Former energy chief turns literary fiction publisher

Former energy chief turns literary fiction publisher

Former energy chief Louise Boland is launching a new publisher focusing on contemporary literary fiction.

Boland, former managing director and co-founder of retail energy supplier Opus Energy, has been inspired to launch the press after believing literary fiction commissions in traditional publishing is "shrinking". Her Oxford-based venture Fairlight Books will therefore focus on publishing and promoting "original, quality" literary fiction, she said.

The press will publish 10 to 15 books a year and operate under a traditional publishing model, remunerating authors at the "standard going rate" for royalities and distributing titles via Gardners.

Boland said: "Following the expansion of the genre-led self-publishing sector (and the consequent shrinking of the traditional sector), the number of publishing ‘slots’ available to writers of contemporary literary fiction has fallen drastically. With writer friends complaining it was ‘impossible to get published with literary fiction anymore’ and reader friends complaining everything out there was ‘samey’, [I] felt there was a need for a publishing house focused solely on publishing originality and quality, rather than quantity."

Her move comes after Arts Council England (ACE) chief Darren Henly expressed concerns for the future of literary fiction earlier this month. He revealed that ACE was working on research to show the difficulties faced by literary fiction at a time of structural change to the market, following the demise of the Net Book Agreement, the advent of handheld devices and the proliferation of competing media. Mainstream publishers are taking fewer risks with their midlist than before, he said.

The publisher will also publish short stories through its Fairlight Shorts imprint and will launch with an anthology of short stories The Madonna of the Pool by Helen Stancey on the 27th July. With cover illustration by Finn Campbell-Notman depicting the title story, the anthology marks the "welcome return" of Stancey’s writing to readers of literary fiction, Boland said.

Boland said: "Starting up a new business is always exciting, but as an author and business woman who is passionate about fiction, creating a new publishing house from scratch is doubly so. In a world where the consumer is facing an electronic deluge of ‘buy-me’ photo fits and duplicates, we intend for Fairlight Books will be a source of quality writing and guaranteed originality."