It hath been declared that April shalt be the month to celebrate indie publishers, and in that spirit, here are a few words on some of my favourite Scotland-based indies, all doing incredible, interesting stuff right now.
Gutter Magazine – Going it alone after the collapse of its former publisher, Gutter has never been stronger or better. Issue 18, along with a special supplement, The Freedom Papers, became the bestselling title of the Edinburgh International Book Festival last year. A celebration of new, innovative, and sometimes experimental poetry and prose that features some of the biggest names in Scottish writing, as well as some newcomers (including me! – my short story The Six-Foot appeared in Issue 14).
Shoreline of Infinity – I bang on about this mag all the time (and shall continue to do so for the foreseeable). Brand new sci-fi stories and poems from authors the world over won this Edinburgh publication the British Fantasy Society Award for best magazine last year. As well as four issues per year, Shoreline releases books, runs reading events in the city (I myself will be taking part in May’s Event Horizon – there’s a thread appearing here…), and is involved in the creation of Cymera Festival, Scotland’s first ever festival of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writing. Seriously, it’s one of the hardest-working indies in the multiverse, check it out!
404 Ink – A breakout success of the last few years, the 404 team has been dubbed the ‘nasty women’ of indie publishing because of its overt, unapologetic commitment to feminism and creating change and transparency in the industry. Publishing the first two short story collections of rising Glasgow star, Chris McQueer, has helped put it on the map, and comic book We Shall Fight Until We Win, a collection of short comics based on influential women past and present, is sensational. This was made in collaboration with BHP Comics, which brings us to…
BHP Comics – As well as the above-mentioned We Shall Fight Until We Win, it also published Freedom Bound by Warren Pleece, a graphic novel about slavery in Scotland, and distributed a copy to every school in Scotland in order to educate young Scots about their county’s involvement in the slave trade – an uncomfortable fact often buried in our popular history. Last year, BHP also picked up and published runaway Kickstarter success Killtopia, a funny, gory cyberpunk comic by Dave Cook and Craig Paton. (Issue #2 is on the way soon and I already can’t wait!)
Monstrous Regiment – Speaking of crowdfunding success, Monstrous Regiment has just reached the goal of its own campaign and now has the funds to release The Bi-ble Vol. 2 – a follow up to the smash hit first volume, which will also be getting a fresh print run. Both books centre the stories – fiction and nonfiction – of bisexual writers, and like the above indies, Monstrous Regiment too has a commitment to being inclusive and publishing a wide range of voices, even in its colour-themed literary journals. (Bracket time: my short story ‘Plant Life’ appeared in MR Issue 2, ‘Emerald’.)
Aether/Ichor – If you thought my recommendations were biased before… I currently read and edit for fantasy webzine Aether/Ichor. A/I published my short story Naoko back in 2016 and I joined the team about a year later. We look for exciting, well-written fantasy stories with unique characters and hopefully deliver that to our readers. At the end of last year we started afresh with a gorgeous new look and magazine-style format where each issue has a theme (we’re looking for dragons for December, if anyone has any). We offer every submitter substantial feedback, even rejections – a personal touch only an indie could manage.
Blood Bath Litzine – Relatively new on the scene, Blood Bath is dedicated to horror stories, with Issue 1 offering up gore and grotesquery on the theme of ‘Bodies’ – blood and guts for the socially and politically aware. For issue 2 (Demons), Blood Bath was encouraging submissions from POC writers in a laudable move to change what it described as a mostly white response to the submission call for the first issue. I reviewed Bodies for Shoreline of Infinity and commented on this decision: “This is the joy, and importance, of independent publishing. Small publishers can implement the changes they want to see in the larger industry with ease.” I’m repeating it here because it stands, and not just for Blood Bath but for all the publishers I’ve mentioned.