Friday 4 December 2015

Sad Goodbye to Robert Hale.

6th book
3rd book
I was sad, but not surprised to hear that Robert Hale had closed for business in December 1st. They were the last of the old-fashioned publishers and will be missed. They had been in business since the 30s and were always family owned. Mr John Hale (son of Robert Hale) only retired a few years ago. Perhaps if they had changed to paperbacks, instead of the very expensively produced hardbacks, they might have survived a little longer. £18.99 was far too much in today's climate and cash strapped libraries just couldn't continue to buy them.

7th book
They started my writing career ten years ago and  I can still remember the joy of receiving the letter from Mr Hale saying he was going to publish 'The Unconventional Miss Walters.' I went on to write nine books for them, before moving on to an American publisher and then to indie-publishing. They were one of the few publishers still accepting submissions without using an agent.

1st book.
 They were unfailingly polite and responded to submissions within three weeks. I only had one cover I didn't like - that for 'A Suitable Husband' - the head of the girl is out of proportion and she should have looked like an English rose.

'The Mesalliance' (what a silly title) shows St Osyth Priory where the book takes place. 'A Dissembler' is the road to Great Bentley where that book is set. I was allowed to work with the artist, although it said in the contract the covers were decided by Hale.
The royalties were minimal and the print run tiny - but when I started I didn't care - just seeing my books on library shelves, and being able to give/sell them to friends was enough for me.

Editing was not as thorough as it could have been - but I only realised that after working with a different editor. I wasn't told about point of view/show not tell etc - this is something I learned later.
8th book.
2nd book.

9th book.

4th book.

5th book.
However, without Mr Hale buying my first book I wouldn't now be a successful author with over forty books to my name, and making more today than I ever did as top of the scale teacher.

D C Thomson, (My Weekly Pocket Novel & People's Friend Pocket Novels) are still there for new writers and they take unagented submissions.

I know many successful writers that started their careers with Robert Hale and I'm sure, like me, they will always be grateful for the start they received from this old-fashioned publisher.
The business has been sold to a publisher that only produces non-fiction. I understand that the fiction in the pipeline will be produced but no further books of this sort will appear.

I bid Robert Hale a fond farewell and hope everyone there finds alternative  employment.

Fenella J Miller