Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I'm often asked what it is like being published by an independent press. Well, it's great. For a number of reasons. A big one of course is getting to work with an editor who is absolutely devoted to his authors and doesn't have to kowtow to the economic "bottom line" when it comes to deciding what books to acquire. This means that unusual books, ones that don't fit some preconceived niche, are absolutely fair game. Coffee House Press tends to specialize in ferreting out stuff that, well, doesn't fit the cookie cutter, or what Rosmarie Waldrop has called the general "dullness". I don't believe for a second that great, innovative stuff isn't being published in the big houses (Lydia Davis, after all, is usually published by FSG, as is Sheila Heti (see below), and of course there are exciting instances like Nelly Reifler's See Through and Ira Sher's Gentlemen of Space, etc. elsewhere), but the majority of what passes for FANTASTIC at such outfits is, my God, anything but. At any rate... Another advantage is working closely with a marketing/publicity team that knows your book well and adjusts its approach accordingly (no one size fits all). A corollary is that each book gets special attention because the list for a given season is small (you aren't fighting for attention with 9 other FANTASTIC novels coming out alongside your FANTASTIC novel). These advantages tend to mitigate against the deep pockets of the big houses, who, at least for their A-list authors, can pay to have their books given special treatment at the chain stores and to wine and dine critics at pre-pub lunches at fancy bistros, etc.

There is of course much more that could be said, but that's a start.


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