Purely by coincidence it’s another ‘L’ of a month – with not one, but two indie publishers being spotlighted (I promise to shake up the alphabet next month!)
My first indie publisher is Lightening Books.
Eye Books was founded in 1996, with the original aim of publishing books about the extraordinary things that ordinary people have done, often with a strong travel or geographical element. More recently they have branched out into more general non-fiction.
Lightning Books is their newer fiction imprint, with the first full fiction list being published in 2017 – when half the novels published were listed for prizes.
Lightening Books now has a diverse list which includes prize-winning work from Australia and New Zealand, Ray Robinson’s Portico-shortlisted The Mating Habits of Stags and the bestselling Cockleberry Bay trilogy by e-publishing superstar Nicola May.
They have also recently launched a digital-only imprint. Its new series of Lighting ‘Bolts’ will be launched as initially as ebooks only, with print editions to follow for titles that sell particularly well. While initially priced at £2.99 they are available via Amazon and currently on offer at 99p or £1 each.
As a small publisher they claim to be able to make decisions quickly, and not by committee.
We are small and nimble enough to take risks. Our working relationship with our authors is collaborative, if they want it to be: we believe in giving writers as much input as possible on covers, pricing, promotions and marketing. We think it makes us more effective, so everyone benefits.
Proof of their ability to make decisions quickly is their fabulous offer made in response to the prevailing Corona virus crisis.
Here is their full statement.
At Eye & Lightning Books, as with most of our fellow publishers, we have been discussing the implications of the unprecedented and concerning times in which we find ourselves. At the time of writing, most bookshops in the UK remain open but we should probably expect to see some temporary closures in the days and weeks ahead. We are already aware that Amazon are no longer buying new stock of books so that they can concentrate on supplying important household items.
‘We did consider pausing our publishing schedule until things settle down but then we thought – SOD IT!’
We did consider pausing our publishing schedule until things settle down but then we thought – SOD IT! In trying times people need access to the arts and, with theatres, galleries, concert venues and cinemas all closing their doors, this access is becoming more limited. We have been inspired by the lengths that booksellers are going to in order to bring books to readers, and by the outpouring of support for authors who have books coming out in the weeks ahead. So, as long as bookshops and readers want our books, we will continue to provide them.
This is not a money-making exercise from us. Cashflow is tight, and we may well be worse off by adopting this approach as we print our books without being sure if we can sell them, but we think it is the right thing to do – the only thing we want to do – at this time.
‘If you use the code THANKS you will get 30% off your order plus free UK shipping’
It would be great if you could support your local bookshop by buying our books there but if you do not have access to one then you are very welcome to purchase from our website: http://eye-books.com/. If you use the code THANKS you will get 30% off your order plus free shipping if you are in the UK.
We hope you all stay safe and well and we thank you in advance for any support you are able to give to small and independent businesses right now.
They have some fabulous books available, with something for everyone, so head over and take a look. Here are the books I bought last month.
At thirty-two, Faith Frankel has returned to her suburban hometown where she works in the fundraising department of her old school, writing thank-you notes to benefactors. Keen to get her life back on track, she buys a sweet but dilapidated bungalow on Turpentine Lane.
Never mind that her fiancé is currently ‘finding himself’ while walking across America and too busy to return her texts, that her witless boss has accused her of fraud, or that her father is going through a mid-life crisis that involves painting fake old masters and hooking up with a much younger woman – Faith is looking forward to a peaceful life in her new home.
But when a policeman knocks on her door asking to look in the basement, she discovers that the history of 10 Turpentine Lane is anything but peaceful.
Decluttering her tiny New York apartment, Daphne Maritch decides to throw out any belongings that do not spark joy.
These include a high-school yearbook inherited from her school teacher mother, June, to whom the class of ’68 dedicated the volume. June in turn attended every class reunion, scribbling notes and observations – not always charitably – after each one.
When neighbour Geneva Wisenkorn finds the discarded book and wants to use it for her own ends, Daphne realises she wants to keep it after all. Fighting to reclaim it, she uncovers some alarming Maritch family secrets and sets in motion a series of events that prove to be both poignant and absurd.
My second publisher is the Linen Press
Their policy is to encourage and promote women writers and to give voice to a wide range of perspectives and themes that are relevant to women.
Linen Press was founded, almost by accident in 2005 by Lynn Michell as she explains.
My first amateur sortie into publishing came out of the blue when 94 year old Marjorie Wilson joined my writing group in Edinburgh and revealed a rare writing talent. Her turn-of-the-century memoir had been rejected by almost every publisher in the UK so I took it on – without any knowledge of the business. Childhood’s Hill sold out, was re-printed, and beat Ian Rankin one week in Blackwell’s best sellers. It is described by The Scotsman as ‘luminous, episodic, sensual—rather like memory itself’.
That was thirteen years ago. We have come a long way since then and have built a strong international list.
- 2015 – finalist for the Pandora Women in Publishing Prize.
- 2019 – short-listed for the Saboteur award for Innovative Publisher
Our bar of exceptional writing is raised with each new publication and I’m fiercely proud of our talented authors.
While the bigger companies increasingly restrict their choices to crowd pleasers and ghost written books of celebs, Linen Press continues to publish books that are diverse, challenging, and surprising. The collective background of our writers is a multi-coloured patchwork of cultures, ages and writing styles. Established writers like Maureen Freely, President of English PEN and translator or Orhan Pamuk, spotted Linen Press and set up camp with us, as well as Costa and People’s Prize winner, Avril Joy. But alongside these literary amazons we continue to welcome exceptional emergent and minority writers like Lindsay Parnell, Mona Dash and Hema Macherla.
I first became aware of Linen Press in 2018 when I purchased a copy of In the Blink of an Eye by Ali Bacon, my most recent purchase (last month) was The Red Beach Hut by Lynn Michell.
He had Edinburgh at his feet, but who would be by his side?’
In 1843, Edinburgh artist, David Octavius Hill meets Robert Adamson from St Andrews and an iconic partnership is born. Hill is already a popular and charismatic figure in the art world. Adamson is a technical genius in the new science of photography. The magic they create with their camera soon makes them the darlings of society.
In the Blink of an Eye is a re-imagining of Hill’s life in the words of those who met him and sat for him. Tender, tragic and sometimes humorous, these voices come together in a story of art and science, love and loss, friendship and photography
”Their eyes met and locked. Pulling his hand from his pocket, Neville waved. once.”
A faded seaside town in autumn is the backdrop for this elegiac story of a vulnerable boy and the adult who befriends him. Eight year old Neville, who counts stars and steps and grains of sand, is the first to notice that the red beach hut is occupied again. Abbott is on the run after a disturbing cyber attack. Their fleeting friendship, played out on the margins of sea and shore, brings the honesty and compassion both seek. But others watch, judge and misinterpret what they see while Abbot’s past runs at their heels.
An evocative portrayal of two outsiders who find companionship and solace on a lonely beach. This novel is about the labels we give people who are different and the harm that ensues.
In these challenging times, books can be a welcome diversion. I know many of us have amassed our own libraries (‘fess up, I know it’s not just me!) but we need to support publishers and bookshops, especially the smaller independent ones, more than ever now. We need them to stay afloat for when things get back on an even keel.