Celebrating Texas Independents: Madeline Smoot

In conjunction with Texas Independence Day, we’re partnering with some of the state’s greatest Independents to host a series of free and open events across the state throughout the month of March.

These panel discussions will focus on the great opportunities for writers and readers that Texas has to offer, from independent presses, to journals, to bookstores, and beyond, while also answering writers’ burning questions about the publishing process, submitting to presses and journals, catching the eye of an editor, and more.

Our discussion in Dallas will be held at Deep Vellum Books tonight (March 23) at 7 pm (details and address here). We’ll be speaking with four distinguished panelists. We recently interviewed panelist Madeline Smoot, publisher of CBAY Books, about the literary landscape in Texas.

Scribe: Can you share a few thoughts with us about the Texas literary landscape — what makes it unique, and what opportunities can be found here for writers, readers, publishers, and booksellers?

Madeline Smoot: In Texas, especially in the children’s market, I find that everyone is so supportive of one another. We all celebrate one another in a myriad of ways, whether it’s Cynthia Leitch Smith offering to help support local Austin authors’ books, or statewide groups like the Writers’ League, or the various regional Texas SCBWIs reaching out to indie presses. It means that there are so many opportunities for everyone involved in the publishing industry. Independents like BookPeople in Austin, Brazos Bookstore in Houston, and Deep Vellum Books here in Dallas are always happy to carry and promote local authors’ books. Any author, whether aspiring or already established, will always find a welcome in the Texas literary world.

Scribe: What do you see as the role of independents in Texas’s literary community (publishers, journals, booksellers) and what do you find most rewarding about the work you do at CBAY Books?

MS: Independents play a large role in publishing in those niches that are too small for the Big 5. We can do regional books set here in Texas that appeal to a Texas audience. There’s nothing more rewarding than connecting an author’s book to the perfect reader. With Texans having so much state pride, it’s wonderful to be able to offer books that are geared toward this specific audience.

Scribe: Tell us a bit about a program or event that you have upcoming that exemplifies the spirit of being independent in Texas (or, if that’s not applicable, tell us about something you have upcoming that you’re especially excited about; a chance to promote something to our readers! Include a link if appropriate).

MS: One of the great things about being independent in Texas (as opposed to elsewhere in the country) is that you have such a large pool of authors and so many distinct Texas experiences to draw from. Our lead title for the fall, Uncertain Summer, is set at Caddo Lake in East Texas and follows a girl determined to get a picture of the elusive Bigfoot that can be found there. The book is by Austin author Jessica Lee Anderson, and there’s a distinct East Texas feel in the voice of the book. Everything about the book encompasses the pride and spirit we have here in Texas.

Thanks, Madeline! Also included in this Dallas panel discussion will be Karen DeVinney of University of North Texas Press, Will Evans of Cinestate, and Matthew Limpede of Carve Magazine (read interviews with them here and here). Visit our website for additional cities and dates where we’ll be Celebrating Texas Independents throughout the month of March.

Are you a Texas independent (publisher, journal, bookstore, etc.) interested in participating in a future event and/or learning about other opportunities for partnership and promotion? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at wlt@writersleague.org.

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