The Agrarian Prose Harvest

June 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Knuckledown Press, an independent Midwestern literary small press, has begun accepting submissions for the Richard M. Thorson Literary Prize for Agrarian Prose, which is awarded annually for a previously unpublished manuscript of literary fiction or creative nonfiction with an agrarian setting. The Richard M. Thorson family will award $500 and Knuckledown Press will grant a publishing contract to the winning author.

For more information about Knuckledown Press and how to enter the contest, visit the press’s web site at

Why You Should Buy Direct from Small Presses

March 31, 2011 § 5 Comments

Victoria Barrett of Engine Books makes a compelling case for buying small press books directly from the small presses themselves, even though other methods (rhymes with Bamazon) offer greater convenience and sometimes a better price.

Here’s an excerpt from her full blog post.  Notice the factor of 10 figure. Geesh!

.. Okay, it’s nice to get my hands on something right away if I can get it in person, and also to not pay for shipping. And so, now and then, the laziness/thriftiness/get-it-now mentality might take over.

Then I started Engine Books, and learned a thing or two.

For example, Engine Books nets more revenue from 100 direct sales than 1,000 copies sold through conventional distribution. That’s right: A factor of 10.

This exact number won’t be true for all small presses. For Engine Books, it’s the right decision to discount wholesale prices to meet retailers’ demands. But if you didn’t know, those discounts are staggering. The best option for small presses to generate sustainable funding is either to offer retailers a smaller discount or to price the book higher to generate a little more revenue. The former means that fewer retail stores will even consider stocking the book; the latter means it feels overpriced to potential readers. And perhaps at some point, Engine Books will adopt that business model, reaching for less distribution and more stable (if modest) sources of income. This works well for many small presses. And of course, even with the bloodletting-level discount, there’s no guarantee whatsoever that bookstores will order a title. Even so, I feel I owe my authors a shot at broad availability.



Lee Smith: Everything is Changing

February 6, 2008 § 1 Comment

When first encountering this snippet of Lee Smith’s WSJ Interview, I thought she was being pretty negative, but by the end of the paragraph, I saw what she meant. Anyone who just experienced the AWP Bookfair saw what she means as well. Brevity, I hope, is part of the change.

Do you think it’s more difficult to get published as a new voice today than before?

[Lee Smith]

Ms. Smith: Absolutely. This is the horrible irony that just kills me, as I read this very important and exciting work. Because I think we have more excellent new writers who really have something to say, writing in America than we have ever had before. But the horrible irony is that there are fewer and fewer places for good fiction, literary fiction in particular, and poetry and creative nonfiction to be published. At the same time as the number of excellent new writers is growing, our country is dumbing down. People are not reading. Consequently, publishing is in a state where they are publishing less and less serious fiction, serious poetry. So here you have all these wonderful writers with essentially nowhere to publish. And this is giving rise to small literary outlets and particularly I think too, online magazines and to blogging. So there’s a whole different kind of thinking about writing and where it will be heard and read and seen coming in now. Everything is changing.

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