Friday, 3 August 2012

A week at Valley Press

I first met Valley Press editor-in-chief Jamie McGarry at the Cornerhouse café in Manchester, after sending him a presumptuous and hopeful email asking if he could provide me with some publishing experience. We discovered a shared love of good tea and literature, and with those two commonalities I was invited to Scarborough to help out at Valley Press, which I have been doing for the last five days.
                Even with my post-student budgetary constraints I managed to book myself into Scarborough’s infamous Grand Hotel. Upon arrival I heard most of the Scarborians’ well-rehearsed horror stories about the Grand under past administrations: outbreaks of illness, poor food, terrible entertainment and constant seagull chatter. Although most of these things remain true to an extent (I still have my health) I was pleasantly surprised when I entered my small sea-view room and unpacked my suitcase. 

                 And so, early Monday morning I became part of Valley Press’ very first 'work experience' team. Four of us in total. Our roles, although unofficial, read something like this:

·         Jamie McGarry – Publisher / Editor-in-chief
·         Samuel Bowell – Head of Greco-Roman affairs
·         Rachel Glass – Poet Laureate
·         Antony Szmierek – Consulting Editor

All joking aside, each of us had an equal part to play in working through both literal and virtual piles of submissions. I think we owe some of our success to our home at Woodend Art Gallery (pictured below), as it was under its glass ceiling that most of our creative efforts were realised. Without spoiling any future Valley Press projects, the pieces we have unanimously agreed upon will provide a very exciting few months for Valley Press and its readership. I think the most important thing to come of Valley Press’ briefly expanded team was an important difference of opinion. With each member bringing their own taste and expertise to the submissions we have managed to settle on a diverse collection of work from a variety of authors. 

Coming to Valley Press during the submission period was certainly very interesting, and I can imagine I’m somewhat unique in being a work experience volunteer who didn’t have to make anyone other than himself a cup of tea or coffee. When we weren’t sifting through submissions we were selling books face to face at Scarborough Spa, where we were lucky enough to have our photo taken by somebody from The Scarborough News. So, if you don’t feel like taking my word for all the hard work we’ve been doing you might want to look out for us in next week’s edition.
In conclusion then, I’ve grown fond of Scarborough. Despite our geographical differences I hope to remain an honorary member of Valley Press and I’ll do what I can to help push things forward wherever possible. For now though, I’ll be catching a train back to Manchester to re-join the masses of unemployed English graduates in the race to find a real job. Wish me luck.

Edit by JM: here is a photo of the wonderful team at the Spa on Thursday, which appeared in the following week's Scarborough News: