Hello, and welcome to Small Press Week! This week, I’ll be treating you to five reviews of novels published by five different small presses. These range from an old favorite (Subterranean Press) to a couple I’d never quite heard of prior to this (Shadow Mountain, Small Beer Press). I’ve certainly not covered every single small press out there, or even every type of small press, but I hope I’ll be giving you a taste of what’s available in the speculative fiction and YA genres.
Why small presses? Well, I’m reviewing books by small presses primarily because I like them, and secondarily because I noticed I had quite a few novels published by small presses. Why do writers publish with small presses? Sometimes it’s because they’re writing things that perhaps aren’t easy to sell (short story collections as a first work, for example) right now. Sometimes it’s because they think what they’re publishing might only have a limited audience (a Ray Bradbury screenplay, for example). Sometimes, yes, it might just be because New York (the traditional publishing industry) has rejected the book, but one has to remember that New York rejects things for a large number of reasons. Obviously if the work was accepted by a small press, overall writing quality wasn’t the reason. Another reason might be that the small publisher reflects one’s personal values more. I’m sure there are many other reasons that I can’t think of at the moment, but readers and small-press publishers should definitely feel free to comment with some.
Monday’s Small Press is Subterranean Press. I’ve reviewed quite a few of their books before (like these), and they’re one of my personal favorites. It’s not just because they’re publishing Charles de Lint’s obscure works, either. Their editions are frankly beautiful; although I’ve been reading ARCs recently, I own enough that I know that they’re all fully cloth-bound, with beautiful covers and often really nice endpaper. Sub Press also has a link to a few New York publishers; they do collector’s editions of some of the more popular works, such as Naomi Novik’s His Majesty’s Dragon. They’re based in Burton, MI; I don’t know how many people they have on staff, but they seem to have a few hundred books in print at this time.
Tuesday’s Small Press is Norilana Books. This small publisher was started by Vera Nazarian on August 3, 2006, so it has just turned two years old. They currently have a whopping 174 books in print; many of these are the Norilana Classics line, which is lovely reprints of public domain works. The covers are generally fairly pretty; I feel they’ve been improving in quality since they started publishing. They’ve published a few of Sherwood Smith’s books, including the just-released A Stranger to Command, a prequel to her popular Crown and Court Duet. They’re based in California.
Wednesday’s Small Press is Small Beer Press. Small Beer Press was founded in 2000 by Gavin J. Grant and Kelly Link; they publish books as Small Beer Press, Big Mouth House, and Peapod Classics. They also produce chapbooks and a zine; they seem to release five or ten books a year, primarily short story collections. Their zine is called Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and a best-of collection was published by Del Rey last year. My primary interest in this publisher is that they have released a few of their titles under Creative Commons licenses; this dovetails with Free Books on the Internet Week.
Thursday’s Small Press is Shadow Mountain. Located in Salt Lake City, they appear to produce quite a bit of children’s and YA fiction. In their guidelines, they say that they prefer works which reflect traditional Christian values; fortunately, this doesn’t keep them from publishing fantasy and science fiction. Look for a special interview and contest with one of their writers! It may appear by Thursday, or it may come in for next week, but it will exist, in either case.
Friday’s Small Press is Samhain Publishing, my only e-press. Founded in 2005, they publish a range of books that generally fall into romance or speculative fiction forms, but they also include “Inspirational” and “Mainstream” as categories on their main page. E-publishing, in general, is a slightly separate ball game from small presses, but I’ve chosen to conflate them for the purpose of this week. Other people do brilliant jobs at reviewing a good deal of the works available at e-publishers; I picked Samhain because they seem to have more sf/fantasy than other e-pubs, and the three (Sherwood Smith) books I’ve already read of theirs (here, here, and here) have been of good quality.
If any other small presses out there would like to send me books (or e-ARCs) to consider for a second episode of Small Press Week, planned as soon as I get another set of five, please contact me (see ‘Contact’ tab at the top). I’d also consider doing a dedicated E-Publishing Week, if I can collect sufficient f/sf/ya e-books from various e-publishers to make it worth my readers’ while.