Anthology editors cancel Stirling Publishing agreement

Anthology editors cancel Stirling Publishing agreement

The editors of an anthology of writing on mental health among BAME people have cancelled their agreement with Stirling Publishing, after the press was linked to a far right group.

Following the announcement Stirling had acquired Julie Burchill's Welcome to the Woke Trials this week, a recording was shared online, alleged to be of Stirling Publishing's sole director Tabatha Stirling, apologising to the group Patriotic Alternative for her tweets.

In it, she said she was anti-Islam, a Tommy Robinson supporter and that she regretted publishing 2018 anthology The Colour of Madness: Exploring BAME Mental Health in the UK, saying she only did so to make money and get shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize.

Last night, the book's editors Samara Linton and Rianna Walcott said they had now officially terminated their agreement with Stirling Publishing. “The rights to their contributions are back in the hands of our contributors,” they tweeted.

They said support had come from the Jhalak Prize, its co-founder Sunny Singh, Publishing Scotland, the Society of Authors, Sophie Scard from United Agents and consultancy Sharp Rights. Walcott told The Bookseller the support from people had been “really wonderful”, with Sharp Rights designing the termination contract, alongside agents, editors and publishing companies who looked over the initial contract in a “whirlwind few days”.

Walcott added they had already been contacted by other publishers interested in releasing a new version but she wanted to get the permission of contributors first. She said there had been problems with the book's publication with Stirling from the outset, including a book launch without any printed copies, describing it as like “self-publishing without the control”.

Walcott said: “With an established publisher who's interested in taking care of us properly, people won't be trying to get to copies but not finding them. I'm hoping there's room for bigger audience after this.”

Burchill announced this week she had also cancelled her contract with the firm, while Stirling has resigned its membership of Publishing Scotland.