What are small press books?
They’re plucky, industrious, even awe-inspiring. And you’ve never heard of them!
You haven’t heard of small press books for one reason. The American publishing game is dominated by major players. Did you know that five conglomerates control the shelves of major bookstores? These five companies get to decide what is called “publishing.”
Only, there’s a bigger story here. It’s small. Sometimes, really really tiny.
There are fascinating books being put out every day by micro-publishers.
There are fascinating books being put out every day by micro-publishers. Like our dedicated friend the ant, the small press book is out there if you look for it. And there’s the potential for you to be amazed by one.
Social media grabs our attention, why? It’s unfiltered. When people can speak freely, it’s hard not to listen in. This is also why small press books exist, to start new conversations. Where independent voices are found, anything can happen.
Where independent voices are found, anything can happen.
New York publishing is far from independent. The official people in charge of books, remember those five publishing companies, have a definite idea of what a book should be. It’s not a spontaneous conversation, but a guaranteed saleable product; tried and true material we’ve seen a hundred times before.
These corporations sell you topics you’ve already bought. In fact, the publishing industry grills new writers. “How is what you’ve written like something already out there?” But why do writers begin to write? They want to offer something new.
Writing for people
If New York publishers see readers as a lucrative market, small press publishers view readers as even more valuable. They’re friends, family, coworkers.
Small press publishers have a passion for books that connect with real people. It means avoiding obvious book trends and going for something as yet unsaid.
Small press publishers have a passion for books that connect with real people.
Small press authors are free to explore subjects that aren’t accepted in New York, as well as viewpoints contrary to the party line. Writing was once a great melting pot of ideas. It is becoming that way again. Adding small press books to your reading list will broaden your perspective. Collectively, these books offer you one thing: choice.
Remember when we said, New York publishers determine what is called “published?” They’ve succeeded in making us think everything they don’t publish is self-published. As a result, our view of publishing is unnecessarily narrow.
That self-published label is outdated, from a time when Grandma printed copies of her memoir. Today’s publishing is independent. This new movement is called independent because indie authors are free of corporate influence. Independent publishing is a $1 billion industry and growing.
indie authors are free of corporate influence.
Small press firms aren’t run by amateurs. Whether they’re writers, agents, or business people, these publishers bring considerable experience to the process. They run serious companies that employ freelance book editors, designers, and marketing people who came from the major players. Small press firms are showing a lethargic industry what’s possible.
Try a small press book
Our culture has embraced this independent movement nearly everywhere. Movies? Many prefer the depth and quality of independent films. Music? Streaming services allow any artist to upload music. No one investigates whether a major label signed the band before listening.
“Who published it?” is no longer the quality check it once was. Small press titles are often underrated, while New York publishing is on auto-pilot. With art, it’s all subjective.
Our culture has embraced this independent movement nearly everywhere.
We encourage modern readers to search out and buy printed copies of small press books. Go experience a story that is a passion project, not a product. Find something new to like. You may have more fun and discover some new truths.
This post first appeared at The Writing Thing Press.