty.
It’s important that we cover the costs of a book. We can’t offer a new contract until we do.

Making the video

This is always fun. However, I’m still using Movie Maker but as this is now obsolete I’ll need to start using something else. I always use for free and copyright free pictures and for free and copyright free music. (Be sure if you use the latter to put the right filters into your search) It’s a shame about Movie Maker. I’ve really got to know all its tricks and foibles.
For the The Best of Cafélit books I list drinks, themes and authors. I find pictures to go with some of the drinks and themes, then list authors in the credits. I look for a piece of snappy, lively music.    
Here’s the video.               

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Editing and its Joys

I've recently completed an Edit 1 on a lovely flash fiction collection, which is best summed up as slice of life type stories. Am looking forward to working further on this with the author.

But I have found in both of the collections I've worked on for Bridge House so far that the editing process has made me look more critically at my own writing. That, I think, is a good thing!

What no writer (or editor) can afford is to become complacent. Being made to think is this the best I can do, or could I rewrite this in such a way the story has more impact sharpens up your own skills so much.

Let's hear it for the joys of editing then!

Enjoy the joy of writing but good editing will shape your prose up wonderfully. Pixabay image.

But I admit it can be hard to think of those joys at times. The joy of creating new stories etc is obvious; the joys of rewriting (and again and again etc) less so.

I've come to appreciate the importance of clarity much more. Are the images I'm trying to conjure up in my own writing really coming across the way I've intended? Likewise, when editing another author's work, can I get the true sense of what they are trying to convey? Are their images hitting home the way I believe the author intends they should?

The other thing that has really struck home since working for Bridge House is how important it is that another editor does see your work. You really do get too close to your own work.

Playing around with words can spark creative ideas but are your images coming through clearly enough?  Pixabay image.

But what is fantastic, both from the writer's and editor's viewpoint, is when the editing is done and you both know the stories are sharper, stronger and hit home better as a result of working together to produce the best possible prose. I don't think I'll tire of that feeling whether I'm wearing the author's hat or the editor's one.  Happy writing (and editing) everyone!

Lightbulb moments come to editors too but should be used to inspire the author with ways they can use to strengthen their imagery and impact of their prose. Pixabay image.

Monday, 3 February 2020


Many of the stories, but not all, in this collection take place at or near Christmas time. There are a couple that deal with the joys and sorrows of the annual Nativity Play. There is new birth, rebirth or a new beginning in many of them.

Again this year it was difficult to choose. There are so many skilled writers out there. There was little wrong with any of the writing we read but in the end we went for the strongest stories and for those tales that best interpreted the theme.

There are some familiar names in this volume and also some new writers. We treasure them all. 

As usual selecting stories for and editing our this anthology was a very rewarding experience. Each story in the anthology goes through up to three stages of editing. This year in most cases we only had to do one!

We’re pleased to say that the book is already in the black and has covered its set-up costs.

We’re experimenting for our next collection with anonymous submissions. Our call for submissions is here.     
Do take a look at our book and please leave us a review. 

Click on the image to read  more on Amazon.  

Friday, 17 January 2020

Basilwade – a new experience

click on image to see on Amazon

We’re very pleased that The Basilwade Chronicles covered its costs within a few weeks of being published. We were helped by the fact that the author provided the cover herself. We’ve used Amazon’s own print-on-demand service for the paperback and they charge no set up costs. So the only charge incurred so far is:
IPG contribution £3.09 (this is the payment we make to be member of a the Impendent  Publishers’ Guild divided by the number of books we’ve published).

There’s bit of a cheat here as well in that we’ve not yet sent the copies to the British Library and the Agents for The Legal Deposit Libraries. Those fees will come out of 2020 performance but I think they’ll clear fairly quickly.

The Basilwwade Chronicles first appeared in serial form on CafeLit.   The episodes  were such a good read that I suggested we turn them into a book.

We now have three other authors serialising stories in CafeLit. Because of the success of Basilwade I shall also offer to turn their posts into a book if the authors are willing.

We have copies of Basilwade now and I’ll be forwarding them on to the British Library and ALDL shortly. We’re satisfied with the quality.

Using Amazon’s own service has the advantage that Amazon will fulfil orders quickly. A disadvantage is that we can’t easily get them into bookshops. But we think we’ll use this for The Best of CafeLit in the future. This means we can still keep these volumes at a reasonable price. We can still order at “cost” from Amazon – they have their own in-built profit on printing prices – and send on to customers.

A satisfying experience to date.              

Sunday, 12 January 2020

A New Collection

Thank you to Allison, my next editing work is her wonderful story collection. I will be starting the first edit tomorrow and knowing her quirky, interesting style I am really looking forward to it. On a writing note I have started using the prompts from Gill’s new book for this year and my first two flash fiction pieces have been created from Allison’s starting lines.

Locally in Okehampton I run a writing group which meet on the third Monday of the month with Kate from Dogberry and Finch Books so our next session will soon be here. We had an interesting theme selection to write on!