Thursday, 8 November 2012

Happy birthday NO EXIT - my thoughts on small independent publishers

I'd like to write about a lovely event I had the pleasure to attend yesterday night, the 25th birthday of No Exit Press, the UK's leading independent publisher of crime fiction!
I'm proud to say that I was their first intern, and that almost 3 years ago I got to work with Ion and Claire at No Exit. They gave me the chance to put my foot in the door of the publishing world - didn't have much success in Italy and Switzerland - and also to learn ever so much!

It's quite funny when you think at your first proper internship.
After my MA in publishing, I couldn't find any jobs in Italy - you need to be a friend of Berlusconi or to have a degree in economics, which is kind of ridiculous - so I decided to try in Switzerland, where my boyfriend used to work. No luck. I applied for a couple of pharmaceutical companies which needed editors for their magazines, but, useless to say, I wasn't very interested and my lack of knowledge of science and chemistry really didn't help!
Luckily, after a few months of despair (on my part, of course) No Exit replied to one of the millions applications I had started sending to the UK. I received their email at the end of February and by the 3rd of March I was in Harpenden looking for a room! Good memories.

They let me do some admin work, and take care of the marketing and social media aspects of their business. I had to set up and update pages for their various imprints, and also had the chance to liaise with some authors, such as James Gracey, who wrote a book on Italian horror director Dario Argento - SEE PAGE. In this instance I managed to arrange a phone interview between James and Argento, and acted as interpreter. It was brilliant! Want to have a look at the whole interview? CLICK HERE! 
I think that might have been one of my milestones, if you consider I was an intern, the man is very famous and I had never worked in publicity, i.e. had no contacts whatsoever!

Anyway, enough about me, I just wanted to say that it's great when small, independent publishing houses give you the chance of a lifetime. Especially in publishing, where work experience is a must, you really need more companies like No Exit.
Independent companies struggle to make a living on a daily basis; they personally select authors and titles and back them up 100%.
It's not easy when you can't compete with the big dogs out there for well known writers, and have to discover new talents in order to survive. That's the stigmatization that comes with being a small publisher, people think they are the refuge for unknown, random, 2nd class authors. Why wouldn't they be published by a mainstream publishing house then? But as someone said, this is not about business and money, when you are an independent publisher it's more often about the love for books and literature! It's not a mere job, it's a way of life.

This is not only what No Exit does and is, every single small publishing venture is in the same situation, but I was lucky enough to experience this specific reality. 
They did quite a great job; they're behind some of the best up and coming and established crime authors such as Leigh Russell, Clem Chambers and Howard Linskey.
I had the chance to proofread some of their titles in the past, and to be honest that's what got me to love thriller and crime fiction, a genre I was miles away from!
I would also like to add that No Exit also published the James Sallis books - DRIVE anybody?
That's one of those chances that come to those who wait and work hard! 

All this to say that the evening at Hoxton Square bar & Kitchen was lovely, with some great live music and reading! 

Happy Birthday NO EXIT and long live the independent publishing industry!