The first author-run publishing co-operative in Britain has launched with the publication of two titles.
Gritstone Publishing, founded by four experienced outdoor writers and journalists, will specialise in non-fiction and fiction books relating to the landscape and the countryside.
Andrew Bibby, Colin Speakman, Chris Goddard and Chiz Dakin decided that, by establishing Gritstone as a fully mutual co-operative, they would be able to exercise more control over the way that their work is published.
Ms Dakin is an award-winning freelance photographer and writer who is also vice-chair of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild. Mr Goddard has built a considerable following with his hand-drawn guides to Yorkshire’s countryside.
“Gritstone is more than just a means of reaching the market more effectively,” said Mr Bibby. “Members of the co-operative are committed to supporting each other and taking a keen interest in each other’s work. Solidarity is an important part of this co-operative endeavour.”
Mr Bibby, a journalist and writer with strong links to the co-operative movement and a Co-operative News contributor, is the author of Gritstone’s first two titles, which were launched in November.
His previous non-fiction books include a profile of the Pennine moorlands, Backbone of England. His new titles represent a move from non-fiction into fiction. The Bad Step and In the Cold of the Night are crime novels set in the Lake District’s high fells.
Mr Speakman, the author of numerous books on the Yorkshire Dales, is turning his attention to the lesser-known Yorkshire Wolds for Gritstone’s third title, which will be published early in 2017.
“As authors we are aware of how quickly the British publishing and book-selling trade is changing,” he said. “Authors need to respond to these changes, and we foresee other authors also looking at co-operative options to strengthen their position in the market.”
Although Gritstone is the first wholly author-run publishing co-operative in Britain, the model is gaining traction in the United States where, in October, World Branch Publishing in Appalachia converted from a privately owned business to a writer-owned co-operative.
In Wales, Honno Press is an independent co-op run by women for Welsh female authors, while the Cambria Publishing Co-operative headquartered in Carmarthenshire is a multi-stakeholder family of authors and the publishing professionals who support them.