For me, independent publishers are the people in the industry who are prepared to take risks on new authors and books where the larger players either don’t wish to venture, or where they can’t see there being a return on. Each month in 2018 I am aiming to highlight some of my favourite independent publishers, along with some of their books that I have loved and also to have someone from the publisher answer a few questions. This month is the turn of Influx Press.
I was only vaguely aware of Influx Press but midway through last year Sanya contacted me asking if I wanted to read a book called Signal Failure. This book by Tom Jeffreys is his account of walking the proposed route of the HS2 railway from London to Birmingham. It is a wide-ranging book and he talks to those on the route how it will affect them, the loss of woodlands, the political capital being spent to push this project through and how one man can’t read a map. For me they were on the map now. First formed in 2012, they have published titles ranging from award-nominated fiction debuts, memoirs and radical poetry. They are a bold publisher and are prepared to explore subjects and authors that other publishers would not normally consider. Imaginary Cities is one of those; broad in scope, the author considers cities in literature and compares them to reality whilst also heading into the realms of psychogeography to invade and reinvent our urban future.
Coming up next year are four exciting books. Two I am looking forward to are Built on Sand by Paul Scraton and Mothlight by Adam Scovell. Both are going to push the boundaries of what we can expect from the dynamic range of idependent publishers in 2019. Anyway, onto the Q&A that Sanya was kind enough to answer below:
Gary Budden and Kit Caless started the press in 2012, with Acquired for Development – it was supposed to be a one off thing but since the book done surprisingly well they decided to carry on.
How is the company organised today and how many people work for you?
At the moment there are three of us.
What is the company policy when it comes to selecting your catalogue?
In terms of the books we publish, they come to us a number of ways; through writers we approach or through agents who approach us, or when we open submissions (which we intend to do early next year). We publish fiction and creative non-fiction, books which often blur genres, fusing politics, place-specific narratives and or social commentary. Our tastes differ quite a bit, in terms of what we like to read, which I think has/will lead to an interesting list of authors.
Tell me about your process after selecting a book for publication?
In terms of editorial, it’ll go through structural and line edits, typeset, proof-read (by which time the cover design would have been chosen) and then publication.
How much effort goes into the design of the book, for example, the cover design, font selection and so on?
A lot of effort goes into the covers and interiors and with each step the author is involved. We work with the brilliant Austin Burke, who usually designs our covers after having read the MS. He’ll send in a couple of ideas and his thoughts behind them and get the editor and author’s thoughts back before developing the chosen cover.
Are there any up and coming books that you are publishing soon that we need to look out for?
There are four books we’re publishing next year which I’m really excited about. Bindlestiff by Wayne Holloway, is about a British film director who struggles to get his movie, Bindlestiff, made. The film stars Frank, a black Charlie Chaplin figure cast adrift in post-federal America. It’s part prose, part screen play and it sets to explore race, identity, family, friendship, war, peace, sex and drugs,
Mothlight by Adam Scovell, centres around Phyllis Ewans a prominent researcher in Lepidoptera, and her carer and companion, Thomas. When Phyllis dies, Thomas becomes increasing convinced that not only is she haunting him but that he actually is Phyliss – it’s a story about grief, memory and the price of obsession.
Built on Sand by Paul Scraton is set in Berlin and centres on personal geographies of place and how memory and history live on in the individual and collective imagination. It explores how the past shapes and distorts our understanding of the present in an age of individualism, gentrification and the rising threat of nationalism, with stories of landscape and a city both real and imagined.
Plastic Emotions by Shiromi Pinto is set in London, Chandigarh, Colombo, Paris and Kandy, during a time of communal violence and the rise of civil war in Sri Lanka. Through a multiplicity of narratives, we follow Minnette de Silva – a forgotten feminist icon and the first female Sri Lankan architect – from her infamous affair with Le Corbusier to her architectural pursuits and efforts to build a post-independence Sri Lanka that is heading towards political and religious turmoil.
What title of yours has been an unexpected success?
Attrib, and other stories by Eley Williams. The collection centres on the difficulties of communication and the way in which one’s thoughts – absurd, encompassing, oblique – may never be communicable and yet can overwhelm. We knew the collection was great, but it really took off, winning quite a few awards.
What would you say were the undiscovered gems in your catalogue?
Outside Looking On and Above Sugar Hill by Chimene Suleyman and Linda Mannheim. The first is a poetry collection, the latter a collection of short stories, both explore characters and place with nuance, and precision.
How do you use social media for promoting books and authors?
We’re really active on twitter, run by Kit and Gary, who share book reviewers, photos, author’s events, join in hashtags and engage with our readers and would be readers. It’s also a very effective way to contact bloggers/reviewers for upcoming book. We’re also on Facebook.
Absolutely, though we’ve always worked with bloggers I think now it’s become a vital part of promotion for any press. Bloggers have also expanded the ways in which presses can work with them from reviews and interviews to the writer taking over the site for a couple of days. Blog tours are becoming a huge part of book promotion.
What book do you wish you had published?
Preti Taneja‘s We That Are Young is a good read, a sort of rewriting of King Leah, it has everything I enjoy in a novel – politics, family drama, real evocation of place and stunning, stunning prose. Speak Gigantular and Things to Make or Break are also exceptional short story collections (by Irenosen Okojie and May-Lan Tan).
What does the future hold for influx press?
More and more books. As I said we’re opening submissions and are on the look-out for exciting new voices.
Thank you to Sanya once again for taking time out of her manic schedule to answer those questions for me. I really appreciate it. Their books are available from all good bookshops. I would urge you to buy them from an independent bookshop if you can as this supports them, the publisher and of course the author with one purchase.
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