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I’m sorry to have to tell you that Philip and I stopped producing Personal Bests after Issue 5. The format worked for a while, people sent us what they considered their lifetime best story, bought copies of the Journal when it came out, and received an equal share of the royalties when they came through. But we couldn’t allow the same people to keep sending in alleged “lifetime bests” for every issue, and so we limited it to two per person and then we wouldn’t publish that particular author’s work again. We imagined an ever-expanding market, where new authors would hear about what we were doing, get something published, buy copies and tell their friends who would do the same. But what we actually found was that most authors wouldn’t buy more than one copy of a book they were in, and wouldn’t buy a copy at all if they weren’t in it. Also very few contributors really made much of an effort to involve others or publicise what we were trying to do. Both sales and submissions diminished issue by issue and the shares of royalties dipped below £10 each, at which point we decided the venture simply didn’t justify the time and effort we were putting into it. It became a bit of a pyramid sales scheme in reverse.

At present there is no point in sending in submissions as neither of us is currently involved in book or magazine production, though we may go back to it in time. I am currently working on a third collection of my own stories and will see how I feel after that is done.



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Issur 1 cover Issue 2 cover
Cover image by Slavko Mali
Personal Bests Journal Issue 1

The first issue of the new journal was published in August 2020 and is still available to buy on Amazon. What is different about this series? Almost everything.

To create Personal Bests Journal David Gardiner, writer and for 16 years Prose Editor of Gold Dust Magazine asked all the short story authors he had encountered over the years and anybody else who wanted to take part to send in what they considered their lifetime best short story, whether previously published or not, and (within reason) regardless of length.

From an eventual 167 submissions David chose 31 stories for the first edition of the journal, ranging in length from 712 to 12,252 words. What did the 31 have in common? That is best described by Rob Robson, author of Caught in the Drift, in the review he wrote on Amazon:

Challenged to produce their literary Personal Bests, these authors from around the world carefully carry the reader into new minds and unexpected spaces. In Family Business a parent must protect their child at all costs. The Vanishing of M.Renoir and Saving Aaron share the same theme but in very different and unique ways. Time moving on and changing traditions are beautifully explored in The Projectionist, Teach a Man to Fish and Billy Luck, and that sweetest spot in life in the last days of youthful exuberance before the destruction of adulthood crashes in is perfectly captured in The Summer of Dust. From the deliberate comic complexity of Pregenesis to the heart-warming simplicity of The Last Haircut, and all the levels in between, each story demands reflection before moving on to the next one.

The other unique feature of this journal is that all income from sales is distributed equally between all the authors with a story in the collection. This makes it effectively the first "Fair Trade" short story anthology, and ensures that the time, inspiration and love that each of us puts into our work is fairly rewarded. Why is even commercial publication so often paid for with a "Thanks very much"? Is the labourer not worthy of his or her hire?

Cover art submissions are also welcome and an accepted image will earn its creator an equal share in the sales revenue in the same way as an accepted story. Images can be in any digital format and should be about 6.25 inches X 9.25 inches (158.75 mm X 234.95 mm) at a minimum resolution of 300 DPI.

Please send all submissions and correspondence to me, David Gardiner, at:

Cover image by Mitsu Nakayama
Personal Bests Journal Issue 2

Issue 3 cover

Cover image by Robert Currie
Personal Bests Journal Issue 3

If you are a writer of short stories, whether published or not, you are very welcome to submit your own choice of your very best story for consideration. At time of writing Issue 3 has just been published, this time containing 28 stories chosen from over 200 submissions within its 295 pages. Here is a link to its sales page on Amazon:

Barring accidents there will be an Issue 4 and an Issue 5 and so on, at a frequency of about two a year: a summer edition around June or July and a winter edition around October or November, so submissions should remain permanently open. If your story is accepted for publication then I will request some additional items, such as a short bio, a "mugshot" for the "About the Authors" section at the back of the book and a copyright release to avoid any accusations of intellectual property theft on my part.

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