Q&A with Salt Publishing

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Today I am delighted to welcome Chris from Salt Publishing to my blog. I discovered this publishing house whilst I still harboured thoughts of one day writing a book (I recovered). I stumbled across their call for submissions to ‘Modern Dreams’, a series of ebook novellas which included Michael Nolan’s The Blame (you may read my interview with the author here).

More recently I have read and reviewed The Good Son, written by another Belfast born author on their list, Paul McVeigh (who I also interviewed here). I am looking forward to reviewing a number of books from their prolific backlist as well as a selection of their new releases, in the coming months. Watch this space.

Without further ado let us find out more about this independent publisher which, since the beginning of the new millennium, has published over 1,000 books.

1. Why did you decide to set up Salt?

We started Salt in Cambridge in 1999 – it was borne out of a conversation in the common room of Churchill College, Cambridge. John Kinsella and I wanted to set something up that was a fun outlet for publishing collaborative anthologies of poetry. They never saw the light of day. Within months we were publisging single collections of poetry and the journey began.

2. What sort of books do you want to publish? 

​Fiction, short stories, occasionally poetry, though the list has closed now; and writers’ guides.​

3. How do you go about finding and signing authors? 

​We work with a range of UK and International agents to acquire new books and commission some directly ourselves. We have fairly wide outreach and often bump into new talent at events and online.​

4. Is your experience of marketing what you expected when you started out?

​Not at all, marketing is really about understanding what people want (where and when) and giving it to them as effectively as possible. Building up knowledge of what your audiences want is a constantly changing and sometime fugitive experience. Reading is influenced by fashion and by the effects of critical awareness – the social impact of reading within communities.

5. There are a good number of small, independent publishers out there publishing some great works. Do you consider yourself different and, if so, how?

​We see publishing as a continuum, from​ the large conglomerates, through larger independents, smaller indies, right the way through to self-publishers. They’re all doing exciting work, and we’re both in competition and often collaborating with this big baggy community of passionate people. We don’t see ourselves as different from them, we just find books we’re passionate about and are willing to bet our own money on.

6. Latest trend or totally original – what sells?

Originality is often borne out of a realm of practice, nothing pops up in isolation, writers are responding to other writers and the world of readers. That writerly world is however distinct from the world of readerships – the two can overlap, or collide, in some cases it can be the readers producing material for their own distinct communities: fan fiction or genre specialists.

What sells is a different set of issues, this can be driven by a very wide range of influences: the media, prizes, cultural access, festivals, bloggers and booktubers, reading groups, libraries, store promotions, booksellers, the list could go on – finding a book that sells is often about navigating these different touch points in the life of the book and mediating them. In fact publishing is a highly mediated trade. No one can guarantee what sells, but you try and stack the deck in the book’s favour.

7. Ebook or hard copy – what do your buyers want?

​About 88% of people want the physical book – and those that don’t initially, will often buy it later. In the world of literary publishing, eBooks haven’t had a huge impact.​

8. Do you consider Salt niche or mainstream?

​Mainstream, I think. Our books are accessible readers, sometimes conventional, but occasionally radical in nature.​ They’re often daring and quirky, sometimes Gothic, often feminist.

9. Collaborative or dictatorial? 

​Oh collaborative, for sure. No one can survive in the book trade without being collaborative. Not to say there aren’t the occasional dictatorial moments. We’re not a cooperative, we’re a commercial family business.​

10. Plans for the future?

Survive – one can’t be guaranteed success, and you’re only as good as your last book. Financial insecurity is a feature of all publishing and most people will face losses and bankruptcy at points in their professional lives. You need a high degree of tenacity and flexibility, there are times when in order to continue you may have to ​redesign your whole business and build it again. The key is to keep going. Keep pushing through. And, of course, enjoy the journey – the books make it all worth while.

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Thank you Chris for taking the time to answer my questions. You can find out more about this small press, including details of their books, on their website by clicking here: Salt Publishing

Keep up to date with all of their news via Twitter: Salt (@saltpublishing)

bitter sixteen  blackcountry

littleegypt  9781784630232frcvr.indd

If you are an independent publisher and would like to be included in this series, please check out my introductory post: Shout Out to Independent Publishers

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One comment on “Q&A with Salt Publishing

  1. Beth Webb says:

    I happen to know these guys are brilliant. Excellent blog.

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