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Lynn Michell (Publisher)

About Her

She spends her days writing, editing manuscripts, marketing Linen Press books and moving rocks around the French landscape that holds up her house.

She believes, in a previous life she was an academic in a medical sociology unit but ME took fifteen years of her life. When she emerged from the ME ghetto, she headed where her heart was - to books and writing. She ran writing groups in Edinburgh for ten years and it was there that Marjorie Wilson brought her luminous memoir Childhood’s Hill and Linen Press was born. She had no experience of publishing but adored working with 94 year old Marjorie by her gas fire, making small adjustments as she read out loud. Since then the learning curve has been steep for her as well as satisfying, frustrating, rewarding and surprising. Each new project stirs her heart and arouses her wish to see a fine project through to fruition. She love producing beautiful books. She was the Finalist in 2015 Women In Publishing Pandora award.

Lynn, welcome to a candid chat with me, Deeba

  • 1.
    You are a publisher and run a special press called ‘Linen Press’ for women, by women. Was this focus intentional?

    Yes, completely intentional. I’m trying to roller an uneven literary playing field in which, still, many more awards, prizes and reviews go to male writers.

    • Prior to the Orange prize, 11% of authors shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize were women
    • 4% of authors who have won the Nobel Prize for Literature are women
    • 25% of books reviewed by established national newspapers are by women

    Linen Press is a small, independent publisher run by women. Our policy is to encourage and promote women writers and to give voice to a wide range of perspectives and themes that are relevant to women. We rejoice in the differences in female creative voices rather than defining them in terms of a simplistic and one-dimensional genre.

  • 2.
    You are a finalist at the Women in Publishing Pandora Award 2015, what does this mean to the press and to you in particular?

    It means a great deal to have this recognition. For me, personally, it’s an acknowledgement after eight years running Linen Press as a one woman band of my choice of publications, my editing skills, my integrity, my passion. For Linen Press it’s an accolade and a validation. We’re thrilled.

  • 3.
    You gave an opportunity to publish the memoir of a lady over 90 years who was rejected by major publishing houses and that memoir went into reprint and was a huge success which actually is a vey touching story! What are you looking for when selecting a manuscript?

    I have finely-tuned antennae for linguistic style and know when I’m in confident hands and when the narrative shines through prose that is is fluid, beautiful, rhythmic and assured. Most of what comes into my inbox is badly written or of a mediocre standard. I can tell in a page or two. Sometimes less. Inexperienced writers use the same simple sentence structures, start sentences with And or But and Then, drop adverbs everywhere. I sigh and give up. I’m looking for exceptional writing.

  • 4.
    What is a normal waiting period for an Author who gets selected for publishing by you from the time you select the manuscript to the time the book appears on the shelves?

    We work fast. Our next book, Sometimes A River Song by Avril Joy, came in almost ready made and requiring only light editing. It was a pleasure to work with Avril on her poignant novel and we have taken only three months from start to finish. It will be out next month. I work very closely with authors, editing line by line, chapter by chapter. Some books can take four or five months to reach the final stage of being ready to publish. Once I’ve decided on a book for publication, I am keen to get started. Authors only wait a month or so before we press Go. I’m a keen as they are.

  • 5.
    What are your distribution strength and marketing and PR support for authors?

    I have just moved my back list to Ingram Sparks who print on demand, handle orders, post out books and send me a small profit per copy. For eight years I have guessed a print run for each new publication (between 300 -1000), had the pallets of books delivered to my house, and sometimes watched in despair as the book mountain did not shift. Ingram Sparks cuts my profits but saves trees. There is no more room for boxes of books where I live.

    Over the years I’ve built a list of loyal, interested editors in newspapers and online who are willing to review our books. I turn again to reviewers who have loved one of our novels or memoirs. One of my superb interns, Silje Graffer, manages all our social media platforms and has built Twitter followers from 300 to 600 in her short time at the helm. She is bringing visibility to our press and I am truly grateful.

  • 6.
    Is there any particular genre you are looking for these days? Are you open for submission?

    I’m open for submissions and happy to consider any genre. I want to dive into prose that defies the laws of literary gravity. Personally I’d love to find a fabulous, beautifully written thriller with a female detective but very few thrillers come my way and those that do don’t punch hard enough. I like novels with a historical or political back drop so that they are multi-dimensional and many-layered.

  • 7.
    What in your opinion is the future of bookstores? Are people going to only buy online in the next 5 years? What’s your thought on shrinking bookstore business?

    With the coming of Amazon bookshops I fear for the future of book shops, especially those wonderful indie shops with many corners and dark stairs whose shelves have been stocked with love and care by a voracious, devoted reader-owner. Go into any store owned by Waterstones and W H Smith and there is the same limited choice of titles which have had enormous marketing budgets thrown at them to get them on the shelves. They want to dictate your reading choices.

  • 8.
    What is the future of writing? What do you recommend - traditional or self-publishing route to the aspiring writers? Does self-publishing reduces their chances of getting published by top league publishers?

    The market is swamped with self-published writers, many of whom would not have been picked up by a mainstream or indie publisher. It’s like there’s a lot of literary water sloshing around out there along with the occasional shot of the strong stuff. I acknowledge that some talented writers slip through publishing nets and really should be on the shelves but if your writing is exceptional, you have a good chance of being found. We read every submission that comes in and often send constructive comments.

  • 9.
    One question I ask all my guests - what’s your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

    Freshly ground coffee.

  • 10.
    Advice to aspiring (women) writers of ‘The Write Scene’?

    Write about a topic or experience about which you feel passionate. That passion will show itself in the energy of your writing.

If you want to know more about our guest, please visit their website below:

Website: linen-press.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/LinenPressBooks

Lynn Michell (Publisher)