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Portsmouth Writes: The Best of Star & Crescent So Far

Project: Innovation

Description

From its inception in 2015, Star & Crescent, a Portsmouth-focused news, commentary and creative writing website has been bringing together the talents of writers, editors, photographers, visual artists, graphic designers and filmmakers based within both the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries and beyond, in the local creative community. By publishing challenging, critically-minded and pioneering journalism, fiction, memoir and visual content, the website occupies a unique space in the Portsmouth media environment and has successfully engaged with a wide audience; according to our latest statistics, we had 1.5 million readers in 2017 alone.

Ever since we legally established Star & Crescent as a Community Media CIC entity, we have been diversifying our activities and will shortly be running a community journalism training course in partnership with CCI and funded by the prestigious Centre for Investigative Journalism. With further diversification in mind, our intention is to use an Innovation Accelerator grant to fund the editing, design, production and marketing of Penning Portsmouth (working title), an anthology of the best writing and visual material from the website dating back over the last two years. The anthology will take the form of both an ebook and a physical codex book.

Pompey Writes is intended to be a commercial, saleable product that will generate income. Having co-edited five anthologies of travel writing and journalism – including the best-selling No Such Thing as a Free Ride? series of books, the first of which was serialised in the Times and named the Observer’s ‘Travel Book of the Week’ – I am confident I possess the knowhow to help the project succeed financially. That Pompey Writes will include the work of some of the best known locally based writers and artists will also be a selling point.

Penning Portsmouth will be produced by a collaboration between CCI staff and students, and notable figures in the broader Portsmouth culture scene such as the independent publisher Matt Wingett. Matt’s expertise is necessary because he has managed the publication of several Portsmouth-oriented books that have performed impressively in the market (amongst them Portsmouth Fairytales for Grown-Ups that has sold over 3,000 copies) and suggest an effective business model for Penning Portsmouth. Like these other lucrative ventures, Pompey Writes will be in paperback format, retail at around £8.99 and enjoy a sales life of several years given that we will persistently promote it on the website and vend it at all the readings, launches, spoken word events, conferences, workshops and training programmes under Star & Crescent’s aegis.

Given the book’s local emphasis it will, like Matt’s other productions, be on sale in local museums, libraries and bookshops. The e-book will be available on Amazon and similar platforms.

Given the interdisciplinary emphasis of Star & Crescent, it would be appropriate to launch the book at a multimedia event combining literary readings, musical performances, audiovisual presentations and an exhibition of the photography and graphic design featured in the anthology. The event will constitute a distinctive, innovative approach to promotion that deviates considerably from the conventional book launch format.

Key findings

Far from being a one-off event, Pompey Writes will signal the beginning of an ongoing, sustainable enterprise. Longer-term, our aim is to establish a publishing concern operated via a partnership between CCI and Star & Crescent. Future publications, be they artistic monographs or creative writing projects, would foster even greater collaboration between CCI and the literary and artistic scene in wider Portsmouth.

We intend to share all profits amongst all contributors in as close an approximation of a real-world publishing deal as possible, an arrangement that would give any student involved valuable experience of and insight into the vocations of writing and publishing.
Community engagement is written into Star & Crescent’s founding mission statement and we are proud to have published numerous voices that, as we put it on the site, ‘are not otherwise heard in the mainstream media – from local residents in our poorest communities to community activists.’ Pompey Writes will be no exception. In addition to showcasing the achievements of CCI creatives, it will feature work by members and representatives of marginalised and all-too-often overlooked local groups ranging from the homeless to migrant communities to ethnic diasporas to working-class women.
Short titlePortsmouth Writes
AcronymPT
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date1/03/1831/07/18

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