Handheld Press sells remarkable and wonderful stories from the past and the present. We publish the novels that you won’t want to put down, and the stories you’ll want to give as presents. Handheld Press books are beautiful objects, designed with care, a pleasure to read.
Handheld Classics present forgotten fiction and authors who need to be rediscovered, with introductions by experts and astonishingly useful notes.
Handheld Research tells stories from scholarly research, in plain English.
Handheld Modern brings you excellent modern fiction and non-fiction from living authors.
In their own words…
When did you start publishing?
Technically it was March 2017, when a research colleague told me I should set up a publishing company, and I realised that this was so darn obvious I could not understand why I had needed someone else to point me in the right direction. Officially it was June 2017 when we incorporated as a company.
What made you want to start an independent publisher?
I’d been an editor and a researcher of 20thC Eng lit all my working life, and the two career paths coalesced. I spent most of my teaching and research career finding wonderful stories and telling people about them. I also had increasingly strong views about what should and should not be republished, so Handheld Classics was always going to be our core business. But I was also concerned that too much scholarly research was disappearing into the maw of expensive academic editions that no ordinary person would ever see, or could afford, so I wanted to find a way to bring the results of publicly funded academic reseach into trade publishing, hence Handheld Research. Handheld Modern indulges my secret desire to bring more modern feminist science fiction to the world, when we find some.
What genres do you specialise in?
Classics, forgotten fiction; women’s lives; science fiction / fantasy
Where are you based?
Bath, in SW England
Do you have a submission window, if so when?
We’re always open to submissions; but please read our Authors page for the guidelines, and the proposal forms. We do want prospective authors to pitch using the form. It helps them, and us.
What is your submission procedure?
For the Classics: tell us why this forgotten work is so good, and what you’d like to write about in the introduction. Is it in copyright? Who owns this? Send us a sample chapter.
For Handheld Research: give us an outline of your book’s scope, why nothing like this has been published before, and a breakdown of the chapter contents. Which are your competing books? Who is your readership? Send a sample chapter.
Who are you?
80% is Kate Macdonald, energy source, commissioning editor, picture researcher, production manager and writer of all copy. 10% is David Marsh, in charge of numbers and logic patrol. We also use a network of stupendous freelancers for web, data, design, publicity, media and marketing.
What’s your background in the book industry?
Kate trained as an editor in civil service and technical publishing, and was a freelance editor for 14 years. She also researches, publishes on and teaches publishing history and book history, most recently on the history of W H Smith.
Talk about some of your books if possible
Our most recent Classic (30 May) is Blitz Writing by Inez Holden, consisting of a novella (Night Shift) and a memoir (It Was Different At The Time) of the Second World War. Inez was/is a forgotten journalist and novelist who hung out and worked with George Orwell, Stevie Smith, Cyril Connolly and many others in 1930s literary London. H G Wells was her landlord. The stories in Blitz Writing are tremendous portraits of the industrial home front in the Blitz.
The book we published before that (26 March) has been our smash hit so far. Rose Macaulay’s What Not is a forgotten dystopian portrait of a world where the government enforces eugenics on a population determined never to allow war to happen again, and aero buses transport commuters to work in London. Aldous Huxley borrowed her key ideas for Brave New World. Kate’s research recovered not only this novel, but the missing suppressed pages that had it withdrawn as soon as it was published
and any future projects/dreams if you can
Oooh, we have lots! In August we publish the first English translation of a Dutch classic about 1920s China, Adrift in the Middle Kingdom. In September we republish the funniest Edwardian feminist novel, Elizabeth von Arnim’s The Caravaners. And in October we republish Vonda N McIntyre’s first novel, The Exile Waiting, a science fiction classic from 1975, and a collection of Weird fiction by women, called, appropriately, Women’s Weird. In 2020 we’re bringing out two more Rose Macaulay novels, more short fantasy stories by Sylvia Townsend Warner, and a marvellous forgotten novel about Selfridges in the 1930s, a collection of letters from the First World War by a Quaker conscientious objector, and two more collections of Weird fiction.