An A-Z of (UK) Independent Publishers – B

I’m focusing on UK based publishers of adult fiction, short stories and poetry. I’ll update my master list as I go along (or I’ll try too) but this fortnightly list will give a more personalised shout out.

During the current pandemic, we’re all aware that times are tough for indie bookshops and publishers so obviously if you can buy direct from them that benefits them more. During lockdown that isn’t always an option for hard copy books so instead, you might want to consider using Bookshop.org or Hive Books.co.uk – both of which offer a percentage of the sale to a bricks-and-mortar bookshop. (NB for full disclosure I have an affiliate with both sites).

If you know of publishers I’ve missed or want to help update my master list then please add details in the comments. So here we go with B

Bad Betty Press

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We’re an independent publisher of new poetry, run by Amy Acre and Jake Wild Hall.

We print full collections, anthologies, pamphlets and a limited edition mini-pamphlet series called Bad Betty Shots. We run events including launches and author showcases, at accessible venues whenever possible. Our work is supported by Arts Council England.

We love writing that is bad (in the Foxy Brown sense) and beautiful (‘a Betty’ in 90s slang). We love the strange, raw and risk-taking. We believe strongly in art’s capacity to challenge its own definition, to curve away from the norm, making space for more and varied voices. We are firmly rooted in live poetry, and usually work with authors who know their way around a mic.

Our books can be found at our online shop and in stores including London Review Bookshop, Housmans, Gay’s the Word, Pages of Hackney, Pages of Cheshire Street, Burley Fisher, Broadway Bookshop, the Book Hive (Norwich) and selected branches of Waterstones.

A Bad Betty miscellany

BAD PRESS iNK

Bad Press Ink Logo

IMAGINE sitting in your car, minding your own business, crawling toward a roundabout, your only concern being not to bump into the car in front that should have gone six times already. Suddenly, a long-haired tattooed creature bangs on your window demanding to know one thing:

‘Are you a publisher?’
That is the unlikely starting place of a publishing revolution, for this was the day that Zion (the long-haired tattooed creature) and Vikki (his partner-in-crime with just as much hair and even more tatts) stalked Iain and Pat, who were just trying to get on with their day. It was their fault. On the back of the Iain and Patmobile was an advert for Iain’s latest book release, another in his popular line of biker thrillers. Zion spotted this and, next thing you know, was breaking their peace by bashing on their window. A bit more stalking around Tescos followed before a slightly more formal meeting where everyone probed the others’ intentions and book-based dreams. 

Fast-forward through all the boring stuff and, here it is, the fruits of those (now somewhat expanded) book-based dreams, BAD PRESS iNK.

A selection from Bad Press Ink

Barbican Press

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Barbican Press has an “impressive portfolio of beautifully crafted and utterly transgressive fiction” – The Morning Star. Our list holds poetry, drama, writing for children, and compelling nonfiction too, including vivid tales of maritime communities.

The publisher is the writer Martin Goodman. He knew what sort of publisher he would like to find for his own work, and so created it for others. The Press was born in Plymouth – hence the name ‘Barbican Press’ for the Barbican in that city, and a sense that a Barbican is a strong and protective space in which writers with a fighting spirit can take shelter.

Many of our titles were written as the creative elements of PhDs in Creative Writing. Universities can offer safe harbour for writers, challenging them with regular and expert feedback, giving them years in which their books achieve full voice without the necessity to compromise. Understandably, mainstream publishers tend to seek work that resembles other books that have made money. Breakout originality is harder to place. Those are the books we give a home to.

A selection of Barbican’s recent fiction

Bearded Badger Publishing

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Bearded Badger Publishing Co. was born from love….the love of books, magazines, pamphlets, in fact pretty much anything you can feast your eyes on!

​We will be launching in 2020 with two key imprints:

– Tra[verse]: a collection of chapbook sized poetry publications, showcasing the best poetry the East Midlands has to offer.

– East of Centre: a range of contemporary and modern fiction by East Midlands writers.

Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel by Drew Gummerson (Book a night in ROOM 1010)
Bearded Badger’s Debut Publication

Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel by Drew Gummerson

You could’ve been someone, you could’ve been a contender, yet instead you ended up here, a dishwasher at the Flamingo Hotel. From the death of your mother, to homelessness, to insanity, and back again, to an encounter with an American serial killer, a love affair with a performance artist, to the loss of your foreskin, to living in a shed, and certain bum operations, you have only ever wanted one thing…

To find someone worse off than yourself.

