Hey it lets me use pretty colours now … (small things)
When Gill James started Bridge House Publishing I had no idea she had dipped her toe into publishing, this time not as an author but as a publisher. We hadn’t known one another that long and when I sent her a short for her opinion I had no idea it would end up not only as my first official acceptance, the first story in the book and inspiration for the cover but that later I would work with her.
It was working with her that really made the biggest change in me. I was finally on the right path and while still in the ‘dirgey’ day job I was where I was meant to be and I remember finding this confidence that I had lacked perhaps forever. Or maybe it just felt that way. Certainly it was a confidence I’d lost after Lee died, but I was a new me. It was the beginning of my new life. Really.
I think when it started we had bigger hopes it would pay us a wage and anyone who has worked for a small press and one publishing niche — like short story collections, probably knows that nearly never happens. But it was what kept me going — this perhaps naive notion I would either be signed by a big agent and get a huge advance (oh now naive!) or Bridge House would pay me a proper wage and either way I could march into the boss’s office (well actually into his corner of the open office) and say, “I’m leaving to go live my dream.”
Nothing ever happens quite the way you see it in your head, does it? But when I did leave, with a redundancy cheque and a dream I was still the happiest person in the world. I saw someone who is still in touch with my old boss last weekend and I asked for a message to be relayed, I said, “Tell him thank you.” (If you knew how the ending was this would mean more) and “Tell him I’m living the dream.” So it kind of is like I thought! And I am; living the dream.
I’ve talked about Bridge House before, many of you I met that way. People keep asking what next and will we do novels but the problem is time and money. I had to really cut down on time spent doing Bridge House when I had to make a living — quickly realising how hard it is with next to no budget to really sell lots of books and this is normal. Gentle Footprints remains the biggest success but it was on TV.
Do I still love it? Of course, and I spent and still spend many Sundays editing and catching up with Bridge House things, but can we go on publishing so many titles? Not really when Gill and I have so many other things. We are currently editing the winner’s anthology for the last competition, after that there are no immediate plans but I dare say something will come eventually. It’s a lot of work to not sell many books 😦
I know people think as a marketing person I should do more and I would if I could, I don’t stop working as it is! But I do my best.
I always used to imagine even the small presses were buildings that employed people and there were lots of computers and lots of books. It’s kind of true (we have computers and there are lots of books!) but many small presses are one or two people who work other jobs and fit in the publishing stuff in the evenings and weekends. Fact.
But what Bridge House did, and does,I hope is give writers a voice, there aren’t that many opportunities for publication in an anthology these days and I am so so thankful to Gill and proud to be a part of it, even if the books become, let’s say more occasional. We’re still here — just not quite so manic!
We recently launched a Sci Fi collection, this is Gill’s baby. Some we co-edit but this is hers and I haven’ t shouted much about it. I should. If you like alternative realities, the idea that other words exist then do get a copy of Otherwhere and Elsewhen.
And come and chat to some of the authors and other Bridge House authors and in fact lots of other author friends at our Virtual Facebook Launch Party tomorrow Friday March 8th 18.00 — 19.00. Here’s the link — open to all! LINK
Whatever happens with Bridge House, it’s where a lot of us started and where a lot of us met. How lovely is that. There is a lot to be thankful for. Have a great day!