March has been designated the month to recognize and celebrate small press books and their authors. All too often, books by small presses get short shrift in the publishing industry because we are a society that is run on name recognition. While many small presses publish quality materials by great authors, these publishers often must work harder to gain attention for their books since most of their authors aren’t celebrities. As a result, Small Press Month grew out of the desire to provide greater recognition for the quality books that many small presses produce.
In a society where everything is becoming super-sized, it helps everyone to recognize that most things start small. Many booksellers were originally small Mom-and-Pop stores started to fill a need in the community. Large numbers of these have since been assumed by chain stores, losing in the process their individual identity and original appeal. Small Press Month gives booksellers the chance to remember their own humble origins and extend a helping hand to others that are in their beginning stages.
The quote that was picked to represent Small Press Month so eloquently sums up my feelings about small presses. The quote, by Sherman Alexie, says, “The small presses represent what is most brave, crazy, and beautiful about our country and our literature. So let us sing honor songs for the independent publisher.”
If you are a small press publisher or if you are an author whose book has been published by a small press, then I encourage you to use the opportunities presented this month to publicize your books.
The Small Press Month website atprovides 31 suggestions for small independent publishers to use this month to increase their publicity and promote their books. Here are eight great suggestions from the list:
- Contact the features editor and the business editor at your daily newspaper about any Small Press Month and publishing a story about it featuring you (and your colleagues) as a successful publishing story.
- Approach an interviewer at a local radio station about airing a segment regarding the problems and rewards of running a small press, or set one up for an author.
- Make arrangements with any local non-bookstore outlet that is appropriate for any of your books. For example, if you publish cookbooks a grocery store might display them up near the check-out for Small Press Month, particularly with a special discount as an incentive.
- If you have a personable, articulate author who is available to speak in his or her area, try setting up interviews with local television or radio stations.
- Schedule a talk to elementary, junior high, or high school students about how to become an author which could be a highlight of school programs during the month.
- Keep your alumni magazine up to date about you and your small press.
- Contact other small and independent arts organizations in your area – record labels, theaters, and art galleries, for example – and link to each other’s websites, promote each other’s events, and support the independent arts community!
- Take National Small Press Month posters to your local bookstore or library and be sure that they are displayed and distributed.
Interestingly, Small Press Month did not provide website banners to advertise this event and promote this important acknowledgement and promotion of small presses on its website. So, had my wonderfully talented husband make one. It’s plain and simple, but it gets the point across. I have posted it on the Christian Small Publishers Association’s website at www.christianpublishers.net. Feel free to copy it on your website also.
Small presses should use every available opportunity to increase their presence in the world. Increasing your company’s presence augments your marketing reach. Small Press Month is a great excuse to get out and hit the streets in your home town, meet new retailers and make new networking connections.
Tell me if you post the Small Press Month banner on your website. Let’s combine our efforts to gain better recognition for small presses.