And now’s your chance.

You’ve got seven nights…at the Flamingo Hotel.


Behind the Hat Press

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Behind the Hat Press was established in 2020 by author C L Moir, and David Grant, a writer with over fifteen years’ experience in publishing. Our aim is to publish literary fiction that we want to read: stories that engage with plot, character and word; intelligent stories written to inspire and entertain. We were finding it more and more difficult to find them in bookshops. So now we publish them ourselves. We love stories that are: original, accessible and beautiful.

Behind the Hat’s debut publication

Old and Ugly by C L Moir

In the 1973, teenagers Ange and Elizabeth are persuaded to enter the Miss Sladport-on-Sea Beauty Pageant by local entrepreneur, Spencer. When Ange is crowned the most beautiful woman in Sladport, Spencer promises her a life of fame and fortune – which he delivers. Within months, Ange is crowned The Most Beautiful Woman in the World.

Forty years later, Ange is unexpectedly invited to a reunion of old friends: Elizabeth – now married to Spencer – and the three school friends who stormed the pageant, throwing flour bombs and insults in protest at its objectification of women.

Old and Ugly is the story of that re-union – and the story of Ange’s life.


Birch Moon Press

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Birch Moon press is run by six women with a shared passion for creativity and for supporting women’s voices in an increasingly noisy world. We are a not-for-profit press, donating to charities whose values align with our own.

Why Birch Moon?

The Birch Moon is the first month in the Celtic calendar running from December 24th – just after the winter solstice – to January 20th. It is a time of new beginnings, of re-birth and regeneration, of planning for the future and embracing new potentials and opportunities.

Our press was conceived early in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic. As a project it quickly became a powerful source of positivity for us – something creative to focus on during what was a very difficult time. As we explored what we might achieve, we began to see our publications, present and future, as something good that could arise from the pain and grief of the pandemic. Our press was that new beginning, that possibility, that opportunity that the birch moon traditionally represents. And so Birch Moon Press it became.

Heartache and Hope: Voices of a Pandemic captures a variety of womens’ voices, under the 2020 spring lockdown.

Grief but not as we’ve known it. A bird in a cage and a magical wishing horse. Panic attacks, supermarket trips and high expectations. Sex, love and loneliness in solitude. Envisioned futures worth hoping for? Sometimes claustrophobic, sometimes sad and sometimes wistful, this collection of 20 pieces of poetry and prose, real life and fiction is drenched with love and humanity.


Birlinn

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Birlinn Limited is an independent publishing house based in Edinburgh, Scotland. The company is built on traditions of the written and spoken word and is constantly looking to the future.

Established in 1992, Birlinn Limited publishes books under a number of imprints: 

Birlinn; Polygon; BC Books; Arena Sport; and John Donald.

The team at Birlinn are proud of the company’s reputation and prominence in Scottish publishing. We constantly challenge and nurture the talent of our authors and we push the boundaries of the imagination.  We never rest in our search for what comes next. 

The Ardnish Trilogy from the Birlinn imprint

Bitter Lemon Press

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Launched in 2003, we are a London based independent publisher.

Under the Bitter Lemon Press imprint we aim to bring our readers high quality thrillers and other contemporary crime fiction books from abroad. We are dedicated to the crime genre and publish dark, sexy and often humorous novels that expose the seamier side of society. Our list includes talented authors from Continental Europe, Latin America, the US and New Zealand. Most of our books are translations that have won prizes and received critical acclaim in their home countries and we have introduced a number of celebrated crime and thriller writers whose works were not available before in English. These include Tonino Benacquista of France, Leonardo Padura of Cuba and Gianrico Carofiglio of Italy, and many others.

Selection of recent titles

Black and White Publishing

Black & White Publishing was founded in 1999 by Managing Director Campbell Brown and Publishing Director Alison McBride. Since then, the business has grown into one of Scotland’s leading independent publishers with over 300 books in print across a variety of genres. Committed to publishing the best books from the most talented writers in the UK and beyond, some of our bestselling authors include Andrew Cotter, Kaye Adams and Vicky Allan, Estelle Maskame, Harry Cook, Doddie Weir, Stefanie Moir and Vixy Rae.

We publish an extensive range of titles, including general non-fiction, biography, sport and humour, as well as selected fiction, young adult and children’s books.

Black and White were my Indie publisher of the Month in May 2020 so visit that post here.

