Back when I was seeking a publisher for my novel, finding small presses was a haphazard process. I would compile lists from various sources, only to find out that some of the presses specialized in categories other than literary fiction (poetry, for example), or hadn’t published anything in the last several years.
Now that I’ve started my own small press and am more familiar with the small-press landscape, I have some ideas about how we writers can go about not only finding small presses, but narrowing down our search to presses in specific categories that are actively publishing at the moment. (For the more traditional ways of finding publishers, see this post from Jane.)
1. Browse review venues that specialize in small-press books.
If a forthcoming book from a small press is getting reviews, chances are good that the press is actively publishing right now and is effective at getting its titles into the hands of reputable reviewers. Foreword Reviews is dedicated specifically to reviewing books by small presses in many categories. Subscribe to their quarterly magazine or check out the Book Reviews section on their website, and look in the category your own manuscript belongs in—for example, YA, memoir, literary fiction, etc.
2. Identify awards for small-press books.
Looking at literary awards that are specifically for small presses will also help you compile a list of active publishers who are sending their books out for award consideration. The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) has its yearly Firecracker Awards specifically for literary fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. You’ll find a larger array of categories in the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year awards, administered by Foreword Reviews. Here’s the list of 2018 winners. 2019’s finalists will be announced on March 20.
3. Check bestsellers and new releases through book distributors that specialize in small-press books.
A number of distributors specialize in titles published by small presses. My own press is distributed by Small Press Distribution (SPD), which represents over 400 small literary publishers. Rather than adding all those presses to the list you’re compiling, here’s a shortcut: check out SPD’s lists of new releases and bestsellers. Here are the appropriate pages for new fiction and bestselling fiction at SPD; there are also similar lists for poetry and creative nonfiction.
- Publishers Group West offers a PGW Books in the News page.
- Independent Publishers Group doesn’t exclusively represent small presses, but it’s still useful to check out their New & Notable page and their Recent Reviews page.
- Consortium’s front page features hot news and the week’s top 12 bestsellers, and their Bookslinger blog has updates about awards and recognition for recent titles by Consortium publishers. Also check out their reading group guide page; and you can subscribe to newsletters devoted to different types of books they distribute.
Ask questions or add other useful resources in the comments below. And best of luck in your search!
Rosalie Morales Kearns, a writer of Puerto Rican and Pennsylvania Dutch descent, is the author of the novel Kingdom of Women (Jaded Ibis, 2017), about a female Roman Catholic priest in a slightly alternate near-future. She’s also the author of the magic-realist story collection Virgins & Tricksters (Aqueous, 2012) and the founder of Shade Mountain Press.