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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Best and Worst Things About Small Presses: 5 Tips

  So a few days ago, I put out a 5 question quiz (read it here) on whether you should use your writing skills for

1. Traditional Publishing (read more of my advice here)
2. A Small Press
3. Self-publishing
4. Magazine Articles and Short Story Publication
5. Blogging and Blogposts
    Today here are my five top tips for publishing with a small press. Note: You do not need a literary agent in order to submit to a small press. But if your goal is to jump from a small press to a traditional publishing gig, starting off with a literary agent can only help you.
1) Beware of Frauds. When a small press offers you a contract, if you sign you will be making a legal agreement. Most small presses are really great, but make sure you're not signing away too many rights or promising to pay for their mistakes.
2) Sales Record. As an unpublished author you have zero sales records. This obviously isn't great. But you know what's even worse? Having a bad sales record. Ask the small press how many copies their average book in your genre sells. Every editor or agent will tell you a different number, but I've heard that selling 5,000 copies or more with a small press will look positive.
3) Distribution. Ask the small press about their distribution. Do they do offset printing (maybe print off 1,000 copies to start off with) or do they do Print on Demand (POD, which means print one copy at a time as it gets bought.) Most small presses I've seen do POD. This is typical, but sadly it means you'll have a hard time getting into bookstores. Ask the small press if they have had success getting into any bookstores.
4) Free Editing. Distribution wise, small presses are similar to self-publishing. The biggest bonus to going with even the smallest of presses over self-publishing is they will give you free editing. Make sure you take advantage of this! Don't be one of those authors who always thinks you know better than the editor. (Unless the editor's really horrible, but in that case refer to #1.)
5) Marketing. A small press isn't going to do much for your marketing-wise. Sure they'll list you on their website, but don't expect to get into the Washington Post book review section off their marketing. Just like self-publishing, if you go with a small press with the intention of getting enough sales numbers to move into traditional publishing, you're going to have to make the commitment to market yourself. I'm going to write several posts just about marketing, but here's the quick run-down on things you can do.
    a) Line up reviewers. Ask all your friends and contacts, especially those who blog, to write a review of your book. Email them a free e-copy and voila lots of Amazon reviews.
    b) Start a Thunderclap. This is a great new tool whereby a person can pledge one FB status or one Tweet to support your campaign. On the given day all the tweets and FB statuses go out at once. The only catch? You have to get at least 100 supporters or it dies. Here's my current Thunderclap. I need 44 more followers in the next three days or it flops. Want to support it? :)
    c) Get articles in your local small-town papers. Everyone loves a local author. And when the most exciting thing that happened in your town is a policeman held up traffic for five minutes to let a family of ducks cross the road, local reporters are looking for article ideas.


  1. Hi Anne, I have a small publisher (Prism Book Group) that has great editors and covers. Both have helped me produce better books than I could on my own.

    1. That's awesome! :) I love how small presses are expanding opportunities for authors. BTW how small is Prism? I feel like I've heard of them before.