On Twenty7Books – new Bonnier imprint: Joel Richardson interview


Joel Richardson is the Publisher of Twenty7 Books, a new imprint of Bonnier Publishing Fiction. Here Norah Myers interviews him about the new venture.

1. You are currently accepting unsolicited debut submissions for a short period of time. What motivated you to accept unsolicited submissions within this time frame?

The Twenty7 imprint is all about discovering new writers, so I’ve always been really keen to find ways to attract submissions from writers who might not have found a way into the publishing world yet. We’re also obviously very new ourselves, so this seemed a perfect way to raise awareness of us as an imprint, and show how we’re willing to do things a little bit differently.

Also, it’s worth saying that Maestra, a lead title on our other imprint for next year that’s already had a massive film deal and lots of translation deals too, came in without an agent – so we’re well aware that it works!

2. How does this set the tone for how you see Twenty7 Books operating for the next few years?

I hope we’ll always be able to try some different things, rather than getting trapped into following old patterns that might have become outdated. Just one example: I’m really proud that our very first book, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, has a Muslim author and protagonist, which is so so rare in commercial fiction, amongst the endless books about white middle-class people!

As an imprint we’re all about the future – we’re focused on debuts because we really believe we can make these really talented authors into the bestselling writers of the next decade – and I think it would send such a positive message if this submissions period produced a book that turned out to a major success.

3. You teamed up with Cornerstones Literary Consultancy for this venture. How has it been working with them?

It’s been really great! The big challenge of something like this is that we’re receiving so many entries that it’s hard to find the time to give each of them the consideration they deserve. Having some extra expert readers on board has been hugely helpful in making sure nothing brilliant slips through the net.

4. What has been the most effective platform or publicity strategy for publicizing a venture like this? How has social media been helpful?

We’ve tried to spread the word as widely as possible – we’ve got in touch with writing magazines, literary organisations and creative writing courses, as well as the normal book trade media channels. Social media’s been really helpful too – I love the way that aspiring writers are so connected with one another through the likes of Twitter, and consequently that’s been a great way to spread the word.

5. Will you create another window of opportunity like this – for writers who don’t have agents – in the future if you find this venture a success?

I hope so! As ever with something like this it’s a bit of an experiment, so we’ll be paying close attention to how it goes. Whatever happens we’re going to keep our focus on finding brilliant new writers, so even if this isn’t the perfect method, we’ll certainly continue to be creative in how we look for books.