Frequently asked questions
Are any of your previous publications still available?
No, they are all out of print and there are no plans to reprint them at present. We want to concentrate on our new works.
Have your authors given up on wider publication?
Let me explain the way we see it. The Coronzon Press edition is the first edition. We are the first outlet of the stream through the crack in the rock. No-one can second-guess the destiny of a book. A book wants to be read. We aim to do our best by it while it is under our wing. If the time comes when we must part company with it and see it off to a larger audience than we can ever hope to provide for it, then we have to be big about that and let the book continue its journey, as much as we might wish it was us that was still taking it along. On the other hand, who the hell knows? A friend tells a friend tells a friend, and before you know it the acorn is an oak and the roots are ours and the leaves are ours.
How much do you spend on marketing and publicity?
Compared with what the major publishers can achieve in this area, The Coronzon Press is only one step above stuffing writings in a trunk and waiting for death. We drink to our shattered illusions. You’re here aren’t you? Something must have worked.
The big problem with the small press is distribution, i.e. getting the bookshops to take the book. A total slog without a distributor, no?
You still buy books in bookshops? So long as one thinks of things like ‘distribution is the big problem’ one still has one’s head in the old model and is doing something according to the old reasons. Yes, over-hyped well-distributed books will always sell, even if they’re crap. But it’s the wrong comparison to make. That is book as commodity. Book as something personal and real, can take narrow lanes and like it.
What do you get out of being an independent publisher?
It’s satisfying to create a book exactly how you want to do it, without having to constantly look over your shoulder at people who may disapprove, tell you it is just not commercial, or otherwise regard what you’re doing as too off-the-wall for them. Besides which, the jury’s out on what is and is not commercial. Money’s not the reason for doing it, but you never know when a book is going to prove popular. Sometimes the anarchic spirit proves very commercial. It’s good to be able to publish books that are raw, unpredictable, and have the potential to be dangerous. These are all the qualities that you know have been filtered out of mainstream books, if they ever had them in the first place. We also believe that good things start to happen when a person takes control of their own destiny, unforeseen things, and we like experiments in seeing what happens.
Why publish? Aren’t there too many books already?
Finding a good book is becoming harder and harder, despite the vast number of books being churned out every day. Because of that, people are willing to look further afield than the usual sources for stuff they really want to read and they generally know it the minute they find it. It’s a mysterious process, finding a book worth reading. It’s like certain books are for us, and coming across them is akin to finding treasure. Finding a really good book is a huge event on the scale of the individual. Good books remain as milestones in people’s lives. It’s very very hard to assemble more than a small shelf or two of such works. That’s why it’s important to publish and add one more book to the billions, because it could be a book like that.
Are your books ‘talismanic’?
By ‘talismanic’, do you mean are our books bound in frogskin or calfskin as an expensive way to disguise bland content and imply some power added above and beyond the words inside? The answer is No. For us content is the first consideration, and after that all we want to do is provide something nice enough to slip in your pocket on a sunny day and go and read under a tree, rather than put in a display case and boast about ownership of. Is a book not better described as ‘talismanic’ if you enjoy it or it makes you think? Even a tatty second-hand paperback can change a person’s life. We are against the falsification of merit for a book by means of production. Although we naturally admire genuinely fine examples of binding and printing, we find most so-called ‘talismanic books’ to be silk purses made from sow’s ears in terms of content. Is it not the case that ‘talismanic books’ are only talismanic for the publisher, in that they can now attract buyers who judge books solely on their covers?
Are your books limited editions?
They’re not numbered as such, but our print runs are generally smaller than many limited editions and when those are gone they may or may not be reprinted. Get them while they’re hot! Join our mailing list if you want to be informed as soon as they come out.
What do you think of the state of publishing today?
When I go in bookshops these days I can rarely find anything I want to read. The exception being second-hand bookshops, which have more of a true range. In the big publishing houses most of the authors of their good books are long dead and backlist inheritances, and the recent releases are usually trash hoping for a movie option. That they are bestsellers is simply because they are stacked high in the bookshops. Many brands of shampoo and soap are also bestsellers, but there’s less pretense about that.
In recent years the ‘indie’ publishing scene has been gaining strength, inspired by what is happening with indie music, although we still prefer the term ‘underground’. The old chestnut that the small press only publishes what has failed to interest a ‘proper’ publisher is getting harder to justify now ‘proper’ publishers no longer look for new writers. Depending on literary agents to be the bouncers of their club, and driven by marketing departments, the big publishers have turned even so-called ‘literary fiction’ into a kind of homogenous middle-class lowbrow (the ecstasy, a genre at last, they can flog it to people who don’t like westerns, crime, scifi, and romance, but aren’t individual enough to have any taste). We’re talking about books from career writers that have a surface appearance of being well written, but actually are hollow and dead.
But the good side of this rejection of writers who do have something to say, for whom the idea of making writing a career is a joke though it would be nice if pigs did fly, is that it has led to a thriving independent publishing scene. Because there are people out there who don’t want it all denaturing in the name of profit, who want to read writers who have their finger on the pulse of something a little more exciting than what the Booker judges are looking for. It’s taken a while for it to find its feet, but now you can see that the work of real worth is coming up from the small publishing houses like ferocious wild grass cracking open the pavements. That said, most small presses publish just as much dross as the big ones, but it sets the scene for the real mavericks to slip in by the back door.
Do you have a publishing philosophy?
Sokei-an’s teacher told him: ‘Say anything you want. Don’t mind the audience. Stones hear – a stone may hear. If there are four hundred, speak as only to one.’
Are you on Twitter and Facebook?