Saturday, July 7, 2012

Spotlight on small presses

We’re all writing about small presses this week. I’ve had experience with big presses, small presses (digital first) and self pubbing and there are advantages and disadvantages to each.

There is no best way to publish – I think my fellow Word Whores have put it out there nicely – it depends on who you are and what you want and need and what kind of project you have. In my opinion, author A might be insane to go with a big NY pub, whereas for author B, it’s the right decision. And for author C, a small press fits best, whereas author D would be crazy not to self pub instead of any press.

I think the best advice for somebody who is trying to decide between publishers is this: know yourself, know your options, and talk to people who have actually been there. 

And I don’t mean just read blog posts!! 

Now that I am an author with author friends, I have observed that many authors, if they’re having trouble with their publisher, or had a meh or terrible experience, will not speak publicly about it, especially if they’re contracted for more books or hoping to sell more books—to that publisher or other publishers. Some will even find a few nice things to write about their publisher. After all, what publisher wants to pick up a seemingly angry or complainy author? That goes for agents and editors, too. That said, Predators & Editors is a great resource to weed out the actual rip-offs. Thank goodness for resources like that!

People often say that the difference between a small press and a big press is that in a small press, you’re a big fish in a little pond, and in a big press, you’re a small fish in a big pond. This is a pretty good summation. 

The large publisher has the muscle to get your book into more stores. I think that is the great thing about NY large pub--to get that print out in stores, plus Target and Wal-mart. It's something a small pub generally can't do. But a small pub can be a more personalized experience. And they will likely be willing to stick with you, be more of a partner with you, let you have input, be more nimble. And bookstores can always order your books.

So many decisions face authors. It always amazes me SO much. I never thought I'd have to make the dizzying amount of decisions I make these days, as an author. I mean, I knew I'd have to make artistic decisions, but all these business decisions? *headdesk*


  1. Really great summation, Carolyn, with excellent points. I think you're so right about getting the one-on-one skinny. I've learned SO MUCH from talking to other authors inside the Cone of Silence.

  2. I think an important point to add here is that (at least in Canada; I assume the same may be true in the US) many small presses are regional presses that specialize in writers from a particular area. A good small regional press will promote THE HECK out of a local author in their local area, get you into signings and readings in local bookstores etc. They will not have much in the way of national distribution so it's unlikely your book will ever become a best seller, but they will do a very good job of getting it into the hands of the people most likely to be interested (especially if there is any regional or local content in your book).

    I've done it both ways -- small fish/big pond; big fish/small pond, and for me, the smaller local press was definitely a better experience ... but that doesn't mean I've given up wanting the big publisher that will get my book on a display at the front of the store and maybe on a bestseller list someday ...