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06 Feb

Paul Madeley Reviews the Mid-Sized Publishing Talk

On 2 February 2012 Victoria Oldham and Rebecca Buck gave a talk about the world of mid-sized publishing, based on their experience with Bold Stroke Books, and discussed some of the advantages of this area of the publishing industry for authors:

  • a personal relationship with the publisher that is often missing with larger companies
  • close editing
  • more marketing resources than small publishers can provide (though less than large publishers, of course).

There was considerable discussion about the selection and editing process, with contributions from David Bowman of Bluewood Publishing and Ross Bradshaw of Five Leaves Publications, where the valuable service provided by editors was pointed out, something that self-published writers often miss out on. Manuscripts frequently arrive containing point-of-view errors or excessive repetition, or, in genre fiction, may need adjusting to meet the tastes of the audience. Rebecca was advised, for example, to add more place names to her first novel as her primarily American readership tends to favour geographical specificity, something she said she would never have thought of herself.

Below you’ll find Paul Madeley’s write-up, in which he tells us what he found most interesting about the talk.


The February Social of the Nottingham Writers Studio was attended by eighteen local writers, with the talk being given by Victoria Oldham and Rebecca Buck of the Bold Strokes Books publishing house, based in New York City. The company specialises in gay and lesbian fiction, and some of the discussion revolved around the decline that this area of fiction is seeing in publishing and retail outlets. Oldham has run their UK branch for two years from her home in Nottingham, as an editing consultant.

Oldham explained that Bold Strokes, founded seven years ago by Len Earot, mostly publishes Romance books. Other genres are Crime, Mystery and Horror—vampire novels are popular. Books are thoroughly checked for content:

“Sometimes one book will go through two editors to make sure it’s about as clean as it can be before it goes to the shelves”, she says. Eighty-five books are to be published this year—the company is busy until Autumn 2013. There are ten British authors on the books. Bold Strokes also has offices in Belgium, Amsterdam, Sweden, Greece and Spain. Their most successful authors are Winter Pennington and Radcliffe (a pseudonym), who has had 45 books put into print

So what should authors do to get published with Bold Strokes? Oldham says that new authors are told, tactfully, what the issues are with their books. There is a review committee which has a look at new books regularly. One of the main things they look for is “absolute clarity”. For example, Rebecca Buck was published after writing a story about Nottingham containing a description of High Pavement—the book was set around the Galleries of Justice. “I do sometimes sell books just for being British” says Buck.

So, is the truth or imagination more important? And do you have to know the truth when you write? If there is a historical event, muses Victoria Oldham, then it has to be accurately described. On the other hand, if the book is called “World War Three”, imagination is more important. “You have to have enough truth to make it seem real”, adds Buck.

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