Friday, 21 July 2017

This week at Valley Press, #64: 'Spread the word'



Dear readers,

As mentioned in last week’s newsletter by the lovely Harriet (there was no way she was going to let me get away with this one!) today you will be hearing from me, Emma, another Valley Press intern for July. Despite having to check whether, in her own words, her “irritating habit for ‘hilarious’ bracketed-off asides” was too much, Harriet has certainly set the intern newsletter-writing bar high (a dazzling 10/10, in Jamie’s own words… no pressure then!) And as you may already be able to tell, I’m afraid I will not be providing too much relief from that ‘witty bracket habit’ this week! Clearly, we both find ourselves too funny for our own good. Harriet, my partner in crime, has now completed her internship, leaving me to fend for myself (only joking). It’s a good job then, that the Valley Press team are so delightfully lovely, making me feel completely at home here in the office… at least, once I’d actually managed to find to find my way here. Stay tuned.

The commencement of my experience was an interesting one as I found myself all-too-nearly wandering into the former Valley Press office. Little did I know that the team had moved into a delightful new space – thank goodness I can only describe my experience as an upwards spiral from there on (phew!) Now that I’ve actually managed to make my way into the correct office, I’ve so far had a wonderfully exciting experience witnessing first-hand what really goes on in a publishing house – seeing all the individual cogs that fit together to make that Valley Press engine run!

To my surprise, I found that there were a lot more cogs than anticipated. I can’t help but recall being asked by Jamie in my interview back in April something along the lines of: “What do you think goes on between a book being proposed and that book turning into a physical ‘real life’ copy?” I responded rather naively that a bit of editing and formatting probably occurs along the way. It was therefore quite the surprise when on my first day I was presented with a page-and-a-half step-by-step ‘ticklist’ which has to be applied to every book Valley Press receives!  This publishing business is definitely quite an undertaking, yet it is pulled together spectacularly here by such a small team.

* * * * *

Now onto the important stuff: in traditional Valley Press fashion, I have a bit of exciting news to share (there always seems to be something exciting going on here!) The Valley Press Anthology of Yorkshire Poetry, edited by Miles Salter and Oz Hardwick, officially "launches" on 1st August in York. The evening will feature readings from contributors: Antony Dunn, Oz Hardwick, Amina Alyal, Miles Salter, Rob Miles, Dave Gough, Robert Powell and more...  tempting, right? As spectacular as that all sounds, I should probably mention the important bits: the event will take place at City Screen in York at 8pm. Entry is £4 and copies of this landmark anthology will be available for purchase during the evening. The marvellous Jamie and Jo are also going to be there – so spread the word – it’s all set to be a knock-your-socks-off evening.

In other exciting news (it just keeps on coming!), Kate Smith – pictured excitedly below, and who can blame her – has just signed the contract to have her novel The Negligents published by VP in June 2018. So don’t be negligent (yes, that was supposed to be funny), and make sure to look out for that!


A quick reminder that Nora Chassler's Edinburgh launch for Madame Bildungsroman’s Optimistic Worldview will be happening this evening (still plenty of spaces if you want to surprise us!) The evening is sure to be a stimulating one, with a chance to hear readings from Chassler’s edgy and eccentric work, quiz her about her enticing, eclectic thoughts then sit back, relax and enjoy some jazz!

I’ll end by saying that I’ve had the most wonderful and vibrant few weeks so far – as a steadfast book worm, finding myself completely immersed in this inviting world of brand new up-and-coming literature has been a dream, and it’s been great to be able to dip in and out of the wide variety of roles involved in the publishing process. What could be better?

You may be pleased to hear as I sign off that next week you will be hearing from another intern, Rebecca – perhaps she will be the one to finally offer you all some relief from the witty asides?

All the best,
Emma Goff-Leggett
Valley Press Intern

Friday, 14 July 2017

This week at Valley Press, #63: 'Only nice people'



Dear readers,

I’m Harriet, and today is my penultimate day as an intern at Valley Press, having been here for almost two weeks now. I’m very excited to be e-meeting you all, as Jamie assures me (and I’ve discovered for myself) that “only nice people” are associated with Valley Press! Jamie’s original plan for this week’s newsletter was that I would write it alongside Emma, another July intern, but it turns out that collaborative writing is harder than anticipated, as we discovered after having spent five minutes agreeing on “We are Harriet and Emma”. So, today you’re stuck with me, and you can look forward to hearing from a fresh new voice next week.

As cliché as it sounds, I’m going to begin by saying that I have had an amazing two weeks, and I’d like to thank Jamie, Jo, and Tess for making me feel at home within the team. Having found it so difficult to get any kind of work experience in publishing, I’m incredibly grateful to Valley Press for giving me such an enjoyable and hands-on introduction to the publishing world. There’s been lots going on around here, and I’m certain you’re all dying to hear exactly what I’ve been up to, so bear with me as I give you a brief snapshot of some of my most exciting endeavours.

You’re all undoubtedly very diligent with your newsletter-reading, so I’m sure you’ll know that Jamie has taken on seven exciting books translated from Chinese, the first of which is titled Mountain Stories and is already available to buy. Much to my surprise, I’ve been let loose on the final stages of the second of these fascinating books. Without giving too much away (Jo is keeping a careful eye on me from across the desk), I can tell you that you’re in for another treat with this next one! Although I study English Literature at university, I also take a French literature module, so I’m definitely an advocate for immersing oneself in a different way of thinking and living. I hope you all agree that Jamie and team have taken on a very admirable and worthwhile project.

