Created two years ago to showcase the output of northern indie presses to the international market, and to promote regional diversity, the Northern Fiction Alliance is making a name for itself as a growing force in the publishing industry.
Founded by Manchester’s Comma Press and with funding from Arts Council England, the alliance originally included Leeds’ Peepal Tree Press, Liverpool’s Dead Ink Books and Sheffield’s And Other Stories. The cohort has since grown to include Tilted Axis (Sheffield), Mayfly (Newcastle), Saraband (Manchester), Bluemoose (Yorkshire), Route (Pontefract), Valley Press (Scarborough) and Wrecking Ball (Hull).
With visits to international fairs including Beijing, New York, Buenos Aires and Frankfurt, the alliance is able to work to increase the visibility and reach of northern independent publishers on a global scale.
Members of the Northern Fiction Alliance have said they have seen boosts in book and rights sales as a result of being part of the coalition, and have grown their international networks and partnerships as a result of being part of the alliance.
Short-story specialist Comma Press has seen its coedition and rights income increase by around 140% in the past year, due in part to the work of the alliance, which has enabled its members to better sell their authors and books to international markets at trade fairs.
These rights include volume, translation, audiobook and adaptation rights for the stories Comma Press commissions, including anthologies such as Iraq + 100, which turned out to be the first ever anthology of science-fiction from Iraq, and was later bought by Tor, and single-author collections, such as Hassan Blasim’s short stories, where the publisher often controls world rights.
New joiner Saraband has said there has been a "fantastic response collectively" to the Northern Fiction Alliance, with independent bookshops showing huge support for the cohort.
The nine members of the NFA recently joined the Publishers Association for the first time to gain "a seat at the table". PA chief executive Stephen Lotinga welcomed the "exciting" independent presses into its membership, commending them for "shining a light on issues vital to the future of our industry".
This October, the alliance will be hosting a roadshow in London for the first time, following the success for its first roadshow event, held at Waterstones Manchester Deansgate last year. Taking place at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road, the event will serve as an opportunity to connect the independent publishers with booksellers, festivals, bloggers, journalists and readers, and to extend the reach of the alliance’s authors and books.