Well, that was a bit embarrassing, that re-entrance! Like stumbling into a party after too many glasses of wine and shouting ‘Look at me!’ Except, in this case, it was my own party I was gate-crashing.
The first thing I noticed – once I’d put the bottle down and turned on the lights – was that WordPress looks a little different. It has all these new buttons and options! The next thing I noticed was how drab my site looked. And how boring the title was. It was called ‘Blog’, for goodness sake – what was I thinking?!
So, new blog name, new look, same me! Let’s get on with it…
Why the Indie Presses Need Us
A couple of weeks ago I read this article in The Bookseller which said:
“A significant proportion of the UK and Ireland’s smallest independent presses say their businesses are at risk as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, having seen sales plunge and cash quickly run out.”
I blogged about it on my other blog but I’m not sure many people saw it, so I’ve moved it here because sometimes it feels like only other authors know the amazing amount of fiction and non-fiction being written that doesn’t get mainstream acknowledgement. And it’s not just the authors who suffer, but the publishers themselves.
As an author, I never felt my writing belonged with the Big 5 publishers – from very early on, I’ve always submitted to small presses. I love their independence to publish what they love, rather than solely focusing on what’s commercial – the innovation, experimentation, and above all, the choice they offer.
It’s all too easy to slip into reading the same five authors who appear in the window of Waterstones and on the shelves in Tesco when you’re picking up your groceries. That’s great – all authors need supporting – but there’s a whole ocean of writers out there who you might never of heard of. (And, I might be one of them.)
So, I thought I’d offer a selection of my favourite independent publishers, and some advice on how to find new authors to read.
- Vagabondage Press – my first publisher. Based in the US but publishing many British authors. Literary, mainstream, romance, erotica, horror, paranormal, Gothic, Steampunk, and dark fiction – they’ve got it all
- Vine Leaves Press – my current publisher, publishes all genres with a literary bent and they have some of the most beautiful book covers I’ve ever seen
- Salt – contemporary British literature. So many of their books feature on my bookshelves! They’ve feature on many award long- and short-lists, including the Man Booker, Costa Book Awards and the Goldsmiths Prize
- Galley Beggar Press – daring, innovative fiction and narrative non-fiction. You may have heard of their book Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann?
- Fairlight Books – contemporary literary fiction in long (book) and short form, with stories published directly on their website
- Influx Press – innovative fiction, poetry and non-fiction
- Bluemoose Books – more award-winning books that reach into the far corners of the globe
- Sandstone Press – inspiring books by innovative authors.
And there are so many more. They’re small, sometimes just two or three people doing the work of many. They’re passionate about books and they need readers. They need you. I would be delighted if you followed some of these links and had a look around.
Advice on finding new authors
When I look at my bookshelves I can count on one hand the authors I have more than one book from – Margaret Atwood, Chuck Palahniuk, Alison Moore, Aimee Bender, Mitch Albom. I love finding new authors, and I’ll rarely have read today’s best selling books – if everyone else is reading them, I’ll choose something else. (My mum always told me I was contrary like it was a bad thing!)
It means I often stumble across something amazing. Writers with passion, writing with new ideas and distinctive voices.
And you can too. When you’re on one or two of the sites above, click on their Twitter feed. See who they follow and who’s following them. Check out the books they advertise. When the bookshops reopen, go and browse on their shelves. Pick out books because you like the title or the cover or the size of it. Choose something different.
Why not make it a resolution (who needs New Year – make a birthday/June/sunny day one) to read one new-to-you author a month? Let me know who you discover so I can look them up too!