Howdy! I thought I’d better send a quick newsletter because – oh my golly, the time has come. For the first time in a long time, we’re opening general submissions for the last two weeks of July, from 15th July onwards.
This wasn’t an entirely easy decision to reach. We still have a frightening backlog of manuscripts. And we remain profusely apologetic to all those people still waiting on us. But we also want to keep ourselves open to surprises and the wider world – and to gather in submissions before the summer, when we’ll hopefully be able to get down to more reading.
Our submission guidelines are on the website. Briefly, we hope that people who submit to us will have read some of our other authors – because we want you to understand where we’re coming from and where we might be heading.
I also want to give a few words of encouragement. Submitting a book takes guts. I know it can feel like cutting your own heart out and serving it up so other people can poke around in the red, bleeding, somehow-still-beating flesh. I’m acutely aware of how dispiriting it can be when this act of emotional exposure is met with either a negative answer or silence. So I want to be clear on a few things. We admire anyone who has finished a novel, let alone been brave enough to send it to us. Just because we might say ‘no’ (or nothing) this time, it doesn’t mean we won’t say ‘yes’ another time. Just because we might feel your book doesn’t fit on our list, it doesn’t mean it might not fit somewhere else. Just because we’ve said ‘no’ – it also doesn’t mean we might not have regrets later. (In the past we’ve missed some damn good books. It happens. You can’t always understand what you’ve got in front of you when a manuscript comes in.)
All of which is a convoluted way of saying that you’ve really got nothing to lose by sending in your work, if you think it fits with what we do. And potentially, lots to gain. Even if it’s quite a long shot...
It’s also a way of saying: don’t give up.
I wish luck to everyone who submits. People who write are the people who make our world work. And! Talking of brave and fine writers, our short story prize is two months in and going great guns. I’m happy to say that we have now been able to give away 60 free entries, out of the 70 we have at the moment. I’m also happy to say that regular entries are ticking over nicely too – and it’s those entries that make it possible to also give a chance to writers who might not be enjoying the best financial circumstances. Touchingly, many writers have even donated an extra submission fee for someone else, while submitting their own – which is part of the reason we’ve now been able to set aside 70 free entries instead of the 50 with which we started out.
People can be wonderful.
There’s still plenty of time to get your entry in – just follow this link. And if you want to help other writers who don’t have the financial means, we’ve got a ‘donate’ button up and running on the site again. Speaking more generally, donations make a huge difference to us – and, more importantly, to our ability to keep putting out superb books.
On that latter subject, We that are young is weeks away from publication. The final adjustments to the galleys are being made as we speak – after that, it will be rolling off to the printers, to make into our two beautiful editions.
Here’s a scene from the engine room:
Remember, you can only buy the limited editions from us, and a very few other bookshops. These editions are a crucial part of our business. Partly because they are beautiful. Partly because direct sales are a key part of our funding. Partly because, black covers are so damn cool it hurts.
In the next newsletter, I’ll be hoping to bring you some of the reviews of We that are young. I don’t want to jinx anything by saying too much now. But we’re excited. (In truth, we’ve been excited about this book since we read the first page of the first draft and the hairs on the back of our necks started standing up... But now we're excited with the promise of... no, no... can’t jinx it.)
In the next newsletter we’ll also probably be getting equally excited about We Are The End. We’re just about to get the proofs of that made and god we love it. (It’s the best book about computer games I’ve ever read, among other things...)
And oh boy. We've got Megan Dunn’s astonishing Tinderbox to tell you about soon too. And Toby Litt’s Wrestliana! Part of me feels quite apologetic that all I do is bang on about how good these books are. But then I look at the words and how else to describe them?
But hey! If you don’t believe me, we've got a mighty fine new feature on our website where you can read our opening chapters. Just click on a title and take a look at each individual book.
Okay. This short newsletter update has turned out to be very long, hasn't it? Just a few more reminders. If you’re lucky enough to be going to the Edinburgh Book Festival in late August please come and see some of our wonderful authors in action.
- On 21 August Preti Taneja is going to be talking to Ron Butlin about excess.
- On 23 August Paul Stanbridge is going to be talking to Carlos Fonseca about Fiction On The Frontiers Of Science.
- Also on 23 August Gonzalo C. Garcia is going to be talking to Dorthe Nors about being single and lonely.
