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Category: working class writing

Upcoming Tributes to Tom Leonard

I’m reading a lot and thinking a lot about the things that were of prime concern and value to Tom Leonard. ‘What language is using us for’. The control of language by the powerful elite. Resistance through language.

.I’m also referring to his masterly biography of Jame Thomson as I prepare to write something on Thomson’s neglected gem, The City of Dreadful Night.

As noted his well attended funeral saw no representation from Scotland’s literary elite but plenty of love from his comrades.

There are a couple of events coming up to honour Tom. He was an Honorary President of Mirrorballers, the poetry collective, and they are holding an event to celebrate his life and work at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow on 29th March at 6p.m.

Before that, there’s This is Not a Burns Night #6 A Tribute to Tom Leonard by Govanhill Baths Community Trust, Sunday, 20 January 2019 from 14:30-16:30 in The Rum Shack Glasgow, 657 – 659 Pollokshaws Road, G41 2AB Glasgow,

On becoming a Publisher

OK. You’ve written the book but who’s the publisher? If you go through Amazon KDP or IngramSpark, they will appear as the publisher. They’ll give you a FREE ISBN (International Standard Book Number) which will save you a lot of money. Nothing wrong with doing that. Buying a single ISBN in the UK will set you back £89. You purchase one from Nielson .

So why on earth would you spend that if you can have it for free? Especially as legally you don’t even need an ISBN.

Well, think about setting up your own publishing imprint. It doesn’t have to be a legal entity such as a limited company. My own imprint is Maczon Press (Maczon, by the way is a Scottish surname but also refers to an organisation I help run called The Machine Zone). Provided you check (using Google) that nobody has the same name as a publisher you can call your imprint whatever you like.

Now, although one ISBN costs nearly £90 you can buy ten for £159. Each ISBN will be linked to your publishing imprint each time you publish a book.

I think having ‘published by Maczon Press’ looks better than ‘published by Kindle/IngramSpark’ but it’s a matter of opinion. If you’re approaching writing and publishing with a business frame of mind, it seems to me sensible to have a brand name. You can, of course, use the imprint name to start a company (but with Maczon that would be a problem as there’s a Chinese engineering company already registered with that name.)

There are only me and friend Martin behind both Maczon and The Machine Zone. But, for instance, as we are both engaged with community work, we could work towards Maczon becoming a ‘community publisher’ or similar.

Working Class Writing

Scotland probably has a good proportion of working class writers. But it’s relative. I was reading this article yesterday, and agreeing with it.

I won’t go into the quagmire discussions of what makes someone working class or not. I’m happy to say it refers to the big majority of people. The problem is that without being represented by writers and artists, the mass culture is ignored. It’s a political issue. The discourses that appear in culture are largely middle class, repeating and reinforcing a view of the social world as ‘natural’. In this ‘natural’ disguise, power and money are distributed by the laws of god or nature, rather than through the history of human exploitation.

Great that there are concerted efforts to address. this. Writers like James Kelman spring to mind. There are also many organisations and small magazines promoting working class writing. And obviously, there are those writers and artists like Ken Loach or Alan Bleasdale who, paradoxically, become darlings of the liberal ‘left’.

Given how cheap indie publishing is, it would be good to see the setting up of local working class writing groups that learn the publishing process and have the support to write a novel, a radical history, a book of recipes, whatever. The books could be set for very limited circulation or for wider readerships. A parallel activity is podcasting.

The problem with independent publishing for many people is firstly that they don’t know about it. Secondly, authors with money to spend have a head start in getting their work known because they can afford paying for things like formatting, proofing, editing, cover design, marketing. Addressing these two issues should be part of a campaign to encourage working class writing and reading.

(Yes, I now that there are some working class people who have more money than some middle class people. Some.)

I hope, by the way, that it goes without saying that there are many working class people who are great writers and readers. Some (of us) do not restrict our reading and writing to work with a strong texture of class, but we do insist on the vitality of working class literature. Equally obvious, I hope, is that if a working class people succeed in writing romantic or crime fiction, or scripts for soap opera they should be celebrated. Invariably they will be writing for a working class readership, and you can only do the culture if you’ve got it.

Whatever. I would personally enjoy more radical, experimental work which is loosely ‘working class’.