It’s hard for me to imagine that at this time last year I had published only my own books and one experimental anthology, Condor.
Since then, Clarendon House Publications, which is basically me in my armchair on the edge of the Yorkshire moors, has produced 25 books. The Inner Circle Writers’ Group has grown on Facebook from 924 members on January 1st last year, to over 3,700 today, as well as expanding into other social media like MeWe. Close to two million words have been published; over 150 writers have been given channels to communicate to a reading public; and, perhaps more importantly, new and wonderful friendships have been forged across the world and hundreds of writers have gained insights and confidence.
Dozens of writers have availed themselves of advanced editing and proofreading services; tens of thousands of articles and other posts have been made accessible to members; and my daily blog has generated 365 posts covering a range of fascinating and often unique subjects.
But back in January 2018, there was almost nothing.
I thought it might be helpful to you, and perhaps interesting, to see how things developed over the year, and why.
Back then, it was apparent to me that there were huge numbers of writers out there in many countries across the world who were struggling with various realities. Chief among these were
a) how to get published
b) once published, how to get sold.
There was another concern too, but this was something which was perhaps only apparent to editors and publishers or writers with substantial experience: there was a distinct lack of an awareness that successful writing was a product of a craft, not just of sitting down at a desk and writing the first thing that came to mind. I had started in ignorance, thinking that writers would be painfully aware of that lack and immensely desirous to know more about how to write, which is why, over a year previously, I had published my book How Stories Really Work, the revolutionary guide to fiction writing. But the stark truth was that ‘craft’ was something that only a few writers thought about - a significant number of writers seemed to associate ‘craft’ with ‘rules’ and believed that ‘rules were meant to be broken'. So one of my first lessons as a publisher was finding out that the market that I thought was there was much smaller than I had hoped.
The market to simply get published was much bigger; and that was followed by the market of published authors who wanted to get sold.
With all of this in mind, I put together my first publication for 2018, A Marketing Handbook for Writers Part 1, which contained the underlying principles of selling books to readers in the same way that How Stories Really Work outlined the underlying principles associated with storytelling itself.
While doing this, I noticed that some prolific writers were popping up all over the place on social media, notably two: Steve Carr and Gary Bonn.
In Steve’s case, hardly a day passed by without him announcing the publication of another short story of his in some journal, magazine or anthology. Steve seemed to be everywhere, and had a work output that was second-to-none as far as I could see. But, I thought, for any fans of Steve’s work, life was harder than it needed to be - they had to monitor all his announcements and track down all the publications he was appearing in if they wanted to keep up with him. What was needed, I believed, was a short story collection, so that his admirers could read his work at their leisure. That was why, in February, after working closely with Steve, I published his first collection, Sand, which was well received.
I also approached Gary Bonn. He was terrifically prolific too, and his stories rang with a unique quality which, I thought, deserved a wider public. I started putting together a collection which later became known as Through Another’s Eyes.
While all this was happening, and wanting to offer as wide open an opportunity as possible to the many other authors out there, I collected submissions for a flash fiction anthology which I called Flashpoint. This appeared in early March and set the group alight with excitement. Then it set the group alight with dismay, as I discovered that, due to a technical error, the finished book contained formatting errors which hadn’t been picked up during the publication process. I was mortified - to be caught out like that, so early in a year which I had planned to pack full of surprises, threw me into serious discomfiture. I managed to repair most of the damage, and a new, corrected edition of Flashpoint was swiftly released, but I had learned a lesson: new checks were put in place and quality was more closely monitored.
As all these books came out, interest in and membership of the Inner Circle Writers’ Group continued to grow. Submissions poured in to the next two books, Galaxy and Storm. While I was gathering these together, I released Gary Bonn’s Through Another’s Eyes to great acclaim from readers. And I also managed to produce a volume of my own artwork, The G. P. Hudson Art Studio Collection Volume One, as well as a free handbook called How to Draw the G. P. Hudson Way.
During this period, Clarendon House Publications was generating a new product every single week. Excitement continued to mount with each one; group members were getting to know one another and were sensing that something big was occurring. In April, Galaxy, the science fiction anthology, and Storm, the fantasy anthology were both released, along with a free short book called How to Blog Every Day Possibly Forever, which demonstrated how I had managed to run a daily blog and use it to create book after book over a period of about two years (at that point).
May 2018 saw the publication of my book, How to Get Children to Enjoy Reading More, which contained one of the most successful reading programmes I’d ever seen, designed to radically boost not only the amount of reading done by children but their degree of enjoyment in it. This was closely followed by one of the most popular books of the year, Vortex, the literary anthology. In Vortex, I think, we began to see that members of the Inner Circle Writers’ Group were coming of age: the stories contained therein were of a superior quality indeed, as reported by many readers.
Vortex was followed by Window, the children’s anthology, and Carrier Wave, a collection of humorous tales, both of which demonstrated that there were a good many quality writers out there who had simply needed to be given the chance to reach a reading public. By now, anyone following this chain of Clarendon House books could tell that some consistent stars were developing amongst those writers.
The second half of the year, though, showed that there were still many surprises left, as you will see…
Please stay tuned for Part Two soon.