New Cookery Book by Tracey Slocombe (AKA Mrs Slocombe) from North Devon
Blue Poppy Publishing are immensely excited to be about to launch* “Mrs Slocombe’s Bull at a Gate Cookery Book on the good people of Devon and beyond. This is definitely not your run-of-the-mill cookery book. While there are plenty of great recipes for a wide range of dishes straight from Mrs Slocombe’s own personal repertoire, it also includes humorous stories of her misadventures in search of good food and convivial company. So if you like a full belly, and plenty of belly laughs then this is the book for you.
* At time of writing the book is due in a couple of weeks.
Serious Recipes – With a Fun Accompaniment
Mrs Slocombe’s Bull at a Gate Cookery Book is packed full of
great tried and trusted recipes accompanied by mouth-watering photographs of
the finished dish, so you know what it was supposed to look like. And then,
interspersed with the serious stuff there are the funny stories, such as how
Tracey Slocombe came to produce her famous chilli beef, or her lengthy recipe
for rice pudding (the hard way!). Tracey’s style includes plenty of humour even
within the recipes as she just can’t resist a double entendre if one presents
Famous Guest Recipes
Tracey has called on one or two of her friends to make a
small contribution to her Bull at a Gate Cookery Book.
Simon Dawson; smallholder, radio presenter
and published author, has contributed his recipe for Beer Bread.
Oliver Tooley; former radio presenter,
author and publisher, has contributed a tongue-in-cheek recipe for drunken
cooking. (We don’t recommend you actually follow that recipe).
Julie Kingdom; has provided the recipe
for her fruit cake, which was always a favourite of her husband, the late great
Julian Seager; the TV and film actor
known for such things as Fisherman’s Friends, Poldark, Doc Martin, and Viking
Legacy doesn’t have much time for cooking, but Tracey does create an easy Viking
mead for him.
Mr Slocombe, as Tracey Slocombe’s other half has become
known by default was involved with the All New Monty on ITV this year 2019,
along with celebrities like comedian Joe Pasquale, and snooker ace Willie
Thorne. In honour of the appearance, Mrs Slocombe cooked up a special batch of
gingerbread. The book includes the recipe and takes a moment to extol the
virtues of regular check ups for such things as prostate cancer.
North Devon Inspired Recipes
Included in Mrs Slocombe’s Bull at a Gate Cookery Book are several
recipes which take a touch of inspiration for the Devon countryside that Tracey
calls home. There are a couple of tasty cocktails, the “River Taw” and the “Ilfracombe
Slammer”, the South Molten pudding, Milton Damerel Pork Pie, and Hartland
Tiddy/Teddy/Toddy Pastries. There’s also Beef Torrington, which is inspired by
the Torrington Cavaliers.
Speaking of Charity…
As well as the Beef Torrington there is a brilliant recipe, inspired by K9 Focus, called “Lickin’ Lips Liver Cake”. This one is strictly intended for the beloved pooch or pussy in your life.
Where Can I Buy Mrs Slocombe’s Bull at a Gate Cookery Book?
You can buy this book from any bookshop anywhere in the UK. (Even if they don’t have it in stock they can order it. All Blue Poppy Publishing books are distributed via the standard book ordering system used by all book retailers and libraries.) There’s a list of bookshops in Devon in this blog post.
You can also order it direct from this website or in person from Tracey Slocombe, and there will be a long list of other outlets stocking it that I will try to post up for you at a later date. Before you buy it online, have a think about where you want the profit to go. If you buy it from us, we get the most profit which is nice for us, but if you want to support local business feel free to get it in your local bookshop. Use it or lose it, as the saying goes. Alternatively, if you are good friends with Tracey she will probably sign it for you, and she has worked like crazy on this book and she deserves to make something back from it.
As well as being a writer, and a publisher of other writers, I present a radio show called “Book Club” on The Voice, a local community radio station in North Devon (as a volunteer). I see lots of self-published books. Most are reasonably well edited, but one or two have come to my attention which appear to have been written for school homework and not even marked. One of the worst had an error in the dedication and multiple errors on the first page. That book and, many like it, are not just embarrassing to the author, they give the world of self-publishing a bad reputation that the rest of us have to work twice as hard to shake off. Sorry if that sounds overdramatic.
