Clare Hey tells us why Small (short) is beautiful

The lovely Clare Hey of Shortlist Press has written a guest blog for LWC this week. Shortlist Press as the name suggests is all about short stories and is about to be launched. They will publish short stories by established and emerging authors in ebook form and the profits will be shared 50/50 (once costs are covered) between the publisher and the author. This a wonderful opportunity for writers to get noticed and be part of an exciting venture. Clare will be talking at LWC Live in 2011 so watch out for the details of that. She was previously an editor at HarperCollins so knows her stuff.

 

When people ask how I came up with the idea for Shortlist Press there is, appropriately enough, a long answer and a short answer.

 

First, the short answer: I was a teensy bit tipsy. (Luckily, you might say, otherwise it could have seemed too daunting a prospect to even consider.)

 

The long answer: I had been an editor at HarperCollins for eight years when my job, like those of many others both at HarperCollins and across the publishing industry, was made redundant. I set myself up as a freelance editor, being lucky enough to have lots of contacts and finding there was more than enough work out there to keep me going. I love editing and I love that it has become the focus of my working day.

But I found that being only involved in one stage of a book’s life was an odd experience – I was used to commissioning a book, persuading the in-house team to go for it, briefing the cover, working with the publicity, sales and marketing teams, as well as editing the script. And I found I missed that buzz of being in the thick of it.

I was keen to get another commissioning role in-house but with jobs pretty much non-existent, I decided to take my fate in my own hands… and that is how I ended up slightly tipsy in a restaurant, thinking about how great it would be to set up my own publishing house.

I knew I had to do something a little different – there are already so many amazing publishing houses and books out there and I had to find my own niche. I kept coming back to the one thing people always told me, something I had heard so many times that, however much it grated, I just took for granted: short stories don’t sell. No arguing, no questions. That’s just the truth.

Apparently.

But I could see that impressive and well-received collections of short stories by very fine writers (Amy Bloom, Alice Munro and Kazuo Ishiguro, for example) were being published by houses and editors I respected enormously. I was also inspired by great young writers getting recognition for their stories (Clare Wigfall, Petina Gappah and David Vann) and saw that there was still a hunger for short stories.

And, I thought, doesn’t the ebook offer the chance to do something different? To reach a wider audience in a new way? So, to cut a long story short, Shortlist Press was born – short stories published digitally, available to download one by one for 99p each. We’re inviting submissions, both direct from authors and from agents, and while there is no advance, the profits are split 50/50 after overheads. I see this as a great way for authors to reach their readers, and a new platform for their writing to be read and enjoyed.

We’re at a tipping point for the ebook in the UK and it’s exciting to be part of that. Publishing is changing fast but one thing remains constant: people love to read. In the ever-changing digital landscape, there’s a great opportunity for short stories, both for readers and for writers, and Shortlist Press is here to grasp it.

To find out more and to become involved, visit http://www.shortlistpress.com/.

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2 Responses to “Clare Hey tells us why Small (short) is beautiful”

  1. Hello Clare Hey,
    How long are your 99 p stories? (How many words?) I run a writing class and my students would be interested, I too.
    Thanks,

    Best,
    Katherine

  2. Kirsty says:

    Hi Katherine – do take a look at Clare’s site (www.shortfirepress.com) but I think its anything from 2,500 words to 10,000 words.

    All best,

    Kirsty.
    LWC

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