What are some upcoming trends for 2014?
As media becomes more diffuse and traditional outlets lose some of the influence they once had, publishers can no longer rely solely on reviews and bookstore attention. They need to focus on increasing direct sales to consumers. Recently, we launched Lizzie Skurnick Books, an imprint devoted to reintroducing the classics of YA literature. While the launch of the imprint received significant media attention—NPR, New York Times, LA Times, etc.—what has significantly helped has been our subscription sales, which have acted like a Kickstarter campaign. Ultimately, we expect subscriptions to be a significant portion of the imprint’s revenues. This follows a model that presses like NYRB Classics have pioneered, where subscriptions are a large and vital portion of sales.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
Ig Publishing is always looking for interesting and original literary fiction. We love introducing new voices, and in May 2014, we’ll be thrilled to publish Rachel Weaver’s debut novel, Point of Direction, an American Booksellers Association Indies Introduce Debut Authors pick.
We would also like to see more current events/political books. We had great success with The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism by Trevor Aaronson, published in hardcover and e-book in 2013, and we’re releasing a paperback edition in 2014. We received coverage for the book from all major media outlets and would love to repeat the success we had with this title.
What don’t you ever want to see again?
Authors who don’t understand the importance of promotion or how to promote. Author promotion is critical in today’s publishing climate. An author can’t rely on a publisher to do all the promotion. Similarly, authors need to understand that posting a few times on Facebook and doing an event or two is not going to do much. Authors need to think of creative ways to stand out in the overcrowded book market.
What is unique about your corner of the industry?
Publishing is divided into two worlds—the big presses and everyone else. Within the “everyone else” segment, there are many small presses. The greatest thing about small presses is that they are willing to take chances on new voices, new strategies and new promotional opportunities. Because we don’t have to make decisions through an editorial board, we are able to move quickly on projects and take chances on books that big presses might deem too risky or not commercial enough.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Ig Publishing is now in its 12th year. We have managed to survive an extremely turbulent time in publishing and have only continued to grow. We started out publishing four titles a year and are now publishing 20 titles annually, with annual sales of nearly $1 million. As we head into 2014, we are looking forward to our current list with debut fiction like Point of Direction by Rachel Weaver; reissuing Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family through Lizzie Skurnick Books; and offering up such progressive titles as Strike Back! Using the Militant Tactics of Labor’s Past to Reignite Public Sector Unionism Today. Running a press is definitely hard work—very hard work!—but it is rewarding to publish books that might otherwise never see the light of day and to watch many of them thrive. Small presses can do it!
Elizabeth Clementson is the publisher at Ig Publishing and Lizzie Skurnick Books.