The Emma Press is an independent publishing house specialising in poetry, short fiction, essays and children’s books. It was founded by Emma Dai’an Wright in Winnersh, Berkshire, in 2012 and is now based in Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, UK.
Emma Press books have won the Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice Award, the Saboteur Award for Best Collaborative Work, and the CLiPPA (the Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award), and been recognised in the Michael Marks Awards.
The Emma Press won the Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlet Publishers in 2016, with the judges remarking ‘As well as having a remarkable list of poets they pay close attention to every aspect of the pamphlets they publish. This is a vibrant, thoughtful press bringing a great energy and sense of endeavour to their work.’ The Emma Press has also been shortlisted for the Award in 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2020.
With the support of Arts Council England funding in 2020, through their Elevate programme, The Emma Press has grown into a small team. Keep reading to find out more about us, and check out our shop to see our full range of titles!
What do we do?
We publish poetry pamphlets, fiction chapbooks, short essay collections, illustrated poetry books, and books for children.
Across all these series, we have a growing list of translations which includes titles from Latvia, Estonia, Indonesia, Spain and the Netherlands.
To find books that we want to publish, we run regular calls for submissions. We try to be as clear as possible about what we’re looking for and how to prepare your submission, and we offer lots of opportunities to ask us questions in the run-up to each submissions window. You can read more about this here.
We work closely with authors, translators and illustrators, giving feedback and edits where appropriate to the work, and then working closely again to publicise the books.
Prior to the pandemic, we did many in-person events, from book-launch parties to writing workshops to school visits. Most of our events are still taking place online for the time being, and you can always check our Events page to see what we have coming up.
Emma Dai’an Wright
founding editor and publisher
Emma runs the business, manages the team, edits and typesets books, illustrates and designs some of the covers, hosts online events, and collaborates with our partners on various projects. When she isn’t working, Emma watches dance and comedy videos, reads fantasy novels, cooks elaborate recipes, and dabbles in sewing. Emma is of mixed heritage, which is important to her but quite complicated to explain; she currently describes herself as British-Chinese-Vietnamese. She divides her time between Riga and Birmingham. She/her.
James is covering Emma from January 2023 while she’s on maternity leave. In the past he’s worked for poetry organisations, fellow small press Penned in the Margins and Arts Council England. When he’s not working he writes poetry (in fact The Emma Press published his pamphlet of action movie poems in 2016) and is currently trying to get his scripts from page to stage. He has just relocated back to the West Midlands and is looking forward to discovering more of Birmingham and exploring the surrounding roads on his bike. He/him.
Georgia helps bring our books into the world by running our calls for submissions and managing in-house product publicity campaigns, as well as assisting with the practical running of our office in the Jewellery Quarter. She is especially enthusiastic about children’s literature from around the world. Georgia also works as a freelance translator and delivers creative translation workshops in schools with the support of The Stephen Spender Trust. She/her.
Lizzie works part-time as the EP finance officer, keeping on top of sales and purchase ledgers and paying out advances and royalties to all our lovely authors! She is also responsible for monitoring company cash flow, financial reporting and assisting with year end accounts production. Prior to EP she has worked in a number of finance roles in arts organisations (contemporary art, music and theatre) across Birmingham. Lizzie is studying towards becoming a midwife which is a very exciting and somewhat daunting recent career move! When not working or studying Lizzie loves reading and watching a variety of sports. She is an avid Aston Villa supporter and (an eternally hopeful) England fan. She/her.
Anne helps to schedule our future titles, keeping them on track for their publication dates. She also maintains their metadata, ensuring they will be easy to discover by booksellers, librarians and other readers. One of the best things about this job is being able to read our new titles – at least in enough depth to give them subject headings! She promises she doesn’t spend all day reading, though, and, in fact she has bought even more titles for her collection of Emma Press books (part of her wider library of poetry and artists’ books). When Anne’s not working for us, or running her consultancy, Beginning Cataloguing, she can usually be found in her garden in the London-Essex borders – pruning, weeding … or reading, of course. She/her.
