Are you an aspiring writer or illustrator? Trying to write in lockdown? Maybe you’ve been creating for a while? You’ve done a few submissions perhaps. The chances are, especially if you’re unagented, you’ll have submitted to one or more small independent publishers. These are the guys and gals who are usually open to unsolicited submissions. They’re your route in, one of the only ways to get your foot in the door, your chance to become an author.
Both myself and my husband have been published by small presses. They’re run by people who work their butts off to eke out a living on the small margins in this game. They strive to make your book a success, sometimes from their kitchen tables. It is often the small presses like Tiny Owl, Lantana and Alanna Books who champion writers and illustrators from diverse backgrounds and who promote diverse, inclusive content. They compete in a market dominated by a few huge publishing conglomerates who have the clout to pull all the strings with the big booksellers. They forge connections with other people passionate about books, often small independent booksellers. They work hard. Really hard.
I’m massively grateful to my own publishers, Tiny Tree Children’s Books, for believing in my story Danny and the Dream Dog and for pairing me up with fabulous illustrator Howard Gray. I’ve been helped along the way by many, many independent booksellers too. Special mentions go to The Alligators Mouth, Nomad Books, Liznojan Books and Book Bugs and Dragon Tales.
Times are tough right now. For everyone. But believe me, they’re especially, sometimes critically, tough for small independent publishers and booksellers. For small businesses already clinging on by their fingertips, there is only so long they can hold on.
If you write or illustrate and you’ve submitted your work in the past to indie presses or hope to see your books on the shelves in your favourite indie bookshop in future, don’t assume they will be there when the dust settles. Value them now. Give them your support. Show them some love today. Buy a book, share their tweets. Be there for them now so they’ll be around for you tomorrow.