Here at And Other Stories we believe that great literature is great literature, wherever it comes from. Since starting out in 2011, we’ve built a varied list of great literature in translation and originally in English, both fiction and non-fiction (and even a little poetry). We started out at a time, after the financial crash, when publishing was increasingly conservative. Our publisher, Stefan Tobler, was a translator, and was frustrated that the many incredible books he and other translators were pitching to publishers were being rejected as too risky.
So, with the support of other translators and friends, Stefan set up And Other Stories – with an (at that time) innovative idea: why not invite readers to subscribe to receive books that hadn’t yet been published? That way, you minimise the risk by having the book at least partly paid for before publication.
Our subscription scheme is still going strong, with approximately 1,500 readers now receiving 2, 4, or 6 books a year. We try to keep a balance of English-language and translated books in there, and aim for at least one non-fiction subscriber book per year. Our readers around the world tell us they love the surprise of it: books landing on their doormat that they might not otherwise have come across.
We involve our readers in the publishing process in other ways too: many of the books we’ve published came via our Reading Groups – meetings of translators, authors, publishers and subscribers to discuss books we might want to translate and publish in English. We’ve found Mexican and Brazilian books this way, Equatoguinean and Portuguese. We hope to find many more books in other languages too, with a Brazilian Portuguese group just starting, and Scandinavian, Francophone and Arabic groups in the pipeline. Get in touch if you’re interested in joining one (no knowledge of the source language necessary).
In 2017 we moved our office to Sheffield, and became part of the Northern Fiction Alliance set up by Comma Press to promote publishers in the North of England both nationally and globally. We also started to think more carefully about how we can make our publishing process more environmentally sustainable: looking at everything from author travel and minimising flying, to how our books are printed and packaged. We’ve already made a lot of changes, some of which you can find out about on our website.
Last but not least in this introduction to how we approach publishing, I’d like to mention our work to increase diversity in the publishing industry. We may be tiny, but that gives us the flexibility to make changes towards tackling structural issues. These include our traineeships for people from groups under-represented in publishing, and our 2018 Year of Publishing Women, a response to author Kamila Shamsie’s ‘provocation’ to address the lack of women featuring on major prize shortlists and in literary criticism.
You can find out more about our work, and our books, at andotherstories.org (where you can also subscribe or sign up for our newsletter). We’re also on Twitter (@andothertweets) and Instagram (andotherpics). We look forward to hearing from you!
(Nicky Smalley is Publicity, Marketing and Sales Manager for And Other Stories. She’s also a translator and lover of Swedish literature.)