Q&A with Galley Beggar Press

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Today I am delighted to welcome Sam from Galley Beggar Press to my blog. I discovered this publishing house when I reviewed Francis Plug: How To Be A Public Author by Paul Ewen in the summer of 2014. This book inspired me to start attending literary events. If you have read the book (and you should!) then you may interpret that as you will.

Since then I have read and reviewed enough of their titles to convince me that I wanted to own everything they published in hard copy (I don’t read ebooks). For Christmas this year my wonderful husband enrolled me as a Galley Buddy and presented me with the backlist titles I had not yet managed to acquire. You may look out for my reviews of these, along with their 2016 publications, in the coming months.

Without further ado let us find out more about this “old fashioned publisher for the 21st Century”.

1. Why did you decide to set up Galley Beggar Press?

It was a question of putting our money where our mouths were, in a rather literal sense. We’d had a lot of ideas about how we’d like to publish books, the kind of things we’d like to publish, design, building a list… I’d even written a blog for The Guardian on the subject: Does the Faber name still mean much? But the impetus came when a fantastic book came along that no one else was publishing. This was The White Goddess: An Encounter by Simon Gough – and we thought it deserved a proper chance and tried to give it one.

2.  What sort of books do you want to publish?

It’s hard to answer this question without sounding glib, but really the most honest answer is ‘good books’. If the quality is there, we want to publish it. For us, the book comes first, and then we work out how the marketing and everything else will follow. We want to publish top quality work. Often this tends to be what people term ‘literary fiction’ and people praise our books for their fearless and uncompromising experimentalism… But quality doesn’t just mean difficult. We also like our books to have stories and humanity. I like to think that we’d take a punt on something like Harry Potter too, if it came along. We like to think people will be reading our books for years to come, long after it no longer matters if they are fashionable or not.

3.  How do you go about finding and signing authors? 

Ha! Mystery, magic and I don’t know what. It’s a process even I don’t understand. We do sometimes have open submissions, and we’ve picked up a few good writers that way, especially for our Singles Club line of ebook short stories. Otherwise, it’s a question of listening to agents, keeping our ears to the ground, taking tips. We managed to get to work with the wonderful Paul Ewen, for instance, because I used to see him at book signings and public author events, and I was curious about what he was doing. He told me about the book eventually and it sounded fantastic. I knew he was a great writer as I’d already read London Pub Reviews, his previous publication, so had an idea something special was on the way.

4.  Is your experience of marketing what you expected when you started out?

Well, I’m a literary journalist so I had a few ideas. I’ve also had a few books published so am experienced in that way. Even so, I’m always surprised by the tremendous amount of work my co-director Elly does on marketing – and how important it is to get the right book to the right person. You really have to know what people are interested in. And, we were all surprised to see Eimear Mcbride’s name on the side of a London bus. But I think everyone was surprised by that!

5.  There are a good number of small, independent publishers out there publishing some great works. Do you consider yourself different and, if so, how?

Well, I think we’re part of a movement of small publishers for sure – and very proud to be part of that movement when so many people are putting out great things. I guess we’re different in that publishing on our scale is often a matter of personality and personal taste. So our books are always going to have a unique flavour. As are those of other publishers like us.

6.  Latest trend or totally original – what sells?

I don’t know! We do always say to each other, however, that the time we start asking “what’s fashionable?” is the time to retire. We don’t want to get caught up in trends. We just want to put out good books.

7.  Ebook or hard copy – what do your buyers want?

Most want hard copy. But we try to cater to everyone.

8.  Do you consider Galley Beggar niche or mainstream?

That’s a hard one. We don’t sell millions of books and we know some of the titles we put out aren’t going to appeal to everyone. But nor do we shun the mainstream. We’d be happy for one of our authors to go overground. The more satisfied readers we have, the happier we will be.

9.  Collaborative or dictatorial? 

It all depends on the circumstances!

10. Plans for the future?

We just want to keep on publishing the best books we can. Hopefully on a sustainable scale.

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Thank you Sam for taking the time to answer my questions. You can find out more about this small press, including details of their books, on their website by clicking here: Galley Beggar Press

Keep up to date with all of their news via Twitter: Galley Beggar Press (@GalleyBeggars)

francisplug Alex-Pheby--Playthings

Anthony-Trevelyan--The-Weightless-World  wroteforluck

If you are an independent publisher and would like to be included in this series please check out my introductory post: Shout Out to Independent Publishers

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