I know a few authors who do a passable job of self-editing although I would never recommend it (few of us are blessed with the ability to see our own mistakes, as a cursory glance over the articles in this website will illustrate!) Many more will pass their manuscript over to a trusted friend or family member who has a talent for spotting mistakes, but by far the best option is to get a professional editor. It need not cost the earth, and is money well spent if you aim to sell beyond your closest circle of friends.
There are three broad types of editing as follows. Unfortunately, the terms used and their definitions are not universally agreed on, as a brief serach of the internet will reveal. I am using the following terms and will explain each below.
A structural edit or developmental edit will look at the overall structure of the book. If it is a novel, the editor may suggest removal of entire paragraphs or even chapters, adding new chapters, changing the sequence of chapters, changing the ending, the motivation of the main characters, removal of excessive characters, speeding up the pace by removing description, changing “tell” to “show” etc etc.
N.B. We’ve never consciously done this at Blue Poppy Publishing partly because our authors are already pretty good at telling their story, and partly because we don’t work to a formula. That’s not to say we will never go down this route, but I don’t expect to any time soon. What almost always happens, however, is that the author will send their first draft to a few trusted Beta readers who will, sometimes, read it and provide feedback. If the author agrees with the feedback they will make changes, usually before we see the M/S.
A line edit is more about checking for things like overall sentence structure, e.g. avoiding run on sentences, clunky grammar, etc. , consistency, e.g. do the heroe’s eyes change colour, or does a supporting character change name part way through the book? The line edit will also correct spellings, grammar, and punctuation as it goes through but this is also considered in more detail at the copy edit stage.
The copy edit, also sometimes called proofreading, is the final nit-picking stage. This is where, we hope, the last stray spelling error, abberrant or superfluous comma, and missing full-stop is corrected. I say “we hope” because while we aim for perfection, I suspect that typographical errors are a little like bacteria; you can only reduce them to an acceptable level, and never eradicate them completely. As an example, after three passes of editing, and during the formatting stage, I noticed that “St. Pancras Station” in London, had been rendered as “St. Pancreas”! I corrected that, but we still found four or five things that were arguably incorrect after printing. The book concerned currently has 55 reviews and an average 4.4 stars on Amazon, so I think we got away with it.
In the main, because we have to work to a tight budget, we usually get a general line edit and copy edit rolled into one.
You should anticipate costs of at least £10 per thousand words for a decent job of editing. More if your manuscript requires it and a LOT more if you also need a structural edit.
Most editors will edit a few pages of your MS and give you a clear idea of their costs once they know your style and the work likely to be involved. This will also give you a clear indication of the sort of improvements they are likely to make.
We have used a number of editors in particular Sarah Dawes email@example.com who edits all of my (Oliver’s) books. Sarah is my top recommendation. I can wholeheartedly recommend Sarah. She will not only pick up obvious typographical, punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors, as you would expect, but will also fact check all sorts of things, from historical details and anachronisms, to foreign words and phrases (she sent my Latin to her old Latin teacher for marking! Oh the shame!) She will also pick up on continuity errors, and will frequently rewrite clunky sentences in vastly better prose than I could conjure up. (Her experience as a ghostwriter probably comes in useful here).
Helen Baggot edited “And the Wolf Shall Dwell”. Her website is helenbaggott.co.uk/ It is worth noting that Helen works a little differently from most editors usually doing a series of passes for a lower rate per thousand words, and then passing the MS back to the author for approval. This is a useful method for self-published authors on a tight budget because if they feel confident enough in their work that they can get away with only one or two passes of editing, then they may save money. It also allows them to spread out the cost of editing; usually the largest single expense apart from printing, over a period of time.
Another lady who has edited and helped to publish other authors, in Ilfracombe and North Devon, is Paula Good at PG Office Services who offers a range of services beyond editing including formatting and print services.
It is worth noting that all good editors are ruthlessly efficient, but don’t be afraid. They are on your side! I will add others here as and when.
In a perfect world, with unlimited money, you would have three or four separate pairs of eyes, one for each stage of the editing process, but we don’t live in a perfect world, and writers like to eat food just like normal people. You can get a good full editing job done with one editor for around £10-£20 per thousand words (at the time of writing).
