It seems incredible to me that you only started The Emma Press in 2012. You’ve done so much in that time! I know from your interview with the Poetry School that you used to work for Orion, and you left to make brooches and poetry books. Also I know your design and illustration for the Emma Press publications (and hence its distinctive look) is all created by you. You can draw! So why did you leave Orion? Was it because you needed to be more creative? And what did you learn from your Orion job about publishing that helped you in starting up on your own? (I know that’s three questions).
I left Orion because I was frustrated with my role, which was to manage the production of 500 backlist ebooks per year. I loved working the Production and Design department, but there wasn't any scope for creativity or promotion in my job and I couldn't handle the thought of doing it for a third year. I wasn't earning much money and I didn't want to be one of those people who bitches tediously about the job they've been in for far too long, so I resigned. I think it was more of an assertion of my freewill than anything else – I felt like I was expected to stay in the job because I wasn’t rich and I’d been lucky to get a job at all in the post-recession wasteland of 2010.
I did want to do something more creative, which is why I started thinking about sewing brooches, doing illustrations and making books. The first book I published, The Flower and the Plough, began as a collaborative project with my old school friend Rachel Piercey, meant to showcase her poems and my illustrations. I’d learned about typesetting and InDesign at Orion, and I’d picked up a little about the overall book production process (designing the book, liaising with printers, choosing the paper) as well as how to make ebooks. I think the most important thing I learned at Orion was the commercial, trade approach to publishing books. A lot of small presses don’t expect to make a profit or break into the wider market, so I think it’s more helpful for me to model my business on a publisher which aims to produce bestsellers.
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