With our ambitious plan to publish twenty Black British authors for the first time in the UK, we knew that 2020 would be an extraordinary year; we did not know just how extra-ordinary.
We are immensely proud of all of the books we have published; we knew that these stories would be a breath of fresh air for so many readers. As a result there has been some great reactions to our books.
One of the bestsellers in the #Twentyin2020 series has been Lote by Shola von Reinhold, their novel follows Mathilda has she discovers a Black modernist poet Hermia Druitt and strives to find out as much as she can about this obscured historical figure. Houman Barekat at The Guardian described the novel as "a rallying cry against Eurocentrism" and "a celebration of eccentric esprit".
Esquire magazine also named Under Solomon Skies by Berni Sorga-Millwood as one of the best audiobooks of the year, calling it "a poignant reflection on climate change and humanity's role in the great global ecosystem". The novel sees two friends stranded in the sea surrounding the Solomon Islands. To distract from their treacherous predicament, they reflect on how much the environment has changed over the years.
The events of this year have left many stranded and reflecting on society and what is important and worth fighting for.
The unprecedented halt of world markets meant that many businesses saw their revenue drop almost overnight and we were one of them. To combat this, we teamed up with fellow diverse indie publisher Knights Of to appeal for donations to help us continue our work. This was met with an incredible outpouring of support and we are incredibly thankful. This support came at a time when the world was hurting from the horrible loss of George Floyd and other victims of institutionalised racism all over the world. We value the outpouring of support for Black business and appreciate that so many have helped us to continue publish diverse writers and stories.
We are honoured to have been awarded Small Press of the Year and The British Book Awards in June. Our founder Valerie Brandes said it was “a brilliant way to acknowledge our work”.
All of this support allowed us to publish the rest of the #Twentyin2020 books and the reaction to them has been everything we'd hope for and more. Katy Massey's Are We Home Yet? was featured in Neon Book's Autumn Small Press list and described it as "an electrifying memoir". Katy was also able to do an online book event at October Books and give a wonderful reading for an engaged audience which is something we all miss.
Another notable achievement this year was the opportunity to publish our first children's book, Becoming Muhammad Ali by James Patterson and Kwame Alexander in the UK. This beautifully illustrated novel from two heavy weights in Children's publishing came just in time for Black History Month UK.
October for us also bought an exciting partnership with Black Pound Day and Google.
As a celebration of Black businesses and a way to encourage customers to buy from these, often, independent businesses. Black Pound Day also highlighted the strength of buying power Black people have in the UK.
To close this unprecedented year, we announced the #Twentyin2020 Literary Festival with Fane Productions. As so many plans to have physical book were scrapped, this was a beautiful celebration of all the various stories that make up the #Twentyin2020 series.
Each panel is still available to watch for £2+VAT here. Again, we thank Fane Productions and TGRG for their services as well as our sponsors Audible, Words of Colour, Poetry Book Society, Black Cultural Archives and HaluHalo. It was a brilliant end to our initiative and we hope the authors are as we are.
As challenging as this year has been the achievements in this post are only some of the highlights. We are thankful for our health and that we are able to continue our work to provide diverse stories from diverse authors for all readers. We look forward to 2021 and wish everyone I happy new year.