Our Arts Council funding
We are currently proud recipients of ACE funding for January 2020-March 2023, as part of the Elevate programme. This is for diverse-led arts organisations, specifically to build resilience during this time, in the following ways: 1) improve the running of the business, 2) build connections with other organisations, 3) find ways to make more money, 4) find more ways to make money. This is all so we stand a chance of surviving and are better able to deliver our mission in future.
For The Emma Press, so far this has meant setting up an advisory board, hiring more members of staff, working with our partners, mentoring and business management support, getting set up on accounting and project management systems, improving our website, developing our social media and newsletter strategy, developing relationships with indie bookshops and reviewers, running our calls for submissions more frequently and with a ‘pay-what-you-can model’, and experimenting with digital marketing strategies to push our direct sales.
Our Environmental Footprint
We are always trying to think of new ways to reduce the environmental footprint left by our production. We work predominantly with local independent contractors, such as The Holodeck, who print most of our books now, and Tolley Badges who created our fabric badges. The Holodeck often prints on paper offcuts, making an effort to reduce waste. We also try to use recycled paper where possible, and our gift wrapping uses a no-tape method, so the wrap may be used again.
We try to use the most sustainable packaging we can find, and do small print runs of our titles to reduce waste. We’re also always open to new ideas and feedback on our packaging, so if you have thoughts you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to send you beautiful packages, but we also want them to be as responsible as possible.
What are the main challenges we face?
Publishing is a weird old industry. Despite all the exciting, progressive things happening in the book world, the fundamental structures of publishing remain traditional and conservative. This makes it hard for small publishers run by not-rich people to survive (and hard for writers without connections to get noticed and find a platform). It means that we have to think about sales all the time, because sales are what keep us going – both directly, keeping cash flowing, and indirectly, because Arts Council England won’t fund an organisation that has no hope of supporting itself one day.
However, we believe that the landscape of publishing is changing, in great part due to the effort small presses put into discovering new work, supporting emerging writers, and challenging established modes of production. We work with many different independent artists to produce our beautiful books, and do our best to contribute to a thriving arts ecosystem.
How can you help us?
If you like what we do and want us to keep doing it, please buy a book from us today, from our webshop or from your local indie bookshop. And tell everyone you know about us, and think of us when you’re next buying presents!
We have a gift subscription for young readers too: take a look at our brilliant little Bicki-Books! These are postcard-sized picture books (perfect for tiny hands) translated from Latvian for children, ages 3+. Truly wacky, exciting and fun, you can order the Bicki Books as a monthly subscription or as a bundle all at once!
You can buy our books directly from our webshop or order them from your local bookshop!
More about the Emma Press
- ‘Publisher Spotlight’, interview with World Kid Lit, 2020
- ‘The Emma Press (3 books + interview) – THIS WEEK IN ARTS VOL.3’, reviews of EP books and an interview with Emma in slowculture.eu, 2020
- EP Bookchat with Emma Dai’an Wright, video interview
- ‘National Writing Day: Publisher Emma Wright on Setting Up a Small Press’, a feature published by the Poetry School, 2017
- ‘Emma’s speech at the 2016 Michael Marks Awards‘, 2016
- An interview with Emma on Playing By The Book, 2016
- ‘Five Questions with Emma Wright’ on Jared Carnie’s blog, 2016
- ‘Romance in the age of Tinder’, the Daily Telegraph‘s Valentine’s feature, 2016
- An in-depth interview with Sphinx, the magazine dedicated to poetry pamphlets, 2014
- ‘Conversations with the Emma Press’, a brief interview with Poetry Shed, 2014
- ‘Pub talk’, a long interview with Will Barrett on The Poetry School Campus, 2014
- ‘In Conversation’, an interview with Jonathan Aldridge on Sabotage Reviews, 2014
- ‘Subversive at all times’, an interview with Tom Cutterham in Review 31, 2013