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The Rising Power of Small Presses

So you know how the big movie houses take fewer risks nowadays, instead relying on superhero stories to create blockbusters, which through growing movie watcher boredom are quickly becoming only semi-blockbusters?

That’s what the Big 5 presses like Simon & Schuster are doing. The small and independent presses, on the other hand, are treading where the biggies won’t dare go for fear of the culture wars canceling an author. Which is to say, the little people are kicking bootie by publishing edgy, creative and daring books.

So says, Alex Perez and his interesting article, The Serialization of Books: The Fight for the Future of Publishing on The Free Press.

And so says The Economist, which recently published Small Publishers are Sweeping the Booker and Nobel Prizes (above photo).

And so say I, too. Now that I’ve had five books published by small presses, and have read hundreds of small press books, I can absolutely say the little houses publish a lot more varied books about a lot more experiences of a lot more people around the world.

A case in point is that though I’m not Native American, Histria Books published THE FALCON, THE WOLF AND THE HUMMINGBIRD about two warring indigenous tribes in pre-colonial New England, a book that took twenty years to research and included hundreds of sources from indigenous writers and bloggers. A Big 5 would never have touched such a manuscript.

My suggestion? Find a small press that writes what you like to read and adopt the publishing house. Subscribe to the newsletter, review the books and otherwise support the people who are pushing past the fear and uncertainty to expand the number of books that give voice to those who might not otherwise be heard.

Here are a few I’d recommend:

Vine Leaves Press, publishes a huge variety of contemporary and historical books from around the world

Graywolf Press, a nonprofit house that publishes fiction, nonfiction and poetry

Ahashic Press, an indie specializing in urban fiction and political nonfiction

Do you read any small press books?


For updates about Martha’s forthcoming books, news and giveaways, subscribe to her website:

BLISS ROAD, a memoir


GROWING GREAT CHARACTERS, a resource for writers

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