IN CONVERSATION WITH: Aisling Holling.
Do you think that How to Survive Everything (2021) will thrive more in the current climate than it might have done previously?
There are so many factors that influence the success of a book and the right place, right time is one of them. Part of our job as publishers is to find the books that we think the world needs, and as those needs continuously change, timing is everything.
It seems your role is split across Marketing and Editorial. Can you give our readers an insight into what a day might look like for you?
We’re a small team here at Saraband so all of our roles are pretty broad. This means that my role is flexible and adapts to the business needs of the moment within these two areas. So, naturally, it has changed quite a lot during the pandemic because we’ve had to shift our focus online. In short, no two days are the same at the moment!
Online, during the pandemic, we have seen a flurry of support for independent bookshops over chains, but we are curious to know if you think this translates to publishing houses too. What does the future look like for independent publishers?
I don’t think I’m qualified to comment on what the future looks like for independent publishers as I’m still very new to the industry, but we’ve certainly felt a flurry of support throughout the pandemic, too, and our community has grown. We started selling books directly last March and have been thrilled with the support from readers. But ultimately, we can’t wait for bookshops to reopen. I think it’s fair to say that small publishers have felt the effect of bookshops being closed more than big publishers have.
Can you tell us all about the exciting projects at Saraband: past, present and future? And about what the publisher is all about?
In 2019 we launched the NorthBound Book Award – in partnership with New Writing North and, from 2021, with the University of York as a new partner – to celebrate the richness of writing from the North of England and the innovative spirit of independent publishing. The award is open to writers based in the North of England with an unpublished full-length manuscript for a fiction or narrative non-fiction book. This will be the third year of the award and we can’t wait for judging to begin.
As a publisher, we look for unique and diverse voices that offer new and interesting perspectives. Providing a platform for marginalised voices has always been at the heart of Saraband since its inception in 1994. We publish authors with deep knowledge of the culture, local landscapes, wildlife, folk traditions and history in regions around the UK, through a range of non-fiction and fiction titles.
I see that Saraband is based in Salford, Manchester. After a year of remote-working and discussions within the publishing industry of moving away from Central London, has this had an impact on Saraband and how you work?
As we have always been located outside of London, these discussions haven’t had a direct impact on us as a publisher. We are, however, enjoying how easy it is for us to attend industry events that we would have previously had to travel to London for, and we look forward to the publishing industry becoming more accessible to the rest of the country.