Formatting is still partly editing, but is also a separate stage in which the priority is no longer correcting mistakes. This is the part where your raw manuscript, possibly still typed out in double-line spacing and the default font of your word processor, is turned into a beautifully laid out book and exported as a PDF ready for printing. There is a cheap way of doing this which involves pouring your text into a formatting software app and accepting whatever comes out the other side. The better way is to format it properly by human hand and eye. You can learn to do this yourself, or pay someoen like me to do it for you. At the moment I cahrge £1 per 1,000 words, so even if it’s a massive tome of 100k words, you’ll only be forking out a ton. If money is really tight (I know the feeling) then I’ll be writing a “how to format” article soon.
Strictly speaking, the term “proofreading” refers to the process of reading the “proof” copy and checking for any last minute errors, in particular any errors which only manifest themselves when the book is printed. This could include abberrant punctuation or spelling errors that somehow got through the entire process of editing, but it is more about making sure the gutter is wide enough, the pages are all actually assembled correctly* and that everything looks as it should before we give the final instruction to the printer to proceed. This is a step which most self-published authors probably miss but if you can take the time at least to check every page and the front and back cover for any last minute inconsistencies then it may save you an expensive mistake on a long print run.
*Yes, we once had a consignement of books in which the last 64 pages were in the wrong order – not our error, thank goodness!
A famous quotation goes something like “Everyone has a book in them.” and, although the quote goes on to say, “…and in most cases that’s where it should stay.” we at Blue Poppy Publishing think that there are still a lot of great books, both fiction and non-fiction that could and should be published.
A bit about Blue Poppy Publishing, Devon.
I am at great pains to point out that we are not a vanity publisher, but also we are not a traditional publisher either. I guess we are really an “assisted self-publishing” company, suitable for someone who has already decided to self-publish anyway but needs a little extra help.
That means that if we publish your book, we don’t buy the rights, or guarantee sales, but we will help with those aspects of self-publishing that you either can’t or won’t do yourself and, while we try to keep costs to a minimum, it will be you paying the bills just as if you did it all yourself.
Of course, we do still have to make sure we don’t publish a book that isn’t well written, interesting, original and well produced. Every book that carries the “Blue Poppy Publishing” logo will affect the sales of our other books. If it is good, then readers may want to try our other authors. If it is awful they will never forgive us.
Also, we tend only to want to work with authors from our local area, and then again, you might just want to do it all yourself and not involve us at all. So as crazy as it may seem, I’m going to set out some of the things you need to know to self-publish a book in the UK.
This will then link to other articles giving you more detail on each area.
The Basics of Self-Publishing.
Cost of Self-Publishing
Anything from nothing to a few thousand pounds is usual.
You can publish a book for zero cost, but you should be careful. A great deal depends on what your hopes and aspirations are for your book, but even if you only want to print off a few copies for close friends and family, you should at least take the time to ensure your book has been properly edited, even if that just means re-reading what you have written and trying to correct obvious spelling mistakes. You will also need to format the book and create a cover. If you are good at these things already, or are willing to learn, you may be able to do them yourself, although there is an art to book cover design that arguably extends beyond what can realistically be taught.
If you have ambitions to be a professional or semi-professional writer, then you really do need to spend some money to make sure your book is up to scratch. But how much should you spend and who can you trust in a minefield of companies who are out to take your money?
We have certain trusted editors, illustrators, cover designers, and printers whom we have used on previous occasions and I will provide their details. We also offer formatting and cover design and preparation in-house, although I make no claim to being a top cover designer I don’t charge much.
Yes, but how much?
How long is a piece of string? Well here goes.
Basic editing costs, as a rough rule of thumb, £10 per 1,000 words. If your book needs a structural edit and major rewriting then I don’t know because we’ve never done that, all our authors can write a good enough book to start with. For more on editing see here.
Formatting is something you can do yourself, but if you don’t want to learn how, we can format a typical digital manuscript in ‘Word’ for £1 per 1,000 words. If your book needs to be formatted using inDesign it will be more and depends on several factors.
For cover design, again, most people can do this themselves, but if you can’t or don’t want to, you can spend anything from £10 for a plain one-colour cover with the title and author name, to several thousand pounds on a fancy production from a famous cover designer. We would suggest you don’t spend more than £500 though. The most we ever spent was £600 for artwork.
