1 What's your company called?
John Hunt Publishing, but we don’t publish anything under that name. We have 20 or so imprints, grouped into ten broad subject areas and ranging from left-wing politics (Zero Books) to paganism (Moon Books). We work hard in very different, very committed markets.
2 What do you publish?
Mostly non-fiction, with the bulk of it in the area of MBS, inspiration and religion. We also have a few dozen fiction titles with imprints covering general, historical and Young Adult fiction. In total we publish between 120 and 200 titles a year.
3 What's the story of the company?
We’ve been going for more than 30 years as an independent. The first half of that was spent in colour co-editions, before changing print technology reduced the minimum print runs needed; then switched to paperbacks, where we focus all of our attention now.
4 How's business?
OK. We focus on building up long-term backlists, sourcing standout authors in our niches, nurturing long-term relationships with them and building best-in-class series. Standout books for us include the Made Easy
, Pagan Portals
and Crystal Prescriptions
series, the important and hugely successful Capitalist Realism
by the late Mark Fisher, The Fall
by Steve Taylor and Kill All Normies
by Angela Nagle. We’re a remote company and we’ve invested in systems that enable widely scattered people to work together; we have a small office in New Alresford in Hampshire for accounts and post, but people in the business live in the UK, US, France and beyond.
5 What do you enjoy about being independent?
It’s great to be able to publish lots of good books that we believe in and that wouldn’t cover the overheads of a bigger business. We work with a few dozen staff and freelancers, rely heavily on information systems, forums and notifications that we’ve invested in ourselves, so anybody in the business can see the same as anyone else. It works a bit like a collective.
6 What do you think is the biggest single issue in publishing right now?
Sales and visibility, as always. We try everything, but where to put the balance of investment between supporting trade sales teams, which we have around the world, online and social media, and encouraging authors to work too; that’s something we wrestle with every day.
7 What one piece of advice would you give to a fellow independent just starting out?
Think twice and get some advice! Is your market gap as big as you think it is? If it could be profitable, why isn’t it already crowded out? How much are you prepared to lose?
8 What do you get out of belonging to the IPG?
It’s a commitment to professional standards, an excellent training resource and a great connector, keeping us abreast of the industry and connecting us with potential partners.