Saturday, December 19, 2009

Small press books

Well, we didn't get any snow after all. It just turned back into rain and melted. That was after Mom and I rushed out in excitement to the store and bought marshmallows, Hershey bars, brownie mix, and hot dogs--in case we were SNOWED! IN!--and the clerk said she wished she could come home with us.

A lot of folks are talking about supporting small presses, which has made me think about it too. I haven't been too good about that this year. I don't read a lot of short fiction so I don't have any subscriptions to anything, but I did order a few anthologies this year, notably the excellent 52 Stitches antho. I also ordered and very much enjoyed Catherine J. Gardner's chapbook "The Sour Aftertaste of Olive Lemon."

Mostly, though, I supported small presses this year by buying books. At the moment I'm reading The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan, which I started earlier this year but never finished (I was probably distracted by something shiny). So far I'm really enjoying it; it's taking off in unexpected directions, which I like.

I've read several other small press books this year, and I hate to say it, but I have not been terribly impressed. I blogged (twice) about Nathalie Mallet's book The Princes of the Golden Cage, but I never mentioned how little I liked Anne Logston's Shadow because, you know, I'm not cruel. I did enjoy Emily Veinglory's Father of Dragons, but that was the bright spot in the small-press offerings this year.

I don't want to think small press books are on the whole of a poorer quality than the books big commercial publishers release (my own Jack of All Trades came out this year from a small press, and I have another book coming out in 2010 from another small press)--but of course they are. The good stuff is there, but it's harder to find. That just means it's important to look harder (oh, and read Aaron Polson's new review blog that focuses on small presses).

In 2010 I vow to read at least ten books published by small presses. That's support where it counts.


Aaron Polson said...

Together, we will feret out all the gems and share them with anyone who will listen.


Cate Gardner said...

Good to see you rushed out and bought essentials. :D

Jamie Eyberg said...

It is a good thing to never let those things go out of stock in your pantry, ever. Just in case. Sorry you had some stinkers in your TBR pile.

K.C. Shaw said...


Cate--You can't have snow without s'mores and brownies!

Jamie--I was shocked when I realized we were out of marshmallows. How can we have hot chocolate without them?

Jamie Eyberg said...

Substitute Irish Cream for the marshmallows. Delicious.

K.C. Shaw said...

Could I put marshmallows in the Irish cream? Because that might make it even better. :)

Robin Sullivan said...

We are also snowed in so a great weekend to curl up warm and read - glad to see you are liking The Crown Conspiracy -- My husband wrote it ;-)

Keep safe!

K.C. Shaw said...

Awesome! Tell him I'm enjoying it. :)

I recommend hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows for snowed-in days.

Danielle Birch said...

Great choice for essentials :)

K.C. Shaw said...

Sometimes you gotta go for the important things. :)

Susan Parker said...

In regards to small presses and quality...I'm no expert - but I do work for a small press as an intern (Same one who handles Michael Sullivan who you are reading and how I found your site). So I'll give you my impression.

As for Ridan Publishing (the one I work for) we are VERY VERY VERY picky. I read 100's of slush pile submissions and I'm lucky to get 1 or 2 of them to go to "the next level". There are a lot of people who are "not ready for prime time" but are trying.

Some small pressess will take "anything that is close" and are hoping to have a lot of titles throwing a bunch of stuff out there hoping one will hit.

I'm of course really glad people are looking to support small presses - I think they are willing to take more of a risk. My advice is if you find a small press and you like one of their books - you're pretty safe trying other from them because you know their level of quality. The reverse is true for picking one you don't like - again you already know where they set the bar.

Since there are so many small presses you'll not run out of choices...I'm pretty proud of the quality of the Ridan works I've read since joining them (6 of their 10 books)

Please feel free to look us up at - we offer discounted orders and the ability to get signed copies from the authors which is a pain to administrate (I do this ;-p) But ultimately good for the customers which is great.

Thanks for letting me share a bit.