A Black and White miscellany

Black Pear Press

Black Pear Press

BPP was started in 2013. They are a small, Worcestershire press dedicated to promoting and publishing quality books of fiction and poetry.

A selection from Black Pear

Black Shuck Books

Black Shuck Books

Launched in 2015 by editor Steve J Shaw, Black Shuck Books is an independent publisher of horror fiction based in the depths of the Kent countryside. Whether novels, novellas, collections or anthologies, Black Shuck is committed to producing and publishing the best in modern and classic horror.

Black Shuck Books is home to the Great British Horror series of anthologies, along with multiple titles by both established writers and new voices.

Tempters from Black Shuck

Black Thorn Books (Canongate imprint)

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Black Thorn is a brand-new imprint, specialising in the very best in compulsive crime fiction.

From psychological thrillers to police procedurals, and from historical detective dramas to heart-thumping suspense stories: we sleuth out and publish irresistible books.

A thrilling selection from Black Thorn

Black Wolf Edition & Publishing

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Black Wolf Edition and Publishing was born in 2015 from a personal experience of the founders and the owner and is an independent international publishing company based in Scotland (UK). Our publications include book editions, music editions, collections, limited editions, encyclopaedia, art monographs and art catalogues. At Black Wolf Edition & Publishing we think “out of the box”. We like to realise creative and uncommon projects without following sketchiness set up by others. We have noticed that nowadays writers are kept in a sort of pre-built system that they are required to follow in order to be published. Words count, chapter of the same length, not too long novels…to name a few. We don’t like to limit the imagination and talent.

A Black Wolf selection

Blackstaff Press

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Blackstaff Press is regarded as one of Ireland’s foremost publishers and is a leading publisher of quality Irish books.

Blackstaff Press, founded in 1971, is an iconic brand with a long and rich heritage. It has published authors such as John Hewitt, Bernard McLaverty, Glenn Patterson, Patricia Craig, Ciaran Carson and Éilís Ní Dhuibhne. 

Our publishing programme is wide-ranging and diverse and embraces both fiction and non-fiction. We have published over 900 titles since Blackstaff was founded in 1971, covering a range of subjects including history, politics, memoir, sport, fiction, poetry, cookery and travel. We are keen to receive submissions in all these categories as well as any other proposals of interest to the Irish market, both north and south, or those that are strong enough to generate interest from farther afield if there is also a connection to Ireland.

Blackstaff Press is a member of Colourpoint Creative Ltd, the largest publisher in Norther Ireland.

Fiction from Blackstaff

Bloodaxe Books

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Bloodaxe Books has revolutionised poetry publishing in Britain over four decades. Internationally renowned for quality in literature and excellence in book design, our authors and books have won virtually every major literary award given to poetry, from the T.S. Eliot Prize and Pulitzer to the Nobel Prize. And books like the Staying Alive anthology series have broken new ground by opening up contemporary poetry to many thousands of new readers.

Bloodaxe Books was founded in Newcastle by Neil Astley in 1978. It became a non-profit limited company in 1982. Based in offices on Newcastle’s Quayside for many years and later behind the station, the operation was split three ways in 1997, with distribution taken over by Littlehampton Book Services, sales and finance managed from Bala in North Wales, and editorial, publicity and rights moving to a new base in Northumberland (from 2000 to 2014 at Highgreen Manor in the Tarset valley).

Forthcoming Bloodaxe titles

Bloodhound Books

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We know getting a break can be tough for even the most talented author. We understand that writers want to write. Getting published is the cherry on the cake.

Founded in late 2014, Bloodhound Books was born from a love of great fiction. We only publish books we are passionate about and can add real value to so we specialise in commercial fiction.

As an independent publisher we are fleet-footed and get the best fiction to market turning a profit quickly. We specialise in publishing eBooks but also offer print on demand paperbacks for all our titles. We build long-term relationships with our authors and are fair and transparent offering industry-leading royalties.

Bloodhound believe strongly in the talent we sign and the books we publish. We never ask for penny, dime or cent from our authors. Bloodhound Books meets all costs associated with publication and promotion of our books.

New and forthcoming from Bloodhound

Blossom Spring Publishing

Blossom Spring Publishing is an independent publishing house with a world-wide distribution.  We have been publishing books since 2015 and have published high quality books resulting in award winning titles. We are becoming one of the fastest growing publishers in the industry, offering our readers an exciting range of excellent books and our authors, established or new, a great platform of opportunities.

