I'm back from my third of four residencies at Converse College, and, once again, I have nothing but good things to say. Hilarious readings by Leslie Pietrzyk and Keith Morris reminded me once again that literature is for everyone. Informative lectures by Susan Tekulve and Denise Duhamel pointed out the writing opportunities inherent in travel and the craft involved in using humor in poetry. But the session that I want to elaborate on here was presented by Betsy Teter on small press publishing.
Teter is the editor of Hub City Press, a nonprofit organization that "publishes well-crafted, high-quality works by new and established authors, with an emphasis on the Southern experience." There has been much talk about shopping local and buying from local artists, artisans, and farmers since the Occupy Wall Street movement began. Whatever your opinion of the Occupy phenomenon, it is worth noting that authors are among those who can benefit from this trend. Small presses are committed to publishing literature, and they are committed to promoting authors they believe in. This may or may not come along with commercial success. The books published by small presses and sold in independent bookstores like Hub City and Quail Ridge Books are largely not promoted or sold in the two big booksellers left in the US. In other words, your patronage of independent booksellers directly affects the writers working in your communities.
Some of the practical advice Teter offered to us were questions to ask small press publishers such as: Do you send out galleys? Do you send out review copies? How many review copies do you send? Teter's explanation of her process of sending review copies to get buzz going for a book was informative, and it showed her dedication to the authors Hub City publishes. When (yes when!) I publish a book, I can only hope that it is backed with the enthusiasm Teter showed in her presentation.
Read local. Buy local. Love books.