Wednesday, May 15, 2019

#AuthorToolBox Blog Hop: May 2019

Much thanks to Raimey Gallant for running the monthly blog hop, Author Tool Box. I learn a few things every month from the talented and smart writers who participate. Find the entire list here. I try to visit every blog because I don't want to miss anything.

Like many writers who have been in this business for a while, I've had publishers close their doors or as one said, change their direction, leaving my published books as orphans. When this happens, there are two choices. Publish the books myself or find a publisher who will take on a previously published novel.

It would be nice if I never had to make that decision because the small presses I've been contracted with never went bankrupt. But it happens all the time. So far, I've had three different small presses go away while my books were with them. The first one declared bankruptcy and all the authors had their rights tied up for months. Fortunately, RWA stepped in with a legal team and helped us. My book hadn't even been published yet, but it was under contract.  I did learn that those bankruptcy clauses in contracts are meaningless.

A little more than two years ago, I had two different fantasy series with two different small presses. I had signed a four book contract with one and had two books under contract with the other. Both publishers closed their doors within weeks of each other and within days of one of my books being released. I had blog appearances and other promotions all lined up when it happened. At least both presses made sure to return rights without any prompting.

It's difficult to tell how reliable a small press is and if they will stay in business. I've avoided self-publishing because I'm too lazy to do all the work involved. I want to write, edit, and rewrite, not design covers or hire outside editors. I don't want to do formatting or deal with Amazon. So, my romance publisher, NCP,  offered to take on the four book fantasy series. It hasn't sold a lot but I trust the publisher to stay in business.

The second series has been sitting while I work on my romance career. I was determined to find a small press that would take on a previously published book. I've gathered three rejections and am waiting to hear back from another submission. I don't send out queries to just any small press. Here are the things I do first:

*Is their website professional?
*Is it more than a one person operation?
*How long have they been in business?
*How many books have they published?
*How many authors write for them?
*Are their book covers professional and attention grabbing?
*Do their books have good rankings and reviews on Amazon and Goodreads?
*I always buy and read at least two of their books in my genre to check quality of writing and editing.
*Check their social media to see if the publisher does promotion.

The small press I'm waiting to hear from fits all the above criteria. Hopefully, by next month, I can tell you if they've accepted my submission. If not, it's back to the search.

Do you or have you worked with a small press? Have you ever tried to place a previously published book with another publisher? Have you had the frustrating and depressing experience of having a publisher close on you?


  1. It's wonderful how writers share their experiences of writing and publishing through blogging, It makes interesting reading and tips for future use.
    Great post Susan.


  2. I love your list of questions. It is so sad when they declare bankruptcy. That happened to me too with my first short story. I wish you luck Susan :)

  3. Yes! These questions are so valuable. I was the victim of a small press who was stealing author royalties. I was fortunate that we had a good group of authors who stuck together and got our rights back. I made the decision to self-publish those books (they turned out better anyway. Better editing, better covers) They made me pay for my own editor --that should have been a red flag but I was a newb.

  4. I hope you get good news. It's sad so many close. just have to check each one with that list.

  5. Good Luck with the submissions. I've become very gun shy when it comes to smaller presses. Thanks for the great advice. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  6. I'm not an expert in the printing press companies, but in my "world" of medical transcription there are lots of small companies that eventually can't make it so they are bought up by the bigger companies and then the accounts come over to the bigger one along with the employees if they want to. Is something like that happening with the smaller companies going out of business or declaring bankruptcy? Can the "bigger fish" buy them up if they wanted to? It seemed if that was an option some of the "bigger fish" might want to do that to get the potential of new authors and manuscripts available to them with work that the smaller companies already did to screen them, get them ready for publishing, etc?

    I do hope you hear favorable news soon from the company you are waiting to hear back from.


  7. Clever idea to buy a couple of their books.

    I'm sorry you've lost publishers.

  8. Good thing the RWA was there. What are the point of those clauses if they don't do anything??

    Very good advice you're giving. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Such fabulous advice. I know someone else who has gone through this recently. Will share. Thanks, Susan!

  10. Hey again! FYI: the link to your facebook page on your "me" page isn't working properly I don't think. :)

  11. That is a good list. Reading a few books released sure would tell you the quality. Wise move indeed.

  12. Very interesting post! I, too, always feel like I learn so much from checking out this monthly blog hop. I've only recently signed with my publisher, but I have friends who've lived a similar experience to yours. It's such a tricky thing, knowing what pub to trust your baby to! Fingers are crossed for your news on this next publisher!

  13. The more i read about how difficult it is to get published and now, even keep a good publisher, the more i admire authors!

  14. Hi Susan - I haven't experienced any of the horrors you mention ... but note them as I read others' blogs - so tips are always useful and references for sure need to be checked out. Thanks for these - cheers Hilary

  15. I never realised writing was such a difficult career until I started blogging and ready what happens to all you authors, or can happen. Makes me very glad I am not an author.

  16. Good questions. I've checked out a lot of small presses, and find very few with adequate editing and professional cover design, let alone competent marketing. And don't get me started on the small presses operating off nothing more than a Facebook page ...

  17. I haven't tried to publish with a small press, for now I'm intending to self-publish, but this is great info! Thanks for sharing. :)

  18. Good luck with your submission, I hope you hear back soon!I'm with the small publisher eXtasy Books. They're so small they don't have much in the way of promotion going, but their editors are top notch and I'm grateful for everything I've learned having my books ripped apart by them! Haha

  19. So sorry to hear the publishers close. It's so scary. I wish you all the luck with finding publishers. I'm a little anxious for when I get to that point. Thanks for the advice about looking to see if "their books have good rankings and reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I never thought of that.