Printing; of course you don’t have to do a print run at all. You can use a Print on Demand (PoD) service, such as Ingram Spark and or Amazon KDP. We like to do a print run if we can though because the unit cost per book works out cheaper; sometimes a lot cheaper.
UK book parameters.
How big should your book be? What type of paper? Which font should you use? These are all questions that plague new self-publishing authors. The problem is there is no single correct answer to any of these type of questions, but there are at least a few possible guidelines you might want to follow.
One option is to take a ruler into a bookshop and measure books similar to the one you have written. I did that. I felt stupid.
If you are talking about a novel, there is one best size for UK distribution. It’s 198mm x 129mm (we also produce some books in 195 x 125 for cost reasons of which more later) Other sizes can be used, but this is the size of most paperbacks you can buy in bookshops.
While on the subject of novels, there is a lot of dispute about how many words constitutes a novel. NaNoWriMo accepts 50,000 words as a full length novel and I’m going to accept that, although a great many novels are from 85-100k words these days. I think that fewer than 50k is a novella, and 10k is a short story.
There are a range of sizes in non-fiction which can include the standard novel size, mentioned above. This is ideal for memoirs and narrative non-fiction for example. Other sizes, such as A4, A5, 9″ x 6″, 10″ x 8″ etc. are also common. A lot will depend on things like how and where you expect people to read the book. A coffee table book will want a large format, whereas a pocket guide to cheese will need to be, well, pocket sized. Who you choose to do your printing may also be a factor in your choice.
With younger children’s books (3-7+ years) all bets are off. They can be all sorts of sizes. That said, a square format 8″ x 8″ is a good starting point. 8″ x 10″ in either landcape or portrait can also work, as can A4 or A5.
Novels for older children (6+ years) will usualy fall into the same category as novels for adults. Rules for children’s non-fiction are equally reflected in those for adults.
If you use a PoD publisher like KDP then you don’t get much choice. You can’t uaully print hardback editions either. If you use a printer you have far more parameters. It’s a minefield of options for different purposes, but the first and biggest choice you have to make is whether to use white paper or cream (or beige or whatever they call it). The choice is relatively simple.
Kids’ picture book? White
I like to use 90gsm instead of the standard 80gsm because a teeny bit more luxury is worth it for a nicer product feel. Will the customer notice? Not consiciously, no; but subconsciously they will.
For children’s books I tend to think 115gsm is preferable, and have even gone to 150 gsm, for example on the luxury edition of “Teeny Tiny Witch”.
This begins to fall under formatting, which is a whole separate subject in itself. As a very rough guide, print books for regular readers should use a “serif” font. I use Garamond for adults and young adult books or Century Schoolbook for children’s books, although others, such as Times New Roman, Georgia, or Palatino are just as good. Note that different fonts look larger or smaller than each other for a given size. Of these Garamond is the smallest, which is why I usually use it at 12pt. Century schoolbook is the largest of those shown here, and I tend to use 12pt for older children (8-12) and 14 point for younger readers (6-10).
For very young children, beginner readers, I prefer to use a simple sans serif font with ‘single story’ A, and G etc. however, following the golden rule of never using ‘Comic Sans’ I searched for alternatives.
Please don’t imagine there are any hard and fast rules for children’s books, but I like to try and give them a fighting chance of reading for themselves by using a familiar and fairly regular font which resembles how they are first taught to write.
If you want to get creative, do it in the headings.
Fonts for reading are clean and simple. It is never a good idea to use any fancy font for the main body text. If you want to use a fancy font on the cover, or in the chapter headings go for it. But even then, don’t go too crazy.
Janet Few, author of our bestselling “Barefoot on the Cobbles” writes and talks on history and genealogy travelling all over the world even as far as New Zealand. However, in this very personal blog post she covers a different subject, that of her grandson (with his parent’s permission) and his Autism and Passive Demand Avoidance, and the difficulties that can cause when interacting with members of the public who don’t understand the condition.
Janet Few’s brilliant historical novel set in Clovelly and surrounding areas at the turn of the 19th century and through the First World War has been going from strength to strength since it’s launch in November of last year.
Now it has been given a Chill With A Book – reader’s award as well as gaining several four and five star reviews on major websites.
Blue Poppy Publishing wish to congratulate Janet on her well deserved award.
