For me, independent publishers are the people in the industry who are prepared to take risks on new authors and books where the larger players either don’t wish to venture, or where they can’t see there being a return on. Each month in 2018 I am aiming to highlight some of my favourite independent publishers, along with some of their books that I have loved and also to have someone from the publisher answer a few questions. This month is the turn of Sandstone Press
Like Parthian, who are very strongly focused on the Welsh author and work, Sandstone rely on Scottish authors and subjects to create their catalogue. They have been nominated for a number of awards and prizes including the Arthur C. Clarke! I have read a few Sandstone books over the years, Most recently was East of West, West of East about Hamish Brown’s family during World War Two when they had to leave after war broke out in the Far East. I enjoy reading books on Surfing, so Around the Coast in Eighty Waves by Jonathan Bennett was one from their catalogue that I’d spotted and really enjoyed when I had read it last year. Another amusing travel book from Sandstone was, Up the Creek Without a Mullet by Simon Varwell. After discovering there was a village in Albania called Mullet, he had an urge to go to places that have Mullett in their name. There is a sequel too. On my radar are The Great Horizon by Jo Woolf and Between Weathers. I was also fortunate to win a copy of Short Ride on a Fast machine, but I haven’t quite got to that one yet… Ceris at Sandstone was kind enough to answer the questions below:
Can you tell me a little about the history of Sandstone Press?
Founded in 2002 in his spare bedroom in Highland Scotland by writer, editor and publisher Robert Davidson, Sandstone Press has grown to be a prize-winning publisher with a carefully curated list.
How is the company organised today and how many people work for you?
Located in former press buildings in Dingwall, Sandstone Press has four board members and four full time employees. Distribution is from BookSource in Cambuslang and sales are by Quantum Book Services, while our ebooks are distributed by Faber Factory. Do pop over to our Meet the Team page to find out who’s who:
What is the company philosophy when it comes to selecting for your catalogue?
The company publishes literary fiction and non-fiction. We have high editorial standards and seek to build the reputation of our authors by working closely with them, which we consider carefully during the selection process.
How do you go about choosing the titles to be included in your portfolio?
Prospective Sandstone titles are considered by our acquisitions group, often read by one of our outside readers, and later read by at least two of the internal group. After that there is a consideration of likely sales, rights, audio, and whether the book is a good fit for us. Only then will an offer be made. Sandstone Press receives many more highly acceptable books than it can possibly publish.
Tell me about your process after selecting a book for publication
A lot! We’ve been getting a fair bit of attention on social media recently for our cover designs, and we have to say that we work with some truly fantastic designers.
Are there any up and coming books that you are publishing soon that we need to look out for?
Many, but in particular look out for Crocodile by Daniel Shand (last year’s Betty Trask winner with Fallow), Dune Song by Anissa M Bouziane, and The Secret Life of the Mountain Hare by Andy Howard.
What debut authors are you publishing this year?
Rob Palk, Jokha Alharthi, Rebecca Ley, Anissa M Bouziane, Moire O’Sullivan, Helen Bellany, Tessa Fontaine, Andy Howard, Mark Atkinson.
How did you come across them?
Some came from agents, some submitted by themselves.
This year? Not an unexpected success except in degree: There’s Always the Hills by Cameron McNeish.
What would you say were the undiscovered gems in your catalogue?
How do you use social media for promoting books and authors?
Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook all work with our regular newsletters. We’re particularly excited about Instagram at the moment!
Is working with book bloggers becoming a larger part of that process now?
Yes, and we very much value the book bloggers we work with. More power to your elbows! Blog tours have become a more important part of what we do in the past year or two, and we’re hoping to work with more Bookstagrammers and BookTubers in the future.
Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama.
What does the future hold for Sandstone Press?
Many, many more great books and, we hope, stronger and stronger relations and trust with our readers and (of course) those wonderful bloggers.
Thank you to Ceris once again for taking time out of his hectic schedule to answer those questions for me. I really appreciate it. Their books are available from all good bookshops. I would urge you to buy them from an independent bookshop if you can as this support them, the publisher and of course the author with one purchase.