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If You Want To Get Published, Stick With the Indie Publishers

In a surprising turn of events, this year indie publishers have been knocking their sales goals out of the park. Inpress, a company which works with sixty of the smallest publishers in the industry, revealed sales are up 79% in the last year, a statistic that Inpress’ managing director Sophie O’Neill says is phenomenal.  


“It’s down to a mix of really good books such as Audre Lorde’s Your Silence Will Not Protect You from the feminist Silver Press,” said O’Neill, “and Dead Ink’s crowdfunded book Know Your Place: Essays on the Working Class by the Working Class – which is like The Good Immigrant except about class – and great attention to detail.”


Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde, author of Your Silence Will Not Protect You | Image via The Guardian


According to O’Neill, smaller publishing houses based outside London have found success from reaching previously untapped markets by recruiting authors from more diverse backgrounds. “It proves that in publishing now, geography is irrelevant.”


Hannah Bannister of Peepal Tree Press, part of the Northern Fiction Alliance that specializes in Caribbean writing that found critical and financial success with Jacob Ross’s The Bone Readers which won the inaugural Jhalak Prize, said independents were responding to reader demand. “We are offering something that readers want rather than just another novel with a dead girl on a train.”


The Northern Fiction Alliance hosted a sold out event in Manchester, which showed there was demand for more cutting edge books. “There were over 100 young people there who wanted to find out about what’s new and interesting. People are tired of being sold books [by large publishers] based on what they bought earlier.”


Another reason small independent publishers have been finding success is because they’ve been picking up established authors who had been dropped by large publishing houses after disappointing sales or because they wanted to explore a different genre.


Monique Roffey, who was on the shortlist of the Orange Prize in 2010, recently moved to Manchester’s Dodo Ink for her latest release after Simon & Schuster got cold feet after buying the rights to her latest release in 2013. “It’s very sexually explicit,” Roffey says of her 2017 book, The Tryst. While initially uncertain about signing to a small publisher, the author has called the experience “wonderful … I worried that they would be able to get it into shops, but within two or three months I have sold more copies than my last book did with Simon & Schuster.”


Monique Roffey's 'The Tryst'

Monique Roffey’s The Tryst | Image via Amazon


Though the book advances might be smaller, independent publishers are able to take a longer-term view of a writer’s career, rather than dropping them at the first sniff of failure, said Roffey. “The worst position you can be in as a writer is if you have been given a lot of money for a book that doesn’t sell. That is the common slow death of a writer’s career.”


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