Thursday, 7 April 2011


Well, it's been nearly two weeks since my last blog post, and what a two weeks it has been. My book arrived, as you know, and it's been selling well, but I've also gone ahead with a plan which has been at the back of my mind for a while, and set up a small press. I've also been doing the marking and teaching that comes along at the end of a semester as well as sending stories out etc. etc. It's been a busy couple of weeks but very rewarding.

In my last post I talked about the book, and my reasons for doing it - as well as my fears and hopes. It's been out for two weeks now and I've sold a little over half the print run, and feedback is proving very positive. I was particularly pleased with the comments I received from Cathy Bryant (a poet who's wonderfully titled book, Contains Strong Language and Scenes of a Sexual Nature, came out last year). She said

Such a treat... I was reading it thinking ah, so this is what good flash fiction is like. These should have won prizes and been lauded to the skies... The best and most energetic book of flash I've read for aeons!'

Does it get any better than that? It certainly helped to calm my fears over the audacity of self-publishing to know that I was doing something that others would consider to be good work.

As a result of the feedback, and the speed with which this edition is selling (plus the fact that a number of proof-reading errors have been spotted by eagle-eyed readers which need fixing), I started to think about a second edition. And, I decided, this time it needed to have an ISBN number so that it could be listed on Amazon and ordered from bookshops. It also - I was advised by a colleague - needed to issue from a 'press' rather than just myself.

I can see the need for that. I won't hide behind the press, but it removes my name explicitly from the copyright page and makes the whole thing look a little more professional. However, with the way my mind works, it wasn't enough to simply invent a name and go for it. I started thinking about setting up a real small press.

The thing is, I used to be a publisher. From 1997-2004 I ran CK Publishing. We produced the Writer's Muse magazine (still in existence, and run by my friend and colleague, Jim Palmer) and a number of chapbooks, anthologies, and trade paperbacks. That company moved out of books and into websites and became WebGuild Media, another company that still exists. I left there in 2008 to concentrate full-time on teaching and writing, but ever since CK Publishing's demise, I have been toying with the idea of getting back into the business in some way.

This seemed like the perfect opportunity. Both I and the world are in different places than we were when I set up the last company. With the wonders of blogs and Facebook, it's much easier to spread the word and get people to submit. And with the network of writers I have developed, it's also easier to get supporters for your project.

So, last Sunday, after thinking through some - but by no means all - of the issues, I announced the birth of Gumbo Press, and then started setting it up. Along with my partner, Kath Lloyd, the poet Jo Bell, and my friend and colleague from the Writer's Muse, Mike Somers, we are now putting together how the whole thing is going to work.

Suffice it to say, there will be an e-zine featuring writing in all its forms, and we plan to move into chapbooks and anthologies as time goes on. Competitions, events, and other things we haven't even thought of yet will join the mix. It's a lot of work, but so exciting, and with 76 followers on Facebook in less than a week, hopefully a success.

Tonight I'm back reading with Jo for a Bugged event (with a few copies of 31 floating around too, perhaps) and in a couple of weeks I'm back at Bad Language (who have selected one of the 31 stories for their next anthology) to read and promote the book there as well.

So, anyway, that was my two weeks. What have you been up to?

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