Our Story

Actual Left began in 2018 under the name Xi Draconis Books. It was established to make up for what we saw as a severe gap in the literary publishing industry: the lack of presses formed to address social justice issues. After operating for three years and publishing six books, Xi Draconis needed to be revamped. We now return as Actual Left Publications, with the same mission and values but with a bit of a new look. We hope to continue publishing books dedicated to advancing social justice causes for as long as such causes need to be championed.

From our original site: “Though the work we publish does not follow any one political line, our ethos is that of the anarchist. We believe that both the state and the profit motive should be abolished. Forms of direct participatory democracy and free sharing should replace these systems, and laws should be enacted by all citizens of a community to safeguard equality and freedom. In addition, we believe that getting rid of the state also means getting rid of capitalism, as the two are inextricably linked. We are not libertarians.

Again, though the books we publish are not necessarily anarchist, anarchism does inform our strategy as a press. First, we endorse the creation of a more democratic publication space. Currently, large publication houses and distributors hold sway over most of that literature to which the public has access. This is to the detriment of literature and to new authors attempting to find an outlet for their voices. Nor are such houses and distributors even necessary in the digital age. A simple list of links to publishers and authors, offered in a conspicuous place, would enable anyone to find any kind of book she wanted to read.

Second, we believe that publishers should act as sources of critical feedback for their authors, but this practice has lessened as literature has become commodified. We seek to keep this relationship between publisher and author alive while rejecting the role of capitalist middleman. As such, we work with our authors to make sure that their manuscripts are in the best shape possible before publication.

We believe that presses should operate first and foremost as curators, as stewards in the task of preserving and disseminating excellent literature. They should stop attempting to saturate the market with bestsellers by big-name authors and instead seek out as many new authors as possible. They should order smaller print runs so they have more resources to work with new writers. They should downsize and treat literature as part of the commons, not as a source for capital exchange. A community of tiny presses not beholden to business interests is the only way to achieve plurality—and that is the model that we attempt to follow.”