We print paperback as well as e-books and we work with major wholesalers making our books readily available to order from anywhere around the world by independent book shops and chain stores, as well as online retailers such as Amazon and many more.

A Blossom Spring miscellany

Blue Diode

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We are a publisher of quality books, mainly poetry, based in Leith, Scotland. Our first publication was ‘Spark’, a poetry anthology containing poems written in response to the novels of Muriel Spark. Since then, we have published several individual poetry collections, with more to come. One of those, ‘Juana Adcock’s ‘Split’, was the Poetry Book Society Choice for winter 2019. Both ‘Split’ and Tessa Berring’s ‘Bitten Hair’ were Highly Commended in the Forward Poetry Prizes this year.

A Blue Diode selection

Blue Poppy Publishing

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Blue Poppy Publishing is a new and very small publisher based in North Devon with, currently, a dozen authors, and more being developed for future publications. Most of those authors are from the local area, although our books have a broad appeal. (One or two are set in Devon but it’s not essential)

The imprint was set up in 2016 to publish the “Wise Oak” series of Books by Oliver J. Tooley. Then it seemed natural to offer the opportunity to other authors to get their books published under the Blue Poppy imprint in order to benefit from mutual experience and promotional efforts. As a result, in 2017 three new authors joined up. Presently there are at least another four authors interested in publishing their books through the imprint, at various stages of development.

Blue Poppy Publishing is not a traditional publisher with a big budget. We can’t pay authors an advance. We can’t even pay for the production costs of your book.

However, nor is it a vanity publisher. We won’t put our logo on a badly written book by someone who just wants to see their work in print.


Bluemoose Books

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Bluemoose Books is an independent publisher based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Kevin and Hetha Duffy started Bluemoose in 2006 and as a ‘family’ of readers and writers we’re passionate about the written word and stories. Stories are transformative and as publishers we delight in finding great new talent. We don’t have the heft of a London publishing house with the millions of pounds to promote our writers but we do manage through innovative marketing to get our books into high street bookstores and reviewed in the national press. If you’re looking for orange headed celebrity books, you’ve probably come to the wrong place. But if you want brilliant stories that have travelled from Hebden Bridge, across the border into Lancashire, down to London across to Moscow, Sofia and Budapest and into the United States, Australia, India, Colombia and Greenland, Iceland and Bosnia Herzevogina then Bluemoose is the publisher for you.

A couple of award winners and a couple of recent releases

Boiler House Press

Boiler House Press is a new publisher of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and everything in-between.

​We are based at the University of East Anglia, home of the world-renowned Creative Writing MA, and a burgeoning world centre for creative-critical writing studies.

We are passionate about writing that breaks a mould; that surprises; that plays with-and-between the creative and the critical. We want to open and excite your mind.

We understand the word publishing in its broadest sense; that a book is, in essence, a packaged idea; that publishing is a process through which ideas reach people and change happens.

​And we believe that publishing can and should help provide a better deal for writers.

Boiler House Ficttion

Bold Voice Press

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“Independent publisher of compelling books – stories that demand to be told.”

Caroline Sakala trading as BOLDvoice press since 2019 – SONG OF THE CROCODILE is BOLDvoice press first publication.

Song of the Crocodile: 'A hugely original and compelling novel, raising awareness of FGM.'

There’s a terrifying secret; an ancient ritual passed down through the generations carefully hidden from the uninitiated.

In the middle of the night thirteen-year-old Binta is taken to what she believes to be an exciting transformation into adulthood, but she quickly realises things are not what they seem – nor have they ever been.

Her world is shattered forever, and now her best friend is next.

To save her from the ordeal, Binta must face her darkest fears and risk everything. But even that may not be enough…


Boldwood Books

Boldwood Books is an award-winning independent, global fiction publishing house.​ Over the past 12 months the company has published 90 titles, signed 44 authors and sold over two million books across the world.

Based on the principles of a true partnership with authors, consumers and team members Boldwood is seeking out the best stories from around the world, from both new and established writers, and bringing them, in all formats, to readers everywhere.

Founded by a team with over 50 years success in fiction publishing it promises to be innovative but experienced, fearless but responsible, and lots of fun!

Some Boldwood recent releases

Bookouture

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Bookouture is a digital imprint offering BIG publisher expertise, small publisher flexibility and high royalties. We publish bestselling books. We build author brands. We create smart, effective marketing plans for every single title.

