404 Ink leap into the book industry with Nasty Women and Hings

404 Ink leap into the book industry with Nasty Women and Hings

L-R Laura Jones and Heather McDaid / credit: Suzanne Heffron

Co-founder Heather McDaid talks about the indie publisher's first two books, their idols and a strong community of supporters

404 Ink are the 'nasty women shaking up the book industry'. Laura Jones and I are two twentysomething freelancers working from a spare room in Edinburgh, who decided to set up a publisher as there weren't any out there that really fitted what we wanted from a publisher. We wanted someone to be loud on social media, to really use crowdfunding and to build a community around what they were publishing. Instead of waiting any longer, in July 2016 we took the leap ourselves.

Fast forward a year and everything has changed, except for the spare room we cram ourselves into. We've published two issues of our literary magazine featuring fiction, non-fiction, poetry and comics, have released our first two books, Nasty Women and Hings, have seen the support of some of our idols – Margaret Atwood, Garbage's Shirley Manson, Amanda Palmer – and have sold out events all around the UK. Most importantly, we have a really strong and amazing community of readers around our books.

At the core is that we knew from the start what we wanted to do: we wanted to create a publisher that we would be fans of. We wanted to be different. We also didn't want to wait around for someone else to do it.

Our first book, Nasty Women, was an idea spawned the day after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States in November 2016. By December, this essay collection on being a woman in the 21st century had been announced. By January, it was on Kickstarter, ending up 369% funded and raising over £22,000. By February, it was off to print and in March, it was published on International Women's Day. We work fast and with passion, and people joined us for the ride.

Around the same time, we signed the hilarious Glaswegian short story writer Chris McQueer, and by July his debut collection Hings was published. Though very different books, both have strong and engaged communities around them. We can't even begin to explain the Photoshop madness that came with Chris's book!

As for the future, we have a few more books in the pipeline, and the continuation of our literary magazine. Our mantra is to publish less but publish louder, making sure that everything we do can be yelled about loudly. Our other main focus is to keep publishing what we'd be fans of: we took the leap headfirst into the book industry by doing it ourselves, and it really is the coolest, most rewarding, fun thing to do.