I would like to apologise to any of our readers or authors who felt that our services, and promptness, left something to be desired this year. We have run late on any number of duties and schedules, through sheer lack of numbers, and sometimes, total fatigue.
My team - all free-lance creative people who help as best they can - are exemplary - wonderful persons, sensitive, smart, witty, and dedicated to a fault - they love books, and they try their best and beyond - and they have no responsibility for any thing that got delayed or overdue or late - that was down to me.
The buck stops here. Sure, third parties always let us down, but that was logistics, and we are used to lost parcels, crowded slow warehouses, and broken printing machines - all this happens, and we know it. But I was not my best this year.
You know the truth - I fought on too hard - after almost dying Christmas 2021 of heart failure (my heart working at only 19%) in the ICU in London, they finally gave me a three-wire implant in March 2022, and 11 pills (tablets) a day to take. I was advised to quit, give up, close the shop, close the small press. I didn't do that. I don't want to let my readers and authors down.
I love books and writing, poetry especially, and have always wanted to leave an open door. We publish a lot of unagented writers. I know it is tough for them, they don't always have the professional allies they need. I know our press is way too small to compete with billion dollar publishing behemoths. Our advances are small. We market less than the giant 5 of the trade... but we work hard!
I will apologise for being less "swift" this year - but I won't say I am sorry for doing my damn best every day, including weekends, for my customers and my authors - even if, sometimes, my best was slowed by a chronic illness that is considered more dangerous than many forms of cancer.
I won't say sorry for missing meetings or being late because of another blood test day, or MRI day, or echocardiogram day, or medical procedure day, or days I could barely walk or stand.
I won't say sorry for battling through the darkness, fearing I'd leave my wife a widow, and let my authors down. A few heartless grumblers call me incompetent, or worse, for being slow to complete tasks - but frankly, Mr Shankly, despite my bloody awful poetry (irony alert) I know in my heart of hearts I have served, if not well, fully, with all the strength at my command.
My pledge: I will keep fighting for you as long as I can. And together we can get all these wonderful books out into the world in the few years ahead, despite the darkness of the world we face.