You’ll never sell anything by leaving it in the storeroom.’

Jane Finnis, author of the Aurelia Marcella Mysteries

Pentangle Press Publishing Co-operative

Pentangle Press is a self-publishing co-operative that was established by three friends, Christine Hammacott, Wendy Metcalfe and Carol Westron, who met through a local writing group. Before setting up Pentangle Press they had already worked together informally for several years, giving each other input and editorial advice on their manuscripts.

All three writers had discovered how hard it is to get taken on by an agent or publisher and knew that, even if they achieved this goal, few publishers give mid-list authors any help with promotion and often drop them if their books do not sell well. They had also heard tales of woe from traditionally published writers about uninspiring covers, being left to do much of the editing themselves, and only being published in expensive hard-back books and over-priced e-books, which were very hard to sell.

On New Year’s Eve 2011, Carol had a stroke. She recovered well but decided that she was no longer content to give control of her writing life to strangers and, at a New Year’s party in 2012, she said she was going to self-publish and asked for collaborators. Chris and Wendy decided to join her and a dream team – Pentangle Press – was created.

All three members of Pentangle Press bring their own unique skills mix to the publication of each book.

Christine Hammacott

Christine Hammacott writes psychological crime. She is a graphic designer with her own business The Art of Communication. Her first job was designing book covers and she brings all of her skill and knowledge to designing fabulous covers and impeccable lay-outs for books. Chris also designs all the publicity material for Pentangle Press and designs their websites. Because she is a writer she understands the process from both sides and makes sure that she really listens to authors. As part of her business, she also designs covers, and creates lay-outs, websites and publicity material and helps writers to create their individual author brand. She is also a book reviewer for Mystery People, an international e zine to promote detective fiction.

Carol Westron

Carol Westron writes police procedurals, psychological crime and children’s picture books. An expert on the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. She also writes non-fiction articles and interviews crime writers for Mystery People, as well as being a book reviewer for Mystery People and The British Library Crime Classics. She is a Creative Writing teacher who has worked for Further Education Colleges, the WEA, Hampshire Libraries and Community projects. She is the copy-editor for Pentangle Press, with a crime-writer’s eye for flaws in plot and characterisation. Carol has given many talks and moderated several authors’ panels, and she is the permanent participating moderator for The Deadly Dames crime writers’ panel, which gives her access to arrange promotion appearances for herself and her colleagues at many crime-writing events.

Wendy Metcalfe

Wendy Metcalfe writes Science Fiction with a strong ecological message. She is a retired solicitor who now teaches Creative Writing. She is Pentangle Press’ meticulous line-editor and advises on any legal matters that arise, although responsibility always remains with the individual author. Wendy is active on Twitter and a regular blogger.

Why the publishing co-operative works

As a co-operative, all decisions about publication are made in consultation but decisions about individual books remain with the author. Group costs for such items as the Pentangle Press domain name and publicity material are shared but publication costs are the responsibility of the author. The author is ultimately responsible for the content of her books and retains all rights to her work and, of course, keeps all the profits. The members of Pentangle Press have enjoyed the whole self-publishing experience, which has taken them places that they would not have achieved if they had left their books in the store-cupboard rather than taking the Indie route. They spent a lot of time researching the most effective way to self-publish, including the advantages of using a local printer or going with Createspace and whether to publish in paperback or just as an e-book. On their self-publishing journey they have discovered and honed a great number of important skills, including the impact of a front cover image both the author and reading public loves, the trick of writing a succinct and gripping blurb for the back cover and how to establish an author brand that can raise your author profile.

At this time, Pentangle Press does not intend to extend the co-operative to take on new authors.

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