Saboteur Awards: Most Innovative Publisher

This month, we will showcase each of the works shortlisted in the Saboteur Awards by category. Next up: most innovative publisher! If you’d like to have your say in the awards, don’t forget to vote!

Burning Eye Books

Third year running? Not bad for a punk ass poetry press run from a spare bedroom near Bristol. Guess we must be doing something right.


Three years on from our first title Burning Eye will publish its fiftieth title in 2015. We mostly publish spoken word poetry but experiment with fiction, will publish three non-fiction titles this year and as the two recent full colour titles (Cherry Pie by Hollie Poetry and Talk you round till dusk by Rebecca Tantony & Anna Higgie) demonstrate we are interested in stretching the boundaries of what a poetry or shorty story collection can look like.

What voters had to say:

Important work, capturing a generation of performance poetry for the page.

Their strategy is crystal clear – to publish only spoken word – and they publish almost every performer of note in that category. High production values, absolute commitment and backbreaking hard work from Clive Birnie.

Publishing spoken word artists, selling books like hot cakes, aiming for 50-50 male/female artists, broad range of voices and diversity of authors

Everything they touch turns to amazing

The Emma Press

Emma Wright says: ‘We’re completely thrilled to be shortlisted for the Most Innovative Publisher Award, and so touched that people nominated us. Sabotage Reviews is a hugely valuable resource for bringing attention to small but vital artistic and literary endeavours, so it means a great deal to us to be shortlisted in their awards.’

Emma Press-Michael-Marks-small

The Emma Press is an independent publisher dedicated to producing beautiful, thought-provoking books. It was founded in Winnersh in 2012 by Emma Wright, who edits all the books with Rachel Piercey (Newdigate Prize, 2008). Their publishing programme features a mixture of themed poetry anthologies and single-author poetry and prose pamphlets, with an ongoing engagement with the works of the Roman poet Ovid. The Emma Press was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlet Publishers in 2014. They run regular open calls for submissions.

Again and again, Emma Press produces beautifully designed characterful books. But never resting, they look always to extend their range. Really pleased to see them branching out into prose pamphlets for both fiction and essays. They work with a tremendous spirit of co-operation, for example with The Valley Press, and maintain a wonderfully engaging website and informative blog.

Consistent, high quality, innovative content and amazing design and illustration.

I have seen the Emma Press bring so much joy to the poets they publish. Their anthologies are refreshing, intelligent, poignant, amusing, comforting and accessible.

They are continuously inviting contributions on new themes, plus looking for new ways to get their issued pamphlets and books brought to the public’s attention. And they’re one of the best local publishers in the Reading area.

Influx Press

We are incredibly flattered, and surprised, to be nominated for the Saboteur Awards, and to be put in the company with other innovative and exciting independent publishers; looking at the list it’s clear that the state of independent UK literature is in rude health. A big thanks to all of our authors, everyone who has helped us to get where we are now and to all who have voted for us so far.

Influx_landscape copy

Influx Press is an independent publisher formed in London by editors Gary Budden and Kit Caless. Our books explore in some way the idea of ‘place’, from the marshes of East London to the cities of the mind, the glass towers of Canary Wharf to the coasts of Kent and Sussex. We are committed to publishing innovative and challenging site-specific fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction from across the UK and beyond.

Because they publish unusual, quality books and have an original, singular vision. They champion left-field stuff that other publishers often ignore. Their books are also very readable and are off-beat without being tediously obscure.

Incredible consistency throughout their publishing history, exciting and innovative publications

I genuinely think this is the strongest category of the 2015 awards and ALL of these presses are publishing bravely and with an authentic passion behind every title. My vote therefore is going to one of these that I think genuinely deserves more support and ‘visibility’, to use an awful book world term, and that is Influx Press, who work entirely off their own steam, unpaid, and with a team of two. They stick to their guns in terms of what Influx stands for, and what ‘site-specific’ means. They’re bringing psycho-geography back into a more democratic context; the land is the people’s, and we map the territory. And I think that’s laudable.

started at grass roots level and has offered the chance for aspiring authors to publish their work

Penned in the Margins

I am thrilled that Penned in the Margins has been shortlisted for the third time as Most Innovative Publisher. It’s great to feel that all the hard work we put into last year’s programme of books and live productions have been acknowledged. Thank you!


Penned in the Margins creates publications and performances for people who are not afraid to take risks. We believe in the power of language to challenge how we think, test new ideas and explore alternative stories. We operate across the arts, collaborating with writers, artists and creative partners using new platforms and technologies. From small beginnings as a reading series in a converted railway arch in south London, Penned in the Margins has grown over the last decade to be a respected literary arts company producing new work live, in print and online. This unique blend of publishing and production characterises our distinctive model in the cultural landscape.

The sheer diversity of the way Penned presents/contributes to their authors and works makes them stand out as a press interested in the “whole” of the poetry experience.

Going from strength to strength, PITM shows that books and the stuff around them need not be scared of digital world, and that nimbleness and imagination will win.

Innovative performances and imaginative ways of cultivating new audiences.

Tom Chivers continues to push at all sorts of boundaries with real intelligence. It doesn’t always work, but then that’s the point. He’s just as dedicated to spoken word and is doing as much to raise the game of that as anyone out there. He never pursues the easy tropes.

Test Centre

We are delighted to have achieved this recognition, and to be included in a group of publishers whose work we admire. Thank you to everyone who has supported us; it’s a real honour to be on this list.


Test Centre is an independent publishing house and record label based in Hackney, with an interest in the spoken and written word. Releases include 4 spoken-word vinyl LPs with Iain Sinclair, Chris Petit, Stewart Home and Jonathan Meades; RED EYE by Iain Sinclair; a facsimile edition of Derek Jarman’s A Finger in the Fishes Mouth; the poetry anthology I Love Roses When They’re Past Their Best; Within Habit by Oli Hazzard; The 9 Lives of Ray The Cat Jones by Stewart Home; To End It All by Paul Buck; and 5 issues of its fiction and poetry magazine. Poetry collections by Tom Chivers, SJ Fowler and Robert Herbert McClean are forthcoming, along with an anthology of poetry-in-translation edited by Sophie Collins.

For the hidden gems and new works they have published; for the thoughtfulness that goes into the format of their publications, setting off their content; for their website and launch events; for the efficiency and friendliness of their service to customers; and behind all this their dedication to the works they are publishing and the authors.

I have been following Test Centre for the past few years. They are innovators in terms of both form and content. They have published across a range of mediums, from vinyl records to poetry anthologies to novels, with consistently high quality and original designs, and through their events they are helping sustain a lively literary scene.

A singular roster of authors and publications, unified through an ethos of experimentation and exquisite design.

Test Centre do a good job of fetishising the book and they fetishise the right texts too.