It's always good to have allies in this 'game'. Tonto is building up a great contact book and it's always nice to add to it. The days of being based at Tonto Towers in Byker isn't tucked too far away in my terrible ummm ... memory, but Byker makes for what I'd argue as a seamless link.
Byker Books seemed to creep up on the unsuspecting north-east publishing world and ... well, give it a playground wedgie one day and a kick in the pants the next, just to let it know that things were changing round these here parts.
It's refreshing to see someone on the scene who is keen to shake it up and make books exciting. Here's part one of the interview with Ed - main gadgey at the Byker Massive.
Stu: Who are Byker Books?
Ed: We're a group of people from the North East of England who aren't that enthralled by reading the memoirs of someone who was briefly on a crap reality show and, after bitching for some years, actually decided to get off our arses and do something about it.
S: What was the motivation to set up / how long have you been around for?
E: See above for the motivation. Well that and girls … publishers get groupies don’t they … don’t they?
(Stu: Do they?)
We’ve been around since November ’08 (if you’re the taxman!) in a publishing sense but we set our website up in the summer of last year and started publishing short stories to that from then – for free an all like!
S: What are the aims of the company?
E: The whole idea behind Byker Books was to give an outlet to writers of British fiction – I don’t know about you but I can’t relate to tales of boy wizards, ancient codes hidden in paintings or the ghost written ramblings of someone who was once on the telly masturbating pigs and flaunting their plastic breasts!
The original plan was to put together short story collections that mixed new writers (the unknown and unhinged as we like to call them) and more established authors which we’ve achieved with our Radgepacket series. So we’re now starting to think ahead and have a couple of full length books planned.
S: Do you have specifics you look for in submissions?
E: We tend to have a couple of quite specific guidelines but after that it’s open to the writer’s imagination :-
1. We want short fiction relating to modern day British life. By short we mean three thousand words or less and by British life we mean that we want you to reflect the grimy, seedy, drug fuelled, hilarious, absurd and violent country we have become.
2. It needs to be snappy, tight and so gripping that if we start reading it and the phone rings we don't even think about answering - even if it's Jennifer Aniston, Sienna Miller and the female cast of Hollyoaks inviting us to a party round at theirs ... again.
3. Now this is important so listen carefully. We want you to send the story in the body of the email, any submission sent as an attachment will be deleted without being opened - as you all know there are some nasty, horrible people out in the world today (you might have wrote about them...) and we don't want to take any chances do we?
And do you know what? People still send us attachments and stories about detectives in Africa and stuff!
Some interesting points there from Ed. Reassuring to know that Tonto isn't the only publisher in the world that gets bombarded by unwanted manuscripts in a genre it isn't interested in! I'll leave it at that before I join in and start on a 'How not to approach publishers' rant.
Quick update - the new website should be up and running very VERY soon.
More rights acquisition news to follow in the next few days too. It's all go at Tonto!
Here's a link from a recent edition of the Bookseller mag about new title, 'Dirty Leeds'.
Why I wrote Disraeli Avenue for charity
3 years ago