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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sticking With Independents

In their November catalogue, Soft Skull Press is pleased to dispel the myth that authors who publish successfully through independent presses automatically shop their next project to the big guns in publishing.

A prime example of this is Matthew Sharpe. His novel The Sleeping Father, published through Soft Skull, was chosen as a Today Show Book Club selection, and thereafter became tremendously successful. However, rather than bringing his success to the table and seeking a deal with HarperCollins or Penguin Putnam, as he could have, Sharpe returned to Soft Skull for his latest novel, Jamestown.

Other successful authors have stuck with this excellent small press as well. Among them are Wayne Koestenbaum, David Ohle, Daphne Gottlieb, and Lydia Millet, all award-winning writers who have found joy in independent publishing.

Why choose a small press? Further, why stay independent when you could gain “commercial” success? Many authors cite the personal attention as a primary reason for staying “small.” Where a large publisher will undoubtedly release your novel along with 40 or 50 other titles as part of a spring or fall catalogue, a selective independent publisher may have a dozen or less, and each of these titles is hand-fed through the process of reviews, bookstore placements, and more.

Another advantage is “shelf life.” Large publishers routinely pull titles from their active list after three months or so, unless the books are runaway bestsellers. Most independent presses keep their titles in print for a year or more, allowing unknown authors time to build an audience.

Any other independent publisher advantages you can think of?