How to create authentic community: lessons from youth-led Marginal Publishing

Discover how Marginal Publishing is foregrounding young voices through publishing

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Marginal Publishing is the first youth-led publisher of its kind in the UK. It aims to change the landscape of young people’s reading in the UK and also strive to use Marginal as a platform with which to nurture marginalised talent and express a diverse set of voices and experiences which are currently going unheard.

The young people at Marginal Publishing report that the publishing house enable them to achieve long-held dreams. Sophie Lockwood, creator of Beasts, said, “publishing a book had been my dream since I was a child but thought I'd never get to do it as the publishing world was so scary. So having Marginal Publishing start up and then offered me the chance to publish was a dream come true!”

Emily McCrystal, creator of Soul Notes Poetry, explained that as a marginalised person, it’s difficult to know who to trust in the publishing industry when writing personal and vulnerable content. She continued, “Sometimes your stories can be exploited, changed or profited by others who don’t understand your world.” Marginal Publishing offered a very different approach due to their “ethos of putting people first and sharing the logistics behind their processes… [this] meant that I understood - at every stage - how my work was going to be shared and how it would be shared with care.”

How to create authentic community: lessons from Marginal Publishing

When describing the community, writers highlighted Marginal Publishing’s unique place within the creative sector. Emily Lockwood described the community as “entirely unmatched anywhere else… [it] is vibrant, kind and welcoming.” In describing the creative energy within the organisation, Hanna Gwynn, creator of Without Ceremony, said, “I can't think of a comparative organisation elsewhere in the UK or even in any of the international or non-English speaking comic communities I take part in. I don't think it's exaggerating to say it's truly a unique community.”

Access and inclusion have been championed by the team in trying to make the publishing process available to marginalised groups. Ella Kahan Taylor, creator of Stars Can’t Shine Without Darkness, said, “The team truly cares for everyone involved and goes out of their way to ensure everyone is included and secure.”

Crucially, Marginal Publishing is a community that not only facilitates writers’ inclusion into the process but also actively cultivates relationships within the group. Eleanor Szydlowska, creator of Hav, described the community. “It’s been great to meet and chat with other young people in Marginal Publishing’s community and get excited by each other’s work. The work is so diverse, distinctive and unique to each creator, so there’s really something for everyone to enjoy.”

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The role community plays in shaping young creatives

At Marginal Publishing, young writers structured support that enabled them to develop writing skills. The writers reported gaining skills such as story plotting methods, structuring stories, peer review and implementing feedback.

Also, a supportive environment has enabled creative growth. Eleanor Szydlowska explained that the community “has allowed me to gain more confidence in my skills and to push myself within a supportive environment to reach goals I wouldn’t have been able to do alone.” Ella Kahan Taylor echoed this sentiment, “Whilst ensuring I still feel supported and confident, marginal allowed me to step outside my comfort zone and expand my creativity.”

Sophie Lockwood emphasised how community has enabled her to reflect more effectively on her writing process. “Seeing things from so many different perspectives and walks or stages of life has made me look at my own way of writing and storytelling and be able to pick apart my own experiences in more detail than I thought I was originally able to do.”

Building on community

After publishing one or two pieces of work, the young writers reported getting involved in a variety of broader projects at Marginal Publishing. Eleanor Szydloska was able to run a workshop with another creator at a launch event. 

Emily McCrystal has been interviewed about her publishing experiences. She said, “It’s also given me the confidence to work on other publications, which I now am credited in 3 different books and 4 publications! I never thought any of this would be possible and I am really humbled by being able to have access to these incredible experiences.”

Hirahashi Tofu, creator of Scarlet Parole, explained that Marginal Publishing had not only boosted her confidence but granted permission to continue pursuing a career in the arts. 

Author

Sienna James

Sienna James Voice Team

Sienna is the Assistant Editor at Voice. She spent three years studying History of Art at Cambridge University and loves to explore the intersection between politics, history and visual culture. She also loves to hear how young people and artists are engaging in various innovative forms of socio-political resistance whether that's activism or art-making.

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