Ideas are free but art costs and we need help

Ideas are free but art costs and we need help


There’s no room for kindness in publishing is there? Market share, bestsellers, shareholder value, only the fittest survive in the market economy but wait. Corvid19 and everyone needs state help. Rightly so. But what if you are a small indie with one employee, me, who works with freelance editors and designers. You have a warehouse full of a bestseller, Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession, which has just been shortlisted for a 3rd award, The British Book Awards and you can’t sell it. Sales down 90%, looking to lose £45,000 of sales over the next few months. Disaster.

Arts Council England have an emergency fund, but they can’t bail out everyone. Can we rely on the industry to pull up their sleeves and help like they do in France with their ALDEC scheme, publishers putting in 0.15% of turnover to help indie bookshops access loans or CNL, which organises payments from photocopying texts to aid independent publishers with zero percent loans? Or in Norway where the government buy copies off indie presses and distribute them free to libraries?

Ideas are free but art costs and we need help.

As Gracie Cooper from Little Toller says "2020 was meant to be a memorable year; we had a certain bestseller, our first after 10 ten years of publishing with the young Dara McAnulty and his exceptional Diary of A Young Naturalist, had curated a whole series of incredible events with Dara. Now all I feel is deep despair and sadness not just for us but for our young debut author and for the uncertain future of our press. The bedrock of all good bookshops and booksellers is small presses and I worry that after all this is over there will be far fewer of us and the golden age of the feisty nimble creative press will be over. I’m worried, really worried."

Perhaps a national literary publishing cooperative of smaller presses with editorial independence, a Mondragon, the Catalan workers group founded in 1956 that is individual businesses under the umbrella of a cooperative? Naive, innocent? Perhaps, but those saying so are still taking taxpayers money today.

We have that with the Northern Fiction Alliance, we work and promote each other’s books and authors, combine our literary efforts with road shows and advice. It works and feels more important now than ever before.

Collaboration and working together, Bluemoose is working with Little Toller, a non-fiction publisher. Gracie and I chatted and have curated a plan. We talked to bestselling author Benjamin Myers, ex -Mooseketeer, and we have exclusive use of his short story,

 A Stone Statue In The Future, which we’ll publish as an e-book. Available to buy from The Little Toller website, from 17th April. Sales and Marketing, working together.

As Leonard’s mother says in Leonard and Hungry Paul. "The only reason for not having a bird feeder in the front garden is that you have one in the back."

Helping others. Working together.