This week of Christmas, I’m responding to a request to talk a bit about publishing with independent presses. This is becoming an increasingly valid form of publication with several examples of small-press books garnering critical acclaim. The small presses exist to do what many New York houses are becoming leery of doing, namely giving a home to authors whose work may not fit the current mold of what major publishers think the latest big-selling book should be, or giving a home to authors whose sales records with the big houses aren’t enough to make a publisher have confidence that they’ll be able to make money on their latest books.
Those who look down on the small presses actually diminish themselves by failing to celebrate the gift of publication, a gift that lifts us all up because a writer’s voice has been heard. A community of writers is exactly that, a group of people who know how hard it can be to write something and how hard it can be to find someone to publish it. Why in the world would a member of that community want to look down on a fellow writer?
These days, it’s important for any writer to take an active role in promoting his or her book, and perhaps this is especially true when publishing with a small press. Some writers even hire an independent publicist to help with the promotion of the book. Other writers get very active with arranging readings and signings. They rely on contacts at universities. They contact event coordinators at bookstores. They send review copies to newspapers and journals. They establish an online presence. Even the major houses know not to underestimate the power of social media. In short, writers do the things that publicists do at the major New York houses; they get word about the book out there and then hope for the best.
And speaking of the best, I close this post with all my good wishes to everyone for a blessed holiday season. My wish for you is that you’ll keep doing the good work, that you’ll keep celebrating one another’s, that you’ll be supportive of those who labor at the blank page the same way you do. It’s no small thing when a voice gets heard, whether that voice comes from a large publisher or a small one. Blessings to you all, from my house to yours.