“Fernwood is one small company and one of very few publishing critical, and in some cases, revolutionary books,” says Sharpe. “The idea is to publish books that stimulate debate and discussion on critical social and political issues, like class and class analysis, criminology, development and international studies, race relations, social movements and politics.” The company also has a small fiction programme; all of the books deal with social issues.
Authors who wish to propose book ideas to Fernwood can make submissions directly on the Fernwood website.
For Caribbean publishers trying to sell books in Canada, Sharpe says that distribution and gaining retail presence can be a challenge. He estimates that 75% of the Canadian retail trade is dominated by one bookstore chain, Chapters. “It can be quite difficult for small publishers to get in.” He notes that electronic books are gaining ground but market penetration is still quite low, especially in the academic market.
For authors and publishers interested in breaking into the Canadian market, Sharpe recommends studying the market closely. “Get online and look at the Canadian publishers. See what they publish. Find a publisher that’s working with material similar to yours. Many Canadian publishers are interested in Caribbean fiction.” Sharpe also recommends that interested authors follow each publishing house’s submissions guidelines closely. “Be sure to give the publisher exactly what they ask for. For example, if the publisher requests a book proposal, don’t send a manuscript.”