Eight members of publishing collective the Northern Fiction Alliance (NFA) have joined the Publishers Association for the first time to gain "a seat at the table".
The NFA was founded in 2016 by four of the UK’s leading independent publishers - Manchester’s Comma Press, Leeds’ Peepal Tree Press, Liverpool’s Dead Ink Books, and Sheffield’s And Other Stories - to showcase northern indie presses' output to the international market and promote regional diversity. In April, the Arts Council England-supported cohort published an open letter containing an eight-point plan outlining how and why publishing could break away from its London-centric focus.
The NFA members joining the Publishers Association are: Comma Press, Dead Ink Books, Tilted Axis Press, Valley Press, And Other Stories, Peepal Tree Press, Saraband and Bluemoose.
Sarah Cleave, publishing manager of Comma Press, said joining the PA membership would aid the group's lobbying and campaigning efforts. There are also plans afoot to collaborate with the PA on practical training workshops and events outside London.
"As a collective, the NFA is committed to promoting regional diversity, and encouraging greater collaboration and dialogue between publishers of all sizes within the industry," said Cleave. "Our joining the PA will strengthen our lobbying and campaigning activities, and also ensure that our members have a seat at the table. We are delighted to be working with the PA on expanding our existing suite of training workshops, and providing more opportunities for aspiring publishers from the region."
Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers Association, said the PA had been "inspired" by the NFA's open letter earlier this year and welcomed the "exciting" independent presses into its membership, commending them for "shining a light on issues vital to the future of our industry".
"They represent an ethos and approach – that the collective voice brings more power than the individual – that is core to our identity and purpose as a trade association," he said. "We were inspired by their Open Letter and are looking forward to working with them and our wider membership on the issues they raised."
At the time, the NFA wrote in its open letter that: “If our industry is, as it claims, committed to tackling inclusivity then we need to start diversifying our workforces and, perhaps more importantly, dispersing across the UK in order to better engage with and embolden a new generation of writers, readers and aspiring publishers.”
The PA said its membership is currently at its highest level, with 131 members spanning consumer, academic and education publishing, ranging from the largest publishers in the world to small independents.
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