When I started this blog last year I didn’t know much about indie publishing. I’ve learned a great deal since I started. Enough to really intimidate me to be honest. I knew a little more about traditional publishing, but still have learned quite a bit (primarily that it is still as hard to get an agent for a polished manuscript as it is with a unpolished manuscript).
What I didn’t know anything about when I started is the third publishing option.
The hybrid of indie and traditional publishing, small presses are publishers that accept unsolicited material and have a bit more wiggle room that traditional publishers to work in niche markets.
Their common features are: Small or no advances, higher royalty percentages, strong digital presence, faster turn around from signing to publication, narrowed, targeted niche audience.
Benefits? Depends on the publisher and on you.
Just like any other aspect of publishing, not all small publishers are as good to their authors as others.
But generally with a small publisher you have some of the freedom of indie publishing without the overhead costs. The small press will set you up with a professional editor and cover artist. They will format your book for digital print and sent out ARC and press releases, organize a blog tour and consult with you on how you can boost your sales. They will take greater risks with more creative and unique niches and ideas that are harder to get published traditionally and tend to do better in the indie market.
Also, with the way the industry is set up currently, you will qualify to enter certain competitions and be eligible for certain awards that indie authors cannot enter.
The Downside? Depends on the publisher and you.
Any advance you get will not pay for you to live while you finish this book or write your next book (the entire point of advances) and small publishers frequently lack the resources to promote on a wide scale (or their niche books can’t be promotes as such) so royalties come in slowly. Some small publishers provide their writers with work editing and/or scouting new writers and writers most definitely need to heavily promote themselves (and frequently other authors with the publisher)
While there is more freedom than with a big publisher, it’s certainly not as much as doing it yourself. You are not hiring the editor or cover artist you will be working with. You are not determining what platforms you will publish with or how it will be marketed.
A small publisher might push your book for longer than a traditional publisher. A small publisher will stop pushing your book before you would if you self published. If you choose the wrong publisher, and they don’t sell your book, they still own the rights. It’s gone to you forever (there are exceptions. I just encounter a small publisher that will give you the rights back if they don’t sell a certain amount in royalties).
There are ups and downs. There are alot of factors to think about. But this is a viable option. If you have a good book but no capital for editing, cover art, formatting, marketing and do not feel confident doing those things yourself you might want to try a small publisher.
If you write niche work (S&M werewolf mysteries, extreme gore horror, fetish romance) that is not currently an industry trend, this is a great option.
I’d love to hear more information and the experiences of other authors. What do you know about small publishers? Do you think they are a good option? Tell me more!