Friday, 20 October 2017

This week at Valley Press, #77: 'Filey via New Zealand'

Dear readers,

A new poetry book has arrived at VP HQ, and though we've had dozens of similar arrivals over the years, the moment never loses its excitement. (When it does, it's probably time to pack all this in!) The new book is Gifts the Mole Gave Me by Wendy Pratt, who becomes one of our most local writers, based in our neighbouring coastal town of Filey.

It's worth saying though, despite us already knowing Wendy and her work, her collection rose to the top of our 600-ish 2016 submissions fair and square – there was no leaning on the scales of subs justice, this genuinely was one of the very best poetry books we were sent last year. The local connection just meant she could join me in the office for such important tasks as typesetting and cover design; it was a nice change to work 'up close and personal' with an author on those crucial parts of the process.

I won't share a poem just yet, as I've got a lot to tell you today, but Wendy has asked that I enclose a few blurb highlights: such as Carole Bromley saying: 'A sureness of touch, a startling image, and an ability to move the reader mark this Yorkshire poet as something very special indeed’, with Deborah Alma adding: 'These poems are the wonderful work of a poet in full control of her art and craft; they are beautiful, musical, understated and unexpected.' And of course, they're right.

We'll piece together a launch for Wendy before the end of the year, but in the meantime you can see her (and Oz Hardwick) at the legendary "Word Club", on Friday 27th from 7.30pm at The Chemic Tavern, Leeds; will be a great night out.

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Speaking of great nights out, I need to flag up our next book today as well: and brace yourselves, it's a surprising addition to the catalogue. I Was Britpopped is the first and last word as far as that titular musical movement is concerned; it's an A-Z, a comprehensive guide to everyone and everything involved, with more than 500 entries covering everything from Albarn to Zeitgeist.

Originally self-published by the two authors, we took the rights early this year and have since given it a complete overhaul, with Jo Haywood doing approximately two million hours of work ensuring every word was perfect. It's got infographics too; I know how much you all love those. I'm looking forward to showing it off in the next couple of months.

This isn't quite the random deviation from our list that it seems; I'd already signed one book on music history by the time Britpopped came to my attention, and am working on more – music-related titles are set to be a significant part of Valley Press going forward. Someone had to go first!

The book's authors, Jenny and Tom, have graciously agreed to do a couple of events to launch the book; I say graciously because Tom lives in New Zealand (making him our most distant author), and is coming over especially for the launches. You can meet them at Waterstones Leeds on Thursday 2nd November, from 6.30pm, or in London the following day at Waterstones Camden (details here), which I'm told is pretty much the centre of the Britpop universe. Thanks to Waterstones too, for having us at short notice.

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Having followed through on our promise a few weeks ago, I'm pleased to report a pilot episode of the Emma Press/Valley Press podcast is now available. The series will be titled 'The Friday Morning Meeting', named after the phone conversation that myself and Emma have been holding every Friday morning (when practical) for about four years now. You can listen here, if your ears aren't doing anything in particular for the next 24 minutes.

The calls are typically quite lively, as we discuss the ups and downs of the small press lifestyle with our characteristic frankness; however, this first one isn't quite so spicy, as we are finding our podcasting feet, figuring out the format and so on, but we have had some positive feedback so far. Do let us know what you think, and forward any questions you'd like answered in a future edition. (We're thinking new episodes will be coming fortnightly.)

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Thanks to everyone who emailed me about the subs issue discussed in last week's newsletter; I will reply at some point (horribly behind with emails again!) I might even put together some anonymous highlights from the correspondence for a future newsletter, when a quiet week inevitably rolls around.

For the moment, you can stop worrying about the rights and wrongs of submissions procedures, as our subs are now closed for the rest of the year. Tess and two glamorous assistants will be combing through the 200 outstanding manuscripts tomorrow – assuming she's not too worn out, of course, from the swanky awards 'do' that four of the VP team are attending tonight. (The Yorkshire Coast Chamber of Commerce Awards, if you're wondering; we're up for 'Arts/Culture Business of 2017'.)

That's in a couple of hours' time, actually – Mrs McGarry is stood in the doorway tapping her watch, so I'd best go and get my tux on. Look out for the result next week!

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

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