Thursday, January 08, 2015

Smalltown superheroes

Congratulations to Seren for once again punching above their weight when it comes to critical acclaim, with one of their poets once again securing the Costa Poetry Award ahead of hopefuls published by the London-based big boys. The judges hailed Jonathan Edwards' My Family And Other Superheroes as "joyous, brilliant and moving".

Having been volunteering at Seren when John Haynes won with Letter To Patience back in 2006, though, I'm aware that victory can actually prove a real headache. As a small press, they have to be scrupulously careful about print runs to avoid losing money - so if demand for a particular book suddenly skyrockets, they are left frantically trying to arrange a sufficiently sizeable reprint.

And that's not to mention that when the likes of Waterstones decide to stock it, they attempt to use their stature to bully small publishers into accepting a reduced price. On top of that, Seren had to contribute to the cost of producing a book showcasing the work of the five winners which was then given away free in Costa outlets. As I understand it, Haynes' victory actually cost the company money - even if it did give a very welcome boost to their profile.

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