Twelve Literary Heroes of 2016 according to Influx Press

Rather than write about our favourite books of the year from other publishers as we have done for the past few years, we thought we'd write about the people in the publishing industry who we think were absolute heroes during this year. 

So without further ado, we present the Influx Press Literary Heroes of 2016

1) Nikesh Shukla and all The Good Immigrant crew.

A phenomenal achievement from Shukla and Unbound to get such a great book so much attention. From seeing Nikesh’s idea generate on Twitter, through to him executing it as a wonderful book has been an immense pleasure. Nikesh has created an anthology that challenges, reassures, informs and gives hope all at once. All the authors in this book deserve big careers. Apart from that Riz Ahmed fella, he’s in bloody Star Wars mate, you can’t get bigger than that.

2) Crystal Mahey-Morgan.

Crystal is a diamond. She’s the most inspirational independent press director of 2016 by a long stretch, and there’s some stiff competition. This year Crystal published Robyn Travis’s Mama Can’t Raise No Man through her imprint OWNIT!. For the launch of the book, Crystal sold out the Hackney Empire (that’s 1300 seats you know) and booked acts such as the legendary comic Slim and the House Gospel Choir. Crystal has nurtured Robyn as a writer and let him develop into a great future prospect.

3) Natasha Onwuemezi.

Natasha is a certified legend, keeping it 100 all day, every day. When she visited the Radical Bookfair back in May to cover it for the Bookseller (where she is a journalist) we knew we’d met someone special. She’s been incredibly supportive of independent publishing at the Bookseller, even starting her own column to explore and celebrate this strange world we, and others like us, inhabit. She’s a real champion, and will rise meteorically, we are certain. Natasha is also excellent craic in the pub. And if you know Influx, you know that’s pretty important.

4) Aki Schilz.

Aki is 100% hero. If hero was a fragrance it would be Eau de Schilz.  She has been working incredibly hard this year at the Literary Consultancy, helping writers improve their work, find agents and gain confidence. This year she has also run conferences, been a prize reader, led the online writing session #LossLit with panache and grace. Aki has written some amazing work herself, including a brilliant piece on Hanwell in our book An Unreliable Guide to London. 2017 is Aki’s year, we can feel it.

5) Max Porter.

Everyone wants to be Max. Woman want to be him, men want to be in him. He’s handsome, intelligent, compassionate, hilarious and has a brother that makes sick music. He’s also one of those annoying editors who is brilliant at what he does (with Granta) but who has also managed to write a book so powerful and with such depth that he’s winning prizes all over the gaff. As both Influx editors are also writers we can only dream of achieving a tiny portion of what Max has done with our own words.

6) Liz Vater and the Stoke Newington Literary Festival.

We love Liz. She lets us do whatever we want at our local London lit fest. It helps that we do good shit, obviously, but she’s always backed us. This year it was a total delight to have a big space at the Library Gallery to put on readings and talks from M John Harrison, Yvvette Edwards, Courttia Newland and Eley Williams. The Stoke Newington Literary Festival is going from strength to strength and we’re hoping to be there again next year.

7) Jackie Law.

Jackie is supreme. She is a prolific reviewer of books on her blog, Never Imitate and she will read and read and read. She’s always taken our books with enthusiasm and a fair critical eye. She is a strong advocate for small and independent publishers. Jackie always takes time and consideration over what she is writing which, as a publisher is the absolute best thing you could hope for from a reviewer.

8) Rebecca Souster at Clays ltd.

Clays print our books and they are wonderful. They are so easy to deal with and they produce at top quality. It doesn’t matter how small the print run or how annoying we are deadlines and invoices, Rebecca is a patient and glorious commander at Clays and we are eternally grateful to her. She also gives us excellent low downs on her far flung holidays, which provides much wistful dreaming from us, given that we’ve barely managed to leave Tottenham this year, let alone the UK.

9) Burley Fisher Bookshop.

The lads at Burley Fisher, Jason and Sam are total babes. What they have created at their new shop in Haggerston, in Hackney is nothing short of a wonder. In a very short time they have produced some excellent literary nights, stock and brilliant array of books and consistently support independent publishing houses with table displays and book-to-hand recommendations. Burley Fisher does Burley Fisher really well. They the real MVPs of this book selling game.

10) Sanya Semakula.

Sanya is all legend. A myth in the making, the 8th wonder of the publishing world. She joined Influx in an ad hoc, kind of part time, kind of shit-can-you-do-this-quickly-I-totally-forgot-to-do-it way and has been such a pleasure to work with its unreal. She’s genuine, funny, supportive and very intelligent, we are lucky to have her on our side for now, before she gets offered a bunch of money from one of those big guys and leaves us for a bigger future. Wherever we go we always feel better when she’s by our side.

11) Fernando Sdrigotti and the Minor Lits team.

Fernando is a real piece of work. Half man, half chimichurri, he’s the Argentinean in London you always wanted but could never find because you spend all your time in bookshops instead of in the pub, you mugs. Fernando has been growing Minor Literatures, an excellent literary journal for a few years now and recently, with the help of another certified hero, Tomoé Hill has published some really great writing. Fernando works tirelessly to champion literature from the margins of expression, he is a great man and we think Minor Lits will take 2017 by storm.

12) Bill Godber and Jenn Thompson at Turnaround Books.

Bill has passed legendary status. Bill has transcended legend to become epic. This man has more hero in his left toe than we do in our whole bodies. Bill runs Turnaround, our distributors and we admire his tenacity, his will and his commitment to getting our books out to bookshops and in front of the buying public. Jenn is our main point of contact at Turnaround for all the nitty gritty nonsense like Nielsen stuff, wrong ISBNs, advance information deadlines and all the stuff we forget about because we are too excited about the text in our books and not the damn admin that goes along with it. Jenn and Bill, salute!

So here's to an exciting publishing year to come! Let's hope 2017 is a certified banger.