Monday, September 29, 2014

Sprints or Marathons?

First things first. This Wednesday is IWSG posting for October. And it's the day to post your offering for IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond. In my duties as human spell checker and minor editing details, I've read some terrific posts that are going to make this book very special. It's a great way to get your name out there in the nonfiction market too. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for being the creative genius behind the idea and the leader in bringing it all together.

I was very busy last week editing a book for my romance publisher, New Concepts Publishing. It was that final read through to search out any misspelled words or misplaced commas. I always take my time with that because it's so easy for one's eyes to skip over those when you're reading a book for the fifteenth or so time. Every time I go through the editing process I appreciate my small publishers more. When it comes time to submit your book to a publisher you have to decide whether to go the small press route or submit to one of the big traditional publishers. Many, probably most, of the published authors I know are published by small publishers. Working with a small publisher puts your career on the marathon path more than the quick sprint to glory path.

Many small publishers offer either no or very small advances. If you're looking for dollars in the bank as a measure of success, you might not get that immediately with a small publisher. The income may be spread out over years and slowly build up to equal the advance you might have received from a traditional publisher. Earnings come strictly from royalties. If you receive an advance from a publisher, they will keep a reserve of earnings toward paying back that upfront money. Unless your book sells well, the advance may be the only money you ever see from the book.

Small publishers are likely to pay your a greater percentage on sales than a big publisher. Most will pay 25-40% on digital books. A small publisher usually lets an author have more say on cover design. A big criticism of traditional publishers is the length of time between contract and the actual publication date of the book. Small publishers having a much shorter turnaround time. I usually expect six months or less from my romance publisher.

Often small publishers are started by a writer who loves books and authors. When working for such a company the author can develop a very personal relationship with the owner, the editors and the other people working in the small company.

One of the dangers of a small publisher is that they can go belly up. I went through that a number or years ago. That bankruptcy clause in your contract will not prevent your books from getting tangled in the legal process. It can take years to get your rights back. It's important to investigate a small publisher before trusting them with your hard work. Also with a small publisher you're less likely to see your book on the shelves at the local B&N but most bookstores will arrange booksignings if you want to do them. When it comes to promotion, both small and big publishers expect most of the work to be done by the author.

So I'm involved in a marathon of a writing career. No big advance checks but I'm slowly developing a small steady income from the three small publishers I work with. Looking for a small publisher? Here's a list of 700 book publishers. Here's another list of the top 101 Independent book publishers. You might find something you like.

Are the other advantages you can think of for authors pubbed by smaller companies? What do you think is a reasonable percentage for authors to earn on their published books? Have you prepared your post for Wednesday's IWSG?


  1. Hi Susan - Alex's and supportive knowledgeable bloggers, who write useful articles to help us ... are just amazing .. and I'm sure this Guide will be incredibly helpful to many.

    Cheers to you both - Hilary

  2. Human spell checker - you can add that to your resume now!
    I enjoy being with my small publisher. There's so little pressure.

  3. You won't get rich with a small publisher, but you will get your book published!

  4. If you're looking to get rich writing isn't the way since most of us aren't Dan Brown, JK Rowling, or what's her name that wrote 50 shades.

    One of the nice things that come from a small publisher is the support system. You have help in getting the MS in published form as far as content and selling impact. When you do it all on your own, you have to wear all the hats. Small publishers help take that task off your shoulder. You still have to work but it's not all on you. Also they want to see you succeed because it's tied into their success.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

  5. The cat enjoys being on his own, as they whole belly up thing doesn't appeal to me. So are we supposed to post the one for the book, or does that just go in the book? The cat will have to screw around with the schedule if we are supposed to post it too.

  6. Getting your book published is more important than getting rich - at first. Thanks for the list.

  7. The ebook is an excellent idea, I am looking forward to reading all the useful information.

  8. I tend to get caught up in the story when I beta/crit for friends - often have to backtrack to edit. Not sure I'm make a great editor!! :)

  9. The marathon is well worth it...
    but I can never see my own typos! ;)

  10. There are a lot of benefits to signing with a small publisher, and I think the vast majority of writers are running marathons. I'm ready for Wednesday! :)

  11. Hi, Susan,

    So looking forward to reading all the useful information in IWSG's guide! Even though I've been writing/editing for quite some time, there are always things to learn!

    I am bouncing the ideas around about publishing. I need to make a decision soon. Since my next step is to query them. Agents seem to be a bust for me, so I need to query directly.

    Maybe a bit of both at first and see who's interested.

    Thanks for all your thoughts. I appreciate it!

  12. I have a small publisher and I am so happy with them! :D

  13. I have a small publisher too. I love it. :) It's personal and empowering and even though you have to do a lot on your own, there is loads of support.