Having launched the well-talked about yet youthful publisher along with Laura Jones, The Fountain spoke to Heather McDaid about their first publication, crowdfunding and Margaret Atwood’s support.

Having launched in November 2016, 404 Ink are all geared to publishing literary magazines as well as book titles, including Nasty Women, which they are presently looking for crowdfunding for.

TF: You and Laura Jones recently set up 404 Ink, a publishing arm. Are you able to inform us about this project?

We both worked together on Scot Lit Fest in early/mid 2016 which is the Saltire Society’s virtual literary festival, and during that time we spoke about how we separately had thought about setting up our own companies. It made sense to join forces and launch 404 Ink – we didn’t know exactly what we wanted to publish, rather how we wanted to publish. At the moment, we publish a literary magazine, which launched in November 2016, and is out twice annually, and are now branching out into books, the first being Nasty Women, out on International Women’s Day, with pre-orders available via Kickstarter.

TF: Your first book, Nasty Women, is a crowdfunded project, which in the style of Gutter and Granta is compiled of work by various authors. Is this consistently to be your style of publishing?

No. Having numerous authors involved in this project was a no-brainer, and we’d already got to grips with the logistics of handling multiple authors through launching Issue 1 of the magazine so it was a natural step for us. We’re currently commissioning the titles that will follow Nasty Women and for the foreseeable future these will be single-authored novels and/or collections.

TF: Also, are you approaching all books for publishing with a similar financial model, like Unbound? Having been accomplished successfully by authors and editors such as Nikesh Shukla, are you looking to this approach or do you have other motives?

No. Again, the crowdfunding model is perfect for the promotion and pre-ordering of the particular title that is Nasty Women but we don’t plan on using this model again any time soon. The response to the book announcement was bigger than we anticipated, and putting the project on Kickstarter allows us to do the book justice up front, far beyond what our own savings alone could manage. We run our magazine subscription via another crowdfunding website Patreon, which will continue, but otherwise we’ll be operating via a generally regular funding model – selling books and magazines!

TF: What inspired you to come up with the concept for the first book and can you explain more about that concept?

Trump. His election after a campaign of misogyny, racism and hatred was the final nail in a year when everything was swinging hatefully towards the extreme right. It seems to be he or she who shouts loudest gets to shape the truth, and we feel that there’s still a place for experts and real experiences to be heard. The idea was to reclaim the phrase of being a ‘nasty woman’ and exploring it by giving platforms for many to share their own experience of being a woman in the 21st century. In this post-truth age, we want to stick to reality, and what that means for individuals.

TF: What are we to expect with this first publication?

Over twenty women writing about their lives. No sensationalism – just real stories. We have everything from being a woman in Trump’s America to being a survivor, being working class to a Black woman online, fetishisation, role models, contraception, pregnancy – there’s a broad mix. We’ll be holding a number of events across the country throughout 2017 to champion these voices and experiences.

TF: Noting that Margaret Atwood has backed this publication, you both must be thrilled to pieces. Has that added to your feeling of expectation with this project?

Margaret Atwood’s support has been an incredible boost for the project. The expectation always has been that we wanted these women’s stories to be read far and wide and, in that sense, the expectation of quite how many will do so has definitely risen and we’re absolutely chuffed.

TF: What more are we to look forward to from 404 Ink?

More books, Issue 2 of our literary magazine in May (theme: the F word, open for submissions just now: http://404ink.com/submissions), and plenty of events. We’re hosting a zine workshop at the Audacious Women Festival in February, and already have a host of events lined-up that we will be announcing in due course.

For anyone who wants to help 404 Ink with their crowdfunding the link is here.