Indie Bookstores + Indie Fiction: 3 Books (and Publishers!) You Should Know

Indie fiction Event Web Slide

We love to celebrate our independence here at BookPeople. We also love to celebrate INDIE FICTION, books that have been published by small and independent presses. We have not one but two great indie fiction events happening soon: Clancy Martin and Brandon Caro on Sunday, January 10, and Carly Hallman on Monday, January 11. To celebrate, we’re taking a look at their books and the presses that made them. Enjoy! 

~post by Kaitlyn

Thanks to social media, small presses are achieving visibility like never before, while also being freed up geographically. Across the U.S., small houses (with multi-talented staff members) are experimenting with new business models and learning do more with less. And with fewer people to answer to, they are often able to put out books larger publishers might shoot down. Combine this flexibility with their resilient, resourceful, and determined spirits, and it’s no wonder indie publishers are discovering fresh talent and putting out some of the year’s most interesting works. 

While previewing Martin, Caro, and Hallman’s books, we’d also like to highlight their publishers to offer some insight into the vitality independent presses are bringing to the industry: 

“I drink, I hurt myself and the people around me, and then I write.” Clancy Martin’s new novelBad Sex, is not so much about “bad sex” as it is about the bad things sex can sometimes lead people to do. In this loosely autobiographical book about infidelity, Martin, a Canadian philosopher and translator, mixes tragedy with comedy to remind us that going off the rails is sometimes, well, necessary. (By the way, Bad Sex just made Roxane Gay’s list of the best books of 2015. See her Tumblr.)


“Tyrant is pretty much it when it comes to cutting-edge fiction,” says FlavorWire. The label, associated with the edgy New York Tyrant magazine, has a reputation for publishing controversial books. In conversation with Entropy Mag, editor Giancarlo DiTrapano stated, “Tyrant stuff isn’t for everyone, but nothing should be for everyone. Or at least nothing that’s worth anything. You know what’s for everyone? Water. Water is for everyone. And if you’re publishing something for everyone, well, you’re publishing water.”

Other books on the label include Preparation For The Next Life by Atticus Lish, which won a PEN/Faulkner award, and other more experiment works, such as those by Marie Calloway and Brian Evenson. Tyrant has even teamed up with Fat Possum records to bring readers a limited edition book/7” package.

Brandon Caro was a Navy corpsman who deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2006-2007. His debut novel, Old Silk Road, follows a young combat medic in Afghanistan who enlisted after his father died at the World Trade Center. As he tries to contribute what he can to a world he sees falling to pieces, he begins to suspect he won’t make it out alive. This is a taut tale of a soldier’s undoing and the question of war’s futility.


Post Hill was founded in 2014  by veterans of the publishing world and Barnes and Noble. With offices in New York and Nashville, they publish books that mainly focus on pop culture, business, self-help and health. The company prides itself on the close relationships it maintains with its authors. They see publishing books as ongoing collaborations with writers, making sure to include them in decision-making. “This approach has been a key component in our ongoing success.” More on the Post Hill Press website.

No only will Clancy Martin and Brandon Caro speak and sign their books this Sunday, we’ll also serve doughnuts from Gourdough’s and beverages of the beer variety! 

Carly Hallman lives in Beijing, and as she recently told Electric Literature, “the best thing about this particular time in China…is the almost palpable sense that anything could happen at any moment, that truly anything is possible.” Readers will experience the same feeling reading Year of The Goose, an unhinged, absurdest satire of both contemporary culture and contemporary China.


Unnamed press is a new publsihing house out of Los Angeles founded by Chris Heiser and Olivia Smith. Originally called Ricochet press, they recieved a cease desist letter in 2013. “That name change was actually freeing and opened up our editorial perspective. It’s really worked out in the long run,” Smith told Publisher’s Weekly. “There are all these unnamed people out there who are great talented voices that are getting passed on by bigger houses, because they are scary to publish, or a little too challenging for a sales team,” said Heiser.

The press aims to publish literature from around the world, focus on the contempory forms. “We are always interested in unlikely protagonists, undiscovered territories and courageous voices.” More on their website.

Carly Hallman will be joined at our January 11 event by Austin author Jill Alexander Essbaum (Hausfrau) and Michael Barrett, editor of Austin Review, to discuss Year of the Goose.

Small presses and independent bookstores are a special kind of kin. Small, independent presses understand the challenge of small operating budgets and the struggle to have a voice in a world full of The Big Guys with Big Wallets. Small presses, like indies, are also willing to take a chance on a new voice. They’re ready to support writers you’ve never heard of, writers who may be trying out new methods of storytelling and flexing literature’s narrative muscle in unexpected ways.

We rely on small indie presses to surprise us. They rely on us to give them the space and attention larger booksellers may not provide. In short, we support one another, and in that spirit, we hope you’ll support them.

We hope you’ll give these presses and their authors some of your time. As ever, thanks for keeping it indie!

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