Saturday, 16 February 2019

Should you sign up for a publisher’s newsletter?

As a writer I sign up for several – and only read a few of them now and then. I keep them coming because they occasionally contain one tiny piece of information that is invaluable for me personally.  

I also produce a newsletter for each of the imprints that I handle. Some of the information is generic but some of it is specific to a particular imprint. Yes, I include news of new titles but most of what is in the newsletter is information for authors.

I have other newsletters for readers and these do discuss titles in more detail.      

What our newsletters contain

We include
·         New calls for submissions
·         Success stories from our writers  - even if they’re published elsewhere
·         News about technical issues
·         News about marketing issues and opportunities
·         News about events and courses we’re running
·         A link to where news of book sales is stored  
·         A link to royalty statements

Why not put all of this on a web site?

Most of it is actually on the web site. A few items are only for authors - e.g. the list  about book performance and certain events.

Frequency and rationale of newsletters

I send our newsletters out once a month. Very, very occasionally I’ll send out a “stop press” announcement if something urgent or very exciting comes up but I do avoid this if possible.

I try to put everything into a newsletter and cover all the queries that our authors might have. I’m handling about 200 authors and answering different queries several times over would just be too time-consuming.

We also have a secret Facebook group where authors can raise matters promptly.  Sometimes they answer each other’s queries and I don’t have to worry. I also test out ideas here. Should we have a Writers’ Retreat? Would they like to take part in a course on editing? What do they think of paid for submissions? Much of what is suggested here feeds into the newsletters.

Why I recommend that you should sign up and stay signed up

The newsletter is the easiest way I can get information to you. There are certain parts  so of the letter that are repeated each month – such as the invitation to join my Dream Team but at least you will know where to find that information. The delete button can be very handy.

I do have to bite my tongue when I sometimes get a query or a submission and the applicant has declined signing up to the newsletter. A comfort here is that it is usually clear that the applicant has not read the submission guidelines correctly. Would we want to work with that author anyway?

Every time newsletters go out we get one or two unsubscribes. They’re usually people we’ve not had a lot of interaction with anyway. Occasionally it’s because they receive more than one newsletter, because they’re published by several of our imprints, and they’re limiting themselves to the optimum one. Fair enough. We’ll also get a few more people signing up to other lists – each newsletter includes a list of the other items that may be of interest to writers.

It’s fine for us too. We’re still using Mailchimp for free. We won’t mind paying in the near future but we do want to be sure that what we send out is really useful to the recipients.

One more thing

On this very blog I keep track of the progress on publications. See the Work Flow page. This is public-facing page though probably only of interest to those who are in process with us. But you may like to watch it for a while if you are thinking of publishing with us.

So, should you?

I think you should.                     

Here’s what’s on offer

Bridge House Authors For all those published by Bridge House or interested in being published by us. General news about the imprint. News for writers. Link to book performance. Sign up here.

CaféLit Writers For all those published by CaféLit. General news about the imprint. News for writers. Link to book performance. News about the Creative Café Project. Sign up here.

Chapeltown Authors For all those published by Chapeltown or interested in being published by us.  General news about the imprint. News for writers. Link to book performance. Sign up here.  

Chapeltown Books News about our books and our authors. Sign up here.

The Creative Café Project  News about the project and CaféLit – for the consumer rather than for the producer.  Sign up here.   

Gill’s News: News about my writing, general news about what the imprints are doing, news about other writers I know, news about the Creative Café Project, a recommended read, and a giveaway each month. Find it here.   

Opportunities List Remember I keep a full list of vetted opportunities on my writing blog. See them here. New ones are added several times a day. Roughly once a month I go through it and take out all of the out of date ones. At that point I send it out to a list. If you would like to be on that list, sign up here.  

Pushing Boundaries, Flying Higher News about conferences and workshops to do with the young adult novel. (infrequent postings) Sign up here.  

Red Telephone Authors For all those published by The Red Telephone or interested in being published by us.  General news about the imprint. News for writers. Link to book performance. Sign up here.

Schellberg Cycle Workshop News Offers and news of events to do with Schellberg Cycle workshops. Sign up here.  

School Visits Offers and news of school visits. Sign up here.

Red Telephone Books News about our books and our authors. Sign up here.

A Publisher’s Perspective Here I blog as a publisher. Access this here.   

The Creative Café Project Listings and reviews of creative cafés. See them here.   

CaféLit Stories Find these here

Gill James Writer All about writing and about my books. View this here.

Gill’s Recommended Reads Find information here about books that have taken me out of my editor’s head.   

Gill’s Sample Fiction Read some of my fiction here.

The House on Schellberg Street All about my Schellberg project. Read it here.

Writing Teacher All about teaching creative writing.  Some creative writing exercises. Access this here.     

