The Indie List: An Interview
Can you tell us a little bit about The Indie List?
Of course! So The Indie List is a directory of independent publishers in the UK and Ireland. Arranged alphabetically, each publisher has their own dedicated entry which includes links to their website, blogs, newsletters, and other work, as well as a summary of what they specialise in. It’s free to access and will be found on my blog, LozLit.
The site also features an interactive map showing where the publishers are based and a ‘Publisher of the Month’ announcement on the homepage. A small exclusive for The Publishing Post: Little Toller Books is our Publisher of the Month for April!
When did you have the idea and do you think it was a product of the pandemic?
I’ve always been very interested in independent publishers but only recently figured out a very specific way to channel this enthusiasm. The idea came about after I wrote a piece about supporting independent bookshops but I was already aware of a very excellent list of them. I was contacted by Sandstone Press who reminded me that many independents sell through their own websites. That got me thinking about how we could boost them too.
It was to some degree a product of the pandemic: I’ve seen a lot of publishers suffer while bookshops have been closed and events haven’t been able to happen. Being on furlough, too, has meant that I’ve had the time!
Once you had the idea pinned down, where did you start?
Funnily enough, I started on social media. I put a really vague call out on Twitter one Monday morning. I wasn’t expecting much, but it really took off! Before I knew it, I had messages from fifty publishers who were interested. I was completely overwhelmed (in a good way!) by the amount of interest. From there, it was a case of spreadsheets to keep tabs on who I’d spoken to and a lot of emails.
What do you intend for The Indie List to do for publishers/readers?
The idea started out with the aim of connecting customers directly to independent publishers, as a lot of their titles are often hard to find in bookshops. Independents also get a lot more direct income if you purchase directly from them rather than through sites like Amazon, which take a percentage of the price.
But as the project has grown, I’ve seen its potential expand massively: it can be used by writers to find their ideal publisher, by publishing hopefuls looking to find out more about the industry, or even by someone looking to set up their own company.
Does your work as a bookseller at Waterstones influence how invested you are in indie publishers?
My job has definitely given me a greater awareness of who publishes which books and of independent publishers in general. It’s very easy for bookshops to be overwhelmed by books published by the ‘Big Five’ and sometimes it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. It’s often up to booksellers to have that wider awareness to curate diverse book spaces. I now spend a lot of time looking on spines to check whose logo is there!
Do you aim to work in publishing, and if yes, will you aim for an independent?
Absolutely! This project has definitely proved to me that I’m unstoppable when it comes to talking about books and publishers and that publicity and marketing is really my thing. The pandemic put a spanner in the works for me as it has for many people trying to get into publishing. Finding opportunities has been very difficult and I feel very lucky to have my bookselling job. But I would love to work for an independent publisher someday - I love the community and the creativity and flexibility of their roles. You can wear so many hats and I just think that’s fantastic.
Do you have a favourite read of the year so far?
Ah, a hard choice! I think if I had to pick, it would be Fixed Ideas by Eline Lund Fjæren, published by Nordisk Books. I’m a huge fan of translated fiction but have never really ventured into Scandinavian literature. It tells the story of Espen and Emilie, two co-workers who sleep together and deal with the consequences in their own ways. It’s all about desire, loneliness, and self-consciousness, which are such prominent and important themes in contemporary literature. It’s a short novel but really addictive.
Are there any future plans for The Indie List?
Yes! It sounds bizarre considering I’m preparing for the launch, but it’s so important to keep one eye on how to expand. The Indie List is by no means comprehensive yet and I will continue to add publishers. For instance, there are currently limited opportunities for children’s publishers and I definitely want to create a dedicated space to give these publishers the best possible platform.
I’m not a web developer, but I do hope to eventually explore functions such as searching and filtering, which could really benefit the site. So yes, big plans and I’m very excited.
Find The Indie List at lozlit.wordpress.com/theindielist from 5th April.