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Spiderseed: Collections and Collaboration

Exciting developments this week. I can giddly announce that my next flash fiction collection Spiderseed will be published with Sleepy House Press in January. The book will collect together twenty of my flash pieces from the last two or three years, including a couple of new ones. I'm delighted that Sleepy House have said yes to it and we are busying ourselves behind the scenes getting the thing together and making it look all pretty and that.

This will be the first collection published by Sleepy House. They've burst enthusiastically onto the Manchester scene over the past six months attending live lit nights, connecting with writers, offering workshops and proof-reading services and so on. They are very keen to whip up a spirit of community and collaboration and they couldn't have found a better place to get themselves kickstarted. The vibrant writing scene of Manchester is full of creatives itching to jump into bed with each other, so to speak. I was impressed with Sleepy House's attitude, committment and enthusiasm from the off so it made sense to me to approach them to see if they wanted something to actually press in their somnambulist abode.

I was heading towards self-publishing Spiderseed myself, like I did with my Xmas collection Merry Gentlemen. Self-publishing is a perfectly good route for collections like this (see Simon Sylvester's flash collections Dare and Marrow for excellent examples). You can control the costs and the money flow and keep a tight overall 'vision' from start to end product. I enjoyed putting out my Merry Gentlemen collection, and I'm very proud of the work in there, but as I discovered, there are pitfalls to self-publishing. All the pressure is on your own shoulders; you've got to become the writer, designer, proof-reader, typesetter, cover artist, promoter, salesperson, stock manager, and distributor all rolled into one. Quite a lot to handle on your own. Managable for a small project but expectations have to be set realistically low in terms of sales and impact.

Self-publishing still remains a very viable temptation but, for me, collaboration is the real way forward. As I stated in my interview with M20 Collective a while ago, my number one piece of advice to new writers is to get away from the keyboard and get out into the city centres to sniff out other writers and creatives. Firstly just to submerge yourself into their juices and allow for the osmosis of inspiration. And then, once you've wallowed for long enough, joining forces to explore new islands together.

Doing this has enhanced my writing life ten-fold. This week alone I've performed in London with Unsung Stories, I read at Rochdale Literature Festival and the Manchester Science Festival (a collaboration between Bad Language and Tales of Whatever). I've been in touch with potential readers for Speak Easy III, I've listened to a podcast featuring three of my bestest writing friends, Spiderseed was officially announced on the radio, and I've got two more gigs in the diary for November and December. None of this would have happened if any of us had stayed in our houses, chained up to keyboards mournfully typing I dunno...a rabbit in a spaceship? Planet Rabbit? Robot Rabbit?.

It takes a bit of oomph, a bit of gumption, a bit of hand-wringing at times, but putting yourself out there and saying: I will if you will, can lead to quite wonderous things. You have to be careful, you have to be patient, and you have to be trusting, but more often than not it really works out. The guys at Sleepy House leapt on my collection suggestion like a starved zombie vulture, albeit a nice and friendly one. And now we're talking illustrators, launch events, graphic design, and much more besides. By then end of it, as long as everything goes well, there will be a whole coop of happy little chickens proud of a singular achievement rather than just one proud cock with a croaky voice.

Spiderseed, a collaborative endeavour, will be out in early 2016. Follow Sleepy House Press on twitter for updates.

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