By Kayley Stanbridge
This issue we speak to Marta Pacini, about Disturbance Press, a new publishing house that will publish fiction books with a social and/or environmental justice theme for middle grade, young adults and adults. On what inspired the creation of this new press, Marta tells us that she was writing her first YA book called The (Un)lawful Killing of Daniel, when she realised that there were not many publishers in the UK who focus on social justice fiction, with only a handful since she made her official search. “This is opposed to the variety of non-fiction presses out there. It was a good time for me to start something new, so I decided to start the publisher I couldn’t find myself, and my first book is coming out in February 2022.”
On what stands out about Disturbance Press compared with other presses, Marta explains, “there are some presses who publish social justice themed fiction, but they usually don’t explicitly state a political position. Disturbance Press’s mission statement contains the words “unapologetically leftist,” because I want to focus on publishing books which show the injustices of our world in the way that they have been understood and theorised by the full spectrum of leftist thought, be that socialist, anarchist and so on. I have tried to give Disturbance Press a strong brand identity from the start which hopefully reflects its mission, through the use of bold fonts, and the red and black colours which have traditionally been associated with socialist, communist and anarchist movements.”
Marta originally had the idea for Disturbance press back in the spring of 2020 and has been working on it sporadically from then till the end of her Masters course in Publishing in June 2021. She has now been working systematically on the press since July. In terms of challenges that Marta has faced, the most pressing have been a lack of time and money to invest into the press. “I have a little money to invest in Disturbance Press, but it’s not a huge amount, so knowing how much to invest initially into a product or initiative is hard, because you never really know what the returns on investment are going to be, and profit margins in publishing are astonishingly small. In terms of time, I am having to be quite ruthless with my prioritisation, and I know that there are plenty of useful things which I could be doing that I will just never get round to.”
On the skills developed during this process Marta explains: “What skills haven’t I developed! Project management, budgeting, admin, graphic design, editing, people skills, writing contracts, prioritisation, time management…you name it. If you’re running a business by yourself, you really need to be a jack of all trades.”
We asked Marta what media inspires her, and she tells us that “Niamh Mulvey used to publish the In The Read newsletter, which I found inspiring because it hosted honest conversations about salary conditions in publishing.” She also has recently become inspired by Bad Form Review, “for hosting the open letter in support of the publishing professionals who were abused in the Clanchy scandal, and for bringing publishing professionals together to address the need for change in the industry.” And directs us to Publishing Real Tea (@publishingtea) and Sam Missingham (@samatlounge) on Twitter to find more honest publishing industry conversations.
Marta advises that Disturbance Press is open for submissions and that the guidelines for submissions can be found here. And in terms of contributors, Marta will be looking for a freelance publishing assistant to help her through busy periods in the next months. To apply, send a CV over to Marta at email@example.com.
On her publishing career aspirations and work so far, Marta tells us, “I obviously already work in publishing with Disturbance Press, but I have also done some freelance market research work for another publisher. I am waiting for a call back from them about further opportunities, so hopefully that will materialise. I would definitely like to be able to spend the half of my working time that I don’t spend on Disturbance Press working for other publishers, because I think we can all learn a lot from experiencing how different people and companies work. Unfortunately, a lot of publishers aren’t open to this because they are scared of competition, or very proprietary about certain information such as suppliers, and I think that’s sad and impoverishes our industry unnecessarily.”
On the appeal for Marta about publishing she explains that what appeals to her about publishing is: “The opportunity to bring stories to readers. I believe stories are extremely powerful, and I feel privileged that authors are trusting me to do right by their stories and turn them into beautiful books for readers to fall in love with.”
Thank you Marta Pacini for speaking with us! You can find out more about Disturbance Press here, or follow them on Instagram (@disturbancepress) or Twitter (@DisturbPr).