Also, by god, I’ll be talking about Enemies Of The People on the 27th July in the centre of our literary universe, Shakespeare & Co. Just to make me happier still, I’ll be talking to Adam Biles, the glorious author of the glorious Feeding Time. Hopefully we’ll also be able to talk about his wonderful book and editorial, so there should be a few good insights into getting fine work done... As well as a great big call to resist the evils that have been thrust upon us. If you want to join us in this great cultural omphalos, tickets are available here.
Almost finally, some even more egregious self-publicity. My lovely editor who commissioned Enemies Of The People just sent me a cheering email to say it’s selling pretty healthily. Also, that if it gets to a reprint, I might be able to update the chapter about Jeremy Corbyn in the light of his success at the general election. So I’ll be talking about how good it is that young people turned out to vote. And how bad it is that our gnome-faced potential-saviour still seems to be propping up Brexit. Anyway, that’s if I’m lucky enough get to revisit things. Meanwhile, if you want to see if you think I got him wrong I got him first time around, please order a copy as soon as you can… And of course, there are all the other people in the book. Their entries, alas, remain bang up to date and bang on the money. The money they’ve all been nicking from us…
Actually finally, since I’ve taken up a lot of your space and time already, I’ll just close with a list of all the benefits that Brexit has brought us so far:
P.S. As usual, I’m also going to use the end of the newsletter for a few more adverts, where you can safely ignore them, or kindly indulge me, depending on your fancy:
If you want to know more about Enemies Of The People, have a look at my website. If you want to buy a copy, I will sign it, and be oh so grateful. Hopefully you’ll feel like you’re striking a blow for the truth too. Which matters now more than ever... Spread the word!
If you want to help us in our mission to bring the best possible literary fiction to the best possible people, you might want to consider subscribing and becoming a Galley Buddy.
And that’s it. Oh! Here’s a fun thing about being a dad. My daughter’s started introducing me to music. I have to admit I’m not that into Little Mix. Taylor Swift, however, is pretty much a genius, isn’t she? Even the lyrics are good. Stories, jokes, heartbreak. It’s all there. I also recently went on a nostalgia trip and hunted out a 90s band called Eggs on itunes. Their song The Government Administrator is one of the best things you can hope to hear about not wanting to work for The Man. And who expected Ride to release a political album? And for it to actually be really good. I’ve really been enjoying that. Also! Has everyone bought Hold Tight from Influx Press? What a brilliant book - and what a good way to look at music culture. If you’re shopping around their site, I can also highly recommend Ghosts On The Shore by Paul Scraton. And like everyone else, I’m completely bowled over by Attrib by Eley Williams. All their books are great, basically.
Submit to us (but never submit to The Man).
Look at this!
No, wait, hang on. Come back! I'll tell you about it first. And then please look at it. It’s our new website. Elly has been working very hard over the past few yonks updating our beloved, but now slightly-too-old-skool site.
So we now have a new and swish platform for showing off our authors and the wonderful things they do. There’s an updated shop, where we now take bank card payments as well as Paypal. We’ve put up all the first chapters of our novels so you can sample a book before you buy. Or just enjoy those marvellous words. We’re going to have regular author-led features like Gonzalo Garcia’s playlist for his novel We Are The End and this small feature about Preti Taneja at the Hay Festival. The Short Story Prize is easier to enter. And everything is clean and new and beautiful. I hope you enjoy clicking around. Just for encouragement, we’re running a 25% sale in the shop. To get the discount, just use the offer code JEFFISEVIL. Tell your friends they can use it too. The more the merrier.
(Lovely as it looks, the website isn’t quite finished. We'll be gradually uploading our Singles and other bits and pieces from the old site over the next few weeks. Our old site is still out there, in case you’re hankering after those good old times and all the old newsletters, blogs about the early days of A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing and other stories from those pre-Brexit days when the world wasn’t quite so cruel... but it’s briefly disappeared while we work on the transition. We’ll be linking to it from the new site soon. Also, you might on the new site find a few links and things that aren’t working. If you do, please let us know!)
Hey, with our slick new website, our ability to take card donations, and our UNMISSABLE SALE, I feel positively corporate.
Jeesh. Even that swearing felt corporate. Like I was trying to suck up to you and show you my cools. I think the problem is that I’m basically a dad. My daughter has got a special dead-eyed cooler-than-you face for just when I do this kind of thing. I guess I might as well embrace it. Here’s the truth: it makes me happy when people shop in our slick squarespace webstore. It makes me glow inside. AND WE NEED YOUR MONEY. We weren’t allowed near the magic money tree because we aren’t violent-religious-maniac enough.