One of my characters, Maarten, who appears in “Time Tunnel to West Leighton” and “Time Tunnel to Ironbridge” is autistic.
I have created a hi-resolution image because someone I know wanted to make a poster for their classroom, and I’m sharing it below because I couldn’t get it to go through on Facebook uncompressed. The format is A3 300 dpi so should be easy to convert to PDF for printers.
I (Oliver Tooley) am autistic although I was never diagnosed. Two of my children are diagnosed and they get help to cope with society as it currently operates. Yet, as the words in this image imply, it’s all those neurotypical people who are weird, not us.
I think it’s fair to say this is partly tongue in cheek, but there is a serious note backing it up.
You need to click on the image to open it up full size, then right click to save.
“I’m autistic, which means everyone around me has a disorder which makes them say things they don’t mean, not care about structure, fail to hyperfocus on singular important topics, have unreliable memories, drop weird hints, and stare creepily into my eyeballs.
So why do people treat me as the weird one?
Because there are more of them than people like me.”
I signed up (as Oliver Tooley) for ALLi which is the Alliance of Independent Authors. It has been highly recommended to me for some time now by various people and I’ve been putting it off, but I think it will be a useful tool in the long run.
Actually, I must confess I haven’t yet really seen how useful it might be but I have high hopes. I’ll let you know in future if it works out.
Meanwhile, if you’re planning on joining yourself, I’ve posted a link below. (sponsored) You can join if you are planning to self publish, or have already self-published a novel. You can also join if you are a professional author with 50,000 + sales a year, or if you provide author services. (I didn’t think Blue Poppy was quite ready for that side of things yet).
Brand new audio-book available now, FREE Kindle offer coming soon.
When Joni Dee approached Blue Poppy Publishing with “And the Wolf Shall Dwell” I was worried that he was based in London. We were, and still are, a small publisher based in North Devon and it is harder to work at a distance, where you can’t pop round with a box of books.
Nevertheless, the story is a gripping read and Joni did already have a large number of pre-orders for the paperback and hardcover editions which covered the first print run nicely, so how could we refuse?
Now Joni has taken the next step on his publishing journey and produced an audio-book version of this stunning contemporary political espionage thriller. You can get it here UK Amazon link or from Amazon in your country, universal link .
What was the bit about FREE Kindle?
Oh yes, if you haven’t already read “And the Wolf Shall Dwell” and you just want the Kindle edition, you can get it free for a very limited period only, starting on Tuesday 3oth October. Just follow the universal link or do a search on Amazon for “And the Wolf Shall Dwell”, by Joni Dee.
Also, if follow Joni Dee on Twitter and RT his tweet about the audio-book then you can be in with a chance to win a free code from Audible.
We’re blessed with some wonderful bookshops in North Devon and here at Blue Poppy Publishing, our long term aim is for all books to be sold by retailers, while we only deal with wholesale. For now you can buy our books right here from our website, but if you want to support your local book shop we would love that too, even though we make less money on the deal.
Here’s the lowdown on your local book shops in and around North Devon.
“Ilfracombe Bookshop” – 99 High St, Ilfracombe, Devon, EX34 9NH – 01271 864545
This is a wonderful book shop with shelves stacked high with stock and the owner Paul will cheerfully order books for you. As well as books, he stocks a superb range of artists materials, catering for the many amateur and professional artists in the town. There’s no website so if you’re in town pop in and say, ‘Hi’.
“Tarka Books” – 5 Bear St, Barnstaple, Devon, EX32 7BU – 01271 267090
An unassuming frontage on the one way section of Bear Street in the centre of town opens into a large space crammed with books, although they have more second-hand books they do stock some new, particularly children’s books. Website.
“Sol Books” – 2 Bridge Chambers, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 1HB – 01271 327319
Although this shop is almost entirely second-hand and antiquarian books, they do specifically stock books by local authors, including Blue Poppy publications.
“Waterstones” – 42 High St, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 1BZ – 01271 374433
The national chain is a vital part of the overall book retail market. Think of it as a game of ‘rock-paper-scissors’ but instead it’s ‘Amazon-Waterstones-Indies’ The Barnstaple branch is large and open with a great range and, like all bookshops, they can order any book in print. Website
“Walter Henry Books” – 12 High St, Bideford, Devon, EX39 2AA – 01237 425727
A beautiful spacious and well stocked bookshop in the centre of Bideford. hey don’t have a website, but there is a Facebook and Twitter account if you want to get in touch.
