Meet the member: 404 Ink

1 What's your company called?

404 Ink.

2 What do you publish?

A mix of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and comics. We also publish a biannual literary magazine. Titles have included bestselling feminist anthology Nasty Women, the dark and hilarious short story collections Hings and HWFG from Chris McQueer and award-winning literary fiction from Helen McClory, as well as co-publications of We Shall Fight Until We Win, the graphic novel celebrating a century of pioneering political women in the UK, and For Every One, the pocket manifesto for dreamers by New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds. Upcoming titles include We Were Always Here: A Queer Words Anthology and Let Me Tell You This, the debut poetry collection by Nadine Aisha Jassat, and we are bringing US author Elle Nash’s debut novel Animals Eat Each Other to the UK for the first time.

3 What's the story of the company?

404 Ink was founded by two publishing freelancers from the book industry in Edinburgh [Laura Jones and Heather McDaid]. We were hired to run the Saltire Society’s virtual book festival #ScotLitFest. During this time, we realised we both had considered setting up a publisher but hadn’t done so, and saw our visions aligned: using social media more, replicating the areas of the music and comic industry we enjoyed the most, utilising crowdfunding. We wanted to make publishing a bit more noisy and reflective of what we would like to see, and so our mantra has been to ‘publish loudly’. One week after the first festival was over, we decided to take the leap and launch 404 in summer 2016.

4 How's business?

Good! 2017, the company’s first full year, was bigger than we could have imagined—our debut Nasty Women took off in January 2017 and even now it hasn’t really calmed down, so we felt ourselves playing catch up. 2018 was structural: how do we move from being a spare room side project to a Real Publisher? 404 Ink has since won numerous cultural and business awards, our books are selling well, we’re working with a truly exceptional group of authors and the company has grown in all respects year on year. We’ve even taken on two new members of staff, which is particularly exciting.

5 What do you enjoy about being independent?

The freedom of it all. With our freelance background, the flexibility is great, and being a small, reactive team means that we get to work with projects we really love and want to champion. The growing independent network we’ve met since launching is another highlight.

6 What do you think is the biggest single issue in publishing right now?

The cost has always been restrictive as it’s all front-loaded, but with all the chat around rising paper costs and such, we can see every penny counting even more in the coming year.

7 What one piece of advice would you give to a fellow independent just starting out?

Just go for it! There are always a lot of reasons not to do something, and you can talk yourselves in circles in research and thinking everything through. Take the leap.

8 What do you get out of belonging to the IPG?

Access to knowledge and a UK-wide network we didn’t quite have. Also, we signed up to the mentoring scheme almost immediately, and it’s been a fantastic pairing so far.