White Ladder Press Interview
Posted on 24 September 2004. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
WriteWords talks to White Ladder Press, a new non-fiction publisher of books 'with a broad appeal and a quirky angle'
Tell us about White Ladder
White Ladder Press is a new company (launched last year), publishing books with a broad appeal and a quirky angle. By 2005 we'll be publishing eight to ten books a year, all of which we enjoy and believe in. By producing only a small number of titles, we aim to give maximum attention to each one. From 2005 we'll publish one title a year in conjunction with a charity, and we'll donate all our profits from it to the charity concerned.
Our mission statement says: We want to teach old dogs new tricks, by presenting a new angle on everyday living. We want to intrigue, entertain and be useful at the same time. And we want to use our mainstream business to benefit good causes, so we'll do that too. We'll have fun or there's no point being in business, and we'll give fun to everyone else around us - our customers, our partners, our suppliers... even our postman.
White Ladder Press is owned and run by two of us: Richard Craze and Roni Jay. Richard looks after finance, admin and sales, while Roni handles production, editorial and PR. The other bits get divvied up according to who we think will do them best.
Both of us were professional writers for ten years before setting up White Ladder Press. We're married to each other, have three small boys, and live in south Devon.
Who do you publish and why?
Anyone who has an idea which suits us (we’re very specific), and who can reliably deliver on time and to the brief. We tend to adapt proposals quite substantially, but we always do this before contract so the author can choose whether or not they want us to publish their book.
About 50% of our books are our own idea. We often go to journalists to write them as they are generally reliable and very practical in going about writing. Our style is often quite journalistic in any case, so it makes sense.
What kind of writing do you look for?
Nothing flowery or literary. Our books need to be clear and straightforward and practical, so we like an original approach with plenty of style and personality, but no ego. We always look for humour; not necessarily belly laughs – we don’t publish ‘humour’ titles as such – but we want our books to be a fun, entertaining read.
What excites you about a piece of writing-
Humour and individual style, and simplicity.
and what makes your heart sink?
Exclamation marks for anything that isn’t an exclamation – especially when they’re used to signal to the reader that this is meant to be funny. This simply patronises the reader. I also dislike writing full of passive verbs and abstract nouns, which just make it drag. Writing should be clean and concise.
How do you respond to unsolicited work- do you give feedback? Do you have a submission process ?
Our submission guidelines are clearly set out on our website. If I get submissions for books which are completely unsuitable (e.g. fiction, which we state clearly that we don’t publish) I sent back a form letter which directs people to the website. If the proposal is for a book which could reasonably be expected to suit us, I always give a personal reply even if we don’t want to publish it. We don’t read unsolicited manuscripts – we like proposals with some sample text, and we set out on our website how we like proposals to be laid out.
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