St. Louis has the distinction of being a literary hotspot in the Midwest with no shortage of authors. While many are choosing to self-publish these days or even go strictly the e-books route, plenty still hope to find a traditional publishing house.
Catching the eyes of agents and the big East Coast publishers is a formidable task that can take years of trying and plenty of waiting, but small presses amenable to new authors are popping up across the country. With the latest addition of Rocking Horse Publishing, St. Louis now has five independent traditional presses for authors of mainstream work. Rocking Horse joins Walrus Publishing, Blank Slate Press, Stonebrook Publishing and High Hill Press.
Traditional publishers are choosy about the manuscripts they accept and advise submitting work that is edited well. They provide further editing, design, printing, and some type of marketing at no cost to the author. Most small presses will at least put their books into the Amazon system, and may have wider distribution to accommodate book stores. Authors should check with the publisher about e-book rights and publication.
All publishers mentioned in this article accept direct queries—no agent required. Authors, however, should read submission guidelines on the publisher websites and note that small presses can only take on a limited number of books each year.
Walrus Publishing, established in 2008 by Lisa Miller, publishes books by St. Louis area authors, particularly if the work is set in St. Louis or is about the city. Walrus published “Flood Stage,” an anthology of poetry by 55 poets from the St. Louis area.
Blank Slate Press
Blank Slate Press, founded by Kristina Blank Makansi, also focuses on authors of the St. Louis region. Blank Slate published the locally popular “Never Hug a Nun” by Kevin Killeen and “Slant of Light” by Steve Wiegenstein.
High Hill Press
Luella Turner is owner of High Hill Press, which publishes fiction, including young adult and children’s books. High Hill published “Geese to a Poor Market” by L.D. Whitaker and the Cuivre River Anthologies of short stories, poems and essays.
Stonebrook Publishing, established in 2010 by Nancy Baumann, publishes nonfiction books that “change lives, save lives or have a positive impact on society.” Stonebrook is a new concept in publishing, where the author and publisher help fund the project, but the author receives much higher royalties than traditional publishers offer.
Rocking Horse Publishing
Rocking Horse Publishing, recently founded by Robin Tidwell, concentrates on fiction. Rocking Horse published “Seven Dirty Words,” a racy contemporary romance by Charlotte Howard. Tidwell is owner of All on the Same Page Bookstore in Creve Coeur, which welcomes independently published authors.