Kingsford and Shukla crowd-fund BAME journal and literary agency

Kingsford and Shukla crowd-fund BAME journal and literary agency

The creators of The Good Immigrant, Nikesh Shukla and Julia Kingsford, are launching a crowd-funding campaign for The Good Journal - a quarterly literary journal that will showcase UK BAME writers and lay the foundations for a new literary agency to champion under-represented voices.

According to Kingsford, the idea for the journal came about following the response to The Good Immigrant, which published exactly a year ago today (22nd September), and has now sold almost 50,000 copies across all editions to date.

It will launch in spring 2018 and feature essays, short stories, poems, extracts of novels and illustrations by emerging as well as established artists. Writers already signed up to showcase work across the first four issues are Kamila Shamsie, Sanjeev Bhaskar MBE, Emma-Lee Moss (also known by her stage name, Emmy The Great), Susan Wokoma, Carl Anka, Daniellé Dash, Niven Govinden, Sunny Singh, Bolu Babalola and Bridget Minamore.

The subscription will cost £45 for four print issues, with a digital subscription priced at £25. There are a range of additional rewards including early bird discounts, tote bags, copies of books, events and special recognition in the magazine.

Shukla said the pair had wanted to do something with "a quicker turnaround" that would showcase "the British BAME talent we know is out there". The project transpired, he said, after they were inundated with requests to publish a follow-up to The Good Immigrant and on specific issues.

“The success of The Good Immigrant was so phenomenal. And people kept asking when we were going to do another one, could they submit something to it, could we cover this issue, that issue, etc? And we thought, why stick to one more volume and why only use it to talk about race and immigration," Shukla said. "And why not do something with a quicker turnaround? So we thought we’d launch it as a journal, with slots for established writers, up-and-coming writers and open slots for undiscovered talent, open up the remit to encompass writing from all fields. And what we’ll have is something that presents and showcases the British BAME talent we know is out there, from established to new."

He added: "It’s so exciting! I’m also really excited to build on the readership for The Good Immigrant and put out work that resonates with so many different audiences, but specifically young people of colour who felt represented by The Good Immigrant.

Once costs of the journal have been covered - including paying contributors - any funds raised will go towards The Good Literary Agency, a social enterprise literary agency for under-represented writers that Shukla and Kingsford are currently applying for funding to launch next year.

The Good Literary Agency came out of conversations with publishers and agents that identified "a pipeline problem" for writers from under-represented backgrounds contributing to the low levels of representation in UK publishing.

Kingsford said while in an ideal world such an agency wouldn't be necessary, this is not the world we live in. The Bristol-based agency will expand the pipeline to offer more opportunities for under-represented writers, whether BAME, disabled, working-class and LGBTQ.  

“In the year since The Good Immigrant was published it’s been fantastic to see so much of the hunger we know has always been there for British writers of colour come to the surface and I’m really excited that. The Good Journal will be able to showcase even more," she said. 

"In an ideal world The Good Literary Agency wouldn’t have to exist because all talented writers, no matter their background, would have the opportunity to be developed, represented and published. However, most people who work in the industry recognise that that’s not how it currently works. The Good Agency will expand this pipeline to offer more opportunities for people who come from backgrounds currently under-represented in publishing: BAME, disabled, working-class and LGBTQ. We aim to offer development opportunities for talented writers to develop their work with professional support and sell it to publishers."

Kingsford added while she will be "very involved" with both the new journal and agency, she will not be leaving her own company, Kingsford Campbell Literary and Marketing Agents.

The journal follows the launch at the end of August of an editorially-independent online literary magazine with Unbound, called Boundless. The magazine, dedicated to long-form writing and edited by former Independent literary editor Arifa Akbar, was created in part to counter the diminishing space in traditional media.