British Independent Publisher HopeRoad Opens Fundraising Appeal

In News by Porter Anderson

London’s 13-year-old HopeRoad Publishing, focused on Caribbean, African, and Asian work, announces it’s having cash-flow struggles.

Books from the HopeRoad imprint Little Axes. Image: HopeRoad Publishing

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Opening Up Literary Pathways’
The HopeRoad Publishing program was established in 2010 in London with an emphasis on writings from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

One of the independent houses operating in the diversity and inclusion space that has such a robust presence in the United Kingdom’s publishing industry, the program reports that it hasn’t been able to attract funding from Arts Council England.

Publishing Perspectives also notes that it’s not one of the grantees of this year’s Amazon Literary Partnership program in the United Kingdom, although on the face of it, HopeRoad would seem a very good fit for that funding effort’s emphasis on “uplifting and amplifying the voices of overlooked writers,” a goal of “championing writers and diversity in storytelling.”

The company has opened a crowdfunding effort with at goal of £75,000 (US$96,427) for a two-year stabilization program that includes a goal of getting work in translation up to some 40 percent of the house’s output.

Page: ‘Both Editorial and Publishing Acumen’

What’s interesting here is the endorsement for one of the smallest and specialized independent houses by the chair of one of the largest and most revered British independent houses.

Stephen Page

Stephen Page, chair of Faber & Faber, is quoted today (July 28), saying, “For more than a decade HopeRoad has played an important role in discovering writers  from Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia, and bringing them to readers around the world.

“Rosemarie  Hudson, as founder, brings both editorial and publishing acumen to the company, as she has  throughout her distinguished career, always committing to excellent writing and opening up literary pathways between culture.”

Hudson’s first publishing company was called BlackAmber and was founded in 1998 as an exercise in publishing the work of the same regions’ writers focused on by HopeRoad. At HopeRoad, one of her projects has been the mentoring and development of interns, some of whom have gone on to work in some of the British market’s biggest houses—many of which have shown an international industry-leading interest and urgency in developing diversity in the workforce.

Rosemarie Hudson

In a prepared statement, Hudson says, “I’m delighted and saddened at the same time to launch this crowdfunding campaign. We’ve been in the publishing business since 2010 and I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved in that time.”

She says the company, “like many independent publishers” has “faced unprecedented pressures on our cash flow.

“There is still so much more work to do to improve diversity in the authors who are  published and read here in the UK and beyond. Black, Asian and minority ethnic and working-class  audiences are still being undervalued by publishers, and need strong champions, as Goldsmiths University of London’s Rethinking Diversity in Publishing report (2020) confirms.”  Her reference is to the study from Anamik Saha and Sandra van Lente with a foreword by Bernardine Evaristo. It can be downloaded here.

Peter Ayrton

HopeRoad is also known for the work of Pete Ayrton, who in 1986 founded the independent house Serpent’s Tail. At HopeRoad, he’s editor of the Small Axes imprint, which he opened there with Hudson in 2019.

At Small Axes, Ayrton works to republish out-of-print post-colonial classics that “helped to shape cultural shifts at the time they were first in print, and which remain as relevant today.”

The company is also tying its fundraising effort to this year’s 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush in England, an event 1948 that opened what’s known as the Windrush generation, referring to British colonial subjects from Caribbean nations in particular. The Windrush scandal of 2018 has to do with the Teresa May government’s wrongful detentions and, in a reported 83 cases, deportations of West Indian British citizens who were members of the Windrush generation.

One of the company’s publishing projects has been the work of Tony Fairweather, founder and curator  of the Windrush Collection and an exhibition of artifacts connected with the Windrush generation. Fairweather’s Twenty-Eight Pounds Ten Shillings: A Windrush Story was published by HopeRoad in April.

Information on the fundraising effort for HopeRoad is here. At the time of this report, the response to the appeal, which opened July 17, has produced £600 of the desired £75,000.

Image: Books featured on the HopeRoad Publishing site. ‘Nectar in a Sieve’ is a release this month; ‘The Colour Line’ is scheduled for August; and ’21 Miles’ is listed for a September release

More from Publishing Perspectives on independent publishing is here, more on the United Kingdom’s book publishing market is here, and more on issues in diversity in publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.