The second half of 2018 brought some unforeseen challenges and triumphs.
Firstly, in July, Cadence, the poetry anthology, was released. This proved popular with readers and was well received in terms of quality.
Towards the end of July, though, I released an unusual book. I had seen a young man, Justin Wiggins, posting prolifically on Facebook about his experiences in life and about his admiration for the works of one of my favourite authors, C. S. Lewis, and had read with curiosity of an unpublished manuscript he had written himself. He had called this work Surprised by Agape, ‘agape’ being the old Greek word for compassionate or intellectual love. Justin had modelled his title on the well-known autobiographical volume of Lewis’s called Surprised by Joy. I sensed that there would be a market for his book, but also that there was an importance to publishing it irrespective of any commercial hopes. I worked with Justin and we put together the book - it was short, to the point, and easily produced. It has since gone on to be one of the best-selling Clarendon House books of the year.
As the months had gone on, I had developed a competition for contributors to Clarendon House anthologies. I had no funds to pay the accepted authors, but felt that it wasn’t right to take their work without offering something in return, so I put together a contest in which readers could vote for the best stories in each collection. Winners of the competition for each book could then be offered a collection of their own -and I would offer royalties on that book. The first successful author, R.A. Goli, whose story ‘A Flicker of Time’ had garnered the most votes in Flashpoint, compiled a set of stories which we called Unfettered.
I published a second flash fiction collection, Fireburst, in August, followed by another Steve Carr collection, Rain, in October, before Unfettered was ready to be released. But then something unpredicted occurred: the next planned anthologies, Rapture (romance), Enigma (crime and mystery) and Miracle (Christian stories) received hundreds of submissions in total, and I was swamped. Whereas earlier in the year I had been able to generate a publication each week, now I had so many stories to read that months went by without anything substantial appearing. I managed to put together 7 Secrets of Successful Storytelling during this period, based on further breakthroughs I had made in my studies of character, but anthologies ground to a halt.
You may not realise this, but none of these books were making a profit - my time and work in putting them together was not being adequately covered by their sales. If I was barely breaking even in the earlier part of the year, the second part of the year was much worse, as a result of this developing backlog of submssions. But I considered that the purpose of Clarendon House Publications was not to make me money, but to make others' dreams come true.
I therefore put together two Pathways: one led from a free book based on surveying hundreds of writers, which I called Your Biggest Challenge as a Writer, up to my earlier books and courses, and was designed to help writers actually become writers professionally, both in terms of time and skill; the other route, an expansion of the earlier competition path, set out a way for authors to get published, starting with Clarendon House anthologies and leading through a newly envisaged magazine, to collections of their own.
It was November before the next anthology appeared: Rapture, the romance anthology, was published then. Meanwhile, Steve Carr had written an unusual and exciting collection about the children’s hero Talker Knock which I determined to release by the end of that same month. But Enigma and Miracle were still in progress. I welcomed some volunteer help at this point and managed to finally get those books out ‘in the nick of time’ before Christmas.
As a result of these challenges, new visions appeared: it became obvious to me that writers needed a monthly magazine full of the information and enlightenment that they craved; it also became clear that more anthologies were required.
And so here we are, in the first month of the new year, with those visions swirling and coalescing into solid projects before my eyes. Work has already commenced on the magazine; and the new anthologies will be opened shortly.
In the meantime, though, all of this experience was adding up to further insights and revelations into the world of writing and publishing. In 2019, therefore, you’ll see much more than has been hinted at so far: you’ll see new books from me about the behind-the-scenes principles which make storytelling and marketing work, as well as unexpected books from others that you will not want to miss.
To make sure that you don't miss them, please bookmark this page.
I very much hope that you will join with me in welcoming in 2019, with all that it will bring: may it be a year of substantial advances in your own careers, in your own writings, and in your own understanding of how things work. Thank you for travelling with me so far; as you will see, the voyage has only just begun!