About Blatheron Publishing

In the 1990’s, 3 people were stranded together on a train (yes I know this sounds like a poor start to a novel – but that’s real life for you). To continue, 2 of the 3 were returning from a medical conference and the third was travelling home from university for the Christmas break. Each had been trying to read, but the light was failing, and the carriage was cold and so they fell into conversation. The student had been trying to write a novel, and so, for something to entertain the others, she started to read the first pages of her work.

After half an hour, the text the author had written to date was exhausted and the other 2 both agreed that when the work was published, they would each eagerly buy a copy. The 2 travellers who had attended a medical conference both stated that they too had ideas for books, but both felt that their clients may possibly feel that they were the subjects of the texts, if the authors could be identified. There was a further problem, publishing companies would no doubt insist on the writer attending talks and book signings to promote the work, and each stated clearly that they could not submit to that sort of publicity.

 At this point, a fourth person in the carriage, who up until now had been hidden behind a newspaper, begged, in a broad Scots accent, to join the conversation. The 3 nodded eagerly and the newspaper was folded, revealing a woman in her late 70’s dressed in a heavy tweed skirt and jacket, looking for all the world like a reject from an Agatha Christie novel. The woman’s apparel was topped off at her head by a small felt hat skewered in place by an elaborate hat pin, while her feet were encased in heavy leather ‘sensible’ shoes. The woman sat heavily at the table and folded her arms, preparing to speak, which she did in a lilting highlands accent.

“You know, it appears to me that you all have the same problem. None of you would be likely to engage the affections of a publishing house with that attitude. Which is if you could get a publisher to look at your work in the first place. In my opinion, and I do have experience in these matters, the only course open to you would be to publish privately through what is termed ‘Vanity Publishing’.”

The 3 suddenly realised that what had been a whimsical conversation was now taking on an air of seriousness. ‘Mrs Tweeds’ continued.

“You see, a publishing company will only back a horse it thinks likely to win, and a horse without ‘form’ would be a very risky bet. Think of how much it would cost them to print, promote and deliver the finished book to bookshops. How much would you expect as an advance of royalties? How many copies will they sell? How many will be returned? It is all a great gamble for them. Of course, if you were called ‘A Christie’, or ‘Mr J R R Tolkien’, then sales would be practically guaranteed. On the other hand, if you were prepared to forgo an advance on royalties and take the risk of the costs yourself, then ‘Vanity Publishing’ makes sense. But how would you market your books? How would you store the thousands of volumes in the meantime? How would you get the books into bookshops?”

The 3 laughed together and the younger, the student, put into words what they were all thinking.

“So, what you are saying is, we should create our own publishing company.”

‘Mrs Tweeds’ smiled. “Well, you could, but you would have to agree to only publish what you considered fit to publish, you know, set standards, or you will drive away any audience before you start. I can give you an address of a trade publication where you can find contacts to print and store your work. I think there may be organizations that will help you to distribute as well.”

The young student pushed a notebook and pen across the table and ‘Mrs Tweeds’ realizing that she was being taken at her word, started to write. The notebook was returned, and the young student added her address, passing the book along to the others. Each added their details in return and the student started to make 2 further copies of the page.

‘Mrs Tweeds’ gathered together her belongings and rose; she was changing trains at the next station. With one deep breath she made her farewell. “I wish you well in your endeavours and have just one piece of advice to give you all, don’t just blather on, get on with it.”

The 3 smiled and said their goodbyes to the old woman, who disappeared out of the carriage door into a flurry of sleet. There was a sudden feeling of emptiness in the carriage as the 3 took a collective deep breath. The young student collected the papers she had just distributed and wrote at the top of each page, ‘The Blather On Society’. The papers were redistributed, and the 2 older travellers gave the young woman a quizzical look.

She explained, “If you don’t mind, I have named us ‘The Blather On Society’, because that is what we will do, we will just ‘blather on’, or in Modern English, ‘talk incessantly’ about publishing, but we will never do anything about it.”


Thirty years later the world was gripped by COVID-19 and much of the western hemisphere was in lockdown. Two of the 3 traveling companions had remained on each other’s Christmas card lists, as they were both involved in the same ‘industry’ and shared the same interests. The third member of the group, now no longer a young student, had lost contact with the other 2 many years earlier. The 2 old friends had collaborated on a website to bring together colleagues with similar interests for online chats during the lockdown. It transpired that each now had some experience with writing and each had reviewed several manuscripts over the years. By 2020 each had one or 2 examples of manuscripts that they thought worthy of developing to the point of printing.

It was late summer 2020 when a message was received on the new website. Their traveling companion of 30 years earlier had found them, resulting in an animated online conversation. She too had been involved in a local writing group and had viewed at least one manuscript that she had agreed to edit and help the author develop. The industry had changed over the previous 30 years. As well as conventional publishing companies and ‘vanity’ publishing companies, the new concept of print on demand had emerged. Now anyone could publish their own work at little cost as long as the work met the standards of the ‘publishing agency’. The drawback of this approach was that there was little promotion for the work, no branding apart from the author’s name, little scrutiny of the work submitted and little support for the technical issues of the industry.

After 3 days of conversation (and a great deal of beer), it was decided that the 3 (or one or more of the 3) should form a publishing company of their own. Manuscripts would be accepted strictly on an invitation only basis and that when requested for an adequate reason, the identity of the authors would be masked.

This last concept was included in the founding principles of the group, to protect the clients of medical practitioners from wrongly attributing published works, as being their own life stories. Eventually, by January 2021, several designs for websites were trialled, with the intention of ‘going live’ by April 2021. As for a name, it was quickly decided that they were not going to ‘Blather On’ anymore but get on with the process. As such, ‘Blather-on’ appeared to be a whimsical if meaningful name. Over the next few months, the name evolved into ‘Blatheron Publishing’ with a hyphen added between the words ‘Blatheron’ and ‘Publishing’ for the website.