The literary year 2012 at Stork Press

Looking back at 2012 we were genuinely overwhelmed by the success of Stork Press. Some of you may know the story of how, one summer night back in 2011  (after two bottles of wine and a number of delightful martinis), we had the crazy idea of setting up a publishing house devoted to new, exciting voices from Central & Eastern Europe.

What followed was utter madness and a massive emotional roll coaster as we plunged into the decision-making – what layout would best fit our website? which logo design would perfectly represent our publishing house (cue endless emails)? – and planning: signing contracts with translators, authors and foreign publishing houses, setting up social media and spending hours meeting various people in the industry and outside.

In April 2012 we published our first book, Madame Mephisto by Polish author A.M. Bakalar. Asia is the first Polish woman to publish a novel written in English since Poland joined EU.  The book launch at one of our favourite bookshops, Belgravia Books, was so packed some of the guests had to queue outside. Bubbles, live jazz from Top Shelf Jazz (those amazing hats!) and a beautifully produced book – we were so proud. It was also a nail-biting time for us as we waited to see the first reviews coming through.

Meanwhile we were frantically getting ready for the publication of three more novels and organising October and November events with our lovely ladies Grażyna Plebanek, Noémi Szécsi and Petra Procházková. We frequently had to answer the question of why all our authors were women, a tiny detail which was purely coincidental as it was the stories we fell in love with, regardless of who wrote them.

Two of our titles in translation, Grażyna Plebanek’s Illegal Liaisons (trans. by Danusia Stok) and Petra Procházková’s Freshta (trans. by Julia Sherwood), received translation grants from the Book Institute Polish Translation Program and the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic respectively which was a huge vote of confidence for an unknown publisher like us.

Over all in 2012 we organised 19 events in 12 locations, including events at 4 major literary festivals (Birmingham Book Festival, Manchester Literature Festival, Folkestone Book Festival, Sefton Writing on the Wall). Support from the Polish Cultural Institute in London, the Czech Centre London and the Balassi Institute Hungarian Cultural Centre London made it possible for us to organise such busy schedules and to bring our ladies over to the UK.

It was an extremely busy time but a very rewarding one, giving us the chance to meet readers across Britain. And yes, on a few occasions we got very emotional when we saw a glowing review of one of our books or when a reader approached us to tell us how much they enjoyed the story and could not wait for the next book by one of our authors. Those of you have attended one of our events know we love to party in style with live music and plenty of wine. We hope you enjoyed spending time with us and our authors and will come to our new exciting events in 2013.

To our delight Madame Mephisto was included among the readers recommendation for the Guardian First Book Award. Shortly after this, we found out that Noémi Szécsi’s The Finno-Ugrian Vampire (trans. by Peter Sherwood) was selected in Hungary as the Best Book of 2011. More great news followed with Grażyna Plebanek’s Illegal Liaisons (trans. by Danusia Stok) being selected as among the Best of 2012. Both A.M. Bakalar’s Madame Mephisto and Petra Procházková’s Freshta (trans. by Julia Sherwood) were selected by Lucy Popescu in her wonderful article ‘Supporting independent publishers’ in Huffington Post.

Our first short story competition was launched in November and we were so excited to receive such high quality entries. ‘The Pauli Exclusion Principle’ by Anni Telford stood out among all submitted stories and was a unanimous winner. We’re planning more short story competitions in the future so keep your eyes open.

Any publisher loves talking about their own authors and books. At Stork Press we appreciate good work of others as well that is why we are very proud of our presence on Pinterest and other social media where we talk about books from all corners of the world, not only our own publications. Throughout 2012 we built a devoted following of people who simply love reading, sharing great books and talking about them. And that has been what we always wanted – to be more than a publishing house but a space where readers find out about new and exciting voices.

We had a successful and very emotional 2012 and we’d like to thank all of you for your huge support and all the love you’re sending our way. We could never have done it without you!