Indie publisher – The Rag and Bone Man Press

25 April 2012 / Leave a Comment

The Rag and Bone Man Press, publishers of stories short and long, fiction and non, founded in 2011 in the lamplight of youth.

What made you decide to set up your own independent press?
The Rag and Bone Man Press began as a group of writers meeting in bars and parks across Melbourne, sharing their recent works over a few beers. These sessions became more frequent, the writing more celebrated, and the plans more elaborate. Eventually, as members travelled the globe, a splinter group began in Oxford, UK as The Bargoyles, heralding a new era of incredible story-writing. However, we soon discovered that while these writers were fabulous at composing sentences that can change the world, they oftentimes lacked the ultimate drive to take their writing any further. It was frustrating to see such talent wasted. So the idea for an online forum (and more!) emerged – a publishing collective that demanded no more than quality writing and a desire to have it aired. The Rag and Bone Man Press would then do the rest. Encourage, re-work, share, market and then turn these words into compilations, ebooks, future novels, or at least an online platform to provide writers with a space to introduce themselves as authors.

How many manuscript submissions do you receive a month and how many of these may be of a publishable standard?
At the moment, the Press receives several short stories each week – many of which we publish on our website – along with samples of novels and ideas for future projects. The current motto of the Press is 'boutique until further notice', as we track the level of interest and look forward a couple of years. Our ultimate aim is to continue publishing shorter works and poetry on our website, while building up larger collections of stories and anthologies such as our Soup Van Project, and keeping an eye out for other new ideas that stand out. The Press runs regular Salons, encouraging authors to write a short piece based on a specified topic or theme – such as crime, gothic fiction or haiku – from which we derive fantastic writing to add to the website on a continual basis. There is no project too small or too large, and basically if it makes our eyes bulge over a nightly rum, then it's a part of the Rag & Bone family.

What advantages does a smaller press present for authors over larger publishing houses?
A personal touch and unabashed joy for the 'job'! As an independent press we can take the author's style and ideas into account, without worrying, as larger publishing houses do, about corporate lists and the bottom line. The Press is our passion, which makes our time spent on each project time we enjoy. It's such a pleasure to receive stories from anyone – young, old, professional, retired, or ghosts of the literary past (such as Branwell Brontë) – and if the writing is not suitable for Rag & Bone, we happily provide tips for revision. With our industry knowledge, we have a lot to share and a desire to do just that. We hope to publish ebooks in the near future, and are investigating print on demand, which will allow authors to hold tangible copies of their works and celebrate writing on all levels.

What kind of manuscripts are you currently looking for?
Anything in German. We just wont be able to understand it.

Actually, The Rag and Bone Man Press is happy to receive any short stories, short story anthologies, contributions to our writers’ salons (check the website for news on each one), poems, children’s books, ideas for social history publications, environmental publications or proposals for works sponsored by government or organisational grants. We are open to chatting about ideas you have, or manuscripts that were buried in the 1840s and rediscovered on your recent picnic to Beechworth. We'll either jump for joy or advise you on another route. We're like a real rag and bone man, collecting the wild, the beautiful and the bony, and distributing it all over the dusty paths of the world.

What are your predictions for the publishing landscape over the next 5-10 years, and what does this mean for authors?
It's a tough gig right now as technological change rattles publishing window panes like a ghost on the moors, but it's the format and forums that are changing, as people still need new content. Publishing is rapidly moving online as most books are now formatted specifically for digital as well as print sales. Unfortunately many publishers can no longer rely solely on general bookshop sales to make projects economically viable. They need authors with strong platforms from which to promote and sell the books, for example through their own blog or business, their industry links or through the public speaking circuit. This means authors need to have a lot more time on their hands, as well as knowledge of the industry and marketing. A lot of the time this means the loud ones, the kinky ones, the ones with cash and the intensely driven ones get seen and heard, while some great wordsmiths with a cave-like existence remain undiscovered. The best thing about independent presses such as Rag & Bone is that we pick up these quieter talents, and wheel them into places they should be. We don't expect knowledge of the market, which is what we provide, but we harness what writers have and drive it where we can, so one day they might be snapped up as the next [insert Marquez/ Dickens/ Elliot/ Murakami here].

The Rag and Bone Man Press


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