So far, it’s still a dream.
The reality I’m enjoying, however, is being published by a small regional press, which is giving me many of the satisfactions of being a published author without the pressure of big-time publishing. In fact, I regard my association with my current publisher as not only a great way to continue to develop as a writer, but also as a hands-on business apprenticeship which is preparing me for that future leap into the big leagues. Yes, working as a small press author means the royalties are slim, but for me, the benefits are huge.
If you haven’t considered finding a small press for your work, here are some things I’ve learned that you might find interesting and appealing about working with a smaller publisher:
- Small presses have very specific audiences and categories. That means you have to really define your own audience as you write your book. The benefit to this task is that your writing will be tighter and more focused, which will do three things for you: 1) improve your book; 2) target a publisher who wants this kind of book (thereby improving your chances of landing a contract!); and 3) give you a clear idea of who the readers are to whom you’ll be marketing the book upon publication.
- Small presses have limited resources to help you market. While this was initially a negative for me, I am now grateful that I assume primary responsibility for this very important piece of the publishing journey. I’ve learned to develop publicity contact lists, explore marketing opportunities, and pursue networking to land speaking engagements, which is a key to success for authors. Another plus here is that as a one-person marketing machine, I can react quickly to opportunities with an immediate ‘yes!’
- Timelines can be shorter with a small press. I can phone my publisher and talk directly to her, getting the answers I need or the extension of a deadline. I get the editing comments back, make revisions as needed, and see a final proof shortly thereafter; I can finish my book in June and have the launch party in September (not that I recommend such a tight schedule, but it has happened!). That means no long waits to see my books in print and get reader response.
- I work closely with the book designer, so I’m always happy with my book’s front and back covers. I’ve heard from many authors with big publishers that they have little to no input on what their book will look like; I love having a voice in those decisions!
The bottom line is that publishing with a small house can keep you closer to the publishing process in each of its stages, providing you with an education and experience that can only benefit your future career success.
Are any of you working with small presses? Care to share the joys of doing so?