Books Books Books Weekly offers on all of our books.  Find them here. 


Monday, 28 January 2019

The Track Changes Edit

“Track changes” is at once a great tool but can be a somewhat cumbersome tool. I use it in two ways. I find it worth the perseverance.  

Track changes for first / second edit   

The second edit is after major changes have been made to the structure of the story. Some work may have been done on character and setting as well. This edit often does not take place for stories that appear in our mixed author anthologies: we wouldn’t select the story if it had faults like this.

So, for edit 1 in individual short stories, or edit 2 in single author collections or Red Telephone novels I use the Comments function within the Track Changes function. This highlights a bit of text and puts a comment in the margin. I ask writers to leave the comment there and perhaps add their own. They can also add further comments elsewhere in the text.

Of course one could just add comments in a different coloured text but there are two disadvantages:
1.      It’s quite difficult to position the comment
2.      You lose the function of seeing who made which comment

We’re commenting here mainly on such things as is the dialogue consistent? Is the writer showing not telling? Is there some awkward expression?  

Track changes in second / third edit

By this time the writer has reacted to the editor’s comments and maybe made some alterations. The editor has also reacted to any comments the writer has made. We now have a text that is mainly acceptable to both parties.

We now use the full function of Track Changes but work with it not showing the changes and urge writers to read not allowing the mark-up to show. A marked up text is very confusing and I personally find it to difficult to know what I’m writing when I can see all of the changes.

We’re picking up here odd things we’ve missed in the previous edit. Or it may be that an attempted alteration has not quite worked – e.g. the writer may have added new text but not deleted the previous version. We might need to adjust something to fit our house-style e.g. We like hyphens and we put thoughts in italics. Or it just might be that an odd bit of dialogue has been set out wrongly. We don’t change anything major at this point.

Naturally, we’re not infallible. If something seems completely wrong, the writer can turn the mark-up on and reject that change. They can also make other changes for the editor to approve.

Once all changes are approved the text is ready for the next stage. This may sound like a lot of toing and froing but in fact it’s usually all accomplished in one exchange.

Track Changes is as good as its word: it keeps track of all the changes until they’re approved. It’s difficult to achieve this another way.      

Note, the text will have three more proof reads but that’s a story for another day.        

Monday, 14 January 2019

Join my Dream Team

The idea came to me as I sought reviews for a collection of flash fiction. We need those fifty reviews on Amazon. If one in four of our writers review for us, we’re home and dry. 

I wouldn’t expect everyone to review every time … hence my idea of actually creating a dream team.
And why stop with reviewers? Why not also look for beta readers, editors, copy editors, proof-readers, artists, illustrators and designers.  

This was to be a personal recommendation. Initially I would use my Dream Team a lot myself but gradually I would add in people that friends and friends of friends had recommended. The Dream Team is growing apace but there is room for more. 

What happens?

You sign up to a mailing list and every time a request comes in we mail it out to you or the enquirer contacts you directly via my web site. The conversation then carries on between you and the person making the request. You may also have a page set up on my blog and you may update that once a year. 

Interested? You may sign up for more than one category. 
Beta readers sign up here.
Reviewers sign up here.
Editors sign up here.
Illustrators sign up here.
Designers sign up here.
Proof-readers sing up here.   


I encourage a code amongst writing beta readers and reviewers that they might reciprocate. However, we must at all cost refrain from simply swapping good reviews. Some reviewers and beta readers may simply be readers. We never pay them but perhaps we can be kind to them in other ways. Any ideas? Copies of the finished book, acknowledgements, an invite to the launch and a big fuss about them there?       

Illustrators, proof-readers, editors and designers on the other hand are paid professionals. Their presence on my mailing list implies a personal recommendation.      

Want more tips like this? 


Friday, 14 December 2018

Running Bridge House, CaféLit, Chapeltown and The Red Telephone

How we like to work with you

It's probably pretty clear by now that with over 200 authors on our books, we can't do a lot for individual titles.

Here, though is what we can manage:
·         Keep you informed of new titles that come out
·         Encourage you to review titles you're not involved with
·         Review / critique your blog / web site / book trailer (we do tend to make the trailers for the anthologies)
·         Post regularly on social media about the book
·         Post on social media about any events you let us know about  
·         Help you to discover your niche and how you may use that
·         In appropriate cases offer you an Author Kit
·         Publish a weekly catalogue of books that include some offers


What else you might consider doing

·         If you are published by Bridge House, CaféLit, Chapeltown or The Red Telephone, copy us into any correspondence. We may be able to add to your case.
·         Inform us of successful events and productive encounters with booksellers or media so that we can add your contacts to our database.
·         Send us your other ideas.    
       Want more tips like this?  Consider this?