Sunday, 11 December 2011

Give small presses and new publishers a chance

Last week, I posted about vanity publishers and how to recognise them. This week I want to concentrate on how to find the right publisher for you.
I'm deliberately leaving out the big six, because you probably won't get a deal with them without an agent. In fact, even the smaller publishers who are big in business won't deal with authors directly anymore. But this is not the end of the road. Maybe you have exhausted the agent-route and have been rejected by the independent publishers of your choice and all you want is to have your book out there. Before giving up, keep in mind there are still other options.
In the age of e-books, more and more new publishers surface and are open to submissions. They will often offer to publish your book in e-format first and if successful, also in paperback. Some will only stick to e-books. This model provides something very important to those publishers: testing without a massive investment. Print costs are terrifyingly high if you don't go for POD.
Why would I go with an e-publisher if I can do it all myself? you ask. To be fair, it's a valid question. Then again, many people with busy lives don't have the time or knowledge to edit or proof-read their book, let alone knowledge of formatting, cover design or the intense marketing that is required before and after publishing. They'd have to pay good money to get their book into a presentable stage. So why not submit to a small publisher who will then -- in case they offer you a contract -- take care of all that. Sure, there's still some work involved -- the edits/revisions need to be done, but as soon as the book is published, the author can relax and has not invested money, but will receive some in return.
I'm often amazed about the arrogance of some writers who snort at a new publisher, saying they won't go with a company that has not yet or maybe just one author at the moment. I can't help thinking: who are you to dismiss this new company trying to give new wannabe authors the chance to get their books out there? Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about those who want to make the quick money with desperate souls, I'm talking about start-up companies, new publishers with a love and passion for writing and books, those who are fully commited to do whatever they can to help their authors soar; those who provide all services, are legally registered and offer a fair deal. What's wrong with being the first author? I mean, they're taking the greater risk with you, being a nobody in the writing world and they still invest money because they believe in your writing, in you.

Of course it's crucial to see if you're a good match; do you have the same goals? What do they offer for the royalties they're taking from the sales? Do you click with your  assigned editor? Etc. There is a lot to be considered. It's rather important to research them, to find out about them, talk to them openly about your concerns. With small presses you often are more like a team member and the people are more open to your suggestions or worries.

And besides: even the big six have started somewhere. Who knows, maybe this publisher who is unknown today, will be best known for the quality of books they publish and you can proudly annouce, you were the first.


  1. In my own case Stella, I met my future editor on a social website. Over the months as we got to know each as much as you can at the end of you're fingertips, we decided to take a chance on each other. I haven't looked back since. The small press publisher I deal with is IFWG Publishing.

    They are a good bunch to deal with. :)

  2. Hi, Jack

    I'm glad you're happy with your publisher, small doesn't mean less success. They can have a firm foot in the market.

    It's so important to feel that you're in good hands. To know what is 'good' or not one needs to do some research about how publishing works.
    Many writers freely admit they don't have an idea. That's why they are prone to fall for vanity or might pass on well-respected smaller presses.

    New publishers/start-up companies will take their time and, of course, have to prove themselves, but I'm sure those who really mean business, will make business. It just takes the right authors.