'Crunch point' is yet to come, say indie publishers

'Crunch point' is yet to come, say indie publishers

Two indie publishers have shared their concerns about the coming autumn, and emphasised the importance of flexible plans moving forward.

Speaking at the IPG Virtual Spring Conference, Sarah Braybrooke, managing director at Scribe UK, and Atlantic Books managing director Will Atkinson aired concerns on the packed line-up of titles expected this autumn because of coronavirus delays.

"I'm concerned about the massive concertina effect that might last into next year," Atkinson said. "I am much more worried now than I was a month ago." He said that approximately 30% of Atlantic's titles due for July had been moved.

Braybrooke (pictured) said Scribe UK has removed the bulk of its titles set for spring and summer publication, and rescheduled them for autumn and next year. Braybrooke said that autumn is "always a bunfight" but that the company would be "fighting for sales". She added it was difficult to schedule ahead, and unwise to "cling on to any one plan too hard" as "everything is changing".

Atkinson added that many presses had been affected by other factors brought on by the pandemic, including the closure and reopening of Gardners, and Amazon's distribution issues.

Both independent publishers agreed the level of "author kickback" had varied from writer to writer, with some keen for their titles to be brought forward and others urging delay.

Braybrooke noted there had been a number of very specific titles across wellbeing and self-help genres that soared in popularity, with Lori Gottlieb's Maybe You Should Talk to Someone a particular standout. She added that lockdown was an important time to be aware of trends, and as such has commissioned a book about home schooling.

Braybrooke said she had also advised Alexa Schoen to bring forward the publication of Entry Level Boss: A 9-Step Guide for Finding a Job You Like (And Actually Getting Hired to Do It) to April, to cater for young graduates facing the job market at a time of unprecedented insecurity.

Atkinson said Atlantic's marketing team were now doing "twice the work", despite the company "being late to the furlough party". Meanwhile Scribe had been preparing to recruit new employees as plans to expand were afoot, but Braybrooke said the existing cohort were absorbing the demands into their roles, with recruitment on hold for now.