I write this on the day after Thanksgiving (I refuse to give it that shopping-related name. And I am beyond horrified that said name has now infiltrated Britain, although Thanksgiving itself is not a thing there, for obvious historical reasons. Since we don't have Thanksgiving and the last Thursday of November is just an ordinary day in Britain, why on earth have British retailers adopted the American concept of this Friday as a day to do manic amounts of shopping? Well, to make money, obviously. But it is ridiculous on so many levels…..)
There is much to be thankful for in my life, but today, almost on the eve of the book launch my publisher has organized in Philadelphia, I want to sing the praises of independent publishers.
My publisher, Sowilo Press, is an imprint of the arts foundation Hidden River Arts. Publication by Sowilo Press is part of the Eludia Award prize. Inscription was the second recipient of the award, and the first winner was Sleepers Awake by Tree Riesener. Both these books are being celebrated this Sunday at the Book Launch Party.
What I want to say to all aspiring writers is, you may dream of a contract with one of the big houses, and it's fabulous if you get one; but there are advantages to being with a small publisher. You might have more input into the cover design than you would with a big house. The editor is perhaps less likely to make you change things in your book for the sake of commercial appeal. And small publishers do what they do as a labour of love. That's not to be sneezed at. Not to say people who work in larger houses don't love books, and working with them. But it takes a particular courage and passion to be a small publisher in this climate of tight economy and short-lived shelf life.
But as I write this, I realise with some degree of guilt that I don't actually buy that many books from independent publishers. I sometimes get emails with lists of indie books, and I see ads in various places for indie books; but I don't often respond. This is something I plan to rectify.
My own book might never have been brought into the world if it weren't for Hidden River Arts. I have a new-found respect for publishers like this, who, whether through a contest or in some other way, seek out the less mainstream and more unusual work.
So, I am grateful. And looking forward to the party!