A regular feature where we give an independent publisher the chance to talk about themselves and their projects.
When did you start publishing?
2009, so 2019 marks our tenth anniversary – something we’re hoping to celebrate all year, with independent bookshops
What made you want to start an independent publisher?
Gracie and Adrian Cooper, our founders, moved to Dorset- Gracie grew up in the county and her father is David Burnett, who founded and still runs Dovecote Press, which specialises in Dorset history. When Gracie and Adrian arrived they found that they wanted to read books about Dorset and rural life more generally, but many of the classics were either out of print, or were languishing on other publishers’ backlists, somewhat unloved. So they decided to right this wrong, and began by publishing three books – by Edward Thomas, Adrian Bell and Clare Leighton, with new introductions by contemporary writers and beautiful new jackets, all in the spirit of the early editions. These books formed the basis of our Nature Classics Library and are still the backbone of our list.
What genres do you specialise in?
We specialise in books about nature, landscape, place, rural life and culture. From our nature classics we’ve expanded into publishing books by contemporary authors, on a range of subjects – from Marcus Sedgwick writing about Snow to Tim Dee on gulls, or new writers like Alex Woodcock on becoming a stone-mason.
Where are you based?
We’re based in the tiny hamlet of Toller Fratrum in West Dorset. Our location has been very important to us as a publisher, it helps inform the sort of books we publish.
Do you have a submission window, if so when?
We publish books all year round, so no. We also publish an online journal for new writing from established and emerging voices, The Clearing.
What is your submission procedure?
We accept manuscripts from authors directly, or through agents.
Who are you (team photo if possible)?
We are Adrian Cooper, who is the publisher and editor in chief, Gracie Cooper, who is co-founder and who specialises in working with artists and designing our books, a vital part of our publishing, Graham Shackleton who lays out all our books and who also looks after our website and does all our photography for it, and Jon Woolcott who looks after sales, marketing and publicity. But as we’re such a small team – and most of us work part-time – we tend to overlap with each other’s jobs.
What’s your background in the book industry?
Adrian and Gracie were new to books when they founded Little Toller, and began the business in the teeth of a terrible recession, with the book business in the doldrums. Jon has had a long career in books, always on the retail side and has held a variety of shops at many levels. Graham was a photographer (albeit one with two degrees in IT) but also worked on the Bridport Book Prize.
Talk about some of your books if possible? and future projects/dreams if you can?
We’re hugely proud of our authors and the books they’ve written for us. We mentioned a few above but we also publish Horatio Clare, who’s recent book for us Something of his Art, about Bach and the long walk he took across Germany in the winter of 1705 was a big success. We’ve published Adam Thorpe and Iain Sinclair previously, as well as the poet Fiona Sampson (writing on limestone country) and John Burnside. We have two anthologies currently – Arboreal, a collection of essays about woodlands, and Cornerstones, based on the Radio Three series. This year, in addition to King of Dust, we have books from Paul Kingsnorth, Sara Maitland, Peter Marren on the stories behind the names of moths and butterflies. Excitingly, next year we’re publishing the first book by the 14-year-old naturalist and environmental campaigner Dara McAnulty.