Three new independent publishers are to join the Northern Fiction Alliance which intends to position the north of England as a "centre of publishing excellence".
Tilted Axis, Bluemoose Books and Mayfly Press are to join the core members of the alliance, which include Comma Press, Dead Ink, Peepal Tree and And Other Stories.
The alliance, which was founded by Comma Press in April, is backed by a £56,167 award from Arts Council England’s International Showcase Programme. The alliance aims to showcase independent British fiction and the “thriving publishing scene outside” London and visited Frankfurt Book Fair last week as its first international outing.
Not-for-profit press Tilted Axis has recently relocated from London to Sheffield. Founder and publisher Deborah Smith told The Bookseller that the north is starting to become a "powerhouse for innovative, outward-looking indies".
"Improving access to the industry has always been a core goal for Tilted Axis - our interns are paid the Living Wage - and relocating to Sheffield is part of that: coming from a working-class Doncaster family meant it was genuinely more feasible for me to start my own press than to undertake an unpaid internship in the capital", Smith said. "But it's no sacrifice to move: the north already boasts many of the most exciting writers and diverse literary festivals, and now Nottingham's been made a UNESCO City of Literature."
Smith added: "It's particularly exciting that Tilted Axis will be joining And Other Stories and Comma Press, whose translation-centric lists inspired us to take a similar path. Publishing translations means forging connections between the local and the global, enabling writers and readers alike to take part in international conversations. That's always been important; post-Brexit, it feels imperative. I can definitely see the north becoming a powerhouse for innovative, outward-looking indies."
Kevin Duffy, founder of Yorkshire-based Bluemoose Books, added that Northern based publishers are helping to improve the accessibliity of the publishing industry.
He said: "There are still massive issues with diversity, paid entry level internships and we as such an industry are missing out on new stories, people with different experiences and massive sales. The north is becoming a centre of publishing excellence and powerhouse is an easy word to throw around but we are an alternative and economically easier route for people to enter publishng and although geographically based in the north we are international in our outlook and publishing and that is great for publishing and more importantly, readers."
Glaswegian indie Saraband has been reported to be mooting a move to Manchester and would also then be a candidate for the alliance. However publisher Sara Hunt declined to comment on reports of such a move.
Ra Page, founder and managing editor of Comma Press, said: "When we first suggested the alliance, we wanted to showcase what the North already had; now it seems it has even more - flocks of publishers are heading to the North from London (or South from Scotland, in the case of Saraband). The North was always a place where great independents dug in and stuck to their guns, now it's becoming something of a fortress for doing things differently, bucking trends, taking risks. In the North, 'risk' is a good thing, creatively speaking. Something you have to take."
Earlier this year Faber c.e.o. Stephen Page criticised publishing for being too "London-centric" and the chief executive of New Writing North has also recently said the book trade should be doing more to promote diversity in publishing and that there is "a lack of awareness within the publishing industry about the rest of the country”.
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