End of the year means time for lists. I’ve seen lots of book lists over the past few weeks, but they’ve hewed to conservative choices like the new Stephen King time-travel novel or Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding. I’ll be honest: I tried both before I got distracted (Kindle’s make it easy to get distracted by another book. Just a few pages that don’t grab and suddenly button-click I’m back to my home library with all those other books I wanted to read . . .).
I’ve also seen lots of discussion about the top-selling indie (or “self-published”) books of 2011. Notable: two of the top ten bestselling books at Amazon this past year were independent novels (and fine books to boot).
But I haven’t seen any lists of terrific independent novels–and by independent, I mean what people with corporations would call “self-published.” And I thought, hey, I’ve read some great independent novels this year. Why not talk about them? Of course, I probably should be less declarative and more accommodating and title this something more generic like “My Favorite Indie Reads of 2011,” but none of the other lists I’ve seen have done so, so I figure why not?
I don’t really think in lists, so I’m not going to make one, but here are some independent books I thought highly of. A caveat: through social networking, I’ve “met” a lot of the authors on this list, as we run in the same circles, but they’re not here just because I follow them on Twitter. I follow them on Twitter because they’re here.
I’ve been sitting on some news for a while, but now that some books are up and things are moving forward, I feel more comfortable making a formal announcement: I’ve officially founded Exciting Press, a new independent digital publisher, and as director have signed bestselling author Nick Earls to a major digital distribution deal.
For a lot of years, I was pursuing what’s now called a “traditional book deal.” I wanted an advance and book tours. It was always my dream.
And I mention that because this feels like my dream come true even though it sort of isn’t. I can’t tell you how proud I am of this venture, and how deeply honored and humbled I am to be working with Nick, who is both a truly accomplished author and a truly cool guy. His agent, Pippa Masson of Curtis Brown Australia, has also been terrific to work with.
So what does it mean to found a press?
A new website for one. There will be more to come on the site.
For now, being a small start-up, I’m working to focus on Nick’s work–which at this point includes more than a dozen books. Our plan is to release them over the spring and summer of 2012, but we’ve also managed to publish a few in time for the holiday.
We’re going to work to make it all easily accessible; for now, the best way to find the work is to search for “Nick Earls” in the Kindle store. But a couple of stories might get you started:
“Problems With a Girl & a Unicorn”
“The Secret Life of Veal”
Let’s spoil this early: if I’d ever managed to put together a ten-best books of last decade list, this novel would have been on it. It’s just that good. I’ve read it several times, and every time, it devastates me in the best possible way. It is one of my very favorite novels.
Earls is Australian, and this was published several years ago–2002, so far as I can see by Amazon, but that may just be the American publication. I’m not sure.
I read this back when . . . what are we calling this sort of lit now? Used to be, when this sort of book was written by women about women for women, it was often called “chick lit,” a term I’m pretty sure I still see with somewhat regular frequency but am also pretty sure has fallen well out of fashion. When this sort of book was written by men about men for–men? . . . there I’ve heard it called several things, including but not limited to “dick lit” and “lad lit.”
Basically, if you think of Rob Gordon and John Cusack in High Fidelity (which might have been another book on that ten best list, except it might have been out before 2000), you get some idea of the sort of book this is.
Except it’s not.