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Dead Ink Books / Cinder House Publishing Ltd.

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Kate JR

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Has anybody had any response from them? I have sent emails to them three times (two in September and one in November) and tried a different email addresses in case they'd not arrived from the first. I got an automated response when someone was on holiday but since following up - nada. So I tried again, and a deafening silence. It was only an initial enquiry but it sure puts me off if people don't even bother to reply.

They sounded bona fide. This is what they say:

"Supported by Arts Council England, we’re focussed on developing the careers of new and emerging authors.

We believe that there are brilliant authors out there who may not yet be known or commercially viable. We see it as Dead Ink’s job to bring the most challenging and experimental new writing out from the underground and present it to our audience in the most beautiful way possible.

Our readers form an integral part of our team. You don’t simply buy a Dead Ink book, you invest in the authors and the books you love.

Our books have three times made the shortlist for The Saboteur Awards, the longlists for both The Guardian’s First Book Award and Not the Booker Prize, and the longlist for the Edge Hill Short Story Award.

You can keep up to date with the latest Dead Ink events, workshops, releases and calls for submissions by signing up to our mailing list."
 

mrsmig

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Link: Dead Ink Books

Nice looking website. Their covers are decent. They've been around since 2011.

Immediate red flag: there are only two staff members listed, with no biographical material - which means they could have little to no substantive experience in the publishing trade. Publishing Director Nathan Connolly has a Reedsy listing as an editor-for-hire, where his publishing CV seems to be limited to Dead Ink and a literary journal he founded. Operations Manager Amelia Collingwood also has a Reedsy listing for proofreading; Dead Ink appears to be her sole publishing experience.

Other weirdnesses: I find it odd that one of their 2019 releases is not listed as published by Dead Ink at all, but by Cinder House, whoever that is (the website I found through Google had a security warning on it, so I didn't visit; its Twitter account hasn't been active for several years, but it's full of Dead Ink posts. Maybe it was a failed imprint..?). Another 2019 release was first published in 2017, also by Dead ink, and both editions are available on the Amazon UK website. Not sure why that is.

They only appear to put out a few books per year. There are a number of crowdfunding packages offered on the website and apparently they did their first Kickstarter campaign this year. Their business model appears to be more of a not-for-profit than a trade publisher.

So overall: I believe this is a micro literary press, run by two people with some editorial experience (but no trade publishing experience) who are running the press while holding down outside jobs. This is probably why they haven't responded to your emails. My guess is that without people handling marketing, promotion and distribution, they're limited to the the usual online markets (Amazon, et al) and likely have little, if any, brick-and-mortar presence - which in turn, translates to low sales.

They don't appear to offer much more than you could do for yourself via self-publishing, but if this labor-of-love business model appeals to you, then by all means pursue them.


 
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Kate JR

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Many thanks for doing all that legwork, mrsmig! I just asked in case anyone had any experience of them but that is really helpful. Yes I think it may have been Nathan Connolly who I got an automated response from when he was on holiday back in September. I liked the look of their statement and the fact they are in Liverpool (place of my birth!)

I have been published by small press in the past but since then, I have, as you say, found self-publishing just as good an option. The only advantage of such presses is they have access to awards and prizes that many self-pubbed authors don't. In fact, I think it was because one of their books was awarded a prize which drew my attention to them in the first place (I think).
 

mrsmig

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The Saboteur Awards can be entered by anyone - self-published or no. The Guardian First Book Awards were discontinued as of 2016. I think the Not the Booker Prize may be the Guardian's replacement (there was some uproar about the judging of the 2019 contest). The Not the Booker Prize entrants must meet the same criteria as the regular Man Booker Prize (i.e. written in English, published by a UK or Ireland-based publishing company), but both the Saboteur and Not the Booker prizes are nominated by the general public and voted for by the general public - meaning they're popularity contests (and so could potentially result in a Boaty McBoatface outcome). And neither award carries any substantive prize: Not the Book winners get a mug; Saboteur winners get a bottle of gin.
 
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Kate JR

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Yes I've heard of Not The Booker Prize but not the Saboteur Awards. But I really don't like the popularity aspect as they're easy to game. Thankfully, they're a few online awards that are available to indie publishers. I don't think I would have qualified for First Book Awards anyway.
 

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