The North Recommends: UClan Publishing

UCLan Publishing is the only student-run, trade but not for profit publishing house in the world. It’s breaking the mould of how a publisher usually operates, empowering students to ‘learn on the job’ and redefining the writer-publisher relationship around how books are made and sold.

Students form the heart of this unique enterprise: deciding what is commissioned; working directly with authors, external sponsors and collaborators in multi-disciplinary teams; producing books that retail in Waterstones, WHSmiths and Amazon. By pursuing excellence in this innovative way, UCLan Publishing has now stepped up a gear, to compete against the biggest and best-funded publishing houses globally.

UCLan Publishing was established eight years ago, alongside a new MA Publishing course, in response to demand from the publishing industry and eager to see students trained in publishing skills with direct practical experience. Our innovation established a publishing house and directly embedded outcomes into the course, energizing students themselves to debate the merits of each potential project from a marketing, sales, editorial, rights and pedagogic angle, before making a democratic decision on what to publish.

Books form majorannual projects, where MA Publishing students commission other students/external collaborators to provide content. Our first book, Letters to Africa (now in its 10thprint run) proves this approach works, evidencing how a multi-disciplinary team of students (Linguistics, Photography, Creative Writing, Film) collaborated with the Maasai community, UK schoolchildren and famous authors such as Lauren St John and Mary Hoffman.  Our innovation was to combine letters to schoolchildren in Africa from those in the UK, as well as fiction, non-fiction, music and the Maa language, creating a large scale collaboration impossible for most publishers.

We continue to strengthen our global partnerships and our fiction range grows, enlisting big name authors such as Jane Johnson and A J Hartley. A J Hartley’s book, Cold Bath Street, was promoted through UCLan Publishing and has become a national bestseller, with Waterstones taking it as a promotional title nationally. A national tour followed with 5 hour signings in some cities.

The book has changed everything for our publishing enterprise. It is currently being optioned for a TV film for Christmas. The audiobook has been recorded with the acclaimed actor Christopher Eccleston and will be out in February 2019. It came 2ndat the international Dragon Award prize at DragonCon and is currently up for the Lancashire Book Award and the YA Book Prize. It is also nominated for the most important prize in children’s literature, the Carnegie Medal, the first time such a small publisher has had a book in the running for this.

It’s an exciting time for us, growing our list with debut authors and establishing partners. Watch this space!