What about funding? It’s no mean ambition to talk about everything from postcards to plays and full collections. How do you plan to finance it?
Yes, money’s an issue, and at the moment each book is bringing new challenges, possibilities and solutions. But there are lots of things in our favour. One is a sympathetic printer who likes what we’re doing. The other is the simple fact that I just want to make nice books. There’s no ambition for the press to make a fortune or for me to give up writing and lecturing. That takes a lot of the pressure off.
But funding is important, especially at the beginning, if (like us) you don’t have lots of money to put into it. We’ve received generous assistance from a few funding bodies, which has really helped us starting out. The Christian Arts Trust made a contribution to the costs of the Sister Mary Agnes title (Harvest), as did the F.R. Leavis Trust with the Karl O’Hanlon title (And Now They Range). These were not huge amounts, but even small offerings take some of the edge off the risk and expense. We also had considerable support for the Rob Magnuson Smith story pamphlet (Henry and the Moon Baby) from a collaboration between the Eden Project and the University of Exeter.
You mentioned postcards and plays, too. Postcards are a simple pleasure and will be sent out with some of the books. We’ve printed a Christmas poem by Sister Mary Agnes to go with Christmas orders of books. Poem postcards are quite straightforward and they used to be done a lot more than I think they are now. They’re fairly inexpensive to make and they’re really nice to receive, which is a good combination. Plays, on the other hand.... I listed plays because of a large and ambitious project that will almost certainly require significant funding. It’s an exciting proposal, but there’s a little way to go yet. More on that soon.