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Indie Presses - Filling the Gap


Poets and Writers, November/December, 2012

What with the drama that continues to unfold within the publishing world, a drama that seems to be benefitting no one these days, it seems, except the corporate masters and their stockholders, the world has gotten a whole lot harder for us writers to negotiate.

But what’s that I hear? A bugle call and a regiment of indie presses coming to our rescue? Yep, and they’re trying all sorts of hybrid mixtures to sell their writers’ books and, possibly, gain some attention from the publishing giants. This issue is dedicated to the whys, wherefores, and whos of indie publishing, and every enterprising writer should pore over this issue.

Some of these new books are arty paper issues, others pushing the digital envelope, and still others are simply filling in the short-story and novella gaps that mainstream publishers ignore.

Sadly in this kerfuffle, the university presses are being hit - hard. Strange that in academia, where innovation is supposed to be an everyday occurrence, these presses are becoming lost in the failing, traditional modes of publishing. Something to think about, no?


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From what I have seen of

From what I have seen of academia, innovation is not there any more.  So many professors and instructors are getting stuck doing the same thing over and over again.  They are not willing to innovate and change. If they are indicative of the whole, no wonder university presses are not doing well.

Indie presses are starting to fill the void, though.  One press like this, Drinian Press, has only about 23 titles, yet 6 of the titles have been cataloged in the Library of Congress.  Not too shabby for a small press. 

Of course, it won't be listed under the Who's who of presses in Poets & Writers.  They basically only promote MFA programs which brings me to the question: Can a MFA guarantee a writer will be published? I shouldn't be cynical, but I guess I am.

Thankfully indie presses are alive and struggling. ~nan

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Sounds like...

...you and I are of the same mind on all points, Nan, although I hadn't thought about professorial repetition making their minds numb. But I do remember that when I was in school for my Masters, the profs seemed to be on auto pilot a lot. 

I looked up Drinian Press, and they mention that their challenge is in distribution. I think that's a common problem for all indies. But...some one of them will eventually solve that, and all the others will follow suit. Then the indies will be able to seriously compete with the big five pub houses.

I know, if you've read a lot of my posts, how I feel about MFA programs, and the writer mags that tend to publish their stuff exclusively. I would tend to throw the big postmodern writers  into that heap as well. The common thread there is an experimentation with technique, which is fine. I like structural tinkering - that's why I read J.M Coetzee. Most MFA writing that I've read seems to be long on technique and short on something to say. The famous postmodern writers, though, seem to have thought a lot about their subjects, and thus tend to make their work imaginative philosophical treatises. My problem there is their writing leaves the reader with a hyper-consciousness of those writers' voices and techniques, and that drowns out the story. In other words, and to be blunt, these writers seem to be in love with their voices and execute that with every fiber of their being.

But I have to contrast them with well respected British writers such as Ian McEwan and Julian Barnes, and Irish writer John Banville, who have their say rather elegantly in works we would term as novellas - a genre that's a tough sell here in the U.S. Also Jose Saramago of Portugal, and the German writer Bernhard Schlink write concisely, as do the famous South African writers. It's as though "bigger is better" with us, the opposite in Europe and other places. 

So I'm with you 100% on indies. They seem to be open to all avenues of good writing, and we should look to them exclusively, I think, at least for now.

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Bob,   I have to admit that I


  I have to admit that I haven't read many of your posts, at least, up until now (I will be checking through them).

  I agree with you about the MFA writers...they've studied so much about technique and avoiding cliche that haven't lived and experienced life and so have little to say and it shows.  Okay, I might be a bit prejudiced and stereotyping too much. 

I will be checking out some of these authors as I know I haven't read any of them.  By the way, the novella form is making a comeback or so I have heard/read recently.  

Thanks for your remarks; glad we are on the same page.  Now, I'm off to read some of your thoughts about MFA programs. ~nan

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You said:

" I agree with you about the MFA writers...they've studied so much about technique and avoiding cliche that haven't lived and experienced life and so have little to say and it shows. "

I swear, you've been reading my posts, if not my mind. :)

Thanks for the comments, Nan.