Children’s independents say they are seeing growth in the market, particularly in non-fiction and middle grade. Edinburgh-based publisher Barrington Stoke experienced 16% growth in 2017, and so far this year is 7% up year on year. Sales and marketing director Jane Walker said the publisher had a particularly good performance in the export market.
For Cardiff-based indie Firefly, sales are increasing year on year ahead of budget, with middle grade doing especially well. Founder Penny Thomas praised the "brilliant and very supportive" online community the publisher has, which is made up of authors and supporters. She said this gives a "great ‘family’ feel to Firefly and attracts attention to us and our books from bloggers, and so readers”. The press promotes its books on children’s reading sites, and has had many reviews from bloggers, online sites and print magazines aimed at children’s reading, as well as some "marvellous" national newspaper reviews.
Sam Hutchinson, director of kids’ publisher b small, has said the publisher is unable to put much resource into publicity and marketing, so the support of bloggers and reviewers is very important to the business and has a "huge impact" on sales. Hutchinson is working on building a mailing list and its social media following to directly reach readers.
Primarily a non-fiction publisher, Hutchinson is heartened to report that more attention is being paid to non-fiction by general trade buyers, as well as by reviewers, although he said this is coming with a lot more competition from the "heavy-hitting" publishers.
Sales agent Bounce is helping to get b small titles onto shelves, and is also finding some success working with non-traditional retailers and outlets. As with many indies, getting stocked in the bigger chains is proving difficult for b small, but it often sees results once a book "takes off" or wins an award. "Overall, our quantities
are low but we have very few returns and comparatively small overheads, so as long as we print small quantities and manage stock closely, it works for us."
Abdul Thadha, m.d. of Leicester-based Sweet Cherry Publishing, has said middle grade is strong, but the press is looking to increase its output by publishing fiction for younger readers, as well as YA. The publisher has also seen opportunities in the US and is hoping to sign a distribution deal in the coming months. "Our books are being well received in the US and we want to build on this," said Thadha.