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Updated: Apr 29, 2023


The world has become an increasingly tough and unforgiving place for the small creative, the artisan, the little press, and in the three years I've been running my little Scottish press, I've seen things change subtly and dramatically in equal measure.


First up, the cost of materials has gone through the roof, which means that our books are costing more to produce.


This does not mean, however, that we can charge more for our books. Inflation means ordinary people cannot afford to pay more for products so if we put our prices up to cover our costs, customers, understandably, would pass us by.


So, for each per unit cost, we are making about 50 per cent less than three years ago. However our household costs have skyrocketed like everyone else.


Independent bookshops take between 40 and 50% of the book price, upon sale. Wholesalers such as Gardner's, in England, never count off shipping fees in their calculations, insisting that booksellers and publishers pay shipping costs themselves with no refunds from retailers.


This means I have made the difficult decision to not fulfill large wholesale orders of my published books, because, in effect, I would be giving away my book stock for free and paying to send them out in addition...this amounts to me paying for my books to be bought by someone else; madness!!!


Independent bookshops do not promote books, unless you're a major publisher with a famous name in the title. So by offering our books to independent and chain bookshops, we're essentially sending our stock to 'Death by Dust' on a bookshop's shelf, hidden away, unnoticed and fading fast.


In these difficult times then, I've made the executive decision, after running things past two colleagues, that I will not allow independent bookshops to stock my books, and that I will sell via my E-Shop only.


And once I have sold my stock, I will move back to artisan books in the full meaning of the word, and become a specialist artisan online store.


I have done my PRO BONO time for Scottish literature but now it's time to run this as a proper business, and make a profit.


It's been a wonderful experience though, and I learned so much.


8d Press will be selling all its stock now, before moving onto the next phase. I'm so excited about the future holds.


As the Chinese say, 'from chaos comes opportunity.' These last few years have felt chaotic. Here's looking at the future.






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Let's Get Real....

A WRITER'S LIFE is a surreal mosaic of fact and fiction - endlessly exhausting, endlessly exhilarating, an exercise in madness, depression, joy, shame, guilt, exuberance and so much more. In this post we're shouting out about the FACT versus the FICTION of a writer's life. Here goes:-

FANTASY ONE

I have this wonderful book in my head, an automatic bestseller, I just know it, and I’m going to be the next Stephen King or J.K Rowling.


REALITY

No one ever became a writer without actually writing words on a page (or a computer). Writing is rocky road of hell and joy that takes years and years to master and most successful writers admit that they never fully master the art. Writing is an art form that needs constant practice. Everyone thinks they can write a bestseller - that’s the truth of it, but bestsellers are an alchemy of many factors; algorithms, networking, patience, luck, timing, years of work, trends, hashtags, promotions and perhaps divine intervention and ultimately who you know in the industry (as awful as this sounds - hence the networking element).


FANTASY TWO

I can self-publish and my novel will sell millions of copies because I have researched the internet and know how to muddle through with cover designs and social media marketing. I know I can write, so the rest is easy.


REALITY

Despite what you may read online self-publishing is an exercise in madness for many. The learning of coding and/or new publishing platforms, the ever-changing rules of marketing and promotions is a 12-hour a day job and that’s before you even write a word. Of course I exaggerate for effect but not by much!!! Amazon changes its algorithms regularly to steer you towards spending lots and lots on its Amazon Advertising platform, which you practically need a degree in mathematics to understand; I kid you not.


Facebook and Apple are other mega-platforms that are constantly changing their rules to pick more money from your virtual wallet. Think on this, if you self-publish the daily equation to get moderate success is roughly 80 percent online admin and 20 per cent writing. You can allocate a day for the online admin stuff and the rest of the time you can write but you will find the online admin stuff creeps into each and every day of your writing life under the guise of writing procrastination.


FANTASY THREE

I’ll just ‘love bomb’ all UK publishers with my work and something will ‘stick’. They won’t be able to resist me.


REALITY

All publishers have genre requirements so if you’re a romance writer, 'love-bombing' all publishers will serve you a big plate of ZERO in return. You need to research who publishes romance and stick strictly to these publishers and/or agents. Despite it being a no-no generally, I would suggest you ignore this rule of only approaching one publisher or agent at a time. Who has time for this method? Approach three at a time because your time is important and any publisher/agent worth their salt will try to get back to you quickly. But before you do that check their website to see if they are accepting submissions. The Big Five publishers will have many imprints you can approach but check they are accepting submissions and follow all their requirements; these requirements are there for a reason. So, it doesn't matter how brilliant you are as a writer, if your story doesn't fit a publisher's brand or list, you'll be REJECTED. PERIOD. Never take this personally. And remember check that you can submit without a literary agent; some publishers allow this but most don't.


SUM UP

Before you give up, please don't. If you're a writer, it will be in your DNA and you will find a way but save your sanity and come up with a writer's lifestyle plan that will protect you. In the next blog we'll help you with this, help you get started. Check back with us soon.

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We all know that loneliness and feelings of isolation can chip away at our sense of self, at our reason for being, at our souls, yet to even mention that we feel lonely comes with such a stigma of shame that we barely ever mutter the word out loud.

 

Loneliness is such an ethereal concept that we never give it much daylight in our minds. We push aside thoughts of feeling lonely as something that will pass. I've suffered from loneliness in my life, often, because I have felt pushed aside by close connections, people I had looked to for support but who had not offered any.


Feeling lonely can feel like you don't fit in or that you've got nothing in common with the people around you. As a writer and publisher I seek connections with people daily. I need daily connections with people to keep these feelings of loneliness at bay, but what about the people in this strange world who are unable to create daily connections with other people?

 

It's a question I have asked myself a million times: what about those who are not blessed with my "gift of the gab"? I just wish we could use that word 'lonely' and not feel ashamed or muted by the concept of feeling lost in the world and without support.

 

Joining groups can make the loneliness worse, that feeling that somehow a mass of bodies surrounding us, chattering at us, can make us feel connected, because ultimately loneliness is about feeling connected with the world and our environment. And that's where Society, with a capital 'S' is to blame. A Society that absorbs the cultural norms of modern life and does not challenge it, makes us fear loneliness and makes us unable to admit that despite having friends we still feel socially disconnected and therefore alone.

 

Which brings me to the paperback anthology my little publishing company is about to release, called ALONE - journeys inside the solo life, and why we should start talking about this eternal human condition.


Eight writers take us on journeys inside the solo life and what this state of being does to the mind of an ordinary human being in the second decade of the 21st century. Loneliness distorts our thinking, makes us laugh, cry, recoil, remember, get violent, despair, get philosophical, and sometimes it makes us do away with ourselves. For these reasons we need to talk about loneliness.

 

ALONE - journeys inside the solo life is out next week (15th February 2023). It features a Foreword by Scotland's Queen of Crime Val McDermid and an Introduction by Scottish Mental Health Activist and Writer Chris Creegan.


This anthology features seven short stories and one short screenplay by talented Scottish writers working today. Priced at £10.95 plus p&p, it's available to order from this website.

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