How I got published by Timeline Books from the lovely Joseph D'Lacey
I first met Simon Key, co-owner of The Big Green Bookshop early in 2008. I was on tour in The Meatwagon, promoting my debut novel MEAT when we stopped at his shop so I could sign some stock.
The shop was full of volunteers preparing the premises for their grand opening a few days later. I remember Simon and his business partner, Tim, climbing into the Meatwagon and grinning at what we’d done to it. In a way, Simon and I started our new careers at the same time – him as a bookseller and me as an author. We got on well that first day and he went on to read MEAT – and pretty much everything else I’ve written – often talking about my work or reviewing it on The Big Green Bookshop’s blog.
Since then, I’ve been back to the shop for an event or two – I launched the chapbook Echoes there with William Hussey and Mathew F Riley, the co-curators of Horror Reanimated.
At some point recently, without me really noticing, Simon got into the publishing business. His first book was Greg Stekelman’s London Tales, a limited edition hardback that has all but sold out.
In early 2012, he got in touch with a proposition for me:
“I want to publish you,” he said.
This was rather lovely because, at the time, I’d been through three years of author blues. My primary publisher had rejected the novel to follow Garbage Man. There were issues getting paid. Then my publisher went out of business. Meanwhile, I’d been unable to sell any of my work anywhere else. Lean times that made me wonder if I should quit and find a real job.
It’s quite a rare thing for a publisher to approach an author. It’s more commonly the other way round and is rife with disappointment, as any author will tell you. So for Simon to ask me to publish something of mine was a little slice of heaven.
Obviously, I needed to think it over quite carefully first but when that nanosecond had passed I said:
In fact, it might not have taken as long as that.
On nothing more formal than a virtual handshake, Simon suggested a short fiction collection and I said:
Over the next two or three months, I sent him every short story I’d written over about eleven years. Somewhere between forty or fifty tales, I think.
A few weeks later we met in the Big Green Bookshop, each with a list of what we wanted in the collection. Our lists were almost identical. Within minutes we agreed the Table of Contents and began to make other plans for the book including cover art ideas, who might assist with editing and proofing, who would print it etc.
We had a number of titles in mind and put them to a vote on the Timeline Books blog. Splinters won. Other competitions followed, including one for a cover art design and a chance for people pre-ordering to snag a huge stack of goodies. The winner was the person who found a unique Tarot death card, specially designed by Robin Stevenson, tucked into their copy of the book.
Everything about working with Simon was entertaining and fun. No idea was too far-out to give it a try. Splinters has sold well and continues to do so. It’s a book I’m terrifically proud of and a chapter of my publishing life that I’ll always cherish.
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