We spoke to Jacqui Kibby of Scorpius Books, a brand new independent publisher of dynamic new fiction based in the UK. They have one very important belief: great literature is for everyone. They believe a story should be available to all, and produce dyslexia-friendly versions of all the books they publish, for any age.
It won’t work, they said…
When I started Scorpius Books, part of the planning was to create a company that tackled the somewhat antiquated way in which the publishing industry works – hey, sometimes breaking the rules can be a good thing!
Having worked as an editor for over ten years for both publishers and authors, as well as being a published author myself, I’d seen enough of the industry from both sides of the fence to know that many things in the publishing world were done the way they were simply because “that’s how it’s always been done”… despite so many other choices being available (I could genuinely rant about these all day so I won’t bore you with them here… maybe I’ll leave that for another day!).
As the company plan took shape, I considered this “let’s do things differently” approach. For example, we have a strong environmental policy that aims to reduce wastage and use suppliers that adhere to strict systems to reduce pollution. Everything from our print to our postage boxes are chosen based on the level of recycled paper used and low toxicity inks.
My husband is dyslexic yet has always loved books – he’d been brought up with Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit being read to him and our shelves are filled with the military fiction he loves yet most of them stay where they are for very long periods of time… he simply struggles with reading mainstream fiction due to the layout and size of the text which results in him being put off altogether.
So it got me thinking and I decided to look into dyslexic-friendly fiction. But no matter how much I poked around, I simply couldn’t find anything – oh, there were plenty of dyslexic-friendly books out there for children (Barrington Stoke are perhaps the largest mainstream publisher of these) – but there seemed to be nothing out there for dyslexic adults. I came across the odd Harry Potter edition in dyslexic format, but anything else I found had been either produced at a very low standard or were aimed at such a young audience it was almost embarrassing – why couldn’t someone with dyslexia have access to the same fiction as everyone else?
I had lengthy conversations with dyslexia associations, individuals and booksellers. One in particular, Books on the Hill, was run by someone with dyslexia, and he was immensely helpful. He was very interested in our titles, stating he’d been on the lookout for adult dyslexia titles for years, with no luck. The publishing industry just didn’t seem to want to know.
So I pressed forward with a plan – even then, after tons of research, discussions and investigations, I thought I must be missing a huge part of the puzzle and that it would dawn on me that it couldn’t be that simple… I’m still waiting!
Our list was beginning to take shape and we factored in a dyslexia format. This involved things such as creme paper to reduce glare rather than the standard white; a sans serif font which was easier to read than those with added embellishments to the letters etc; increased line and letter spacing to prevent distortion of the letters when read. These font choices also extended to our covers and blurbs. We also chose a larger trim size as well to allow for improved spacing on the page.
During production, we use the Adobe Suite of software, mainly Indesign for the interior, and Photoshop and Illustrator for our covers, and we found it just as easy to incorporate the dyslexia format to our processes of designing the standard paperback and ebook – we simply adjusted our timescales accordingly.
When that 1st proof came back from the printer, hubby was the first to look it over and give it the thumbs up, offering a little feedback here and there in relation to the editing and wording, which went into the final version.
The feedback we’ve received so far from booksellers has been amazing, even during these tough times when smaller retailers are reluctant to take on new stocks. They’ve all been really positive and I am truly grateful to all those businesses and individuals who took a chance to support a tiny new publisher who needed that one shot to prove themselves.
It’s a shame there isn’t more fiction out there being created with a wider audience in mind and we hope that Scorpius Books can at least make a small contribution to remedy that. Great fiction should be available to everyone and we fully support indie authors and publishers who are willing to dip their toe into the water, take a chance and break the rules for everyone’s benefit!
You can discover more about us on our website, www.scorpiusbooks.com or via our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/scorpiusbooks. You can also sign up to our monthly newsletter via our website where you’ll receive a 10% discount off any future orders, receive sneak peeks and other random musings from the inside of a small publishing company!
Our books are available via Amazon, Waterstones, our own website and other book retailers in ebook, paperback and dyslexia-friendly formats.
(c) Jacqui Kibby
About Darkness Forbidden by J.M. Rankin:
Immortal, ruthless, cunning…
Obsessed with the haunting and depraved bloodlust he shares with Nadia, Alex Demeter finds himself intrigued by Catrina, a human with a past she cannot escape.
Disturbed by his distraction, Nadia wagers the ultimate prize: the one thing Alex could never have.
As Nadia’s games grow more sadistic, Alex’s past is brought horrifically to the surface. Forced to face truths he would rather stay hidden, the humans around him soon find themselves pawns in a game they could never understand.
Sparks fly in this dark tale of obsession as Alex and Nadia play dangerous games of sex and betrayal…
Order your copy online here.