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  • Writer's pictureBelle Kenyon

A Press update: swan gliding and scrabbling in chaos!

Hello scribblers, how are you?

I confess, I haven't done a personalised blog in a long time. How does a managing director find the time to sit down and write about what they're up to? Well, they just don't! But I've long known, from discussions with friends and family, that the work of a one-man publishing house is a bit of a mystery, and part of Fly on the Wall Press' ethos is that I always want our work to be accessible. So here I am, coming to chat about the behind the scenes!

I started FOTW Press in 2018 as a hobby. I put two international call outs for charity anthologies and donated all profits to those charities. Come 2019, there was a thirst for FOTW to publish individual poets, which was our singular genre at the time. I cracked down on our USPs: Ethical, Accessible and Political (international literature) and over 2020, began to publish short stories, bringing us to 2021 with our shorts season and 2022 with our novelists on the horizon.

It has never been easy. The bigger the output of FOTW, the more I am expected to do and manage. I read submissions, decide upon which authors to take, edit and proofread, design the cover and interior, send to the printer, design a PR and marketing campaign (on zero budget, offset against projected profits), manage our social media accounts and newsletter and run about 3 offline and online events per month. The dream is to be able to work full time on the Press and to have two full-time paid employees.

I thought it would be fun to divide this update into personal and professional ups and downs, seeing as I essentially become the brand of Fly on the Wall (and certainly how much sleep/sugar I've had dictates our output!)


  • Proud that the Northern Publishers' Fair has become so well established that multiple publishers across the North lament not knowing about it early enough to secure a table. I started it because I was never included in book fair invites and now am happy to be managing them!

  • Brexit is brutal. So much returned post admin and sad customers because of taxes when they do order.

  • We changed to warehousing (so big print runs) which was an experiment to gain visibility in Waterstones. We are massively increasing our relationship with Waterstones head office but it is massively decreasing our USA sales because our warehouse in the UK, so it's really difficult to know what would be the best decision for growth.

  • Paper increase costs super painful.

  • Events - people just don't seem to be attending online events in force, but in-person seems down also, even if a free event.

  • Having to look at taking on more freelance work and a part time job on top of that side come July, when my novel funding ends. It seems people just don't have the money to buy books right now.

  • Our submissions are super low. I suspect this is because we ask writers to have bought a book in the year they submit, however we can't survive without this, so unsure how to increase submissions and stay afloat.


  • I'm almost at the end of my journey with a final draft of my novel, with my mentor at Cornerstones Literary agency. I love the suggested edits and direction. Downside: I now have scrapped about 20k of the novel, and only managed to replace 15k of that, so am worried that it will be too short to interest agents (66k). I am proud that I've entered it into almost every prize under the sun however.

  • I'm back at pole and latin dance after a long period of brain fog with COVID. Still feel I'm not 100%, but unsure what I can do about it.

  • I had a 3 week period in April of working 21 days straight, no weekends. I'm pretty much back to giving myself weekends to see friends and to make up for lack of Easter, I have booked myself a 3-day trip to Italy. Downside: some pressure on myself to improve my Italian quickly.

  • I get my braces off next week!

Okay that's me. I'll try and catch up again with you all soon.

In the meantime, here is Treacle sleeping under my chair in the sun.

Love Isabelle x

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Kevin Crowe
Kevin Crowe

FOTW press has done so much to help writers, particularly those from marginalised and under-represented communities, so sad to hear about the problems. But hopefully the discussions with Waterstones will help, and hope you find a publisher for your novel. Hope you enjoy your break in Italy and when you get back hope you are able to ensure time for you. Kevin Crowe.

Fly on the Wall Press
Fly on the Wall Press

Thank you Kevin! I had a hopeful discussion with an Arts council employee today and definitely they do want to support the kinds of work we go regionally and nationally so will be getting a 3rd application in soon. Waterstones is definitely a big step in the right direction! Just hope they are visible and we don't get too many returns - as you will know from your time as a bookseller haha! Thanks Kevin, Italy will be lovely xx

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