1 What's your company called?
Our parent company is Bridge House Publishing. We have a daughter imprint, The Red Telephone, and a sister imprint, Chapeltown Books.
2 What do you publish?
Anthologies of short stories—generally one a year. Our writers are often new but we have also published quite a few established writers and some of our once-new writers are now quite experienced. It’s been great to have been part of their journey.
This year we’re actually publishing three anthologies, one an almost private one for a writing group and another with a bit of a political message. We’re also looking at single-author collections, but only from people we have published in our anthologies.
The Red Telephone publishes Young Adult books, with the next one coming out in July. We’re still open to submissions and will remain so until we fill our list. Chapeltown’s main function is to publish the annual selection of the Best of CaféLit, our online e-zine that supports The Creative Café Project
, and we have just started publishing collections of flash fiction drawn from the same source. We also have our first children’s picture book coming out at the end of April. If that is successful we may do others.
3 What's the story of the company?
In 2008 I [Gill James] was looking for something to do alongside my life as part-time writer / part-time academic, and had the idea of setting up a very small publishing company. I invited Debz Hobbs-Wyatt, who was one of the first authors I published and a writing friend anyway, into the business. Over the years we have taken on other partners, but in the end we have found it works better with just the two of us.
4 How's business?
Well, we’re not rich and we both do other work for money. But we’re not broke either. We operate a secure financial model that means most of the time we don’t pay for books until we have been paid by the distributer. We risk a mere £150 per book and even the slowest-selling books cover that quite quickly. We’re currently working on our 2016 royalties and have noticed quite a rise in sales over previous years.
We use Lightning Source and Amazon Kindle a lot. We don’t have to pay for expensive offices in London and we don’t take a wage, but do take royalties for editing and marketing and a little of the profit each month. If we turned that into a payment per hour we would be on or under minimum wage, though we get some pleasant surprises sometimes.
5 What do you enjoy about being independent?
We can really choose what to publish. Even if a book bombs we can still publish the author again if we want to. It’s always the quality of the literature that motivates us, not commercial matters.
6 What do you think is the biggest single issue in publishing right now?
Protecting authors’ and publishers’ rights. Getting rid of the pirates, the free downloads and the very cheap copies.
7 What one piece of advice would you give to a fellow independent just starting out?
Protect yourself financially.
8 What do you get out of belonging to the IPG?
A lot of tips and links in the newsletters. We’ve got to very few events but they have been very good.