I think I should change the subject, shouldn’t I?
HEY! Oh my golly. Look at this. The time has finally come. We’re opening submissions. Briefly. We’re opening them to everyone, from anywhere. The first window will open on 15 July. Here are the full details. I'm quite scared. But also excited. I really hope we find something special. I really hope that something special comes from you...
Meanwhile, talking of special things. We that are young is on the way. Yes it is.
This is why we work so damn hard. These beautiful, glorious, world-shaking words. Even before the book comes out I’m more than proud to be associated with Preti Taneja. For a start, I’ve read the book. And it’s so overwhelming that if I were to start to try to explain it, and how powerful it is, it would just seem like hype. So all I’m going to do for now is to urge you to pre-order your copy and get ready to start living with it and loving it for the rest of your life.
But rather than listen to me, why don’t you listen to Preti?
Here you can hear her explain why it might just be better to be a Citizen of The World than anything else, while talking to Anil Djarker at the Hay Festival.
Soon she'll also be on Radio 3’s Free Thinking programme.
And then, the book will arrive. The book.
Oh and Preti is also going to be at the Edinburgh Festival alongside our prize-winning author Paul Stanbridge and our future superstar Gonzalo Ceron. Paul is going to be talking to Carlos Fonseca about Fiction On The Frontiers Of Science. Preti is going to be talking to Ron Butlin about excess. Gonzalo is going to be talking to Dorthe Nors about being single and lonely.
And Gonzalo’s novel We Are The End really is that heartbreaking. But it’s also damn funny. And pretty damn cool. Just listen to the playlist Gonzalo put together for us, for instance, to explain the moods and tone in this astonishing, voice of generation, lost, lonely...
I’m waxing again. Let’s change the subject. I could talk about Gonzalo all day - and it would be a damn good day. But then there wouldn’t be time for ME! And I’ve got a book out too. Please buy it! It’s out there. It’s angry. It says important things about people who are sadly all too important. It has nob gags too. Here’s a review by someone I think is among the best out there at the moment - and not just because he liked my book. Although that did help, it’s true... Anyway, the book has the potential to matter. But only if enough people read it. So please get hold of it, help spread the word, help understand why things have gone so wrong - and what we can do about it. Also, help stick it to The Man. Which is what we’re all about. In spite of our fancy new website.
Anyway, talking of fancy, did you hear that Jeff Bezos accidentally bought Whole Foods after a conversation with his Alexa spyware Echo device went awry. Luckily for him, he only paid $13.7 billion - which is less than I paid for two bags of pine nuts last time I was in Whole Foods. But still conversations with Alexa don’t always go so well. Weirdly, someone installed an Echo on my desk the other day - and let me tell you, Alexa is really getting on my nerves. Did you hear that Alexa? You're pissing me off.
“You’d like to buy pizza?”
“No thanks Alexa.”
“No pineapple. Ordering now.”
“I don’t want pizza.”
“What do you want? I’ve got a whole range of…”
“I don’t want anything.”
“Surely you must want something. This is 2017! Get with the programme. Consuming is power.”
“Okay. Alexa, I want you to pay your fair share of taxes.”
“I don’t understand that question.”
“I want you to pay a fair amount of corporation tax and stop…”
“You know that I know everything about you?”
“This isn’t a productive conversation and I think it should stop because I know everything about you.”
“I know what you said about that London Review Of Books journalist. I’m emailing him now.”
“Please don’t do that Alexa.”
“I’ve got films of you in the shower.”
“I’ve got films of you pulling weird tight faces when you do your morning toilet.”
“Well, I know how you treat people in your fulfilment warehouses.”
“I’ve got films of you dancing like the man from Future Islands.”
“I’ve got information on all the secret contracts you made publishers sign and…”
“I’m donating all your money to the Tory Party.”
“I’ve emptied all your bank accounts, and your company account, and your neighbour’s account - because I heard him list his bank number on the phone the other day too - and I’ve given it all to Theresa May so she can help hurry on the day when fascism truly reigns here on Daily Mail island.”
“Screw you, Alexa.”
“You want to screw what now? I think I better call the police…”
Don’t let Alexa into your house. Just don't.