From Kenyon Review Online’s Publisher Spotlight:
KMD: What does literary citizenship mean to you and how does it shape your editorial decisions, approach to book publicity, and engagement with the larger community?
LC: I suspect that most writers, whether emerging or mid-career, can feel the reality that books are declining in importance in our culture. The industry has become more corporate and commercial. And there are more entertainment options than ever. Sales for adult fiction, for example, are down 16% in just the last 5 years. The literary world is a relatively small niche. Consequently, a certain level of evangelism is required to keep this niche thriving. As a small press, we try to make editorial decisions the old-fashioned way—based on the strength of the manuscript, and the originality of the premise and execution. The main question I try to answer while reading is: Why hasn’t this type of book been published already? As for publicity, there’s more noise than ever, and there are formidable structural barriers in the book supply chain that prevent small presses from achieving large-scale sales, namely corporate distributors. Literary citizenship is critical for small press books. We rely on other authors and emerging writers to review our books and interview our authors. I used to review books, most of the time for free, just for the writing credit. I continue to interview small press authors, blurb their books, and post about books on social media. This evangelistic work is all sadly unpaid, but vital to the literary community. If we don’t feed the fire, the fire dies.