Saturday 31 December 2016

The Janus report – looking back over 2016 and forward to 2017

2016 is now drawing to a close and what a year it’s been. Thank goodness in my little area of publishing things are going a little better than in the world in general. Perhaps this is a useful reminder that things are never completely black or white and that there are more than fifty shades of grey.

What we did in 2016

Bridge House got out its annual anthology, called Baubles this year. You can read a few extracts here. We managed at last to get out the Shelagh Delany collection Salford Stories just in time for Shelagh Delaney Day 2017. A week’s illness in January 2016 set us back months. It just shows how finely balanced everything is for the small press.

CaféLit on-line continues to thrive. The Best of CaféLit 5 came out nice and early in August. A few more cafés have been added to the Creative Café Project. We’re always looking for more, so do let us know of any you come across.  

CaféLit and Baubles writers, along with their friends and family and other writers and connections of Bridge House, CaféLit, Chapeltown, The Red Telephone and their associates met for a celebration on 3 December at the Princess of Wales pub, Primrose Hill. This seems to be the ideal venue but we’re probably about to outgrow it. Tickets were free but we “sold out”. In any case, we’ve already booked for next year.

The Red Telephone is open to submission and I’m currently reading a couple of scripts that are looking promising.

Chapeltown is now accepting collections of flash fiction. There are currently two in production, one waiting in the wings plus three being read.  

Looking towards 2017

Bridge House’s new annual anthology for 2107 will be Gliterary Tales. So, glittery stories that have a touch of literature about them. I wonder what that will add to the debate about the difference between literary and popular fictions? Debz Hobbs Wyatt will be getting the call for submissions out soon.

Bridge House is also offering to publish single-author collections. These are for authors we’ve published before and they may include stories we’ve already published,  ones they’ve had published elsewhere and new ones. We’ll be putting a description out about this soon but we’ve already had some enquiries.

Bridge House is also being a bit cheeky and getting a little political. Are we are in danger of getting our books burnt? Well, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. We’re doing an extra anthology, Citizens of Nowhere, with the theme of the global citizen. Oh, I hope we don’t upset Ms May. We’re commissioning just over half of the work from known authors but there is room for a few open submissions. Stories can be “one you prepared earlier” or a brand new one, with a cut-off date of 31 January, though this may very well be extended. Stories between 1,000 and 4,000 words. Submit to editor at bridgehousepublishing dot co dot uk.  

CafeLit, Chapeltown and The Red Telephone are all open for submissions. Check out the details by clicking on the names in the previous sentence.

Chapeltown is also excited to be publishing Colin Wyatt’s Who will be my friend? – a delightful picture book about friendship and accepting others. Yes, Colin is Debz’s dad. He is a Disney licensed illustrator and his latest publication is The Jet Set. We feel very honoured to be publishing him.

I’m also organising a summer celebration event in Manchester. Watch this space and follow my newsletter.    

So, we’re busy and optimistic about what we can achieve over the next year. We just hope we can take the world with us.                                            

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Some marketing tips

These were gathered at the Bridge House / CaféLit event held on 3 December 2016. I’ll put these up on the various publisher sites as well and add to them as we come across more.
  • When self-promoting make sure your message involves facts, feelings and actions
  • Don't just use social media to tell your audience about "you" - actually engage with your followers - what have you seen / read / experienced that they might like or discuss.
  • Be open to possibilities. I went into flash fiction by accident but am so glad I did. Also, enter writing competitions and build up a "CV"
  • Get double sided bookmarks printed advertising 2 books, and leave them in local libraries
  • Promote other writers, don't expect them to promote you back. But when you give you get back. 
  • Review, review, review.
  • Organise mini book events like Tupperware parties.
  • Always have a call to action on your landing pages and other important pages. However avoid saying explicitly “Buy my book”.     

Monday 28 November 2016

Cyber launches: how to organise them and how to attend them

Why a cyber launch?

Cyber launches can be great for inviting to you to your book launch a lot of people who are not geographically near to you ,who are pressed for time or who don’t like travelling.   


Use Evenbrite or Facebook Events to create the invite. Use your own time zone but make sure that is clear to everyone. You can make the event all day long or just restrict it to a couple of hours. If the later, a good time is 6.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. Invite all of your friends and put it on your Facebook timeline and on Twitter at least once a day, at different times of the day. If you use Eventbrite you’ll need to create a Facebook page for the event as well. This page will remain active after the event. If you use a Facebook event, you might still like to create a page as well for post-party discussions and the party anyway is a great opportunity to invite people to like your page.

Prepare in advance

Get as much ready as you can in advance. Save all of your links into a file and all of your files into a folder. You can actually start posting ahead of the event. Whet your guests appetite.  

Some activities:

Pub Quiz

Make up about half a dozen questions to do with the book. They shouldn’t be only found in the book – you may want to offer the book as a prize. They can be to do with the background of the book or easily look-up-able in the Look Inside bit on Amazon.
Here is an example for Salford Stories:

Pub quiz questions:
1. Look at the cover of the book. Where is this photo taken from?
2. Can you name a story that is to do with water?
3. Can you name a pub mentioned in the book? Hint: you don’t need to have read it yet.
4. Salford always was a very forward-looking city. It was the first to provide three public amenities. What were they?
5. Easy one now. Famous painter from Salford. Hint: look at the pictures in the "Dirty Old Town" video. And Salford's theatre?
6. Here's a tricky one: why is the Ship Canal called the Manchester Ship Canal when most of it's in Salford? There are many acceptable answers.
Notice how number 6 is a tie-breaker?   

Notice also how there is also a subtle call to action here. The link on the title of the book takes them straight to the Amazon page.

