First Northern SYP meeting!

Take one pub, stock well with wine and beer, sprinkle with free food and then throw in 50 Northerners.What does this make readers? The first meeting of the Northern SYP of course!


After several months of planning and lots of brilliant help from our SYP friends down south, I found myself sitting in a pub, large glass of red in hand, crossing my fingers that I wouldn’t be the only one there to listen to our three fabulous speakers that evening. As it turns out, my worries were completely unfounded as a steady stream of publishers, editors, authors, academics and students found their way to the event (not without a quick trip to the bar first of course).


Once I had recovered from the wave of relief and pleasant surprise that so many people had come, it was time to stop mingling and nabbing all the canapés and start introducing our speakers for the evening.


First of all we welcomed Dr Jessica Malay from The University of Huddersfield who specialises in women’s writing in the English Renaissance (and managed to guide me through my Renaissance Literature module at University, which took some doing). Jessica talked to the group about her experiences with academic publishing and gave us some great insights into what academics look for in a publisher (from reputation, to rankings, to the ease of the publication process) and sparked a brilliant number of questions from the listeners on the opportunities, or lack of, for new faculty and PhD students to learn about the publishing process.

I then passed the torch (obviously not a real one, I had my hands full of wine and canapés) to Bridget Kenningham who helped me organise the event to introduce the next two speakers, Brian Lewis from Pontefract Press and Kevin Duffy from Bluemoose Books.

Brian ensured an audience of rapt listeners as he launched into his energetic speech regarding his life’s work in publishing, focusing particularly on community publishing. We all learnt something new as he talked about working with community groups, from new mothers to youth groups, to produce an amazingly wide variety of publications covering art, poetry, education and even governmental reports. It was great to hear somebody with so much experience in the industry talking about new and innovative ways of publishing. 




Our final speaker of the evening, Kevin Duffy from Bluemoose, regaled us with tales of his incessant moaning to his wife, his desire to ‘put two fingers up’ to those who think publishing should stay in the Big Smoke and his intriguing fetish for book jackets… but in all seriousness, he told a funny and inspiring story of how successful an independent publisher in the North can be and how, in a world that is all about the brand, the true key to brilliant publishing lies where it always has: in the content. In fact, we all enjoyed his talk so much that quite a few of us, myself included, have already ordered a load of his books ( and you’re right Kevin, the jackets are quite provocative). 


Following Kevin’s talk we all raised a glass (or two) to thank everyone involved and, full of inspiration and ideas, stayed for a drink and a chat before trooping off for trains, buses and walks (there seems to be a distinct lack of planes and automobiles in Leeds city centre).

So, after a brilliant first event, I am now collecting offers from people who would like to be in the committee of the Northern SYP group and, once we have a chair, secretary, treasurer and group mascot sorted we will be organising regular events in a northern town near you. Watch this space!


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