Valley Press is an independent publishing house based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK. We publish poetry, including collections, pamphlets and the occasional anthology; fiction, including novels and collections of short stories; and non-fiction, including memoirs and travel writing.
Valley Press is built on one very important belief: great literature, and great publishing, is for everyone and anyone. We don't want any reader to feel like an outsider, with their nose pressed against the glass of the 'literary world'; we promise to never be elitist, smug or exclusive. We promise to treat world-famous and first-time writers with the same respect and courtesy; and we promise to keep our submissions process wide open, so we can meet more people from both those categories (and everyone in between).
We believe a couple of other things too. For a start, we believe publications from a ‘small, northern, independent publisher’ (as we are typically referred to) should match those from the big London publishing houses in every sense – production values, editing, distribution and promotion. We're not saying that'll be easy, but we will always try our best.
We also believe that poetry can sell just as well as fiction and non-fiction (in fact, we can prove it), and as such deserves to be taken as seriously. That's why all our books are in one big list; whether they are works of intense, thought-provoking literary fiction, performance poetry played for maximum laughs, brick-sized travel epics or sixteen-page children's stories about baby seagulls – because a life spent reading needs all of those, at one time or another.
If you feel the same way about any of the above, you should probably get in touch – we'd love to hear from you. Or, read on to find out how all this came into being.
The Story So Far
The origins of Valley Press can be traced back to 1994, when six-year-old Jamie McGarry printed and stapled together his first booklet. Jamie continued to experiment with publishing throughout his youth, alongside a variety of other media projects, until in 2008 – as an undergraduate student of English Literature – he produced a 38-copy print run of his first novel, and added the words ‘Valley Press’ to the back cover.
The name of this then-fictitious publishing house came from the area of Scarborough, North Yorkshire where Jamie lived at the time, and Valley Press is still based today – home to the iconic Valley Bridge, and at one time, the Sitwell family.
In 2009, Jamie decided to attempt publishing the work of someone other than himself, a project which resulted in the next Valley Press book, Tenebrae by Nigel Gerrans. This attracted the interest of various other individuals and charitable organisations; by the time Jamie graduated in 2010, there were ten books published under the Valley Press name.
Jamie hoped this publishing experience would secure him a job within the industry, but a long and fruitless job hunt was to follow. After six months of unemployment and frustration, he decided to attempt running a publishing operation as full-time self-employment, starting on the 5th January 2011. With support from the Prince’s Trust – and after several years of 'learning on the job' – Jamie was able to build Valley Press into a successful small business.
Milestones along the way included VP being Highly Commended in the 2012 Lloyds TSB Enterprise Awards (which made it officially one of the top thirty graduate businesses in the UK, at the time), and Jamie receiving an invite to meet the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace in 2013, in honour of his contributions to ‘contemporary British poetry’.
In September 2015, Valley Press was awarded a £50,000 Arts Council grant to develop the business further – you can read the original news story here. This enabled the creation of the wonderful website you're currently on, and provided a secure footing to expand the team beyond one person (see right-hand column). To find out what happens next, you'll have to watch this space...
Praise for Valley Press
"Jamie's team produces beautiful, love-to-hold, exquisitely presented volumes of poetry which can be treasured for ever. One of the most innovative poetry (and literature) presses in Britain and in my humble opinion, do a better job presenting their poet's work than Faber." – LJ McDowall
"The most imaginative, down to earth, perceptive publishing house I have come across. The books are never pretentious ... [VP] manages to ferret out proper poets who reach out from the page to engage and entertain." – Ian Stuart
"The ever-enterprising Valley Press ... is one of Yorkshire's leading publishers." – Yorkshire Post
"[VP] has a good eye for emerging talent, and great care has clearly been taken over the design of the books." – Sabotage Reviews
"A beautiful business." – Lloyds TSB Enterprise Award judges
"Writing their way to success, Valley Press have a distinctive business model supporting and promoting authors new and old, with a growing international readership." – CBYC Business Award judges
Awards for Valley Press
Lloyds TSB Enterprise Awards – Highly Commended, 2012
East Midlands Book Award – Shortlisted (with The Boy in the Mirror), 2016
Forward Prize – Highly Commended (with Reward for Winter), 2016
Saboteur Awards – Winner, Best Anthology (with Remembering Oluwale), 2017
Edge Hill Short Story Prize – Longlisted (with Raw Material and Mr Jolly), 2017
CBYC Business Awards – Winner, Culture/Arts Business of 2017
Jamie started publishing under the name "Valley Press" as a student in 2008, then turned it into a full-time job in 2011, running the business as a sole trader until the end of 2016. In 2017, he founded Valley Press Ltd. with his wife Laura. As co-director of the business, Jamie keeps an eye on the big picture, metaphorically steering the ship.
Laura swapped teaching for publishing at the end of 2015. Today, as co-director of Valley Press and a full-time mother, she keeps an eye on the details of the business (and keeps Jamie in check).
Jo has worked with words for almost thirty years as a writer and editor in the newspaper and magazine industry. When she’s not managing our production process, calming authors and making a nice cup of tea, she writes for Yorkshire Life magazine.
Tess joined Valley Press in 2017. An English Literature graduate from Newcastle University, Tess's love for books and discovering exciting new writing has led to her spending almost every Saturday in the VP office, reading and managing new submissions.
Suzannah is a freelance editor, publicist, and award-winning poet; her most recent publication is Confusion Species (published by Smith/Doorstop). She also leads writing workshops, teaches for the Poetry School, and is the director of South Yorkshire Poetry Festival.
Vanessa joined VP in June 2017, with a mission to improve and expand our events programme, having previously spent nine years as the Events and Communications Officer at York St John University. She has a BA and an MA in Literature Studies and is hoping to start a PhD this year.
Martha is a freelance writer, editor and journalist. She was previously co-founder of Cake magazine and assistant poetry editor at Faber, and currently works across a number of editorial projects, including bilingual arts magazine La Errante, of which she is a founding editor.
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