The origins of Valley Press can be traced back to 1994, when six-year-old Jamie McGarry printed and stapled together his first booklet. Jamie continued to experiment with publishing throughout his youth, alongside a variety of other media projects, until in 2008 – as an undergraduate student of English Literature – he produced a 38-copy print run of his first novel, and added the words ‘Valley Press’ to the back cover.
The name of this then-fictitious publishing house came from the area of Scarborough, North Yorkshire where Jamie lived at the time, and Valley Press is still based today – home to the iconic Valley Bridge, and at one time, the Sitwell family.
In 2009, Jamie decided to attempt publishing the work of someone other than himself, a project which resulted in the next Valley Press book, Tenebrae by Nigel Gerrans (still available today). This attracted the interest of various other individuals and charitable organisations; by the time Jamie graduated in 2010, there were ten books published under the Valley Press name. Jamie hoped this publishing experience would secure him a job within the industry, but a long and fruitless job hunt was to follow. After six months of unemployment and frustration, he decided to attempt running a publishing operation as full-time self-employment, starting on the 5th January 2011. With support from the Prince’s Trust – and after three years of 'learning on the job' – Jamie was able to build Valley Press into a successful small business, which today has more than seventy titles in print. Milestones along the way included the business being Highly Commended in the 2012 Lloyds TSB Enterprise Awards (which made it officially one of the top thirty graduate businesses in the UK, at the time), and Jamie receiving an invite to meet the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace in 2013, in honour of his contributions to ‘contemporary British poetry’. In September 2015, Valley Press was awarded a £50,000 Arts Council grant to develop the business further – you can read the news story here.
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Today, Valley Press can be thought of as a network of authors, designers, editors, marketers and readers, with Jamie somewhere in the middle trying to make it all run smoothly. The Valley Press ‘list’ includes three distinct categories of book:
- Poetry, including collections, pamphlets and the occasional anthology.
- Fiction, including novels, collections of short stories and (again) the occasional anthology.
- Non-fiction, including memoirs and travel writing.
Our values when publishing these books are straightforward: we believe publications from a ‘small, northern, independent publisher’ (as we are typically referred to) should match those from the big London publishing houses in every sense – production values, editing, distribution and promotion. Admittedly, we’re still working on that last one (we haven’t done a train station poster campaign yet!) but we're not far off.
Valley Press books are represented to the book trade by Inpress, a sales agency which represents a variety of independent publishers in the UK and Ireland. For trade orders, see their website here. Otherwise, you can browse a full list of our books here, and if you have any questions or queries, head to the contact page. Thanks for reading!
"The ever-enterprising Valley Press..."
– Yorkshire Post
VP publisher Jamie McGarry, in the office, day one
"...has a good eye for emerging talent,
and great care has clearly been taken
over the design of the books."
– Sabotage Reviews
Some of our wonderful books, circa May 2013
"A beautiful business."
– Lloyds TSB Enterprise Awards
Woodend, once home to the Sitwells - now, us
Photograph credits (top to bottom):
Poppy Smalley, David Chalmers, Jamie McGarry