We are ten years old this month! Hard to believe, but true. We are so grateful for all of the wonderful authors who have entrusted their work to us over this past decade, as well as the editors and graphics designers who worked so hard to put each book together along with our Team. Thanks to every one of you. Here’s to the next great decade!
We’ve been working on the website, finally getting all of the sections updated to reflect our current status, putting upcoming books in the bookstore, and adding a special section that highlights our Authors. Please check it out when you can. Feedback is welcome.
Submissions opened January 6, and there are dozens already in the queues. We are limiting each portal to a specified number of submissions so we don’t get overloaded. When that number is reached, the portal for that classification will close.
Finally, we’ve shifted our operations a bit – streamlining some things, allowing room for others. Coming into 2022 we feel it will truly be a banner year. It’s clear that after the challenges of 2021, and the rocketing success of 2020 in spite of a global pandemic, we have had some growing pains. Learning along the way is part of what it’s all about, but the commitment to our mission has never been stronger.
It may be cold and snowy outside where you are at this time of year, like it is here in central Virginia. But we have the perfect solution – come read with us! Grab a book and it will take you just about anywhere.
In 2019, Lee and Low published an important Diversity Baseline Study showing statistics among publishers related to the “the racial, gender, sexual orientation, and ability makeup of their employees.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, they found a diversity problem, which was reflected in the major offerings in the catalogs of most publishing houses. We began our press with diversity in mind and have resolved to do better, and hope that our offerings continue to show that even small, independent presses need to take seriously the call for diverse books.
Late in 2020, The New York Times sought to take the temperature of the publishing world: were things improving, and if so, how and where? The results were disappointing. While slightly more books of fiction were being published by minority and ethnically-diverse writers, publishing wasn’t paying them as well, and there were still vastly more books overall by white authors. When surveying the most popular books of the period 1950 to 2018 in order to provide a comparative baseline of current author diversity among the largest US publishing houses, an overwhelming 95% works were found to be authored by white writers, while non-Hispanic white persons make up about 60% of the US population. In 2018 alone, 89% of published books were by white authors. Clearly there is room for improvement.
Both studies found that the makeup of publishing houses tended to be factors in what was chosen for publication, and the majority of employees in publishing were, and still are, white. It was noted that during the tenure of Toni Morrison, the percentage of non-white published authors rose at Random House, and dropped notably when she left. Marie Dutton Brown, a contemporary editor at Doubleday who is now a literary agent, has noted that the fluctuation in publishers’ support for Black writers may be attributed to the news cycle, “which periodically directs the nation’s attention to acts of brutality against Black people. Publishers’ interest in amplifying Black voices wanes as media coverage peters out because “many white editors are not exposed to Black life beyond the headlines,” Ms. Brown said.”
Where does Propertius Press lie on the spectrum? We thought we should take a close look. Of the thirty-two (32) books that we will have released by November 20, 2021, fully nine (9) of them are wholly or partially written by those who identify as Black or Minority Ethnic (BAME). This includes Latin, Asian, and Jewish writers. This calculates to about 28% of our catalogue. Seven (7) include works by LGBTQ+ authors. These include our three short-story anthologies, fiction, and non-fiction works. We still have a ways to go before we will be satisfied that our catalogue fully reflects the diversity that it should. Finding statistics on worldwide racial population is actually a bit difficult – Wikipedia, for example, gives population by country but not by race specifically. The closest thing I could find is this pie chart offered by an independent researcher:
So we don’t actually have a good goal in mind, but we try to be aware of the makeup of our catalogue as it grows. In the past, we have limited certain types of submissions categories only to BAME writers. Currently, we are not accepting submissions while we evaluate all of what we have to-date. In the future, we expect the percentage of Black and minority authors in our catalogue to grow. We are open to suggestions about how to do this better, please leave these in the comments below. Thank you so much for your support and readership.
You’ve seen these words on our social media and website, and they may have made you wonder: What does this mean, exactly? Well, to begin with, we’re so small, we don’t have one “location” or place of business, as it were. Our staff numbers less than twenty, including editors, graphic artists, formatters, and marketing staff, all of whom work remotely – from all over the US, Canada, the Caribbean and Central America, as well as Great Britain and France. Some of us are part-time or retired, but we are all dedicated to carrying each book all the way through the process and into the hands of readers. We don’t earn a profit, but we do pay taxes. Each dollar received after covering the costs of making each book goes back into making more books – paying our authors, graphics folks, editors, and the rest of the Staff who bring these works to life.
Propertius Press is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), the National Book Critics Circle, the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), and many of our editors are members of the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA).
And finally, we’re not affiliated with any one market or outlet – we’re available internationally and domestically through the widest distribution network in the world: Ingram Content Group. What this means is, anyone, anywhere in the world can order and purchase the books we publish through their local bookstore, library, or online at their favorite ebook site. We aren’t limited to solely Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Apple iStore, or anywhere else. You can find us wherever books are sold, as well as at our exclusive online bookstore, www.visitourbookstore.com!
Hi, I’m Susannah Smith, the publisher here at Propertius Press. I recently did an interview with Duotrope, a subscription-based service for writers and artists that offers an extensive, searchable database of current fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and visual art markets and other benefits. Propertius Press has been listed with Duotrope since January 2018, and we know several successful authors found us this way.
It was really helpful to have the opportunity to clarify and expand on the information you can find here on our website. The questions the interviewer posed gave me insight into the types of things people want to know when considering whether to submit their work to a publisher. A writer’s work is precious and meaningful not only to oneself, but to the publisher who makes the decision to print the work and add it to their catalogue. With every offer of publication we fully realize that our reputation hinges on the success of that decision – both yours and ours.
For that reason, I hope you’ll take time to read the interview, and let us know your thoughts. This is our seventh year of bringing unique, polished treasures to the literary world. It’s a labour of love, certainly, but we hope that not only our readers, but all you diverse, talented writers out there can continue to find promising outcomes with us.
Recently, we’ve been instituting some changes in the way we assess and process submissions, in an effort to get more books out to our readers a bit more quickly, without compromising on the quality you expect from Propertius Press. We encourage you to use our Submittable platform, and to read the instructions for submissions carefully. This is the best and most expedient way to ensure your work gets the attention it deserves.
Right now, we’re preparing our list of publications through the end of the year. Follow us on Twitter, here on our Blog, and at the Facebook page for all the latest news and developments, including an improved, more user-friendly website and shopping cart.
These refinements will mean we can spend less time with administrative tasks, and more time reviewing, preparing and finalizing quality literary fiction, non-fiction, verse, children’s works, and other fine offerings for our catalog. We know you’ll be as pleased as we are with the final results!