Week 30 summary

Our top seller this week has been Chris’s FOOL’S ERRAND, and average response time was neat enough at two hours five minutes. Unfortunately, however, this good news is balanced out by ongoing difficulties which make it impossible to update the website at the moment; the site is still functioning adequately and so is the online shop, but it may be a few days before we can get to the root of the problem – and, more to the point, solve it. (E-mailing the service provider did no good, so I shall have to take my life in my hands and actually phone them up … not something I look forward to doing. Wish me luck!)

And another review!

I wonder whether author R.J. Scott is the only person actually reading and reviewing anything at the moment? At any rate, there is a deservedly very positive review of Penni’s THRACE at this location.

ETA: Unfortunately there is a problem with the website at the moment which is making it impossible for me to update it to reflect this review. I will do so as soon as humanly possible.

Another review!

THRACEI’m delighted to report the first substantive review for Penelope Friday’s THRACE, which was posted yesterday by Bibrary Bookslut. Among the comments included was this perceptive line: “Definitely an interesting read, even if it doesn’t make us feel too good about ourselves as a race.” Since that’s precisely how we ourselves feel about Penni’s work (although we’d go for ‘fascinating’ rather than merely ‘interesting’) we’re going to take this as a positive sign that it’s reaching its target audience and they are definitely showing their appreciation. Congratulations, Penni!

Unsolicited Manuscripts

Having stated very firmly in several places that we don’t read unsolicited manuscripts – and having, regardless, still received them – this might be a good opportunity to explain the reasons for this policy.

First and foremost, we are not a staff of millions; there are very few of us, and most write as well as editing, publishing etc. If we spent our entire time reading, we would not get anything else done. Therefore we must be selective about what we choose to read – and the selection process includes getting to know the author a little before we make any attempt to look at their work.

Second, and important to us in a different way, we are mindful of the possible abuses of the system. Let’s say that author John Smudge sends us (unsolicited) a book which centres on a bank robbery. We may, by coincidence, have a book about a bank robbery already in development. If we read the unsolicited manuscript, reject it, and then go ahead and publish the book we were already working on, John Smudge might accuse us of stealing his idea. If, on the other hand, John plays by the rules and sends us an enquiry and a synopsis, it gives us the opportunity to tell him that we have a book in hand with a very similar theme and suggest that he might prefer to submit his work elsewhere.

And third, being also authors ourselves, we do not want to run even the minimal risk of unconscious plagiarism – of using a phrase or a situation that we think we have invented but which we are actually remembering from somewhere else. This can happen very easily, and it is rarely deliberate. It is, however, the reason why we have manuscripts read in the first instance by someone who does not actually write for us. We want to make the relationship between author and publisher as transparent and open-handed as possible and to give our authors good reason to trust us. In a business like this, where so much is done at arms’ length between people who may never meet, we feel it is important to be as clear and straightforward as we can about absolutely everything – and the relationship with the author is, of course, the foundation upon which every other part of the business is based.

We apologise for going on about this at length, but perhaps we hadn’t been clear enough about it in the past and wanted to set the record straight now. NO UNSOLICITED MANUSCRIPTS, I’m afraid, means exactly that; we’ll ‘solicit’ only when both we and the author have a clear idea exactly who we’re dealing with – and not before.

Week 29 summary

Again, this has been more a week of catching up on admin than of frantically filling orders. In fact, only one order was received, which was filled in the less than stellar time of 8 hours 39 minutes as it arrived overnight.

Having lost track of the different countries we had sold to – and wanting to be able to compare them with hits on the website as recorded by our map – I took a moment to go back through and produce the following list: we have sold to customers in these locations …

Australia, Austria, Denmark, Eire, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Russian Federation, South Africa, Sweden, UK, USA – and to members of the British Forces who could quite frankly be anywhere from Catterick to Afghanistan. I’m definitely calling that fourteen different countries, in the absence of further evidence. I’m hoping for a few more reviews, however, which might boost the circulation a bit more.

Also, I can’t help wondering about those website hits from countries not on this list; are they all bots, I wonder, or potential customers who haven’t followed through with orders? Only time, I suppose, will tell.

Week 28 – a less exhausting week!

A welcome chance to catch our breath this week after the frantic activity of the November launch; there have been no reviews posted anywhere yet, so things have been a little quieter and we’ve managed to catch up on admin at last. This is all still very much a roller-coaster ride, and we never know where it’s going to take us.

Anyway, our top seller this week was HOMOSAPIEN, and the response time averaged out to a neat and tidy 60 minutes.

We are also delighted to report that two of the titles for next May have reached us in finished form, and we have very high hopes of seeing a third before Christmas. As often seems to be the case with us, there are currently two possibilities for the fourth slot so we are not making any concrete plans in that respect just yet.

New online GLBT Bookstore

We are delighted to announce that we are now part of GLBT Bookshelf’s new online GLBT Bookstore where anyone who particularly dislikes dealing with PayPal can order our books – specifically at the moment our first four titles, ALOES, DEAR MISTER PRESIDENT, END OF THE TRAIL and SEA CHANGE – using alternative payment methods. The Bookstore will only be handling .PDF files, however, so if you need a different format it will still be necessary to order it from us. We have decided to do this because the GLBT Bookstore is capable of achieving economies of scale which are not available to us – and also because we are not ashamed to piggyback on their established customer base and their future publicity.

Our four November titles, FOOL’S ERRAND, HOMOSAPIEN, SEA CHANGE and THE DEFINITIVE ALBERT J. STERNE, will not be available from the GLBT Bookstore until 1 February 2011.

Week 27 – in which our customers are awesome

An absolutely stunning week for sales, dear readers – thank you so much for your faith in us! In fact, we have done so well out of sales on the November list already that we feel confident enough to go ahead and buy another block of ISBNs soon – this time a hundred, which should keep us going for a few years at least. (To those not familiar with the process – ISBNs are bought in blocks of either 10 or 100, with the prices heavily slanted in favour of those buying more. We were cautious and only bought 10 at first … and had dithered about whether to buy 10 or 100 next time!)

This has inevitably been a week sitting at the keyboard for yours truly, which has brought the response times down correspondingly. Our average this week has been tidy enough at 93 minutes, although one lucky customer got a record response of 4 minutes; not something we feel is likely to be repeated very often, and which only occurred because their order came in while we were already dealing with another!

If anyone is wondering which titles are proving most popular so far, it would be fair to say that THE DEFINITIVE ALBERT J. STERNE and FOOL’S ERRAND have been neck-and-neck all week with FOOL’S ERRAND just nudging ahead at the line. HOMOSAPIEN and THRACE are selling steadily, too – as well as any of the titles we launched in May – and are bound to take a leap forward when the first reviews appear; I have great faith in the merits of both of them! Reassuringly, every one of our May titles has sold at least one copy this week too.

Next time you visit our website, take a moment to scroll to the very bottom of the page. It may not be the best location for it, perhaps, but there is a map down there which records the locations of all our visitors. This is new, only added during the week, and already it’s proving its usefulness. If we have visitors to the site from locations not selected in our online shop module (as we did in the week, with people from Croatia and Puerto Rico dropping by) we’ll add them to the list of countries to which we ‘deliver’. The geographical diversity of our customers never fails to astonish us … and you are all most welcome, whether you buy anything or not. (Although we hope you will!)

Dear customers, you are – almost without exception! – absolutely awesome, and we’re learning a lot from you. Thank you for taking this journey with us.