1 What's your company called?
Fair Acre Press.
2 What do you publish?
Mostly nature writing, wildlife photography and poetry. But who knows what the future holds!
3 What's the story of the company?
I [Nadia Kingsley] named Fair Acre Press after the home my mother dragged me up in. I set up the press when I wanted to publish a full-colour hardback called Shropshire Butterflies, a poetic and artistic guide to the butterflies of Shropshire. When Gillian Clarke gave me a poem to include, my modest hopes for the book expanded, and I started approaching other well-known authors, ecologists and poets for material. Both Carol Ann Duffy and Richard Lewington endorsed the book on its back cover. Since then I have published a cloth-bound book in the typographical style of Victorian books called The Morville Hours, several poetry pamphlets, a children’s poetry book which went on to win the Rubery Award for Poetry, a full-colour A4 wildlife photography book Wilderland which received some great reviews, and a contemporary novel called Sitting Ducks which is on the shortlist for the Arnold Bennett Literary Prize 2017. Coming out in the autumn is a wonderful nature book by the world expert on the Purple Emperor butterfly and Times nature columnist Matthew Oates.
4 How's business?
Exciting. Up until a year ago it had been a case of paying for the printing and selling of books from our website and at events. We are now represented by Signature Books, distributed by Central Books and, thanks to an extraordinarily helpful phone call from the IPG’s Bridget Shine, we will be using print on demand to print all our books from now on. This means the terror of financial funding—almost all so far from my pocket, but also from kind supporters through Kickstarter campaigns and a poetry competition—has completely vanished. Now time is the only limiting factor.
5 What do you enjoy about being independent?
I don’t have to follow the rules and can choose what to publish and when. I have made lasting friendships and my life has been enriched—and I have had encounters that show our books and events really mean something to many people, which is really lovely.
6 What do you think is the biggest single issue in publishing right now?
People not buying so many books as in the past—but I think that will change.
7 What one piece of advice would you give to a fellow independent just starting out?
I’m not qualified to say. I haven’t been running Fair Acre Press as a business—it just grew out of love. I choose who and what to publish and like running projects, organising events and writing my own poetry. If I had to earn my living from it I worry I would lose my love for everything I am doing.
It can be hard to earn a living from a tiny independent press, and many successful established independents I know have had full or part time jobs for a while. Don’t do it if you want to earn a good steady income! It wasn’t that I didn’t know how much work it would involve—I purposely didn’t find out! Each time I had an idea, I committed myself to it and groped my way through the darkness.
8 What do you get out of belonging to the IPG?
As I have told many people, my half-hour phone conversation with Bridget Shine was worth my first year’s fee alone. Otherwise, so far it’s a safety net. I haven’t made full use of my membership yet, but will do so.