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What Our Small Presses Have In Store For Us

Like many book bloggers, I have a lot of love for independent publishers. The books they tend to publish tend to stay with you and they are inspiring for the work they do compared to the big publishing houses which have many more people.

I have a busy schedule, my editing work and current upheavals have been taking up a lot of my time so I haven’t accepted as many review copies as I have in the past. This and the desire to promote small publishers lead me to form a concept for a post and to write an email to several UK independent presses. (This post is about the UK, but I’d like to create others in future for other countries.)

The idea was this – I wanted a post that wasn’t your typical promotion machine. I wanted a post that was about introducing readers to new titles. I wanted it to be personalised. I think it’s easy to forget, when you’ve read so many press releases and advertisements, that publishers really are passionate about the books they are publishing.

I asked a few people to choose the book they themselves were most excited about publishing in early 2014, and to tell me why they (themselves) were excited. Unfortunately, whilst there was a fair amount of interest I actually only received two opinions. My venture may not have been a big success, but nevertheless the responses were written especially. Here they are:

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The representative from Alma Books chose Sweet Dreams, Little One by Massimo Gramellini (coming in March).

Alma’s highlight for spring 2014 has to be Sweet Dreams, Little One by Massimo Gramellini. This novel is already an international bestseller, having been translated into fourteen languages and sold 1.2 million copies in Italy alone, where it has been in the charts since its first publication last year. Alma has always been interested in promoting foreign fiction and we feel this is especially significant in the UK where translated contemporary literature is less sought-after. Sweet Dreams, Little One is the story of a lifelong search for happiness, both funny and touching it traces the journey from childhood to adulthood of a boy who lost his mother early on. Based on the author’s own experience dealing with grief, Massimo Gramellini has created a sensational novel which Alma are proud to publish.

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Peirene Press publishes three translated European titles a year, and Meike Ziervogel has described what is so special about Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov (coming in February).

Like a Grimm’s fairy tale, this story transforms an innermost fear into an outward reality. We witness a prepubescent boy’s secret terror of not growing up into a man. We also wander in a beautiful, fierce landscape unlike any other we find in Western literature. And by the end of Yerzhan’s tale we are awe-struck by our human resilience in the face of catastrophic, man-made, follies.

If you are interested in either (or both) of these books, the links to the publisher page for Sweet Dreams, Little One is here, and Dead Lake is here.

Which books are you looking forward to in 2014?


Jenny @ Reading the End

January 22, 2014, 2:05 am

Aw, what a fun idea for a post! I hadn’t heard of either of these books, so I’m really glad you were able to highlight them. :)


January 22, 2014, 12:17 pm

Awesome post! Shame only two got back to you, but still, these two books look interesting.

Literary Feline

January 22, 2014, 5:17 pm

Both books sound really good, Charlie, and I like the idea you’ve had for this post. Hopefully you will get more responses in time.

There were a couple bloggers a few years ago who featured small press book tours in which the readers chose a book published by a particular small press publisher (on the reader’s dime–which I didn’t mind) and read and reviewed it on their blogs on an assigned date. The idea behind it was not only to draw attention to small presses, but also to encourage readers to venture outside the big publishers. It was a lot of fun, I thought. Plus, it gave readers the opportunity to get to know a few of the small presses out there and a sampling of their work. I’m not sure what happened with the project. I’m sure busy schedules had something to do with it.


January 22, 2014, 6:53 pm

This is a great idea for a post. I am bad at finding out about independent books and debuts.

Andrew Blackman

January 25, 2014, 4:32 pm

How strange that you didn’t get more replies, Charlie. I’d have thought any publisher would want to be included in a post like this. Anyway I plan to read the Peirene book already, but it was good to hear about Sweet Dreams, Little One. I don’t think I’ve read an Alma book before, so will probably try this one.


January 26, 2014, 2:22 pm

There are so many books to look forward to this year, but you have reminded me that I have a book by a small publisher I really should get to. :)


February 28, 2014, 10:25 am

Jenny: They’re both awesome presses, too, which made the fact I only got a couple of replies not so bad (I can’t vouch for all the publishers I contacted because I haven’t worked with all of them). Everything Peirene publishes is worth reading, their fiction is incredibly reliable.

Alice: Yes, it would’ve been good if there had been a few more, but then I suppose the less there are the more you’re likely to remember them.

Literary Feline: I may try it again at some point, especially as I think time played a role in whether people got back to me (I planned it a couple of months in advance but end of year/new year is busy after all.

I like that idea, and with the choice you had, paying doesn’t sound so bad. Maybe you could resseract it?

Kailana: I think it’s getting easier now; there seem to be many more independent publishers, or at least the Internet’s made it easier to find them. That said there’s so much talk about big publishers you do sometimes have to seek the smaller ones out.

Andrew: I thought it a pity, but maybe next time there will be more responses? I’m still to get to The Dead Lake. I was offered a copy but I’ve a backlog at the moment so would’ve felt cheeky accepting it. Alma publish some good books, and their editions of classics are lovely, good covers, font choices, and so on.

Nikki-Ann: Yay! Small presses do publish some of the best books out there.



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