Publishing nowadays is a big ocean. That ocean has a lot of waves and even some storms. If you wanna be a writer then you have to pick the right boat to get you across that ocean.
You have six big cruise ships that can carry you across. They are hard to get onto and they go in one direction, which is great unless you decide to change your destination. You want to go somewhere else? Welllllllll, tough. Those are the big six publishers. The "New York" publishers.
You can also get out in your own tiny speedboat of independent publishing. You can move faster, dart around obstacles, and basically pick your destination and head there, changing your mind in mid trip. However, it takes more work, you can't just set sail and then sit back. A big wave can come up out of nowhere and knock your boat off course. And sometimes the real truth is your boat may not take you all the way across that ocean. You may not make it to your destination.
In between the cruise ships and your own speed boat though are a number of choices, an entire armada of ships of all sizes who can take you damn near anywhere you want to go....if you match the right publisher to the right destination.
These are small presses. They are publishers who run from tiny "couple of books a year" presses to publishers who can get you the same placement and distribution as New York can.
Most small presses, the good ones (cause we are NOT discussing the craptastic scam "publishers" out there. Be informed before you sign for goodness sakes, we have the internet these days, do your research.), are solid businesses. They have contacts and resources and the means to build your career. They can take you to your destination or even just part of the way.
Maybe you need developing as a writer. You wrote a good book, but you still need some seasoning...a small press can develop you. Maybe you have a book that is good, but so tuned into a specific sub-genre that a big time publisher can't risk it, that is something a small press can do.
Small presses are great. I have many friends who run small presses or write for them. And hell, there is something to be admired in someone deciding to strike out on their own and make a business.
Here are some of the small presses I like. This is NOT a comprehensive list. It's not even a recommendation, just a bit of advice/opinion.
(the names of the presses should be links...if they don't work just use your Google-Fu)
Mostly e-book, mostly erotica and romance but now with a great new horror line, I really like Samhain. I don;t write for them, but everyone I know likes them and they seem like good folks. And, if you write horror, definitely a place to look into.
Run by Allan Gillbreath this press is at a LOT of conventions. Allan is good peeps. They do a good amount of books and really seem to be pushing harder every day. I'll be doing a story in an upcoming anthology from them this winter.
Seventh Star Press
Another publisher who really works the convention circuit. Their books are really good looking and everyone I know who pubs through them is super nice. They mostly put out fantasy but do have some urban fantasy and others.
Bell Bridge Books
My good friends Kalayna Price and John Hartness are with Bell Bridge. They both love them. I will say they have a great presence online and at shows. Their stuff seems to be pretty top notch. Like I said, both my friends are really happy to be with them.
One Buck Horror
If you have a short horror story then look into this publisher. They do collections of short fiction every quarter in a 5-story collection in e-release. Chris and Kris are AWESOME. Easy to work with, nice, friendly. And they pay pro rates and ON TIME which is huge. My short zombie story is in their special edition ONE BUCK ZOMBIE (.99 cents everywhere fine ebooks are sold......end shameless promotion)
Working with them was an absolute pleasure.
So look into small presses, you might find your boat man.