New indie presses plan bold bespoke lists

A central and eastern European specialist, an illustrated publishing-led list and a house operating from a former ­biscuit factory will all be launching their lists this year.

Stork Press, which was set up in August last year, will publish its first title, novel Madame Mephisto by A M Bakalar, on 19th April this year, with plans for a further three novels to be published in October—Freshta by Czech author Petra Procházková, The Finno-Ugrian Vampire by Hungarian writer Noémi Szécsi, and Illegal Liaisons by Polish author Grazyna Plebanek.

Set up by Polish publishing director Joanna Zgadzaj and production and operations director Nancy Roberts, the list will focus on literature either in translation from central or eastern Europe, or written in English by authors from those areas. Stork Crime will launch in 2013, and Zgadzaj said it will nurture authors: “Lots of novels have potential but aren’t given the chance; we want to work with the authors and have long-term relationships with them.”

On setting up in a tough market, she added: “There was no point in waiting. We were obviously scared, but we have been overwhelmed by positive messages. It is so important for smaller publishers—we do rely on people who believe in us.” 

Newcastle-based McNidder & Grace, set up by publisher Andy Peden Smith when
he completed a management buyout of Northumbria University Press at the end of 2011, will publish its first title Fading Light: Portraits of Centanarians by Chris Steele-Perkins, former president of photo agency Magnum, in June (hb, £24.99). As well as a photography list, the publisher will release non-fiction books on art, biography, music and country pursuits, with its first adult fiction title, crime title The Storm Without by Preface-author Tony Black, also coming in paperback in June.

It has a ready-made backlist in the form of the 50 titles taken over from NUP, and a team of three staff working with freelances. Peden Smith said he believed indie publishers have an important role to play in the “cultural life of the nation", and added that he believed there will continue to be a market for “beautiful illustrated books”. The titles will be distributed in Europe and the US as well as the UK.

Meanwhile, Grey Tiger Books has been set up by Tara Cranswick, a Zimbabwean artist and former adviser to Charles Saatchi, who also set up collective art collection V22. It will publish its first title, novel After the Death of the Goat God, by artist Fergal Stapleton, in September (£14.99, hb), coinciding with the Frieze Art Gallery, where he will be exhibiting. The book is set in a 17th-century Dutch village, with the plot revolving around
the discovery of a corpse in a wood on the outskirts of the settlement.

The publisher has four titles currently in planning and production and operates out of a community of artist-run studios in a former biscuit factory in Bermondsey, with Yale Representation managing its sales. The press plans to produce poetry, fiction and translated works by European authors, as well as creating works in print in collaboration with contemporary artists. Cranswick said: “We want to make the books in quite a
particular way, and either have creative control in-house or through the artist."