Small indie publishers report booming sales

Small indie publishers report booming sales

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 / theguardian.com

In a sector that has struggled elsewhere, figures for 60 of the smallest players in the UK industry show sales up 79% in the last year

Fuente original: Small indie publishers report booming sales | Books | The Guardian.

Phenomenal … Audre Lorde, whose Your Silence Will Not Protect You is one of the success stories highlighted in Inpress’s research.

Phenomenal … Audre Lorde, whose Your Silence Will Not Protect You is one of the success stories highlighted in Inpress’s research. Photograph: Robert Alexander/Getty

Independent publishers have unleashed a boom in sales, according to new research. Latest figures from Inpress, which works with 60 of the smallest players in the books industry, revealed sales up 79% in the last year – a performance hailed by Inpress managing director Sophie O’Neill as 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,” O’Neill said, “and Dead Ink’s crowdfunded book Know Your Place – which is like The Good Immigrant except about class – and great attention to detail.”

In a market where literary fiction has struggled to find readers, turnover across the Arts Council England-funded portfoliosurged above its budget by almost £100,000 this year, reaching £277,930.

According to O’Neill, smaller presses based outside London have found success by reaching markets beyond the white middle classes and recruiting authors from more diverse backgrounds. “It proves that in publishing now, geography is irrelevant,” she said.

At Peepal Tree Press, a member of the Northern Fiction Alliance that specialises in Caribbean writing, operations manager Hannah Bannister 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,” she said. The Leeds-based independent enjoyed critical and sales success this year with Jacob Ross’s The Bone Readers, which won the inaugural Jhalak prize.

Larger houses often base commissioning decisions on past sales figures, Bannister continued, but a sellout event in Manchester for the Northern Fiction Alliance showed there was a thirst for more cutting-edge work. “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.”

One reason cited for independents’ success was that they were picking up established authors dropped by large houses after disappointing sales or because they wanted to write in a different genre.

Monique Roffey, who was shortlisted for the Orange prize in 2010, moved to tiny Dodo Ink in Manchester for her latest novel after a larger publisher pulled out.

“Simon & Schuster bought The Tryst in 2013, but got cold feet,” Roffey said. “It’s very sexually explicit.”

Although at first she had misgivings about signing with a small press, Roffey said the experience has been “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.”

Advances from independents may not be huge, but they compare well with those offered by larger houses for literary fiction without obvious sales potential. And in some cases, they can be higher – And Other Stories is now offering at least £2,500 for each new book.

Independent presses can also take a longer-term view of a writer’s career, Roffey continued, rather than dropping them at the first sniff of failure.

“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,” she said. “That is the common slow death of a writer’s career.”

  • This article was amended on 22 November 2017 to remove any suggestion that Seren Books is funded by the Arts Council England.

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