This is the first time that I've shared my publishing struggles in our newsletter so I decided to post this here in the hope that it'll reach even more people. Thanks!
As I’ve probably said countless times, running a small press is hard work. There are a small (but goodly) number of us publishers, founders, editors, fools, visionaries — call us what you will — across this small island and each individual brings their own unique identity to the press that they run. So the press, and the books that it publishes, is a reflection of, or perhaps a conduit for, its founder’s voice (political or moral), artistic taste and literary leanings.
All of us founders are so very different… (I’m the breastfeeding mama if you want to label me thus. Or you might know me as the one who’s got a Ph.D. in chemistry. Or the one who is mad keen on fairy tales and whose name means ‘fairy tale’ in Latvian. Or the one who pours far too much double cream into her coffee and wonders why her hips are swelling in her age-old tracksuit bottoms.)
But one commonality between us is that we’re either poorly paid or not paid at all (I fall into the latter category) and that we’re vastly, eminently, amazingly passionate about the books we publish.
Recently, two articles by fellow publishers (whom I greatly respect) - Helena Nelson of Happenstance Press and Sam Jordison of Galley Beggar Press - made a deep impression on me.
In Helena’s Poetry Campus pub chat interview, when asked, “Do you make any money from publishing?” she answered: “The right question would be, ‘How much do you lose?’”
And in Sam’s newsletter/SOS, he wrote:
“We’ve brought quite a few new and glorious novels into the world and really don't want much more than that. Although we've had it….
….Yes, this is a begging letter.”
He then proceeded to explain in great technical detail about the state of UK publishing:
When Sam wrote, “Although we’ve had it.” I admit, I shed a tear or two. I think that he unwittingly prodded an emotional wound in me. You see, I’m no longer as youthful, energetic and optimistic as I used to be; I’m very, very tired as a result of fitting in the work of the press around family life; and the financial debt that we’re in is a constant strain. There are many days when I want to say, “Enough!”.
And yet, and yet… I’m still just as passionate about the books I’ve taken on and am going to publish. These books absolutely deserve to be out there, and I so desperately want readers to find them.
But I can’t produce and market these books without sales and pre-orders. The press simply won’t be able to survive and take on new authors without people buying/pre-ordering our stock, reading our books and recommending them to others.
So to quote Sam, “Yes, this is a begging letter.”
If you’ve only got a couple of quid to spare, you can help us out by buying a card or two. Or a beautiful pamphlet of poetry duets or an almost-sold-out Writing Prize anthology.
If you’ve got a couple quid more you can pre-order/order Oy Yew. This is not a book only for children, it’s a book for all ages, which is absolutely up there with what I consider to be the greats: His Dark Materials and Harry Potter.
Or for the same-ish amount you can buy a gorgeous print to frame and hang on your wall.
Or you can buy a book of fairy tales for an adult audience, or a collection of poetry by one of these two well-loved poets: Angela Topping and Cathy Bryant.
Or you can buy our bestselling and critically-acclaimed anthology Musings on Mothering.
Or you can invest in a unique handbound copy of Musings on Mothering or Letting Go.
Or if you’re feeling particularly generous, you can make a larger donation. (You may need to scroll to the bottom of the page to find the donate button.)
Femininity. Empathy. Normalizing breastfeeding. I want to keep on producing books on this theme. If you’d like to help out, or know a person or two who’d like to help out, please do spread the word.
With many, many thanks for taking the time to read this,
best wishes from Teika (and Helen, who’s been my absolute cheerleader throughout) xxx
And p.s. if you’re in Nottinghamshire this Saturday (27th June) don’t forget that we’re launching Oy Yew at the Lowdham Book Festival, 11.00 – 12.00. Come along and say hello. Or buy me a coffee with plenty of cream in it. ;-)
p.p.s. and yes... I know that this newsletter is going out ridiculously late for some of you to catch the last-minute reminder about Lowdham, but I had to see a man about some books today... (Photo courtesy my little son.) [Russell Press are our fab printers by the way.]