Untold Publishing

Untold Publishing

Discover how Untold Publishing grew exports, acquired another publishing house and coped with COVID.

County Durham based Jeff Collyer founded digital publishing company Aelurus Publishing back in 2016, specialising in young adult fantasy and sci-fi fiction. The business has grown steadily since launch, so when the chance to purchase another publishing company in November 2019 arose, Jeff saw this as a big opportunity for growth.

The company Jeff acquired, Impress Books publish titles from a range of genres including non-fiction, biographies and contemporary fiction. Sales channels include Amazon, web, and a high proportion through traditional distribution networks such as book stores. This provided a real opportunity to combine the established distribution networks of both Impress and Aelurus.

Since acquiring Impress in November 2019, things have been challenging for the Crook Business Centre tenant. Integrating a new business into and existing company can be difficult at the best of times but doing so during the coronavirus pandemic has been especially demanding.  

Like many other businesses, the national coronavirus lockdowns hit Untold Publishing hard. Closure of bookshops have cut off vital channels impacting sales particularly with regards to the type of titles published by Impress and Aelurus.

As landlords Business Durham have been very flexible, working with tenants to give them the best chance of success and growth as Jeff explains: “Business Durham and Durham County Council have been brilliant during the pandemic. We had the business rates relief, they have been flexible with rent deferrals, helpful and friendly throughout. It’s been a tremendous help in the most difficult of times.”

Property Manager for the South of County Durham Anne Ellwood added: “We know that businesses go through difficult times. At Business Durham we are much more than a landlord, it’s our role to ensure long term sustainable business growth, which means we can be flexible if that’s what’s needed to help businesses navigate difficult times.”

As a longstanding tenant of the recently refurbished Crook Business Centre, Untold Publishing CEO Jeff elaborated on why it was the perfect place to base his business: “I was looking for something local. I’m disabled and don’t drive due to my disability. I needed somewhere to store my books as well as an office with room to grow the business and the business centre was ideal for that.”

Thinking about the future Jeff added: “We have expanded our international distribution, signing deals that will see our books released across Australia, New Zealand, South and East Asia. We have some excellent books in the pipeline, two established authors publishing with us next year and I’m really optimistic about what’s next for Untold Publishing.”

Support from the Durham Business Opportunities Programme

The Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP), managed by Business Durham helped Jeff navigate the business support map when he first started Aelurus Publishing. CEO Jeff Collyer explains: “Starting a business can be a lonely place, there is a lot of support out there it can be hard to know which programmes will be the most beneficial. Business Durham helped to signpost me to organisations that could provide the most relevant advice and support for my business.”

Jeff was introduced to the Department for International Trade, which resulted in a grant to promote their independent author services in North America, plus guidance to identify student placement and funding opportunities. Business Durham also provided guidance in business planning during the acquisition of Impress Publishing.

“I have found DBOP an excellent source of knowledge that I wish I’d known about sooner. They provide tailored advice that has saved me an enormous amount of time and I would recommend them to any County Durham business looking to grow and develop their business.”

DBOP business Engagement Officer said: “A large part of our role is to provide impartial practical advice saving businesses valuable time and money.  We help companies to spot opportunities and find the right support to help them to move their business forward.”

*The Durham Business Opportunities Programme is a six-year programme for SMEs running up until November 2022, helping County Durham businesses spot opportunities for sustainable growth. It is funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Business Durham, the business support service for Durham County Council, helping to deliver more and better jobs and a strong competitive economy.

Find out more about Untold Publishing here.