Monday, May 24, 2010

A Pleasantly Painless Path to Publication

How’s this for a dream timeline:
            Idea for book                         - 19th January, 2010
            Publication of book               - 4th March, 2010
Good, eh?
And no, it’s not a speed written vanity project run off at Protaprint and held together with a combination of Pritt Stick and desperation. Nor is it an update of a recently rediscovered Dissertation that’s been gathering cyber dust on a floppy disc for years and been quickly PDFd and sent to Lulu for a bit of POD ego-fuelled nostalgia.
Nope, it’s a proper book, containing 80,000 words of all new fiction; and it’s good fiction at that. How is this possible, you may ask. Surely no single author could work so quickly (not without the end product being a pile of shite, anyway)? Well, you’d have a point there. It isn’t the work of a single author. Nor is it the work of two, three or even four writers.
100 Stories for Haiti is, as the name not so much suggests as blatantly states, a collection of 100 stories put together to aid the relief effort for victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti. It features original short stories and flash fiction from 100 different writers from all over the world, all donated free of charge. It is published on [MSOffice1] as an ebook and by Bridge House Publishing[MSOffice2]  as a physical paper and ink book, and every penny made is being donated to the Red Cross.
The project was devised by Greg McQueen, a UK writer based in the Netherlands. After watching the tragedy of the earthquake on TV he put out a call on his blog:
Dear Twitterverse, I can't keep watching the news about Haiti on television or trending on Twitter without doing something. I woke up this morning with the idea that together we could make a book and donate all royalties to the Haiti Earthquake Appeal.
Whether Greg realised at that point that, it being his idea, he would have to actually do all the organising, I’m not sure. What I do know is that word spread quickly through Twitter and Facebook etc and within a week or so he had over 400 story submissions from writers all over the place.
Greg looked at the submissions, had a panic attack, and recruited a band volunteers to help plough through them, narrow it down to the final 100 and then proof read and edit the resulting manuscript. That took slightly more than a week, the slouches.
Throughout this time Greg was negotiating with publishers etc to try to get the best deal he could on behalf of the Red Cross, and that’s exactly what he got - Mark Coker, founder of, quickly offered to host and sell the ebook for zero profit to himself or the site. Not even a smidgeon. Literally every penny paid for copies of the ebook goes directly to the Red Cross.
Gill James and the team at Bridge House Publishing stepped in at the eleventh (and a half) hour when Greg’s original print publishers pulled out. Other than basic print costs, again every penny will go directly to the Red Cross. Bridge House will make no money whatsoever from the project, whether they sell a dozen or a thousand copies.
The cover was designed, the typesetting done and the proofs approved before the end of February, and 100 Storied for Haiti was published both online and in print on 4th March. I have my copy here. It looks great.
If I’m being completely honest, I can’t yet vouch for the quality of all of the writing as I haven’t read it all yet. In fact, I know that one of the contributing authors is average at best, but that isn’t really the point. What I have read so far has been entertaining and fun. Some of it has been a little sad, much of it full of hope. With 100 stories to choose from, I think it’s safe to say that pretty much everyone will find something they like in there.
I can only assume the authors contributed their stories for purely altruistic reasons and gave no thought to the chance of another publication credit for their CVs, but again, that’s not really the point (in fact, I know that one of the writers included in the book spent no more than an hour polishing up a story he’d been working on a few weeks previously before sending it in, so he certainly doesn’t deserve much credit).
In the case of 100 Stories for Haiti, the writers are the least important people involved. Their job is simply to provide a small reward in exchange for you giving money. Greg and the team who put the book together are worthy of far more kudos than the authors, but even they are pretty far down the list. The people who buy the book and therefore assist the Red Cross are far more important. It’s their cash that can really do some good.
And then you remember those TV pictures from a couple of months ago, and the more recent ones from Chile, and the dozen other disasters that will happen around the world in the coming months, and you remember who actually matters.



  1. Stephen ColliganJune 5, 2010 at 9:11 PM

    Writing Danny? What happened to the music? Just picked up a copy of the book. Looking forward to checking it out. Hope your family are well.

  2. Stephen ColliganJune 5, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    Writing Danny? What happened to the music? Just picked up a copy of the book. Looking forward to checking it out. Hope your family are well.

  3. Steph Colligan, how the hell are you? great to hear from you, hope you and yours are good. Re the writing - once the hair starts to fall out you have to give up those rock star dreams! Plus, writing means you never have to leave the house, which suits a lazy person like me.
    Would be great to stay in touch and catch up. Chuck us an email on if you get the chance.