Ask a Publisher: Darren Shill from Liminal 11

It’s our first Ask a Publisher! After the success of our Ask a Bookseller series, we’ll be asking a bunch of our publishers some questions about what they do. First up is the wonderful new mind, body, spirit publisher Liminal 11, based in London, who just joined us last year! Answering our questions is co-founder and director Darren Shill.

Tell us about your publishing house in a few sentences.

Liminal 11 is officially a mind, body, spirit publisher with a strong focus on illustration, especially from those that have worked in the comics world. Unofficially, it is a gateway to spiritual growth.

What is your role and how long have you worked there?

Co-Founder, Director, Financial Soothsayer. I’ve been here since the beginning, with the outrageously talented Mike Medaglia. It sounds grand, but we started up just over a year ago.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

Working from home means I can start at the time that suits me, which is 5am, when I feel most creative (does that sound a bit Mark Wahlberg?). This involves blog writing, tackling issues from a different angle and writing tricky emails. A lack of office keeps the overheads down, but it is also genuinely unnecessary for a publishing start-up. Our creators are truly global, working in their own space, and our firm is 4 people at its core – there just isn’t the need.

I start messaging Mike around 8.30am, covering anything that’s happened overnight. By 10 I’ve walked my beagle around Alexandra Park and I’m back for a Facetime call with Mike. After that, we go our separate ways and each tackle whatever the day needs. We’ll be in communication with our exceptional Publicity and Marketing Manager, Sarah Wray, and fabulous Sales Manager, Steve Walsh, throughout the day, but Mike and myself have to be able to handle editorial, production and distribution matters as they arise. I slow down when the kids return from school in the afternoon, then pick up again once they are in bed for a few hours more. There’s an on-going awareness of social media and our website, but Sarah handles this very well – going by the number of visitors our website receives and growth in Instagram followers – so for me it’s more of a background thing.

I’ve never worked more efficiently, including during my previous life in private equity, yet it doesn’t feel like work at all!

What are you reading right now?

The Witch by Ronald Hutton, a global look at the history of witchcraft, which feels like a natural accompaniment to his wonderful The Triumph of The Moon, regarding the history of Wicca. This was chosen for me as part of the Heywood Hill Year in Books subscription, which I received as a gift.

There’s something very special about a person choosing you a book. When it’s a friend, it seems to say as much about them as you; perhaps it meets somewhere in the middle. When it is more of a stranger, you ask the question of how you appear to the world. Please don’t tell me they use algorithms, it would utterly spoil it!

What is the one book you wish you had published?

Modern Tarot by Michelle Tea. It is the one book I always recommend to new entrants to tarot. I despair at all the sales I miss when mentioning this work!

What do you look for in a book? What makes a book amazing?

Two things are at the heart of what Liminal 11 publishes, beautiful illustration and something we hope will improve people’s lives. In order for it to connect, it should feel like a personal treasure, and to achieve that we work with illustrators who feel peerless in telling narratives with pictures (see Tillie Walden, Adam & Lisa Murphy, Sarina Mantle or Mike Medaglia). It also needs empathy. If a work somehow already seems to know you, then the connection is intuitive (see next year’s Modern Witch Tarot by Lisa Sterle).

What is your proudest publishing moment?

Having Jack Kornfield agree to work with us in 2019. As both a leading Buddhist teacher and wonderful writer who has sold over a million books globally, we are greatly honoured that he is working with a small publisher like Liminal 11. Honoured and quite humbled!

What are your favourite publishers and what do you love about them?

Both Mike and I have deep respect for Avery Hill. They make strong creative choices in the high-risk/fleeting-reward world of comics. Whether it is Tillie Walden, Tim Bird, Katriona Chapman, Kristyna Baczynski or any of their other amazing creators, you just cannot go wrong with their publications. As for another, Scarlett Imprint continue to amaze with both their publishing aesthetics and eclectic subjects.

What would you like to see more of in publishing, and what have you seen enough of?

Unlike Mike, I’m still so bright-eyed to the world of publishing that its glamour has not yet worn thin. There is a surprising level of decency and civility compared to other industries. I wouldn’t say it needs more of that necessarily, but I certainly hope it retains this spirit.

I genuinely have not seen enough of anything – again, I hope my own hungry enthusiasm continues!

And finally… name three of your absolute favourite authors.

I hate to sound fickle, but this is a moving target! This week it is Benebell Wen, Jack Kornfield and, like most weeks, Tillie Walden.

Thanks Darren!

We are super excited to be distributing for this fab new indie and they have a lot of awesome stuff planned this year. Check out their webpage and follow them on Twitter @Liminal_11 so you don’t miss out!

Leave a Reply