by Stephen May
Don’t neglect independent publishers when seeking a home for your work. A small press is a real labour of love for the people who run it. No one sets up a new publishing house because they want to get rich, they do it because they love literature and want to bring the best of it into the public domain.
Freed from the shackles of needing to earn big returns to pay big London salaries, smaller regional publishers can take more chances. They can nurture writers who are developing their craft, or ones who operate outside the mainstream. Independent publishers may well give authors more space to produce the work that they want to without worrying about commercial returns. They can build a much more personal relationship with their authors, and can spend time with them. If a smaller press agrees to publish your book, it can mean that you are embarking on a relationship which will sustain your writing through difficult, as well as successful, times.
Of course, not all independent publishers are the same. There are bad ones and ones that won’t ‘get’ your work, or know how to market it properly. Again, the simplest thing to do is to read some of their other books and see if you can imagine your own work sharing some of the editorial values on show. And remember, all the big publishers were small independents once – driven by the vision of one or two strong-willed individuals.
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