I am starting my first ever challenge! In honor of the incredible work that small indie presses are doing, I am going to primarily focus on reading books published by small indie presses this September. I’m calling it Small Press September. I was inspired by two things:
First, I came across this article, “American Publishing Needs Indie Presses” by Nathan Scott McNamara. As a a life long lover of books, I find the publishing industry fascinating. I closely follow noteworthy releases, innovative debuts,trends and discussions. I’m subscribed to tons of bookish podcast, and I spend an ungodly amount of time researching and finding new reads. Naturally I’ve heard the words “small press” “indie/publishers” thrown around, but I never truly understood what they were exactly. McNamara’s article details the contrast between the big five publishing houses versus the smaller indie presses. How the big five’s dominance over the industry is oddly making room for smaller presses who focus on innovation, “…American indie presses can thrive by doing the very thing they’re best at: being small and, by extension, focusing on creativity and originality over sales.” I recommend reading his piece. It’s not only interesting, but very informative.
What is a small indie press?
Small or independent publishers are publishers that do not belong to major corporations. Each one varies in size and funds, as well as in production. Some presses publish anywhere between 1-10 or more books a year. Many presses are specialized to a genre, but not always. Note: This is not the same as self-publishing.
For many years I have given thought to 1)What I read, 2)What I need to read more of, and 3) What is or isn’t being represented. However, I have never given it much thought to learn about where my books come from. I don’t mean that literally, I obviously know where I acquire my books (stores, library, online distributors) I also know the author, and thanks to movements like Women In Translation Month, I now pay attention to translators. What I don’t know is the publishers. I recognize the big names,the small logos on the spine. I can name the big five, but that is mostly because they’ve been a part of my bookish life for as long as books, and not because I took the time to learn about the publishers, the editors, and the team behind the final product that I enjoy. This year thanks to The Podcast by BookRiot. My
obsession interest in the industry has increased. As has my interest in discovering creative and innovative work by boundary pushing authors, which would inevitably lead me down the rabbit hole that is small indie presses.
My second inspiration is Women In Translation month. Some of the most exciting and innovative reads I’ve come across in this year’s Women In Translation Month were from small indie presses. Combine that with awesome small indie titles I’ve read this year, I knew it was time I seriously did some digging into small presses. I, for many years read solely big named titles, by big best sellers produced primarily by big named houses. Simply because I didn’t know other books were out there, or how to find them. I read whatever my local bookstore and library carried. The internet has made the book world so much smaller, and as a result, I’ve become much more of an active reader, seeking out books that are out of my comfort zone.
It was’t until I hit my twenties that I seriously started to take a look at what I read and how I was reflected in it. The sad truth was, I wasn’t always there. Discussions about diversity and representation have played a role in my active search to find authors, stories, and characters that not only looked and represented me, but also those that didn’t. Small presses have the unique advantage that they can produce what fits with their mission and focus on voices that have been marginalized and pushed aside. Those are the presses I’ve flocked to, and continue to seek out. In honor of these small indie presses, this Septemebr I will focus on finding, highlihginting, and reading books produced by small indie publishers as well as the publishers themselves. Keep in mind I am a noob, so I have tons to learn, and true nerd that I am, I am so exited! I am not here to say small indies good, big houses bad, I merely want to diversify my reading, and discover what small indie presses have to offer.
If you feel like joining me, feel free.I will be using the #smallpressseptemebr hashtags across various social media sites. If you have any recommendations, please please send them my way. Thanks!
Edit: New banner created because in my excitement, I totally left squiggly lines in. *facepalm #human
Happy Reading 🙂