I also had the pleasure of attending an author meeting with the lovely Caroline Hardaker and her editor Char March, where I watched in awe as together they carefully grafted away at Caroline’s debut poetry pamphlet, due to be published in October (see candid ‘creatives at work’ shot below!) Far from being a depressing session of hole-picking, we all left feeling inspired, refreshed, and ready to move forward with her beautiful collection (Jamie’s round of G&Ts helped too). In fact, I was so taken by Caroline and her poems that I have since made it my mission to find the perfect cover image for the book: it’s nice to think that I might make a genuine contribution to all the wonderful work going on here.


Speaking of wonderful work (see what I did there?), the team here have recently struck up a friendship with the literary folk of Marsden, who are hoping to put their village on the map as ‘Marsden the Poetry Village’. When they approached us to support them in their first project – to fill the village pubs with poetry books – of course we were more than happy to oblige. Pairing great poetry with great alcoholic (or otherwise) refreshment sounds like a no-brainer to me.

In other news, it seems Jamie has been spending his ‘email holiday’ imagining what it would be like to have fourteen other people who could answer all his emails for him. Only (half) joking. But following on from his ‘Small Press Publishing for Profit’ articles, he’s written a new piece fast-forwarding the Valley Press timeline and envisioning life with a team of fifteen. (Before the masses descend, I’d like to call first dibs on roles #2-#15, please and thank you.) How all the work gets done with a team a quarter of this size is beyond me, but I’m certainly glad Jamie has allowed himself to take a tiny step back for the next fortnight! Here he is at the British Grand Prix, presumably selected as the furthest possible pursuit from literary publishing...


Before I sign off, and before you think the intern role at Valley Press is nothing but glamour, I should probably mention that Emma and I spent a day distributing posters around Scarborough last week (I got incredibly sunburnt and Emma’s shoes rubbed – oh, the perils of being a publishing intern!) The posters were advertising the ‘Literary Lunch Hour’, a series of events running throughout August and September, which offers you the chance to spend an hour with your favourite Valley Press authors for just £5 (full info here). Sadly, I’ve been informed that lunch is not included, but why waste time eating when you could be nattering away with Nora Chassler or Antony Dunn?

Lastly, but not least(ly), don’t forget about Nora Chassler’s Edinburgh launch on Friday 21st for Madame Bildungsroman’s Optimistic Worldview, which is, in her own words, a “book of fragments, allegories, aphorisms and general oversharing”. There will also be live jazz and wine, as though that description isn’t tempting enough.

Thank you for sticking with me as I negotiated my way through Jamie’s ‘newsletter to-do list’ for this week. You’ll be relieved to know that you won’t have to put up with my irritating habit for ‘hilarious’ bracketed-off asides next week, as, like I said, you’ll be hearing from the other intern, Emma!

Thanks once again to Jamie et al, as well as all the other brilliant people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

Have a lovely week!

Harriet Clifford,
Valley Press intern

Friday, 7 July 2017

This week at Valley Press, #62: 'The Eagle'



Dear readers,

I must start by thanking everyone for the outpouring of kind words after our last email. I've included another Helen Cadbury poem at the end of this post, in a different genre; a childhood anecdote in fact (showing the great storytelling skill everyone's been talking about in the past week, along with a 'Twinkle' of humour).

After a few requests, I turned last week's poem, 'The Dance', into an image which can be easily shared on social media (find that here). The family have asked that donations in Helen's memory go to Accessible Arts and Media, York, a brilliant organisation which Helen chaired for a number of years – details here.

* * *

Elsewhere at Valley Press, Helen Burke's twenty-month wait to see her Collected Poems is almost at an end – hardback copies arrived in the VP office on Thursday (see picture above). An ebook is also available now. The hardback, after all this effort, is priced at £30... but we realise that is a touch steep, so for the next few weeks you can all have 20% off using the discount code BIRDIES.

In other new releases: Mountain Stories is "officially" published today, and should be appearing on bookshop shelves across the UK. For those who've already ordered, I hope you find it as intriguing and entertaining as we did. A sample can be found here, if you've not yet read anything from our new Chinese translation series. We're working on the second volume at the moment; I have the final manuscript in my hand.

This week also saw the release of our third audiobook publication. We invited Norah Hanson over to Scarborough to record her latest collection Sparks, using the brilliant studio/production setup at Tom Townsend's Village Records. We did take after take of each poem until they were perfect, and the results are available on Amazon, Audible and iTunes now for just a few pounds – less than a posh coffee! Give it a try.

If free entertainment is more your style, VP authors Sue Wilsea and Nora Chassler recently visited the Valley Press office, and graciously agreed to film video interviews, answering the questions from TV programme 'Inside the Actor's Studio'. (In the video, I credit them to James Lipton, but have since learned he borrowed them from a man called Pivot... who in turn lifted them from Proust. So more literary than you'd think.) You can see Sue's video here and Nora's here.

* * *

I'm about to embark on an email holiday for a few weeks, starting Sunday – I'll be keeping one eye on the workings of Valley Press though, and still doing the occasional meeting/event (so don't panic if we've got one booked!) The next few newsletters will be from enterprising interns and other VP staff, so look out for some lively new voices in your inbox. Enjoy those, and the poem below – see you in August.

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher



The Wrong Label

by Helen Cadbury, from Forever, Now (published November 2017)

The Christmas I unwrapped an Eagle annual
there was Dan Dare, all black lines, strong jaw,
the Mekon, slime-green, repulsive, sucking me in.
Each comic strip a rush of danger, thrill of speed.

Minutes in to this new-found joy, a cry went up,
my brother sat with a Twinkle annual in his lap.
I fought my case, ruined Christmas with my argument,
and lost. These things happen, simple mistake.

I flicked the pages of Twinkle, where fat-faced
children smiled pink-lipped smiles, cherubic.
I was having none of it. I spent the afternoon
plotting how to make the Eagle mine.