Thursday 30 July 2020

Publishing Potpourri

How we came to publish this one

We put out a call for collections of flash fiction and were delighted to receive a response from Anusha. We’ve since narrowed our call to those writers who we’ve already published on CaféLit or in one of our annual anthologies. But we’re glad we took on this one. The stories here are quite remarkable.            

The title

This was entirely the Anusha’s idea. It is a very apt title. There really is a mixture of ideas and atmospheres in these lovely short tales.      

The cover

This is partly determined by the series that the book belongs. We’ve started to call these “our little square books”. They always have this characteristic picture frame and we’re trying to make each one a distinctive colour. So, we then want to fill the frame with a square picture. In this case we have – as you might expect – some potpourri with quite a bit of yellow in it. As with all books in this series we have an author’s bio on the back cover and a one-line blurb on the front.  

Some notes about style

We have a mixture here of more literary pieces where the language borders on prose poetry and some more popular prose texts which contain a good narrative balance.  There are also a few poems in the collection.

Who we think the reader is

This may suit the hard-pressed reader who does not have a lot of time. As ever flash fiction suits the busy person who can read a text and have that text stay with them all day or even for a day or two. This little volume will fit into a handbag so may be ideal to have with you if you are travelling.  


This book is almost in the black, has almost covered its set up costs and continues to sell. We could do with a few more sales, however. If you’d like a copy, click on the image and you’ll be taken straight to Amazon.   

What else

We’re still producing these little books. There are nine out there, including this one, and two more in production.      

Reviews welcome, as always.

Wednesday 29 July 2020

Editing CaféLit

It is one of my great joys choosing a story for CaféLit every day. It’s the first thing I do every day after I’ve completed my own writing and before I start on my general admin. I come across such a variety of stories by many talented and hard-working writers.   

Then there is the pleasure of selecting The Best of CaféLit each year. There’s a picture of our latest above. Click on the picture to find out more about it.

Stories on CaféLit are between 50 and 3,000 words. We like a balance of longer stories and shorter ones. We also like a balance of darker stories and lighter ones.  And we also try to keep a balance of authors. There are not hard and fast rules about how many stories you should send in a given time period but if we’ve published a lot by one author recently someone else may have priority if all things are equal. We go for the best story we see every day.

If you get five or more stories published on the CaféLit site – they don’t have to have made it into the book –  and / or in one of our annual anthologies, you have a good chance of being accepted for a single author collection. Details here.     

How to write for CaféLit?

I’m offering talks about this, via Zoom, free, for groups of up to twenty people. Please apply via the contact form on this site.

You can see more of the types of story we publish by joining our newsletter. Join here and then download our free e-book Magnetism. You’ll also be sent news of new books and offers on our list.

Tuesday 28 July 2020

Writing, Editing, Audio and Reading

I'm excited to see Allison's new book which is out soon, having worked on the editing. A huge congratulations to her. Meanwhile I've been working on a few submissions including self-publishing my Croc-a-beest illustrated story book and have a new short story 'They Said' on CafeLit coming up next week. This is a very special story to me especially at this time of year and a huge thank you to Gill.

I've enjoyed listening to some audio books whilst I edit and format the next edition of Reverberations, the national handbell ringing magazine. These include: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Volume 1 and So You Want to Talk about Race for my Black Lives Matter learning and allyship.

Thursday 16 July 2020

Reviews needed of something to go with your cuppa

Anyone care to review?  Click on the image to purchase form Amazon or contact us for a free copy.

"What a wonderful idea, to collect stories of the perfect length to enjoy over a hot drink. Just like a cup of tea, some of these are good while others are the perfect brew. The variety of topics covered showcases the imagination and creativity of the writers and have been selected from those published on the Cafe Lit website, based on votes and most visited."  

Publishing A Most Amazing Zoo

How we came to publish this one

We have published Linda Flynn regularly and for a few years now. She is a teacher and she has published several educational resources as well as some fiction for young people. We were confident that we could work well with her and this was indeed the case. Linda worked with illustrator Linda Laurie and they submitted the book as a ready-made package. We did edit but there was not much to worry about. And how beautifully symmetrical; two Lindas created the text        

The title

This was entirely the idea of Linda and Linda. There is some nice alliteration and assonance going on here: A Most Amazing Zoo.      

The cover

This was provided by Linda Laurie and offers a taste of what is in the book. We’re pleased with how the cover and the illustrations came out. It’s always a bit of a worry. What you see on a computer screen isn’t always what you can print. We have our screens pretty well tuned to show what the print version will look like. But not everyone does. Fortunately Linda and Linda were pleased with the book.    

Some notes about style

The story is of the Queen visiting the animals in the zoo. Her Royal Highness remains professional throughout. All of the animals tell her something about themselves. The pictures are amusing, bordering on quirky. There are educational messages for the reader in what each of the animals says. Each picture offers additional story from what we find in the text alone.    

