So, this blog is a little like one of those extremely well-intentioned but very late birthday cards you receive up to a fortnight after your actual birthday. The sort of card you receive in the post, open and think, thanks for the lovely sentiment, then immediately after wonder what you’re going to do with the actual card, (it being a little odd to display birthday cards two weeks after your birthday is over yet also a little heartless to drop such a lovely card straight into the recycling bin). It’s over a week since the very wonderful Emma Press celebrated their fifth birthday and the, almost miraculous achievement, of having published fifty pamphlets, books and anthologies in five years. I am that bad friend who forgot/was too busy dashing about on trains to post a card. However, I still want to tip my, somewhat belated, celebratory hat to the always inspiring Emma Wright, Rachel Piercey and all the other wonderful souls who sail in the good ship, Emma Press.
I’ve known of the Emma Press for a number of years now: ever since the publication of their tantalisingly titled collection of “Mildly Erotic Verse”, and the gorgeous job they did showcasing Stephen Sexton’s beautiful poems in his first pamphlet “Oils.” I was delighted when they agreed to publish a collection of my “Postcard Stories” last year and was really pleased to be partnered up with the illustrator Benjamin Phillips who did a stirling job of realising the concepts behind my little stories. I want to take this opportunity to thank Emma and her team for making my experience with “Postcard Stories” such a delight from start to finish. The editing process was smooth and full of way more encouragement than critique, their vision for the project was absolutely spot on from day one and at all times I felt valued as both a person and a writer who would ultimately understand the best way to present my work. I think it’s important to say just how warm and generous the Emma Press are with their writers. I had something of a difficult experience with my previous publisher and found the whole experience of working with Emma and Rachel incredibly healing, like I was being given an opportunity to remember why I’d started writing in the first place, through close contact with people who love words as much as I do.
As I got to know Emma better I was also inspired by her vision for the Emma Press. Emma has made some brave, calculated decisions about how she wants to approach publishing. She places a strong emphasis on integrity, ensuring she pays writers and staff members properly and can offer people a much-needed toe hold into the publishing industry. She champions new voices. She takes great pains to produce books which are not just powerfully written but also presented with stunning visuals and illustrations. She often goes above and beyond, sacrificing her own time and finances to support others. She takes the time to get to know her authors, celebrating with them during the high points and quickly stepping in with encouragement when encouragement is needed. Emma is a powerful champion of the small press movement and if you’re thinking of hosting a panel on small presses at your festival or conference, please consider booking her as she advocates so passionately and eloquently for small, independent presses and their vital role in the publishing industry.
So, almost one week to the day, too late, can I raise a glass of slightly chilled Rioja to Emma Wright and the Emma Press and say how delighted I am for you on this your birthday “month.” Congratulations on your first five years and all you’ve achieved with such tenacity, grace and unswerving integrity. May there be many, many more years of Emma Press publications. May the ideas never stop coming and the right writers always come stumbling into your radar. Keep going Emma. We’re all behind you. We’re very grateful for everything you’ve done. The literary community wouldn’t be the same without you.
If you want to find out more about the Emma Press or even submit to one of their calls for new writing check out their wonderful website here.