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Small publishers - Great chances

An interview with lichtung verlag

By Leonie Winter

Representatives of lichtung verlags: Eva Bauernfeind and Kristina Pöschl (Photo: Miriam Lange)

Kristina Pöschl, Managing Director at lichtung verlags (Photo: Elisabeth Ettl)

With the turtle magazin(e), we want to help young authors make contacts and familiarise them with the large and diverse world of publishing. The lichtung verlag is a small publishing house in the south-east Bavarian region with a diverse programme and a regional connection. The publishing house has been impressing readers with its contemporary literature for 30 years.

We had the opportunity to talk to Kristina Pöschl, Managing Director at lichtung verlag, who told us a little more about how the publishing house works, about the books that are published and what you should bear in mind as a young writer.

Which books do you publish? What kind of authors are you looking for?

We publish contemporary literature by authors from the south-east Bavarian region, i.e. novels, short story collections, also poetry in dialect and standard language. We also publish non-fiction books on contemporary topics and photo books from time to time. We would be interested in authors who write sophisticated novels that have a connection to the region.

What is the relation like between young, new authors and those who have been with you for a long time?

Actually, there are not so many young authors in our publishing house. It is important for us to work with an author for a longer period of time and, in the best case, to accompany them for years and decades. And since our publishing house has existed for over 30 years, we have a few regular authors whose books are published by us time and again.

But we also make sure that we always have someone new, maybe a new face every two years. And we always keep our ears and eyes open for young talents. Since our programme is very small, with only five books a year, and we can't accommodate many authors, we always publish anthologies that also feature up-and-coming authors.

How long do you plan your spring/autumn programmes in advance?

For us, it's more short-term than for big publishing houses. We usually plan a good year in advance. For 2022, for example, the programme is already completely full, and we're already starting to think about 2023.

What is your favourite book at the moment?

In our publishing house, my favourite book is actually always the one that came out last! You've worked so long and hard on it, you know it inside out, then it's just nice to be able to present it and have others read it.

How long does it approximately take you from submission of the manuscript to publication?

Once we have decided to include a manuscript in the programme, it takes at least half a year until the book is published, sometimes a year or a year and a half. For us, the process is like this: After an initial proofreading, the authors revise the manuscript once more, then the typesetting is done, another round of corrections, and then it goes to print.

What are your secret tips for authors who want to send manuscripts to small publishers?

We get a lot of e-mails that indicate that they've been sent to 50 other publishers as well. That's not possible, of course. Instead, take a close look at the publisher's programme, consider whether it would suit both sides, establish a personal connection. And be persistent: don't be disappointed and annoyed if it doesn't work out right away, but keep in touch, stay in touch.

What is your tip for being taken seriously as an author in the book industry?

Hm, difficult question ... experienced authors can perhaps be recognised by the fact that they are open to working on their texts and can also accept criticism and suggestions for changes.

What do you think about the phenomenon of self-publishing?

It's a good option for authors who want to publish something quickly and haven't found a publisher yet or don't want to work with a publisher. Self-publishing has its limits in terms of PR and distribution, and you have to be aware of that. I find it indispensable to work with an editor, even in self-publishing: You can tell when a book has not been edited. But you can also find gems in the self-publishing sector!

What is your opinion on e-books/audiobooks, which are more en vogue/upcoming at the moment?

A few of our books are parallely published as e-books, but that only accounts for a very small share of our sales. E-books are a nice addition to print books, and the production is not expensive. But since our programme is more of a niche programme, the sales figures for e-books are naturally not as high as for crime and romance novels. Not every book is suitable to be published as an e-book; in our experience, poetry only works in print. But novels or entertaining stories, we also publish such books as e-books.

We don't produce audio books ourselves, we would leave that to a professional audio book publisher for our books - we wouldn't mind!

Is there anything else you would like to pass on to young authors?

Don't give up when publishers turn you down - above all, just keep writing. We see this in the authors we have been working with for a long time, regardless of their age: in writing, you always develop further.

Thank you very much for the opportunity and the great exchange!

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