If you’re working on an anthology, encourage each contributor to offer one prize and one question. Suggestions for prizes: another of the writer’s books, stationery, an object to do with the theme of the story, a service.


Assign each guest a number as they come into the “room”. About twenty minutes before the end use a random number generator to pick a number. Again, if working with an anthology, you should be able to get a lot of prizes.  


  • Find music that goes with your book.
  • Find excerpts of films that are similar
  • Post a few extracts of your text. Imagine doing one five minute reading every hour.
  • Give some back ground to the book – just as you would if you were chatting live at a party.

Food and drink

This sounds a little crazy, I know. But yes, post up pictures of the food and drink you would like to offer at this party. It helps to set the mood and you never know if you put up a picture of something your viewer fancies and they go and find that or something similar, they might be more inclined to stay longer and buy a copy of the book. Take care as always about copyright. Free pictures are available from Pixa Bay    

Call to action

Make it easy for your visitors to buy the book. Avoid “Buy Now” buttons though you can have one of those on your Facebook page. Perhaps have a pinned notice at the top of your Facebook event or page linking to Amazon and every time you mention the book create another hyperlink.

How to be a host

Try to respond to every comment. If it gets hectic, at least “like” comments. If it’s slow, try to post something new at least every ten minutes for a short launch, every twenty for minutes for a longer one. You can also post on your Facebook timeline and your Twitter feed reminding your followers of the invite.

Give a good sense of starting and ending the party just as you would in real life.   

How to be a guest

You don’t need to be there the whole of the time but do pop in. If you intend to buy your friend’s book, this is probably a good time to do it. Seeing the sales go up will boost her morale. You can set your Facebook to notify you of all messages and you can get on with something else, only responding to what really interests you. You can also of course take along a contribution to the food or drink. Again use Pixa Bay.   

Milk it

Make this a real opportunity to network. Invite your guests to sign up for your newsletter / mailing list. Do you have one? I recommend Mailchimp. The free account goes a long way and by the time you need to pay you can probably more than afford it.                   
Happy launching!

A list of things to do once your

Wednesday 16 November 2016

A list of things to do once your book is out


Public Lending Right
Register your book for PLR.  Even if you’ve only written a chapter, you can get some PLR. Don’t forget to register for Irish PLR at the same time. 


Author’s Licensing and Collecting Agency Register here. This can be very lucrative as well for any articles you have had published.  

Other web sites

Are you a member of a professional organisation such as the Society of Authors or the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Are you attached to a university and might they consider this research? 

CV and Publication list

Update this every time as you get out get new publications. It’s not a bad idea to keep your CV on Linked-in. Download a copy every time you update. 

Your own web site

Not got one yet? There are arguments that say you can have one before you’re published. Certainly as soon as you’re published you should have one. Weebly, one-com, Blogger and WordPress offer cheap / free solutions. You really want one that you can author yourself, though it’s a good idea to get advice form an expert when you set up the template. And do get a proper domain name.   

Set up a Facebook page

You might consider having one for you as an author and then a separate one for each book. Keep it going forever. Have a call to action button on the landing page i.e. a link to where visitors can buy the book.
Facebook reminds you if you haven’t been to your page for a while. 


Consider writing a blog if you don’t already. It might be about writing or it might be about your book. You might keep a blog for posting excerpts of your work. You might keep separate blogs for separate items – I do. You can also share posts with other bloggers and go on blog tours.            


Make a book trailer for each publication. This is so easy with Windows Movie Maker. Post it on You Tube,  Take care not to use copyright material. Free pictures are available at Free Pics    and free music at Free Music Archive. 

Book Tweet  

You can get Book Buzzer  to tweet your book weekly or monthly. Make sure you put up plenty of ordinary friendly tweets to stop this seeming spammy.    

Author central

Register with Arthur Central. This is on Amazon and allows Amazon readers to find you


Make postcards. Book covers look so good on a post card. Vista Print is a good option.   

More ideas

Thursday 3 November 2016

Some current marketing ploys

This is just snapshot of what we’re doing right now:

Imprints celebration

This takes place on 3 December and guys, WE’RE SOLD OUT. We’re meeting for two hours in a London pub. There will be a chance for attendees to buy books – though there will only be a limited amount there. Some folk will read from their work. We’ll all exchange contact details and marketing tips. We’ll also be giving some tips as publishers and talking about next year’s plans. We’re organising a big book swap as well.

Making a book trailer

I always enjoy doing this though I can’t do it for every book. I ask each contributor to provide a copyright-free image and a tagline. I put them together artistically and find some nice copyright free music. Anyone can do this using Windows Movie maker. Absolutely free images can be obtained from and free music from Many authors provide pictures they or friends and family have created themselves. This is often an even better solution.

Marketing checklist

We have a minimum checklist that every book goes through. We currently have six titles at various stages going through this. Next time I’ll post a tidied up version of this. Each book is at a slightly different stage.   

Marketing toolkit

This is for proactive authors who can arrange their own book tour. We’ll provide twenty books upfront free of charge. These can go through the till at the bookshop signing and we’ll invoice the bookshop. Then we’ll top up the number of books. It’s important to allow at least ten days between events for this to work, though we can discuss each case individually. At the end of the tour the author may buy the books at cost plus10% within one week of end of tour. Or they can hold on to them until they’ve sold them all and pay us back at normal author discount rate. This amount can even be allowed against royalties.

Cyber launch

We’re now trying to arrange this for each title. This can be quite fun and quite effective. More about this in another post. It can certainly be extremely rewarding with twenty or so authors working on it at the same time.

I need a time machine

There is never enough time to do it all. Always we end up doing what we can manage. And actually, I’m not even sure that a time machine will help all that much. We still all have only so many heartbeats and days on this earth. If we all pull together, though we can make it happen.