Small Presses. I had to look that up to see what made a press 'small'. Definitions vary, but the most consistent factor seemed to be money. If the publisher earns below a certain dollar amount per year, they quallify as small.
You now have the sum total of what I know about small presses. I know that some of my friends have published through small presses. Some of them have had terrific experiences. One or two have had nothing but trouble (notably with presses that ultimately folded).
I know that I had decided to go with a small press if, once again, my manuscript had swung back at me with a tail of rejections in its wake. It didn't happen that way and Berkley bought that book and one other. Now, I'm out of contract with an incomplete series.
Once again, I turn my gaze to the small presses, investigating my options and deciding whether sticking with a series that didn't sell all that well is really the wisest course of writing action. Assuming, you know, that the characters will *let* me wander away from finishing the series. I'd always been told that when a series is abandoned by one of the Big Six, the game is over. No other publisher is going to want to pick up a series midstream.
Maybe that was once true. No longer. In certain circumstances, a few of the e-first presses have indeed picked up series in the middle and driven them to bigger and better sales. Whether my circumstances warrant a small press contract I won't know until I try. If that works out, maybe I'll have something more useful and informative to offer regarding small presses.
The biggest stumbling block I face is knowing whether small presses are a better career move or if self-pubbing is a better career move. It feels to me like the story goes either way depending on whose Kool-Aid you drink. You know the fairytale - self-publish and you can roll in the filthy lucre that comes flooding your way. Except that while money is nice in that it helps pay the mortgage and all, money isn't why most of us write, I think.
Story. Readers. Cheap therapy. Getting to legally off the people who annoy us...oh wait...is that just me? Sorry. I think finding the right venue for each story is the real trick. So I'd appreciate a handy, convenient check list for knowing which stories ought to be submitted to small presses and which should go it solo. Someone get on that, will you?