What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
I wouldn’t call this a trend since we work so far in advance (we’re currently putting together our winter 2019 list), but I will say that I’ve been delighted by the attention given to reissues as of late. Whether the book came out 10 years ago (and didn’t get as much attention as it deserved) or came out 40 years ago (and is getting a second chance at publication), I’m overjoyed to see readers “discover” certain authors for the first time. From Counterpoint, we reissued Eve Babitz’s Sex and Rage last July, and it’s been thrilling to see everyone’s rediscovery of Eve (which makes me even more ecstatic to reissue her short story collection Black Swans this spring). And Soft Skull Press has recently been focusing on reissuing some older titles to give them new life, such as Jillian Weise’s The Amputee’s Guide to Sex (Bonus: Keep an eye out for reissued Maggie Nelson poetry, coming this spring!).
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
This year has certainly started off with a bang; women are (rightfully) angry and truly making some fantastic noise. I’m a mom of an almost 3-year-old girl, and while I don’t acquire books, I do share my opinions with our editors and hope to see even more books that address feminism, empowerment, and rage. Two weeks ago, we published Molly Caro May’s Body Full of Stars, a memoir discussing her experience with postpartum rage and her difficulty in healing after childbirth; I think this is the type of book that more readers (both men and women!) should be paying attention to. Following in that category is Meaghan O’Connell’s And Now We Have Everything (which comes out later this spring, not one of our books, but well worth mentioning): a truly honest and refreshing look at identity and motherhood that I strongly related to.
This June, Counterpoint is publishing Nell Painter’s memoir, Old in Art School, and I was just blown away to read how she tackled ageism and racism with her decision to go back to art school in her mid-60s. Now is the time more than ever to share stories like Nell’s, and my goodness, this is one I can’t wait to put in readers’ hands.
What’s unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
As an indie publisher, we are committed to publishing authors who are looking for an intimate relationship with their publishing house. We’re making sure our authors get noticed by traditional media outlets (those critics and interviewers are more important than ever!), but we’re also creating progressive media campaigns with strong social media platforms. Working with book club subscription services like Belletrist, Book of the Month, or Well Read Black Girl has helped expose our books to so many new readers. I believe that Counterpoint and Soft Skull (along with our sister imprint at Catapult) really make sure that we are author-driven first and foremost, publishing books that truly matter.
Whether it’s an author’s 15th book with us or his or her first, the entire team here works aggressively to make sure the most creative and thoughtful campaigns are put behind each book. For me personally, I will never tire of getting to work with authors who I have admired for years. In March, Soft Skull published Men & Apparitions, the first novel in 12 years from beloved critic Lynne Tillman. We also were fortunate enough to publish Joan Silber’s Improvementthis fall, which just won a National Book Critics Circle Award! At the same time, we’re also making sure our debut authors are getting the attention their brilliant books deserve: National Book Award longlisted Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s novel, A Kind of Freedom (about race and three generations of one New Orleans family), is just one example that comes to mind.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Support your local indie bookstore! I cannot stress enough the importance for writers and other people in the publishing industry to go shop at their local indie. Writers: Make friends with your local indie booksellers! They really want to help support you if you support them in turn (it’s a win-win situation). Personally, if I could spend all my money at stores like Green Apple Books and East Bay Booksellers, I would (I’m certainly spoiled; we have a cornucopia of indie bookstores in the San Francisco Bay Area).
Megan Fishmann is the associate publisher and director of publicity for Counterpoint Press and Soft Skull Press. Previously, she was a publicist for both Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Random House. She has held editorial positions at the Virginia Quarterly Review, Zoetrope, BookPage, and Narrative Magazine. She was a Henry Hoyns fellow from the University of Virginia, where she received her MFA in fiction. She currently lives in San Francisco.