Until very recently a few people decided what should be published and served up to the consuming public. Many people were excluded.
Reverse-action publishing starts the publishing process with consumers, to capture their interests and to arrive at material for their market. As such reverse-action publishing can be a vehicle for mutual aid and social justice. By working with communities for a creative result that speaks to them, instead of packaging a result from outside of their community, reverse-action publishing is a powerful tool for learning, and for entrepreneurial and community development.
It can also be a first step in establishing a social enterprise, or reinforcing an existing one. Examples of this are books we created with East West Kitchen in Halifax, Suma Wholefoods in Elland, the Aagrah chain of restaurants from Shipley. Our current projects with Govan Pantry, operated in Glasgow by local Govan H.E.L.P., with international Incredible Edible cic, and our developing work with the Scottish Prison Service, all have reverse-action publishing at their base.
Working with people to publish a book provides a focal point for joint working and team building, for awakening a common vision, for evoking creativity, for embedding existing skills and learning new ones, like design, photography, costings, marketing, research. Building a book needs participants to develop a brief, collate and manage information, build links with their fellow participants. The process provides a gateway for diverse communities to enter the social conversation. The resulting book grows self-esteem and is lasting evidence of participant involvement, which can then be used as a souvenir and/or a CV and/or a spur to develop the many skills learned to create it.
A community can be based on
a location, like schools in a certain town
an interest group, like vegans across the world
a mutual aid group, like people moving from custodial care to home and employment
an economic group, like customers of a restaurant, visitors to a museum, or players of a game
an idea, like growing our food more locally
Sales of our materials are supported by joint media campaigns with our many supporters, as well as direct action with participants such as launches, meals, demos, programs of training – often in libraries, schools, prisons, shops, camps and through other events and venues.
In general our projects are narrow and deep, rather than wide and shallow. It's not uncommon for us to work with a few people for a long time, and for those relationships to both evolve and endure.