Who we think the reader is

Despite the number of pictures this isn’t really a picture book for pre-schoolers. This subject matter lends itself to the infant school child and the text is probably simple enough for the emergent reader. It also works as a book that a teacher, parent or other involved adult might read to the younger child. There is also enough humour and quirkiness in it for it to appeal to the older child, perhaps to the reader who would enjoy stories by Roald Dahl.   


This book is already in the black though we have yet to provide copies to the British Library and the Legal Deposit libraries. However, we have taken more than enough money to cover that once the libraries are open again. Linda and Linda have been proactive in promoting the book and I believe a copy has been sent to the Cambridges!

What else

We have made a video and an audio book of this.     

Reviews welcome, as always.   

Thursday 9 July 2020

Salford Stories

This is a collection we’re quite proud of. This is what Charlotte Delaney said about the winning story in our competition that commemorated Shelagh Delaney Day. Staff from the University of Salford were involved in long-listing and short-listing and Charlotte chose the winner.   

Below are a few paragraphs from the winning story.     

Why I chose Everything Is Seen At Its Best In The Dark:

“I particularly liked the way a brief moment in time is coupled with enough information about the past to tell the tale of a tragedy and its effects on those concerned.  Particularly Sue. The description of her regular walk and her regular route, through very ordinary surroundings, is vivid in its simplicity and heart-breaking against the backdrop of grief and loss.  The language is uncluttered and used to great effect.  I am always interested in the aftermath of an event, how people cope, how they don't cope.  This particular story flicked that switch beautifully.”
Charlottte Delaney

Everything Is Seen At Its Best in the Dark

Neil Campbell

Sometimes in autumn when the ash trees are filled with red berries there are loads of crows among the branches, and evening sunlight filters through the taller trees, spraying the meadow with golden light. Sue always sits at the same bench near the pond so she can listen to the whispering of the reeds. She’s seen whole families of herons by that little pond. And it is quiet down there in the late afternoon. From the bench by the pond she can look beyond the river towards the high rise flat where she lives. And from the eleventh floor Denis can keep an eye on her too. Denis has always kept his eye on her, but he doesn’t know everything. She has friends on Chiffon Way and Angora Drive, and sometimes she sees them in the Old Pint Pot, but mainly it’s just her and Denis.
To get to the meadow she cuts down the cycle route instead of going via Blackburn Street. She has to be careful to cross on the sharp curve of road. On this occasion a car stops for a stray collie dog that clearly has somewhere to be. Sue crosses and looks up at the apple tree in one of the back gardens down there. She’s never seen a cyclist on the route and the road is scattered with broken glass. She follows the road round and finds herself by the bridge. She looks down at the swans that gather beneath it. The water is so shallow she can see tyres on the river bed. She follows along the river by the backs of houses, looking upriver at the weir that sparkles and crashes. She takes a right and then a left past the new houses, where a woman tending a newly-laid lawn ignores her as she walks slowly by. The people in the new houses don’t seem to know that it is okay to say ‘hello’. Sue thinks of how people are in such a rush these days. She was the same when she was younger, but she has forgotten.
She is not out of breath by the time she reaches the bench by the pond. That is the advantage of coming every day. She concentrates, and listens as the reeds brush together. Then she hears the crows calling out. They fly in pairs above the new-mown grass. How wonderful it must be to fly. It doesn’t matter to them if a lift breaks down. In a matter of seconds a crow can move from the meadow to the roof of the high rise.
Like to read more?
Click on the image to take you to Amazon.  

Tuesday 7 July 2020

The CaféLit Books

Each story in this little volume is the right length and quality for enjoying as you sip the assigned drink in your favourite Creative Café. You need never feel alone again in a café. So what’s the mood today? Espresso? Earl Grey tea? Hot chocolate with marshmallows? You’ll find most drinks in our drinks index.

Each year we produce a book of the bets of the stories we've published on CafeLit.   

For the last couple of years we've asked authors in earlier volumes to choose the ones for the current year. It's quite an exciting process.

Sunday 5 July 2020

Marketing Needn’t Be Onerous

Click on image to view on Amazon

Publishers spend a certain amount of time and money on marketing their books but have to concentrate on the front list. Many writers prefer writing to marketing yet acknowledge that they must be involved in promoting their books. Are writers introverts? Possibly. But do they need to adapt the mentality of a car salesman once the book is out there? Not necessarily.

Comfort zone plus      

It’s important that you work with what feels comfortable – though it doesn’t hurt to stretch yourself a little. There’s a lot of different things you can do.


Over the years, I’ve developed some routines for getting books exposure. If you work to a routine it somehow makes it easier. Some of these are just what publishers do, others are for writers and some are for both .

A lot of these routines are described on this blog anyway. It’s helpful also to divide your activities into:
·         What you can do before the book comes out
·         What you can do when the book comes out
·         How you can sustain interest post-publication
I’ve collected all of these ideas into the book shown above.

Thirty Day Plan

I’m now working on a thirty day plan of a small actions authors can take each day to promote their book post-publication. They take just a few minutes every day. I’ll put an outline of it on here and release a more detailed version to all of our writers when it’s complete. Others will be able to request it. Watch this space.