2 January 2017
Dear September Authors and Supporters
Happy New Year! It seemed a good moment, in the quiet first days of the year, to update you and look ahead. 2016 was our second year of actual publishing (as opposed to commissioning and plotting) and it was wonderful to see books by Sharon Blackie, Angela Kiss, PJ Kavanagh, Emily Stott, Simon Phipps, Jim Richards, Howard Spencer and the English Heritage Blue Plaque team reach the public. We’ve seen authors on BBC Breakfast, featured in the Telegraph, the Guardian, Time Out, the Sun, the Evening Standard and we’ve listened to them on Midweek, Robert Elms and Start the Week amongst many others. Some big sales surges have come from these traditional press platforms, but just as many have come from online influencers, whether it’s blogs and communities like Spitalfields Life and Londonist, or authors and tweeters like Melissa Harrison, or organisations like the Twentieth Century Society.
We’ve worked with some wonderful new designers, including APFEL (Brutal London), Sandra Zellmer (The Secret Life of Ceramics) and Jamie Keenan (Gold Rush & Sharks), and collaborated with new editors and publicists, such as Justine Taylor, Ed Griffiths and Fiona Brownlee.
2017 will see a bigger list, with new illustrated and narrative titles. It’s an important year – our first titles will be distributed in the USA via Global Book Services. We will publish our first fiction – an anthology of ghost stories with English Heritage – and we have new books with comedian and activist Mark Thomas and investigative reporter Conor Woodman. We will also publish Christopher Nicholson’s (author of Elephant Keeper and Winter) first non-fiction title; an exquisitely written account of a summer spent in search of snow in the Scottish Highlands which we feel confident will become a classic of the nature writing genre. There is an extraordinary memoir of London’s Columbia Road, a story of mid-century Midlands’ lives and artist Alice Stevenson’s second book Ways to See Great Britain.
Last year was made more difficult by print price increases post-Brexit. It was made more daunting by the rise of reactionary, protective, xenophobic politics, and by a new US president interested only in commerce and the protection of wealth. But publishers – the interesting ones – fight against insularity by looking ahead, then finding articulate, enlightening writers and creatives who will chime with our concerns, interests and desires AND broaden them.
This year we will start a new project with an artist and writer based in Paris, born in Serbia, inspired by the wisdom of her friends. We’re inspired by Edna Adnan who founded a hospital and university in Somaliland on her retirement, cashing in her WHO pension and building
from scratch on unwanted, tainted land. And last but not least I’ve been energised by two young aspiring writers who were refugees in Lisbon and the UK, from Portuguese West Africa. There’s a lot to look forward to.
It’s such a rich, rich world, with such varied lives and ways of telling – and it’s a privilege to work within an intelligent industry with so many terrific people. So many thanks from Charlotte and I, and the larger September community, for your work and faith.