I will try to keep the post short and simple this morning (and no doubt fail) as I have to work (yes Bank Holidays don’t tend to apply when you work for yourself) but then again, what I do never feels like work 🙂 I love it.
I was thinking about this over the weekend, about being your own boss and how I wish I had done it so much sooner — but then again, I didn’t have the skills to do it sooner. It came to me at a time when I had something to offer — or I hope so.
I think this feeling that I was doing the right thing and connected to the right thing came when I first started to do some work for Bridge House. I still had the full-time job but I committed to learning about publishing and to work as first a marketing person, and later an editor and now partner in a small press. I fitted it in in the evenings and now I only do it on Sundays really — but it taught me so much. I came into it knowing so little and how far I feel I’ve come. So much so that I was able in 2011 to set up my own small press. It has given me great insight into how hard it is to sell books in great numbers and how indeed we rely on our lovely authors. Gill tells me we have over 250 authors on our book now. Makes me feel all warm inside 🙂
Some do get in touch every so often wondering about royalties but the truth — with so many authors per collection that sell mainly to the friends and family of those in the book, you never really get anything. There I said it. it’s about managing expectations — right? And writers need to know this. We have it all in a spreadsheet re sales available from Gill on request and the royalty money (little that there is) sits in a specially allocated account — but unless it reaches £10 for each writer, contractually it stays there for now. Of course if we folded then it would be allocated. I worried about this for a while, worrying authors expected more but now I’ve been published in so many other small presses in collections like these I am here to tell you no one has ever contacted me or said anything about royalties even though I am also contractually entitled to them. And that’s because with small presses — you shouldn’t really expect any I guess if the book doesn’t hit or exceed profit sufficiently. And one thing to be sure of with Bridge House, if it doesn’t — we get nothing as a publisher either and look how much work we put in! It’s true. We work for love and the occasional business lunch and sometimes a teeny tiny pay out but think double figures and not very often. hardly ever to be honest — it all stays there to fund the set-up and design costs of the next book.
This we discussed when I met with Gill this weekend, wondering if it was finally time to say goodbye to Bridge House. I am at a point in my own writing career where I have other commitments after all. I think anyone financial will agree it’s not exactly a booming business — but then again is it really about that? Isn’t it more about the art? The way we give new writers a voice and a platform from which to launch careers — well. isn’t it? Life isn’t all about money and I have to say if that was my mindset I wouldn’t have chosen to be a writer! Thankfully it’s not all about the money, never has been, never will be.
So what did we decide — give up now or find a way to carry on as we are. I feel guilty for not perhaps advertising or shouting about our books enough, perhaps I need to do more and I said this to Gill. Do authors expect me to be tweeting a lot more, pushing the books on book sites, Facebooking more? But you know with no marketing budget and limited time as I do need to write and earn my own pennies to feed myself, it’s really not possible. I still think now about the Gentle Footprints project when I spent whole days on it because that was the year I left my day job and we did sell over 1000 books. But I don’t have the time or energy to do this on other books. So am I letting the company down? Some of our authors are really proactive I have to say and we really need that. I do what I can. But I did worry that it isn’t really enough and perhaps it is time to say let’s stop.
But you will be happy to know we did make a decision to carry on. However, and details will follow on the website, one book a year, the Bridge House Annual. Not a competition, so no submission fee as we know this is a way lots of small presses make money and we have done this but we don’t want to. The call for submission will always open on January 1st and run to March 21st and we will publish the best 24 stories (one a day ’til Christmas like the first collection) on November 15th. Or at least that’s the tentative plan we have in place. And it will be launched in London each December. You heard it here first. No more novels as this isn’t really possible and no more themed collections. We will most likely still support some charities.
So we’ll relaunch ourselves next year, jazz up the website and try to make the Bridge House Annual something important and credible. And if there is any kind of theme (oh it will always be adult stories) is we want stories that make you think and we welcome experimental that might not be picked up elsewhere. We could also consider nominating writers for the Pushcart. So watch this space as this is hot off the press and means we can continue but is a smaller capacity. At least for now. And I hope given there won’t be massive amounts of work, Gill and I will share the selection and editing, we can at least see five years into the future and hopefully beyond. I hope this makes some of you happy as I know a number of BHP writers follow my Blog 🙂
Said it wouldn’t really be a short post!
So work calls and I hope to get some sunshine later too with Rosie.
Have a great day — no In The Spotlight tomorrow as I gather writers for it but remember if you want to be invited email me. Or if you have ideas for a guest post you would like to share that you think will help fellow writers, appeal to readers — do the same. You’ll find me at firstname.lastname@example.org — smile people, it’s a beautiful life!