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


  1. Very sad news indeed. Robert Hale was such a lovely publisher to work with. I really enjoyed my experience with them. Like in Fenella's case, that's where my career in writing began, and they have been such wonderful people.

  2. I, too, echo Fenella's thoughts and feelings about the closing of the Hale House. We were accepted about the same time and became friends through our writing.
    It is a shame the company did not move with the changing times that hit the publishing industry over the last 5-10 years. times.
    However, my thanks to the staff I worked with in the early days and for opening the door for me as an author. I wish everyone well.

  3. I met one of my closest friends through the Hale loop. Fay Cunningham commented on this loop and it turned out she lived a few miles away. We've been friends ever since. At least there's indie-publishing available for writers now.