Monday 20 March 2023

The Best of CafeLit 11


How we came to publish this one

We publish a “Best of” CafeLit book every year. For this book we had six of our editors select the stories: Liz Cox, Linda Flynn, Gill James, Madeleine McDonald, Hannah Retallick and Allison Symes. We selected stories from a couple of months each. Naturally we avoided the months with our own stories in. Each editor selected about 3000 words worth of stories and wrote a short introduction to them.    

The title

The title is generic.

Some notes about the process

Every CaféLit story is given a short copy edit before it goes on to the site. The editors involved also did another copy edit / proof read as the book was put together. Once the camera-ready design was finished it was passed to each writer to proof read. At this stage some authors updated their bio. Before it was released there was a final proof read.   

The cover

The cover is the same each year. However, a new colour is carefully selected each time. Our designer has a set of suitable colours he’s working through. There are about five left. I wonder what will happen then?     

Some notes about style

Some stories are shorter, some longer. Some are darker, some are lighter. We try to keep that sort of balance as we publish. We also like to show case new writers alongside our regular ones.

Who we think the reader is

Certainly these stories are for readers who like to be intrigued. The stories are very mixed so there should be something there for everyone. And a typical reader should be consuming the story at the same time as they consume their favourite beverage.         

What else

We are using Amazon KDP for this book. It makes distribution to other countries a lot easier.

Review copies

It’s always great if you can buy the book and give us a review. Just click on the link to be taken to Amazon. If you would like to review and you are strapped for cash, just get in touch for a free PDF or Kindle file.         


Wednesday 8 March 2023

Fair Submissions – new “free to enter/ submit” label


Someone asked me the other day whether I could provide a separate Fair Submissions list that only showed free to enter calls. I don't really have the time to produce separate lists. Fair Submissions are deemed fair if they lead to payment, publication, great exposure or are quirky and fun. Of course they may do all of that.  

I don't include the very expensive ones - apart from the Manchester Prize as I'm sort of connected with that. I include paid for ones if the fee is only about what it would cost to print and snailmail and include return postage.

And I probably don’t always get it right and it is a little subjective. But these are all opportunities I deem worthwhile for me and those of you reading this newsletter.   

However I have now started going forward and gradually retrospectively to indicate which ones are free to enter in the labels. Some charge a fee but have a few free slots for people who are on low incomes. I will indicate that as "(free to enter)" as opposed to "free to enter".

Many, ourselves included, have a tip jar where you can decide whether to pay us a little or not.

As you know we use Duosuma for submissions. This costs us 15p every time someone submits. Submittable that you may have come across is considerably more expensive with a monthly fee. I'm pleased to say that we more than break-even - thanks to the generosity of our writers. The surplus goes on producing more books and paying CafeLit writers a small royalty.

Find Fair Submissions here. 

35 books to the Legal Deposit Libraries


It is a legal requirement that we deposit one copy of each book we publish with the British Library. We usually do this within about a month of books coming out. During lockdown we had a couple returned to us because the receiving office in Weatherby wasn't open. Once things got to a bit more like normal we started catching up but they're about six months behind in processing. One of our titles took eighteen months to process! I always send them "signed for" and a good job too - I've been able to send proof that they have a book when they've claimed they haven't.

In addition it is a legal obligation to send five copies of books to the legal deposit libraries if they request it. Fortunately it goes through an agency so at least we don't have to send to five different addresses. It's flattering if they do request them - it means we are deemed a significant enough publisher. But it's costly. And again, I will use "signed for".

I've had a tour of the Bodleain and seen how they store the deposited books. It's heart-breaking. Books should never be treated that way especially by a library. They're stock-piled.

So, how should I react when I get a request for the Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries for five copies of each of 30 books? Should I be pleased that they want our work? Or annoyed that this will put us back at least a month in offering a new contract to an author? Dismayed about the environmental impact? Dismayed about what will happen to 150 perfectly good books?

There was a hint that they could be deposited electronically but I am getting nowhere with that. As well, one danger of electronic cataloguing is that there may come a time when we no longer have the technology to read the catalogue. Paper burns a little as it ages but we can still read words written on it after centuries- that is if we can get them back out of the stock pile.

Surely they're not going to request the five copies of every single book published in the UK? The British Library must find it difficult enough to find space for the single copies.

So, I guess I'd better just be pleased that they deem us important enough to want our books.

I’ve just sent 150 books to the Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries.


Saturday 4 March 2023

Some notes about my newsletters, blogs and Facebook groups and pages.

They do overlap a little but here is a summary of what they all do.

1940s Group

Just a reminder: this is a Facebook group for all people who write about the 1940s. Fiction and non-fiction, for young and old. Topics might then be: the Holocaust, World War II, Civilian Experience (all sides) and the battle front. We can exchange ideas about research and marketing. We may promote books and stories, as often as you like and especially on launch / release day.

If you feel that is you, do join us:    

Of course, with my Schellberg Cycle I'm constantly in that world.  

Bridge House Authors For all those published by Bridge House, CafeLit, Chapletown or 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.

The Bridgetown Café Book Shop Visit it 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.   

Fair Submissions Remember I keep a full list of vetted opportunities on this 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.   

Gill’s News: News about my writing, The Schellberg Project, School Visits, Events,  Book Recommendations  and Giveaways. Find it here.   

Pushing Boundaries, Flying Higher News about conferences and workshops to do with the young adult novel. (infrequent postings) 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  Note this has a new domain name. If you find any old links not working get in touch and I’ll send you the new one. 

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 our books and news of new books. Find them here. 

The Young Person’s Library This is where I review books for children and young adults.  My reviews are factual and neutral, offering information about the books for concerned adults: teachers, librarian, parents, guardians and scholars.  Find it here.  

Scribblers Sans Frontières This is a private group is for writers published by one of our imprints: Bridge House, CafeLit, Chapeltown, The Red Telephone. Here you can:
• Discuss all technical issues re our books
• Exchange marketing ideas
• Advertise and report on your events
• Promote any of your titles or successes
• Share good practice and ideas
• Get help with writing problems
• Anything else appropriate  

I also tend to let you know news that appears here earlier and in a little more detail.  It’s a sort of inner sanctum, if you like. You need an invite to join this: contact me for an invite.

Calling all writers

If you would like to be on my blog just answer the questions below and send them with appropriate images to gill dot james at btinternet dot com.

Please feel free to pick and choose which of these to answer. 

1.      What do you write? Why this in particular? 

2.      What got you started on writing in the first place?

3.      Do you have a particular routine? 

4.      Do you have a dedicated working space?

5.      When did you decide you could call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact?

6.      How supportive are your friends and family? Do they understand what you're doing?

7.      What are you most proud of in your writing?

8.      How do you get on with editing and research?

9.      Do you have any goals for the future?

10.  Which writers have inspired you?

Please write as much or as little as you like for each section and supply as many pictures as you like. Also let me know your latest publication and supply me with a link if it's not on Amazon. 

I'm also happy to offer you a post whenever you have a new book come out, even if I'm not your publisher. In this case answer the following questions:

  1. Tell me about your book.
  2. Tell us about your research for this book.
  3. What inspired you to write this?
  4. What's next?
  5. How can we get a copy of the book?
  6. Do you have any events planned?

Again write as much or as little as you please. Alter and add to the questions if you wish. Provide as many pictures as you wish.

Send to: gill dot james at btinternet dot com

And a new idea this month: A Day in the Life – please see my example: Please also include a short introduction at the beginning. At the end mention your latest publication and provide a lino to your Amazon author page.