Spotlight On: York Literary Review
By Amy Tighe
This issue we were lucky enough to chat with Shelby Gibbs, MA Publishing student at York St. John University, who is part of this year's team producing the York Literary Review. The York Centre of Writing at the University curates another anthology: Beyond The Walls, showcasing work from its students, and manages an archive of works by Northern England indie presses – the Northern Independent Press Collection – available by becoming an external borrower of the York St. John Library. Shelby told us "in response to the few publishing opportunities available to those living in the north of the UK, many people in our publishing cohort have set up their own presses – Ram Eye Press (@RamEyePress ) is working on issue two of their horror magazine, Ergi Press (@ErgiPress) is open for submissions to their zine and anthology for LGBTQIA+ writers and artists, Reaper Press (@ReaperPress) is releasing their online folk horror anthology soon and Scran Press (@scranpress) has just set up and is looking for foodie writers and artists."
The theme for this year's anthology “considers where we have come to, where we have been, and where we will go.” What has the journey of publishing been like?
"When we took on the York Literary Review mantel we considered a number of themes including, clouds, water, atmosphere, transition but ultimately felt that movement encompassed what we wanted from all of those initial ideas. As students, for many of us it’s been our first time being in control of the publishing process and so it has all been a learning curve. It’s been putting everything we’ve learnt over the past year into action and realising what real-life issues actually come up that we have to overcome. Fortunately, we've had the whole team to rely on every step of the way and each week at our meetings we'd tackle important decisions and our most pressing tasks for the week ahead."
Has the recent launch party been a welcome return to in-person events, or did virtual events suit your process better?
"I think the launch party was a great success and it was so great to be joined by so many of our authors and the York Writing community to celebrate our achievement. Given that our submissions are open internationally and several of our contributors are based across the globe, livestreaming the in-person event felt like the best possible way to include our international followers and authors too! We also had recorded readings from our international authors so they wouldn’t lose out on the experience."
What would be your advice for anyone thinking of submitting to the York Literary Review?
"My advice would definitely be to read the submission guidelines very carefully – I think the same goes for submitting anywhere! When a press is receiving hundreds of submissions we want to give each one the utmost care when it comes to the editorial stages and when pieces haven’t met the guidelines it can be disheartening for editors.
I think if you look through this year’s literary review you’ll see there are a whole host of different pieces of writing. We’ve had erotic poetry, ghost stories, a poem that has even been formatted to match the shape of the River Foss, there’s been an incredible selection. I think for next year’s cohort it would be great for them to see some literary non-fiction, we didn’t come across any of that this year but I think that would be exciting."
What have been the best and worst parts of the publishing process?
"The best part of the process was definitely seeing the print copy for the first time! We opened together just before the launch event and it was surreal. Seeing Eve Siverns' incredible design depicting the bustling Shamble's made it all feel real.
I think the worst part of the process wasn’t even that terrible as there weren’t any major disasters to report but the few weeks in the lead up to going to print were stressful. Loads of tiny tweaks and random jobs to ensure we would have the printed copies in time for the launch."
What would be your advice for anyone wanting to get into publishing?
"Many of us are all still searching for our first publishing jobs, which can be tricky living in the north of the UK, but I think we’ve learnt through the course of the MA that the importance of networking in this industry cannot be understated. Another thing I think I’ve found especially interesting is that there are hundreds of jobs within publishing and in adjacent industries and I think many hopefuls are only aware of a handful of those jobs. Working in literary events is still working in publishing, being a bookseller is still working in publishing and working at a printer is still publishing. They’re all elements of the publishing cycle and incredibly worthwhile careers."