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  1. #1

    Let's Talk Indies

    Okay, so the future of the industry is unpredictable, although many opinions and assumptions can be made.

    Most aspiring writers know who the bigdogs are, and some are familiar with the slash-cut-only bestseller policies their adopting or already adopted.

    What I'm wondering is if we can compile what most here on SFF consider to be the Indie Publishers.

    Would groups like Pyr and Baen fall into this? And what about Tor (Yes their huge, but I still don't consider them in the same league with Harper or Random).

    So anyone willing to help with a list, it is much appreciated (I'm think KatG might have one laying around somewhere. She always has good info).

  2. #2
    KMTolan kmtolan's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
    Near Austin TX
    Look up the publisher's list over at That will give you a great head start on Indies as well.


  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by kmtolan View Post
    Look up the publisher's list over at That will give you a great head start on Indies as well.

    I've seen that list, good source, yet quite long (not to mention it doesn't differentiate between the genre of publishers). I have not researched all the publishers on there, but I wonder if any pod's find their way in (nothing against the legitimate ones). And when you do a search for indie publishers, many times this is the case (even when turds like PublishAmerica end up being listed).

    I guess what I was asking, based from the knowledge and experience of many here at SFF; a list of the best (or better and legitimate) indies...
    Last edited by JT Billow; February 14th, 2010 at 10:32 PM.

  4. #4
    I found a great list put together by John Kremer. Sadly, it does not separate different genres. What is great about it is the criteria he used for compiling the list:
    * No conglomerate book publishers.
    * No book publishers affiliated with other companies, associations, universities, or organizations.
    * No non-profit book publishers.
    * The book publisher must publish books with great cover designs and interior text designs.
    * The book publisher must publish books with good content and editorial selection.
    * The book publisher must carry out great marketing programs.
    * They must have at least ten books in print.
    * They must have at least one title that has sold 25,000+ copies.
    The list is long, yet has some sort descriptions of what the publishers specialize in. If I can link it, without violating forums rules:

    But as I said previously; if anyone experienced in publishing sees a publisher on the list that may be questionable, do tell...
    Last edited by JT Billow; February 14th, 2010 at 11:13 PM.

  5. #5
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Mar 2003
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    The deal with the SFF category market is that it's been hour-glass shaped. That is, it started as something of a rag-tag bundle of magazine publishers doing paperbacks, bigger presses doing paperbacks, small presses started by fans, etc. that eventually coalesced into a separate section in the bookstores supplied by specialized publishers and imprints, and some specialty SFF bookstores, while a lot of SFF was also still published in general fiction but part of the SFF community to one degree or another.

    But as a successful and growing specialty, the category market had to concentrate on a national audience, rather than a regional one, because there weren't enough fans regularly buying in a region. This, combined with changes in book-selling, led to a more narrow, national market in which there were not a lot of small presses doing SFF and the market was mostly supplied by the big imprints and houses. In the 1990's, when technology made some things easier and the Web started to open up, this changed. It became more possible for a small SFF press to deal with the national audience, and again, fans, authors and publishing vets started SFF presses. Some of these have been very successful and so instead of a largely two tier system (big, medium) we now have more of a four tier system for the category market (big, medium, small and micro,) with a large amount of SFF also in general fiction (big, medium, small.)

    Most countries don't have a category market at all and publish their SFF in general fiction. Of the big English language markets, Canada doesn't have much in the way of specialty SFF presses, but has a category market in bookstores, Australia sort of has specialty SFF presses and a category market in bookstores, and the U.K. and the U.S. have the most specialty presses and category market sections in bookstores, with the U.S. market being much larger, and the publishers not necessarily being all the same ones.

    In the U.S., you have the big houses that make up most of the market on the national scale: Tor (owned by Macmillan,) Harper Eos and now Harper Angry Robot, Bantam Spectra, Del Rey, Berkley Ace, Penguin Roc, Warner Orbit, DAW Books. You also have related imprints in those major houses that work with the SFF imprints, additional SFF imprints in the big houses, and a fair amount of SFF put out in general fiction by those houses and cross-marketed to the category field through the SFF imprints.

    Then you have medium size houses -- Baen, Pyr being the most prominent. Then you have smaller houses such as Subterranean and Night Shade (which is rapidly expanding to medium size,) and there are a lot of those and I don't know them all, but sites like do try to keep track. And then there are the micro smalls which are the newest start ups, usually only putting a few titles out, sometimes only short fiction, and may be selling only to a regional market, etc.

    These houses aren't really indie like film does indie. That is, they're smaller, but they're not doing really weird stuff that the big houses won't touch (excluding perhaps poetry.) They do publish more short novels (novellas) and short story collections and anthologies than the bigger houses can do, although the big houses do quite a few anthologies. They are often working in concert with big houses or with authors who also publish with big houses. And then there's the cross-over stuff going on with comics/graphic novel publishing, especially in the small press area, so you've got some SFF coming out there, in multiple forms.

  6. #6
    Thanks kaG, I knew you would have some good info..

    I would ask you opinion for aspiring authors, attempting to break into the field with a national potential. Should they go through the big houses with their agents, though said big houses are 're-working' their operations, or attempt publishing with the prominent mediums like Pyr and Baen?

    Is this
    Last edited by JT Billow; February 15th, 2010 at 01:00 PM.

  7. #7
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Oops, sorry, yes,

    The answer is that it depends on what you want to try to do as an author. A number of the big SFF houses will still look at unagented work, but they'll take a long time to respond. Having an agent is better, and not just for trying to break in, but for contract terms and subsidiary rights, which can net you more than a U.S. book deal. The SFF category market is a narrower field. There are only a percentage of agents who handle it who sell to a limited number of publishers and each agent can only handle so many clients. So it takes effort and often time to get an agent, and that's no guarantee of a sale. But it's usually worth the attempt. Just watch out for scammers.

    Baen and Pyr I think look at unagented work, but also deal with agents. They aren't different from the big houses, they just have smaller lists. If you get an agent, they'll hit all the majors including Baen and Pyr. If you can't get an agent and you can't get any interest from bigger houses, you can go to smaller ones. Or if you want, you can go directly to smaller ones. Just pick a good one because they aren't all the same and get someone who knows book law to look over the contract if you get a deal.

    There are also other publishers like Kensington, Harlequin's Luna imprint, etc., who do SFF and sell to the category market and out of it. Some of those require agents, some do not, but they usually deal with agents, and again, agents are usually better, at least for the U.S. market. There is also quite a lot of SFF published by general fiction publishers large and medium and you don't necessarily need to rule those out -- you or an agent can attempt to submit to them too. And then there's the whole YA/kids market which has a whole other set of publishers and is doing best of all the fiction markets right now.

    One thing you can do is hit the public library reference section and find a directory called The Literary Market Place, which comes out each year. It lists established presses large and small, educational, adults, kids, professional, (they have to meet certain qualifications,) and what they publish. There's also a sub-directory for literary agents and what they represent.

  8. #8
    For those reading this thread; I came across a list of publishers that has been separated only to show fatacy/sci-fi/horror.

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