We focus on a small number of books – because attention to detail is essential. We want all our titles to be bestsellers – so we treat each of them like one.

Our authors come from around the world and have had many different routes into publishing. We connect stories and readers globally, publishing books that reflect the diversity of the societies we live in.

Recent Bookouture releases

Boudicca Press

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Boudicca Press is an independent publisher who celebrates the strength, courage and literary talents of women. They publish weird, literary fiction and non-fiction by women in the UK. It’s run by freelance writer, editor and workshop leader, Nici West, who publishes stories from her little London flat while looking after her 18 month old daughter.

They previously published an anthology of weird fiction by women in the UK called Disturbing the Beast, which was successfully funded through a Kickstarter campaign. Disturbing the Body is a sister book which looks to enhance and play on the feminist themes of the previous anthology.

Disturbing the Beast: An anthology of weird fiction by women

Disturbing the Beast is a collection of weird fiction stories by some of the best women writers in the UK, featuring Kirsty Logan and Aliya Whiteley.

It features fictional tales that explore lesser talked about female centred topics including sexual abuse, pregnancy issues and body image. The anthology unearths these subjects in a healthy and respectful way, something that we feel is not often considered in mainstream, contemporary literature. It’s a collection of short stories in the weird fiction genre, from UK based women with breath-taking prose and thought-provoking plots. Featured authors, are: Kirsty Logan, Jane Alexander, Rosie Garland, Lorraine Wilson, Aliya Whiteley, Cheryl Powell, Carolyn Jess-Cooke, Caroline Steed and Sam Mills.


Brewin Books

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Brewin Books have been publishing fine books in the heart of the Midlands since 1976. During over forty years of operations, more than 600 titles have been published, many running into reprints and new editions, with a large proportion still in print. Today the company, still independent and family owned, continues to concentrate on all aspects of Midland life.

New and recent titles have been added to the existing range of hospital histories, police histories, biographies, family histories, transport titles and military books, most having a Midland connection. We have also added a new range of contemporary fiction by new and established authors, a range of antiquarian reprints together with a new venture into books for children.

With authors of high calibre, including John Wilcox, Alton Douglas, Carl Chinn, Nick Owen, Malcolm Boyden, Brenda Bullock, Victor Skipp, Audrey Duggan, Jean Field, Gwen Freeman, David Gladwin, Shirley Thompson and Patrick Hayes you are guaranteed a quality read.

A selection of Brewin’s fiction titles

Broken Sleep Books

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Award winning independent poetry publisher. Lay out your unrest. Also Legitimate Snack imprint. Michael Marks Awards Publisher winner ’20

One of the core principles of Broken Sleep is in our desire to ensure we are involved in community action: Whether fundraising, mentoring, our giving away books to those in need.

A press where community action, inclusivity, and innovation are at the forefront.

Taken from Quiet, Grit, Glory by Ricky Ray

Burning Chair Publishing

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An independent publisher putting authors and their books first

We founded Burning Chair because we want to get great books out to the world, and make sure authors get the rewards they deserve.

From first class editing to cutting edge marketing and promotion, we provide authors with the support they need to make sure their book fulfils its potential. We’re bringing together a community of authors who support each other, because as writers ourselves we know how valuable that can be.

A selection from Burning Chair

Burning Eye Books

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Here at Burning Eye Books we think of ourselves an an upstart indie punk publishing co. 

Burning Eye Books is small independent publisher in the South West predominately specialising in promoting spoken word artists. We aim to dispel the assumption that performance poetry does not transfer well to page as well as give emerging and established artist opportunities to be published where they might be rejected from other traditional poetry publishers. We look for the bold, the fearless and the strange. We are dedicated to providing an inclusive portfolio of the best and most promising performance poets in the UK.


Hope this has introduced you to some new reading opportunities.

See you in a couple of weeks for C

12 comments

  1. Wow, who knew there were so many independent publishers – and that’s just starting with the letter B! I shall definitely be coming back to these lists, so much to choose from, thank you for compiling them. I have one for ‘H’ but you’re probably already aware of them yourself. Hobeck Books, they publish crime fiction and started up last year I think.

    Like

  2. It’s fascinating scrolling down these, Jill, and phenomenal to realise how many there are. Bearded Badger has to be my favourite name. That’s just fabulous! Excited to see my latest novel in the Boldwood section. They are phenomenal and I couldn’t be happier with them. Great post x

    Liked by 1 person

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