Indie Press Spotlight

A question has occupied my mind recently: What type of indie presses operate in the United States, and do they cater to specific genres? As I began to answer this question, a few things became apparent. How a press organizes their website will determine if a consumer is interested in them. An organization’s ethos is built by how clear their mission statement and history are—and how easy these are to find. More importantly, publishing within a specific genre really assists in building a press’s credibility and refines the quality of their work. Here are five notable indie presses who have done this well. 

1) Haymarket Books is a press that would best suit those who are more interested in social and economic justice in persistent issues that occur around us daily. Based in Chicago, they are a project of the Center for Economic Research and Social Change. Mentioned in their mission statement, Haymarket books wants to contribute to the “education and development of a critical, engaged international left.” Their name is honor of the Haymarket Martyrs, who are best known for their fighting efforts to achieve an 8-hour workday. Haymarket Books has published over 500 titles in their home city of Chicago; some famous authors they have published include Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Angela Davis. 

2) Catapult, a mostly online-magazine founded in the fall of 2015, strives to publish award-winning fiction and nonfiction of the highest literary caliber. They have been mentioned by many prestigious groups such as The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. Catapult also offers writing classes led by award-winning authors to help perfect the craft in aspiring novelists. Their mission is to celebrate extraordinary storytelling: “Human beings did not become the revolutionary beings we now consider ourselves to be until we began to share what we know.” Their published authors include Dina Nayeri, who wrote the The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You, which is about her childhood escape from Iran. 

3) The Ugly Duckling Presse is a nonprofit publisher for poetry, translation, experimental nonfiction, performance texts, and books by artists. Their history goes back to 1993, when students put together a zine, and their press has been to Moscow and many other places until they permanently settled in Brooklyn. They favor emerging, international, and forgotten writers—often wanting handmade elements to works—with a heavy focus upon experimental creativity. They host workshops, poetry readings, and tours at their press. Examples of works they have published include 20 Love Poems for 10 Months by Mary Austin Speaker andBribery by Steven Zultanski.

 4) Hub City Press is the South’s premier independent literary press. They were founded in May 1995 when they wanted to preserve some sense of the Southern identity and also offer writing competitions for short stories, poetry, and other submissions for monetary prizes. They want extraordinary new and unsung writers from the South and will publish their 100th book this year. A noteworthy novel they are publishing on March 10 is the prize-winning collection of poetry Mustard, Milk and Gin by Megan Denton Ray, which was entered into their own competition. 

5) Coffee House Press wants to expand the definition of what literature is, what it can do, and who it belongs to. They mainly publish poetry, essay collections, and fiction; however, they look for works that don’t fit neatly into any specific category. Coffee House Press began in 1972. Although they are a non-profit, they publish their yearly financial audit so that others can see what they are up to. An example of their genre-defining work is Song for the Unraveling of the World by Brian Evenson which blends literary fiction, sci-fi, and horror. 

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