The original location of Upper Access Books
Original location of Upper Access Books, 1986

What is Upper Access?

Our niche is a broad one: nonfiction books to improve the quality of life. We are a traditional, royalty-paying publisher, but on a tiny scale, usually issuing only handful of new titles per year. Unlike most businesses, our goal is not to grow bigger, but rather to make sure that each Upper Access title is the best in its subject area

Historical notes

We have been publishing books since 1986. Early on, we learned that small presses had a hard time competing in the marketplace. We did what we could, providing services to other small publishers. We set up a book fulfillment company, stocking books from over 100 other small presses, to make their books more readily available to the public. For several years we published a mail-order catalog called Big Books from Small Presses, with circulation of about 100,000 copies per year. These activities ended as the nature of the book industry changed, other good service providers emerged, and as the Internet made mail order obsolete.

We also developed an industry-specific business software program, now known as Publishers’ Assistant, to allow small companies to function professionally. It is still the most affordable software of its type, used by hundreds of publishers.

The founders of Upper Access, Steve and Lisa Carlson, are still the owners, with Steve serving as publisher. Steve has been active in the small-press movement, serving four years on the board of Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), and holding various leadership positions with regional groups–Independent Publishers of New England and Publishers North. Small publishers do not compete with each other–we help each other to succeed.

Like all successful book publishers, we have constantly adapted to the changing nature of books, and of the book marketplace. We cherish books, but also try to deliver information to readers in the forms they prefer. Of course, we offer e-book versions of all of our newer titles. We even publish a commercial blog, written by one of our celebrated authors, Henri de Marne.

Our books are distributed to the trade by Midpoint Trade Books, so if you are ordering books for a store or library, you can do so through your preferred wholesalers. If you are an individual reader and have a hard time finding one of our books in your preferred store, we make it convenient for you to order on this Web site.

If you are curious about our name, it’s not as pretentious as it may sound. We’re located on the Upper Access road to Lake Iroquois in Hinesburg, Vermont. In the beginning, it was a true “cottage industry” as you can see from the photo of our original office. Our offices are not much fancier today. You won’t find a sign here, and we have no walk-in business hours, but it’s still a very pleasant place to spend time creating great books.

Criteria for Authors

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably an author. We are interested in well-written, solidly researched books that have unique information to improve the quality of life. We are, necessarily, extremely selective, as we receive hundreds of queries each year and can usually accept only a couple of them. We sometimes have to turn down proposals that we like, simply because we are committed to continuing on our small scale and must avoid spreading ourselves too thin.

E-mail all queries to info (at) upperaccess.com. Do not attach a file: we do not open unsolicited files. We cannot take inquiries by telephone–at any given time, we are hard at work publishing books and filling orders, so as much as we would like to stop and listen to your pitch for your book, we really can’t. Also, please do not mail us an unsolicited manuscript. If you do, we cannot guarantee its return, even if you enclose return postage.

Your initial query should include a general description of your book, who you believe the audience to be, why you feel you are the right person to write about this subject, and what platform you have to help reach the audience. If it seems like a good fit, we’ll email back and request more information.

Our contracts are conventional royalty agreements, under which the author holds the copyright and Upper Access publishes and markets the books. Like most other small presses, Upper Access pays only a token advance against royalties, so all remuneration to an author depends upon how well the book sells. If the book sells well, our royalties are very competitive with those of the big houses and sometimes better.

Meanwhile, we apologize for not being more inviting to new authors. We wish you the best, but we can accept only a fraction of the best book proposals that come our way. A rejection from us does not mean that your book is not good or that it is not marketable—only that we are not the best publisher for it, or that we are working to our capacity on projects we are already committed to.