Skip to main content

Publisher spotlight: 404 Ink

Across 2022, the Year of Stories, we are spotlighting Publishing Scotland members, who will share their own story in their own words. Get to know 404 Ink, the alternative independent publisher creating books across fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

What’s your story?

404 Ink began when the co-founders – Heather and Laura – were hired to work on a freelance project together. We were talking about how we’d separately thought about launching our own publisher and quickly came to the conclusion that we should join forces. This was back in Summer 2016. By that December, we had published our first literary magazine, which went on to run for six issues, and by the following March our debut book, the feminist essay anthology Nasty Women, had been released. We had been drawn to ideas of publishing quality over quantity, that publishing could also be a little more loud and a little more fun – we wanted to publish books that excited us, and then put all our energy into yelling loud enough to make everyone else excited. Six years(!) on, little has changed in that respect.

Tell us about some of your key stories.

Nasty Women, our first book, really catalysed 404 Ink. It brought together over 20 essential pieces on what it is to be a woman in the 21st century, capturing a moment in time of seismic shifts around us in the Western world. We crowdfunded it on Kickstarter, and on the third day had the support of Margaret Atwood (which we are still very grateful for) and were fully funded – the book was featured across Huffington Post, Elle, Bustle, and many more; blurbed by Ali Smith, Shirley Manson and more – it really felt stratospheric as we worked from our own homes on our laptops thinking, “Um? This is going well?”

Chris McQueer’s debut Hings and HWFG are both incredible – funny Scottish short stories that have gone on to be adapted for the BBC and more. Nadine Aisha Jassat’s searing poetry collection Let Me Tell You This marked our move into poetry, but she’s also such a talented writer who we met via Nasty Women. The work both of them have gone onto do since publication has been such a joy to watch.

Elsewhere, we launched our Inklings non-fiction series – big ideas in pocket-sized books – in 2021, with eight launch titles, ranging from topics of transmasculine joy in the UK’s transphobic culture and the queer revolution of Schitt’s Creek, to educating on blindness, our apocalyptic fixation, and much more. The launch series has been shortlisted for both The FutureBook Awards, and The British Book Awards. It’s a series we’ll be continuing into the future, and we’re excited to see it grow.

What draws you to a story? What makes a good story? 

For us, we are interested or excited, it provokes thought or surprised us, or audibly makes us laugh. We don’t read just one genre of book and so we don’t want to limit ourselves. We judge the books purely on our response to the writing; we’re not poetry readers generally speaking, but when we read Andrés N. Ordorica’s At Least This I Know, his writing felt alive on the page and you could feel a life and love artfully captured in his words, and that transcended the genre for us. We’re not working with specific types of publishing as a hard rule, we’re working with the story and how it makes us feel, how we respond to it, what we take away from it.

What stories should we look forward to or check out this year?

For the rest of 2022, we have a host of amazing authors: The Arena of the Unwell is the debut novel from Liam Konemann, who we met via our Inklings series. Noah is in his twenties, and his life is spiralling around him; he seeks connection where he can find it – from his favourite band, or from newcomers in his life Dylan and Fraser, even if that connection is toxic.

We’re also publishing Nudes, the debut short story collection from Elle Nash, whose novel Animals Eat Each Other we published in 2019. Next is New Skin for the Old Ceremony, the debut novel from Arun Sood, spanning both India and Skye as a group of friends try recapture their youth and a life-affirming motorcycle trip. It’s a tale of the ghosts of friendship, and is inspired by a kirtan, the Hindu genre of storytelling surrounding music, spiritual ideas and shared narration. We’re also publishing the memoir of Carrie Marshall, Carrie Kills A Man, which explores topics from trans parenthood to the lure of Velma Dinkley – it’s both insightful and laugh-out-loud funny.

We’ll also be publishing eight more titles in our Inklings series from summer 2022 into March 2023. They’re amazing and we can’t wait to share them with everyone.

Learn more about 404 Ink at @404ink and