The Birth and Ongoing Life of a Small Press

The publishing industry is full of all types of presses: small, medium and of course, big. When I started this press almost three years ago, I had no idea where it would go. Being a small unknown in the big sea of books was not fun. The first year was tough – really tough. The second year was interesting, and full of change as ebooks began to hit the mainstream.

We’re about half way into our third year and it’s been a bit of a blockbuster year thus far. I think there’s a few reasons. First is that we’ve had several titles whose sales rival those of authors published by the bigger houses. The second is the meteoric rise of ebooks and their acceptance into the mainstream of reading. The third is that we’ve changed our business model and moved into the business of being a more traditional press. With this move, we’ve been able to focus on a select number of books, create and market them as they should be.

Unit Sales by Month

Not many privately held companies would do this, but I wanted to throw out our monthly unit sales over the past few years. I find this chart very interesting, mainly because I come from a market research background and also because of the phenomenal growth it represents. I’m showing it because I think it’s a helpful model for emerging authors and publishers to take a look at. Perhaps their numbers look a lot different than ours; perhaps these are abysmal compared to others. But what I do know is that this growth means that I, along with the authors I work with, have impacted the industry somehow. This kind of volumetric growth is not being matched by growth in the reading population. It doesn’t necessarily mean that people are reading more books. It does mean that people are reading more ebooks (which is what we specialize in). But everyone now produces ebooks, it’s just another format. What this growth truly means is that a little publishing house from Vancouver BC has put a miniscule dent in someone else’s market share.

It doesn’t matter to me if it’s like an ant kicking at a grizzly bear. This ant has friends, lots of them. And if their growth is anything like mine, then the independent publishing movement is making change, thanks to and with help from all the enabling printers, distributors, bookstores and READERS out there. Book by book, we’re delivering what readers want, and reaping the rewards because of it.

Let me just take this moment to enjoy this small victory and raise a glass to anyone out there who is thinking about stepping out of their comfort zone. Whether you’re an author thinking of publishing your own book or a pastry chef who wants to open their own bakery. Go for it, stay the course, listen to the market, change when you need to, be good to people and work hard. And please remember to share your victory stories with the rest of us – it reinforces that we are all capable of doing something we never thought we could.


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