For me, independent publishers are the people in the industry who are prepared to take risks on new authors and books where the larger players either don’t wish to venture, or where they can’t see there being a return on. Each month in 2018 I am aiming to highlight some of my favourite independent publishers, along with some of their books that I have loved and also to have someone from the publisher answer a few questions. This month is the turn of Slightly Foxed.
Can you tell me a little about the history of Slightly Foxed?
Slightly Foxed started life in 2004 after the sale of the independent publisher John Murray to a large conglomerate. Gail Pirkis, former managing editor at Murrays and Hazel Wood, a Murray editor and journalist wanted to set up a bookish company with the emphasis on independence. After much thought, Slightly Foxed, the quarterly literary review was the result. It started around Gail’s kitchen table with a handful of staff, including Steph Allen from Murrays and Kathleen Smith from Waterstones. Kathleen moved on to the bookshop Topping & Co in Bath, but the original team are all still there – aided by Jen Harrison Bunning who arrived in 2006 and a strong team in the office (more of whom below). It is a testament to Slightly Foxed that staff have a tendency to stay.
After 4 years of publishing the quarterly we moved into books, specifically reprinting memoirs and autobiographies no longer in print. The Slightly Foxed limited editions, beautifully produced pocket hardbacks in an enticing array of coloured cloth have become collectors’ items. Following on from their popularity we launched the Slightly Foxed paperback series and the Foxed Cubs – a children’s series of historical novels from Ronald Welch. Plain Foxed Editions followed on.
For a short while we had a second-hand and new bookshop on the Gloucester Road, which was wonderful while it lasted, but we have now established an online bookshop offering presents for bookish friends or relatives and a carefully chosen range of book-related merchandise, including bookplates featuring wood engravings by some of our favourite engravers.
We have an active marketing team who combine traditional marketing (advertising, inserts etc) with a stylish social media presence, a growing partnership scheme with other like-minded magazines and organisations and regular events. We aim to launch each quarterly at an independent bookshop, or other venue that has a connection with our latest issue or edition and we have a one-day literary festival held every November in the Art Workers’ Guild in Bloomsbury.