Sunday 25 February 2024

The Joy of Editing


Reading stories all day long

“I actually enjoy marking,” I said to one of my colleagues when I was a lecturer at the University of Salford.

He raised his eyebrows and then grinned. “Ah, I suppose you get to read stories all day.”

I suppose I did and to some extent I still do: I still read stories for leisure, during my own writing phases I’m sometimes editing and a good deal of my publishing time is spent on editing other writers’ work.

Always new

Here’s the surprising thing: I often don’t remember any of the stories in detail, not even the ones I’ve written myself, even when I’m reading them for the umpteenth time.. I guess because in the editing process, and in the marking process,  you’re really looking for different things.


I edit my own short stories five times and my novels eighteen times.


Marking and editing are quite similar but there are differences.


Whilst marking I will make both positive and challenging comments. Yes, I  annotate the text but I don’t point out every typo or punctuation mistake. I certainly don’t correct all of them. 


In editing there is more emphasis on what’s not working. You have agreed to publishing the text so that is an affirmation that it mainly works. Different if you’re offering editing as a service; then you might take more time pointing out the strengths of the piece. In editing for publication you have to catch everything – every typo, every punctuation mistake, every spelling mistake and every bit of awkward phrasing. The better the writer has edited their own text the more chance an editor has of catching everything.

Three stages do editing

Stage 1

For publication the first stage of editing is a structural one. Even if the text is basically sound there may still be something:

  1. Is the overall structure sound?  - hook, inciting incident, increasing complexities, crisis, climax – story arc
  2. Does the overall time scale work?
  3. Is the format and length right for the target reader?
  4. Are the characters consistent? Are they rounded? Do they develop? Do you know everything about them that you should?
  5. Is the story convincing? Is there cause and effect?
  6. Is the resolution satisfying?
  7. Is there conflict and tension? Are there peaks and troughs?
  8. Does the pace vary?

Stage 2

This is more of a copy edit.

1.      Dialogue is important.

a.       It should not be too natural

b.      It should only say important things

c.       It should differentiate characters' voices

d.      When angry, becomes childish

e.       Should take 2/3 of popular book

f.       Should convey mood, character and reaction

g.      Every speech should give information

2.      Detail and description should be slipped in small chunks.

3.      Is the writer telling when they could be showing? (and perhaps surprisingly, showing when they should be telling?)

4.      Are there darlings that need killing?

5.      Are there any clichés?

6.      Does the text flow well?

7.      Is there any awkward expression?

Friday 9 February 2024

The Adventures of Iris and Zach


How we came to publish this one

I.L. Green is a pseudonym. We have published them before. This is one of those cases of us knowing an author already and being sure that the gamble we take will pay-off. We don’t necessarily mean just sales but also that we can make a good book. This is a good book.  

The title

A non-brainer. The stories tend to feature either Iris or Zach and sometimes both of them.   

Some notes about the process

This text went through the normal three stages of editing.

The cover

As often is the case, the cover emerged from a conversation between the author and our designer.   

Some notes about style

The stories are rather literary in style. They are a little dark so they don’t make for a comfortable read. However, that may be the main point.

Who we think the reader is

These are definitely for the more curious mind. They may though be reassuring for those readers who see a darker side to life.  

What else

This is perhaps a challenge. Are you up for it?

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. Or the one to take you to our own online shop. If you would like to review and you are strapped for cash, just get in touch for a free PDF.         


Find your copy here 


Tuesday 6 February 2024

Walela Books


We have started a new imprint: Walela Books. We shall be publishing novels. Yes, we already do via The Red Telephone, Feisty Women and The Schellberg Cycle, each of which have their own characteristics. And this will be a little different too with its own particular criteria:

·         Submissions are only accepted from people we know:

o   Texts by people already published by us or

o   Texts recommended by one particular agent only or 

o   Texts recommended by our freelance editors

·         The voice will tend towards the literary

·         This is the home for works that don’t fit comfortably into a particular genre. This may be of interest if you’ve ever had a rejection where you’ve been told that the writing is good but that a publisher can see where to shelve it. We particularly want books like that.

We have a web site and a domain name but it’s not hooked up to search engines yet. We even have our first publication in progress but it’s top secret at the moment.


Quiz: What does Walela mean? First person to reply correctly can chose a book from our bookshop. And the first person to tell us why that name, can choose two books from our bookshop. Reply to this email.    



Not all of our contracts are the same, but usually rights on our single author books revert back to you three years from publication date. However, we only take your book out of print if you ask us to. And even if you ask us to take it out of print we can still get you author copies.

You retain the rights on stories published on the CafeLit site and in the annual The Best of book. In the annual themed anthologies we ask for exclusive rights for one year though usually if you ask permission to reprint we’ll grant this.

However, this comes at a cost of £8.40 a year. This is extremely good value for money as this allows your title to be distributed world-wide. If we had to set this up ourselves it would take hours of work. Even so, with over a hundred titles you can see that this is a significant expense. So regretfully we’re having to take some titles out of distribution. We are doing this when they are five years old or older, haven’t sold ten copies in the previous year and aren’t part of a series. The e-book will still be available and we’re gradually replacing them with KDP books – available only through Amazon.  They will also still be available directly from us. And we shall continue to promote them. 

Titles affected are:


Build a book hard copy

Build a Book photocopiable

Voices of Angels

The Best of CaféLit 2011

On This Day

Crime after Crime

Writers for Animals


The Best of CaféLit 4


The Best of CaféLit 5

Salford Stories


Calling for Angels

100 Stories for Haiti

Gentle Footprints