Beyond North Devon
Oakhampton – recently opened
“Dogberry & Finch” – 15 St James St, Okehampton, EX20 1DJ
Newly opened in August 2019 Kate McClosky and her partner Linus look forward to bringing a carefully curated selection of books to their hometown and becoming an important part of the Oakhampton shopping experience. Their plans include hosting special events as well as featuring local artists in the shop. For more information, check out their website.
“Liznojan Books” – 25 Gold Street, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 6QB
Liznojan is one of the newer bookshops in Devon, opened in 2017 by mum and daughter team Jackie and Kayleigh. It’s not just a bookshop, it is a community hub with local art and craft, and independent magazines, as well as an organic cafe. It really is a gem of a shop and well worth a visit if you are in town. Website
“Crediton Community Bookshop” – 21 High Street, Crediton, Devon, EX17 3AH
Another lovely independent bookshop serving Crediton and the surrounding areas. Spacious and well stocked, offering a range of events throughout the year and working with local schools on things like author visits and book related events to promote reading. Website
“Archway Bookshop” – Church Street, Town Centre, Axminster, EX13 5AQ
You enter through the Gothic arch of this ancient stone building and find yourself in a large shop spread over two floors with a magnificent spiral staircase. As well as a huge range of stock there is, as you might expect, personal recommendations, and an ordering service which even includes local delivery. As usual, the shop is a community hub with things like a book club and they are a sales outlet for local ticketed events. The website is sparse but is a starting point.
“Paragon Books” – 38 High Street, Sidmouth, Devon, EX10 8EJ
Paragon books (not be be confused with Parragon books the publisher) has graced Sidmouth’s shopping scene for over twenty years. With a range of over 5,000 titles, as well as CDs and DVDs, you should find what you want, and if you can’t they can order for you. They also have greetings cards and paintings from local artists. They host author events and sell tickets for other local venues. Find out more on their website.
Spread out over three floors with the children’s section on the ground floor, a cafe on the 1st floor and a quiet section on the 2nd floor (sensibly far away from the children. Website.
Dartmouth Bookseller, 3 Foss St, Dartmouth, TQ6 7DW
Describes itself as “a busy little bookshop in the beautiful coastal town Dartmouth, Devon. We’re part of a family-run company, Mabecron Books Ltd. Friendly booksellers happy to recommend interesting reads for all ages and occasions.” Website
Harbour Bookshop, Mill Street Kingsbridge Devon TQ7 1ED
A friendly and well-stocked independent local bookshop in South Hams. Website
Bookstop 3 Market Street, Tavistock, PL19 0DA
Bookstop is a general book shop stocking all categories of books and audiobooks on two floors along with a wide range of music on vinyl and CD in a dedicated Music Room. website
Dateline: Friday 5th October
Time: 12:09 – 12:19 approx
Well yesterday was an experience and tremendously interesting, and fun.
David Fitzgerald is a lovely bloke who managed to sound interested in my maundering nonsense. I just hope I didn’t send all his listeners to sleep.
I got in touch with the show with considerable trepidation, fearing that I would either be ignored, or worse, rejected as not sufficiently interesting. (n.b. this is why I self-published in the first place, because I dread rejection far too much)
Contrary to my worst fears, Elsa got back to me almost immediately and, to my huge surprise, offered me an interview the very next day!
So there’s me driving down to Plymouth (I had thought the BBC Radio Devon studios were in Exeter) on Friday morning, and waiting in reception, then being brought through by the delightful Elsa and introduced to Fitz.
I knew I wouldn’t have long, and I tried to splurge as much information as I could in an incoherent stream. Fitz managed things with utter professionalism and natural charm, bringing out some of the important points I had glossed over, and making sure I could plug the website.
You can listen again using the BBCs own iPlayer app, This requires an account and you have to be signed in. My interview is at approx 2:09 into the three hour programme.
If you live abroad, or if you can’t bring yourself to sign up for an account, then I have made a recording of the specific bit for you to listen to.
I left thinking of a hundred things I wanted to say but didn’t but listening back over the interview I got about ten minutes and covered almost everything I could have hoped for. Thank you Fitz, and BBC Radio Devon.