Sandstone Press is an independent publishing company based in Inverness. Sandstone Press books have won or been shortlisted for many literary prizes including the Man Booker International, Man Booker, Commonwealth, Arthur C Clarke, Creative Scotland, Green Carnation, Saltire Society, Petrona, Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize (SA), Bill Rollinson Prize for Landscape and Tradition, Boardman Tasker, Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, Betty Trask Award, Not the Booker, and Desmond Elliott Awards.
Ceris Jones, who deals with publicity and marketing at Sandstone Press, kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Sandstone Press.
Sandstone Press is a multi-award winning independent publisher with an international outlook, producing inspiring books by innovative authors. We pride ourselves on exquisite taste in the titles we select and in how we present them to the world. The books we publish span thoughtful fiction, gripping crime and adventurous non-fiction, and the authors we work with include Man Booker International winner Jokha Alharthi, international bestselling crime writer Volker Kutscher, and critically acclaimed poet and novelist Michèle Roberts.
2. Do you find that there are any benefits or downsides to being a publisher not based in London?
We have to fight a little bit harder to be remembered and to be taken seriously by an industry that’s undeniably London-centric, but it’s worth it. We’re lucky to be based in the stunning Scottish highlands, and have particularly good relationships with Scottish bookshops, authors and readers.
3. Your books have been shortlisted for many prizes, including the Man Booker Award. What does being shortlisted mean for your company?
Awards mean a lot! It’s wonderful seeing writing that we’ve been passionate enough about to publish receive that kind of recognition, but it also makes a huge difference to sales and the numbers of readers we can reach. Jokha Alharthi’s Man Booker International winning book, Celestial Bodies, has sold over 20,000 copies in the UK in the last year.
4. How hard is it establishing a foothold in the publishing market as an independent publisher?
This is a difficult question to answer as it begs the question ‘what is a foothold’? From company foundation to publishing our first commercial novel took eight years. Up to then we published published in a literary market and in education.
5. Do you find that your books sell mainly in the UK or do you get enquires from further afield?
We do focus primarily on the UK market, but we work with sales reps in Ireland, the Middle East, the Far East, Latin America and the USA.
6. How many new titles do you publish a year and what do you look for when selecting a title to publish?
We publish about twenty new titles per year and we seek to meet our own ideas of ‘quality’ in a wide range of fiction and non-fiction.
7. What do you look for in a good story?
Narrative drive, characterisation, plot, intelligence.
8. People may be curious to find out more about your submissions criteria. What would be the best way for someone to submit their manuscripts?
Due to COVID-19, we aren’t currently accepting submissions, but when we’re able to open to them again, the best place to check is the submissions tab on our website.
9. Do you have any tips for those wanting to be published?
10. What are the best things about publishing, and the worst?
BEST: Creative satisfaction, critical success, commercial success. Sharing a book that has moved us with readers and reviewers who fall in love with it too is wonderful!
WORST: Indifference and rejection. When it comes to literature, one size most certainly does not fit all.
11. How can people purchase your books?
Our books are available from all the usual places (Amazon, independent bookshops, Waterstones, Blackwell’s, hive, Books etc – you name it!). We’ve also recently opened our own online bookshop, which can be found at https://sandstonepress.square.site/