The Beginning of the End Part 3 — The Small Press


Happy Day-After-Valentine’s Day, Y’all!
Picking up where we left off, let’s talk about small presses. (I know it isn’t a rose or candy, but it’s good info.)

With stores ordering fewer and fewer books, publishing houses publishing fewer and fewer books,  and more and more readers ordering electronic books (the book purchasing percentages of the Jane Yellowrock series are now 81% electronic) we have more and more writers, even high midlist name writers, looking at small presses. Herewith are a few of the Pros (prose?) and Cons of the SMALL PRESS.

1.  No books on bookstore shelves
2.  Poor likelihood of library purchases
3.  Poor likelihood that the small press will work with distributors like Baker & Taylor and Ingram’s
4.  Which makes it difficult for indie bookstores and chains to even know about your book
5.  Few small presses even put out an electronic catalogue
6.  Small presses do NOT have salespeople who have direct access to store/chain book buyers.
7.  Small to no advances
8.  Very often have problematic contracts and few work with agents so the onus falls on the writer to be wary
9.  Few agents want to work with a small press because there are such low advances and they don’t paid
10.  Often want too many rights (EX: often want performance and foreign sales rights despite having no access to West Coast agents or foreign agents or foreign publishing houses)
11.  Often no PR (even catalogues)
12.  Usually have no real legal department so if your book appears on a Torrent pages, you are just lost. There will be no Cease and Desist letter sent

1.  Bigger percentages on electronic sales. NYC offers a standard 25%. Most small presses offer 50% net
2.  Faster (usually way faster) time to print. Big houses usually run 18 to 24 months behind. Small presses often get a book out in less than 12 months
3.  Some small presses have access to distributors. Ask. But don’t necessarily let the absence of such access sway you. Remember that the percentages of book purchases are moving to electronic. They are now over 50% of all books sold
4.  Ask about a catalogue and if they have library distributor access or sell to libraries if asked. (That way you can do your own library PR and know your local library can get the books)
5.  Writers get personal, hands-on attention throughout the process:
a. they may be much more willing to let you help with the cover, title, etc.
b. attention, advice, suggestions for PR
c. often attention to electronic PR that some bigger houses are still learning how to do
d. if mistakes are not caught in the editorial process, small presses are often willing to make at least one change. Bigger presses are less willing
6.  Small presses are often more willing to try a new writer because they have less money tied up in them. So you can get your book out there
7.  Will work without an agent. And usually prefer it that way, so you don’t’ have to have an agent
8.  Usually will work with a writer to negotiate contracts and are often willing to change poor boilerplate once it’s (sweetly) pointed out. If they refuse to negotiate, then you can run.
9.  Some small presses go to cons and if you are there, will often at least pay for a table where they will sell your books. Ask
10.  Most bigger houses do no PR for you beyond catalogues, book buyer access, and book shelf space purchases, so you may make up for this in the personal, hands-on attention
11. You don’t have to figure out how to do the formatting, editing, covers, etc. yourself, as in self-publishing
12.  Ask how they deal with illegal Torrent sites. They may have something in place, as this is changing
13.  Most small presses publish in trade paperback and you will make more money on each hand-sell than with the mass market paperbacks.

BloodinHerVeins_Final-coverSo you see, there are pros and cons to any and every form of publishing. The problem? Deciding what is right for you. I have books out with a small press, and love the attention that is lavished on my work.

Oh — from my NYC press — BLOOD IN HER VEINS. Available now.



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