Almost exactly a year ago, Slant Books announced that it was becoming an independent, non-profit publisher. It was a bold, if not quixotic, thing to do at a time when a faltering economy has seen a number of small presses and journals closing their doors forever.
Twelve months later, I’m happy to report that it’s been an exhilarating, often challenging, but always rewarding year. As the saying goes, we’ve gone from strength to strength, garnering distinguished awards, glowing reviews, testimonies of changed lives, and increasing evidence that Slant has become a beacon of hope for those who care about the artistic and moral health of what has been called “The Republic of Letters.”
The reason we’re still here—and eagerly anticipating an exciting line-up of new books in the new year—is entirely due to you, our readers and supporters. What you have in common is a passion for literary craft and daring, open-eyed explorations of the human condition that refuse to pander or preach.
But at a deeper level, you know something even more important: that for a literary organization to be truly independent comes at a significant cost. The truth is that it is far easier and more financially safe to publish books that provide what readers already know and want—books that appeal to existing subcultures, political ideologies, religious cliques. And while there is nothing wrong with belonging to a tribe, the pressure exerted by tribalism pushes most publishers toward what is safe, known, and comforting.
In such an environment, someone has to be willing to stand up for the unexpected, the mysterious, the revelatory, and the unique. Someone has to be willing to take risks. Otherwise, the superficiality of cliché predominates.
Obviously, that’s not a recipe for instant marketing success, but in the long run, the integrity of true independence—the triumph of art over mediocrity—will win over the discerning audience it deserves—and have a leavening effect on society as a whole.
That’s where you come in—your book purchases and financial assistance say to the pressures of tribalism and the marketplace: “No, you are not the last word. The world of imagination is vaster and more compelling than that.”
In short, your purchases and donations will enable Slant to build up our core audience and reach new generations of readers—many of whom are starving for want of literature that nurtures the inner life.
The good news is that you don’t have to wait to see if we can make good on our promises. We’re already demonstrating why your trust is amply justified. In just our first year of independence we’ve seen:
- Eight new Slant titles, including plays, fiction, poetry, memoir, and philosophy;
- The launching of SlantCast, our official podcast, available via Spotify, Apple, YouTube, and beyond.
- Reviews of our titles in such publications as Ad Fontes, Chicago Review of Books, Christian Century, Church Times (U.K.), Commonweal, Fare Forward, Humanum, Presence, Ploughshares, and The Spectator (global edition).
- Prizes from the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Catholic Book Awards, Poetry Society of Virginia, and Arlin G. Meyer Prize.
- Nearly 100 illuminating blog posts on literary topics by regulars and guest writers at Slant’s Close Reading blog.
- Close to 3,000 unique visitors to our website, with over 13,000 pageviews.
What lies ahead is just as exciting. In 2023 we expect to see:
- A celebration of Slant’s 10th anniversary at the huge AWP creative writing convention.
- Publication of close to a book a month.
- An expansion of our international titles, including two Italian translations, a collection of poems by one of Russia’s leading writers, Olga Sedakova (with an introduction by Rowan Williams) and a memoir by the late Polish author Jaroslaw Marek Rymkiewicz (with a foreword by Karl Ove Knausgaard).
- The arrival of several distinguished authors who have entrusted their new books to Slant, including Robert Pack, Amit Majmudar, Richard Michelson, Bret Lott, and Jeanne Murray Walker.
- New titles in philosophy and theology, such as Lorenzo Albacete’s Cry of the Heart: On the Meaning of Suffering and Luigi Giussani’s The Miracle of Hospitality.
By the way, one of the highlights of the past year was an article in one of the world’s oldest and most distinguished journals—Britain’s The Spectator—entitled, “In Praise of (Very) Small Independent Publishers” in which Slant was singled out for being a press that “punches well above” our weight.
Writers themselves are eagerly seeking us out—we’ve received nearly 500 book manuscripts in the past year!
So a profound and everlasting “thank you!” to all who have enabled us to come so far in such a short time. You make it possible to bridge the gap between “what is” and “what ought to be”—demonstrating that you are vital citizens of “The Republic of Letters.”
It’s time to step up again. Would you make a gift today—from $5 to $5,000—to help us grow, become a truly sustainable “indie” press? We’re so grateful for your support and we encourage you to stay in touch via social media, email, and, God willing, in person at book events in the years to come.
Publisher & Editor, Slant Books