About Linen Press
Linen Press is a labour of love.
Founder Lynn Michell shares her vision, passion and hopes for Linen Press.
I want to read superb, innovative, beautiful writing that speaks to women. I want to fall into a novel and not emerge until its ending. I want to gasp at sentences that defy literary gravity.
I know that even established, talented writers have difficulty finding a home for their writing in an anti-literary, anti-intellectual publishing world. I yearn for the stands that once housed the green covers of Virago and the striped spines of The Women’s Press.
From personal experience I know that there is talent out there – women’s voices unheard because they do not fit any of the pound-stamped money-making boxes. My first sortie into publishing came when 93 year old Marjorie Wilson came to my writing group and revealed a lyrical writing voice. She had sent her turn-of-the-century memoir to almost every agent and publisher in the UK. So I took it on. With no knowledge of publishing. Childhood’s Hill sold out and was re-printed. It is described by The Scotsman as ‘luminous, episodic, sensual, rather like memory itself’.
The publishing trade is an uneven playing field with elephant-sized holes covered in leaves. I’ve fallen down several and still bear the scars. Once I was naive enough to think that if I loved a manuscript, then it would sell. I was proved wrong. Now I ask myself two questions:
Do I feel passionate enough about this submission to give it £4000 and four months of my time?
Can I sell it? Can I sell a lot of copies? Can I make a profit?
Established women writers have spotted Linen Press and have set up camp with us, but alongside the new literary Amazons I will continue to publish financially risky books by exciting emergent writers. Where else can they go?
I adore editing. Put a box of cornflakes in front of me and I’ll start picking at the prose. I have a knack for seeing how prose works. I understand structure and voice, atmosphere and words, pace and tension, character and dialogue. Give me a sample of one paragraph and I know if I want to read on. You can trust me.
Linen Press has grown from an amateur venture into a young publishing house with a reputation for passion, energy and integrity. I’ve been called, amongst other things, ‘a plucky little publisher’. It’s still a one-woman band with support from a few very talented, committed players and I rely on the excellent interns who stay a while, then depart for a real, paid job in publishing. My interns’ track record is high.
While Linen Press has been on its character-building journey, I’ve been on a personal jaunt which has ended in a clearing in a French oak forest, up a steep rubble track where, with my husband, I’m building a house. Hands on. Like everything I do. Life is a rainbow rotation of writing, editing, running the business side of Linen Press, working with a writing group and labouring inside and out to build a house that slots into the magnificent Languedoc landscape of vineyards and mountains.
“I wish to thank my editor, Lynn Michell, for her courage and commitment to hidden women’s voices which all too often occupy the margins of reality and struggle to access the world of publishing.”
Olukemi Amala, Linen Press author