By Millie Kiel and Mara Radut
We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: independent presses are the future. Exploring the risks they are taking, in the form of brand-new perspectives and outlooks on the world, is beneficial for so many reasons. Not only do they help us understand others, but they also help us to understand ourselves. Seeing what is out there, what converges with, or diverges from, our own opinions and knowledge, will always be healthy. The content that independent publishers provide will do just that.
It is forever thrilling to discover new indies (after all, we are the Independent Presses Team…) and this is something we would really wish to focus on this year at The Publishing Post. In this issue, we are looking at Scratch Books and Weatherglass Books.
What we know about Scratch Books is mostly what we can deduce, however, we do have some facts to rely on. On 1 January, Scratch Books formally introduced themselves on their Twitter page as a “small publisher dedicated to the craft of the short story.” They are from London, England. Their logo cleverly resembles a scratch, and we’re thinking what you’re thinking – that doesn’t even scratch the surface: “named after a strange sensation, the feeling of stroking the soft fur of a cat, to discover later as you walk away, that it scratched you.” Confusing, mysterious and intriguing? Exactly. Keeping an eye on them is what makes this indie publisher all the more exciting.
They also announced big things coming up this year, one of them being their first official book called Reverse Engineering, set to be released in March 2022. It is a collection of seven modern stories, each followed by a discussion with the writer, which consists of insights of their instincts, processes and ideas on writing. Promising to be both a personal and an interactive endeavour, Reverse Engineering is already getting good reviews. Colin Barrett, author of Young Skins and Homesickness, recommends the book to practitioners and fans of the short story, promoting it as an inspiring and encouraging read.
“Imagine being able to ask some of the short story’s top practitioners why they did this, what made them do that, and what on earth was going on here?” is the selling point of the book for Nicholas Royle, editor of The Best British Short Stories. In short, anyone who appreciates art, and the short story more specifically, will have something to gain from Reverse Engineering. The way we see it, this book is about to answer many questions on the concept and the process of a short story.
Weatherglass Books has been on the scene a little while longer than Scratch Books. Launched in April 2021, with the publication of their first book, they have since published two more, and definitely constitute a new indie and one to watch as far as we’re concerned!
This publishing house was borne of a shared belief that big publishing houses are too focused on the big picture and the logic of the market, missing out on incredible writing as a result. They aim to publish those books with “intrinsic literary merit,” which may get overlooked at a larger publisher.
Damian Lanigan – co-founder of Weatherglass with Neil Griffiths – describes the first three books published by Weatherglass as having, “great diversity of subject matter and tone,” and “a complete uniqueness of voice.” He describes how the reader can “feel the power and sincerity of their impulses in every sentence: in each case, there is a sense that this story just had to be told.”
Cold New Climate
The first novel published by Weatherglass Books in April was Cold New Climate, which just so happens to be one of the Indie Presses Team’s top books of 2021!
This novel is a weaving story of far-reaching consequences, catalysed in particular by the relationship between the protagonist and her partner’s teenage son. It is elegantly written and the prose is dense with emotion. Lanigan describes the “intrinsic literary merit” of the books Weatherglass aim to publish as something you just recognise when it’s in front of you, and this book is definitely that. The storytelling is real and empathetic, and the cultural commentary is incisive and subtle.
Since publishing Cold New Climate, Weatherglass Books have also published The Angels of L19, a story of young lives in Liverpool in the Eighties, and What They Heard: How the Beatles, Beach Boys and Bob Dylan Listened to Each Other and Changed Music Forever.
Weatherglass Books also offer subscriptions, sending you three books in a year, along with previews of upcoming publications, invitations to events and their newsletter amongst other things. By subscribing, you can support them in being able to find and publish outstanding fiction.
While we’ve picked two independent publishers to focus on in this article, we are firm believers that all independent presses – the big, the small, the fiction, the non-fiction and everything in between – are worthy of celebration and support.