John Murray publisher Mark Richards is co-founding a new publishing company with Diana Broccardo, commercial director of Profile Books, called Swift Press.
Publishing across fiction and non-fiction, it will launch early this summer, with Geoffrey Faber Holdings and Set Copyrights, the co-owners of Faber & Faber, as the principal investors—the first time that either has invested in another publisher.
Swift will become a new member of the Independent Alliance and partner with Faber for its sales service. The Independent Alliance has 15 publisher members and forms the fifth largest group in the UK market. According to Richards, in Swift's first year (2021) it will likely publish around six to eight titles, before ramping up subsequently. The list will include literary fiction as well as crime and thrillers and a broad offering of trade non-fiction. After hiring a publicist in its first year, it will then add an editor the year after.
Richards joined John Murray in 2013 and became publisher in 2018. Among his authors are Andrew Michael Hurley, whose Costa First Novel Award and British Book Awards Book of the Year-winning debut The Loney (JMP) he famously plucked from obscurity after it initially published with independent Tartarus Press. He also published Women's Prize for Fiction-winner Lisa McInerney, who was jointly awarded the Encore Award with Hurley in 2018 and CWA Steel Dagger-winner Mick Herron, as well as Jessie Greengrass, Stig Abell and Luke Jennings.
At Profile Books, Broccardo oversees sales, marketing, publicity, art, warehouse operations and Profile Editions. Her career has included stints at Faber & Faber, Hodder & Stoughton and Orion. She moved to Profile in 2009, joining its board a year later, since which time Profile’s turnover has increased from £6.5 million to over £12 million.
Richards said he'd always wanted to found a publishing house and now seemed like the right time. His last day with John Murray will be the end of May.
"I have had an amazing time at John Murray, and feel especially proud to have been part of the imprint as it turned 250–with its most successful year ever, and having won Imprint of the Year the previous year," said Richards. "I have always wanted to found a publishing house and now feels the right time to do so. I am hugely looking forward to launching Swift with Diana, whose business experience is exceptional and whose enthusiasm for publishing is infectious; and with the backing of Geoffrey Faber Holdings and Set Copyrights, who understand the particularities of publishing as well as the possibility of creating companies with lasting cultural and commercial value."
Broccardo said: "Profile is a wonderful company with superb authors and outstanding staff, and Andrew Franklin has been an inspiring leader and mentor.
"We are looking forward to building something new with Swift, and I am very excited by the prospect of working with Mark, whose reputation as one of our industry’s most talented publishers precedes him. And I have worked with the brilliant team at the Alliance for more than half my career, so I am delighted they have welcomed Swift in."
Toby Faber and Judith Hooper, director of Geoffrey Faber Holdings and Set Copyrights respectively, said: "Having co-operated very successfully as joint investors in Faber & Faber for the past 30 years, we are delighted to be backing Mark and Diana in this new venture. Their outstanding and complementary track records justify what is an exceptional investment for us both. Our experience with Faber & Faber suggests that publishers work best when investors stay in the background and that is certainly our intention with Swift. Meanwhile, our commitment to Faber & Faber remains as strong as ever."
John Murray Press m.d. Nick Davies and Profile m.d. Andrew Franklin wished Richards and Broccardo well.
Davies said: "We are sad to be saying goodbye to Mark. We will miss him as a publisher and as a friend. He’s had a huge impact here and in the wider market, discovering and nurturing an extraordinary new generation of British and Irish writers who otherwise might have been overlooked. He leaves John Murray in good health, a vibrant and refreshed imprint with a brilliant commissioning team in place. But our loss is the publishing industry’s gain: we need a creative, confident indie sector and we wish Mark and Swift every success."
Franklin added: "I know first-hand that setting up a publishing company from scratch is both a huge challenge and incredibly exciting. If anyone can do it, these two brilliant people can, and I wish them every success though we will miss Diana enormously."