12 Rather Random Reasons to Publish with Small Publishers

Last week I put out  a call to talk about smaller independent presses which are loosely defined by not being owned or controlled by anyone else. I have heard some or many do not require an agent to agree to publish a book, but what else? This in itself sounds like a logical progression from self publishing. This continues a discussion about alternatives available to an author whether they are established, aspiring or like me, on a quest to answer questions. Not a single independent press returned my inquiry which does not really surprise me. I have definitely covered some very convincing reasons to self publish with guest posts, but I am still looking for more input. If you are someone or know someone with experience in another form of fiction publishing please contact me. I am not the only person who would like to hear about it. The following article is a response to last weeks plea for the same. Friends of Firetok.com will recognize her as Michele Barrow-Belisle or maybe even Cinderella from her first guest spot here. She already has several books in print which are available on her website and she obviously has first hand knowledge. I appreciate her sharing some of her experience to help shed some light on publishing alternatives as well as her continued support of this blog. 



Guest Post by Michele Barrow-Belisle

1. Communication. Smaller publishers are easier to reach. No need for the added lengthy delay of finding an agent, since they accept submissions directly from authors.

2. Speed. Most go digital first, but will often put books into print after a specific time frame or sales point is reached.

3. Marketing. They do some marketing for you, but not tons. That said, even with the big publishing houses the author is responsible for doing much of the promo and marketing of their books. Social media is now your new best friend ;)

4. Books. They'll make books available for reselling to book stores on consignment, hopefully at cost or at least with a deep discount. The disadvantage for some is that books sold to stores on consignment means the cost and planning fall on the author’s shoulders. However, with proper marketing and PR, you can reap the many benefits of having your book in print. Plus book signings are such a blast!

5. Timing. Things happen quickly with smaller publishers. It doesn’t take a year or more from sale to publication. Things tend to move a lot faster.

6. Editors. You don't have to pay for an editor, or four. My books go through four rounds of edits with four different editors, which mean four sets of eyes—opinions—suggestions—proof readers and so on. That is golden.

7. Advance copies. They might arrange for some advance review copies of your book to be made available for sending out. They may even have reviewers they automatically submit to on your behalf. Some may even set up a virtual book tour for you.Want to know more about live book tours; check out Sheri McInnis' post here: Book Tour 

8. Money. You keep a higher percentage of the royalties… always a nice feature, especially since there are seldom advances paid up front. You also retain your copyright.

9. Legal aspects. They likely have a small but mighty team of people working behind the scenes to secure your subsidiary rights… and if they’re asking for those rights in your contract (film, audio, foreign language, etc.) you definitely want to ask how they plan on exploiting them. I discovered the incredible powers-that-be working alongside my publisher, and the benefits of it were central to selling the movie rights for my book Fire & Ice, and the audio book and foreign language rights too.You can read a bit more about that journey here: Cinderella Story- Inspiration from Author Michele Barrow-Belisle

10. Your cover art is paid for. I suggest looking for companies that have a consistent track record of great covers, because let’s face it, your cover sells your book before a single word you’ve written does. Except perhaps the title. And you will likely get to choose that too. Plus all formatting and uploading is done for you, to make your title available at all of the various book retailers.

11. Creative Input. You’ll likely have more input on the cover design for your book. With CleanReads.com, I was able to answer a questionnaire about what I'd like on my cover and what I wouldn’t like there, and then was given input once the design was complete. I was fortunate because in both cases I loved the imagery right from the start.

12. There’s the community. You’ll belong to a group of authors and there’s something to be said for like-minded comradery, a cheering section, or a sympathetic shoulder to lean on when a bad review comes in. They'll often cross promote with you. I adore my fellow CR authors!

So those are the top advantages in my experience. What are your thoughts on the subject? I plan on experiencing all three modes in order to do a fair comparison, and reap the benefits each has to offer. Self-publishing. Small press publishing. Agented/traditional publishing.

Which option is right for you and your future bestseller? 
The good news? The choice, ultimately and fortunately, is yours!

As always, I wish you massive, audacious, outrageous publishing success! 

Michele Barrow-Belisle

twitter.com/MicheleBelisle
www.MicheleBarrowBelisle.com 



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3 comments :

M. K. Clarke said...

Great post.

I found my house strictly on a lark, and listed on a website by notable SF author Piers Anthony (www.hipiers.com). But in addition to finding a home for my mysteries--don't laugh--I picked it by instinct and, to steal a line from The Who's "Pinball Wizard," "by sense of smell."

The only thing I'd pick at with my house is their cover art for my first book. Since it's a stock photo, it looks like one if you know where to look, and taking time to grow on me. But the font for the title I totally love. I'll definitely let my EIC for my house, Devine Destinies (www.devinedestinies.com) know about CleanReads.com, and for my second and future books, hope they'll utilize this tool.

But for the personable factor--and on Piers Anthony's assessment (the man's been in this game almost fifty years; I think he holds a shred of credibility in this case :-) )--I decided to query JERSEY DOGS here, then forgot about it, having the MS make more indie house rounds.

The day I got the Acq Editor's email and story analysis on my submission packet, I honestly thought it was junk mail, BS, a scam, a con, you name it. So I called the house on the number listed on the website, left a voice mail, and again, forgot about it. But I did feel pretty fantastic and excited the novel was moving--after eleven long years working on it!

The next day, walking home form work, the publisher returns my phone call. Now I'm starting to get a touch stoked; this WAS legit! I asked all the right questions, really put the screws to her in advances (you're right about that, and she explained why they don't offer one), royalties, rights go back to me after the book's had its run, a nd if mutually agreed to, I'll renew my contract.

But what convinced me to stay with this house--I was planning to leave over formatting (I wanted to keep my Small Caps and Roman numerals rather than spell out Chapter One, Chapter Two, etc.)--I worked my tail off getting it there, and how would that look if I went back and said no thank you? Pretty silly. Think Lightning McQueen looking to leave his first sponsor for Dinoco, and **--spoiler alert!--** decided not to jump ship after all. And with older books not having done that Chapter One spellout, those aren't grandfathered into the rules the way today's books are formatted. And I'm not proven yet; they're chancing on me as I am them, but I have less at stake than they do.

IOW, be grown about this. There's enough writer divas around, and I promised myself I wouldn't be one of those.

Thanks for the piece. If you'd like to see my book cover, visit or follow me @MKClarkeWrites. I'd love your thoughts about it. Incidentally, it looks like a guy wrote the book based on the cover alone, but with a woman's name on the cover. That, I'm super-proud of.

~ Missye

M. K. Clarke said...

Great post.

I found my house strictly on a lark, and listed on a website by notable SF author Piers Anthony (www.hipiers.com). But in addition to finding a home for my mysteries--don't laugh--I picked it by instinct and, to steal a line from The Who's "Pinball Wizard," "by sense of smell."

The only thing I'd pick at with my house is their cover art for my first book. Since it's a stock photo, it looks like one if you know where to look, and taking time to grow on me. But the font for the title I totally love. I'll definitely let my EIC for my house, Devine Destinies (www.devinedestinies.com) know about CleanReads.com, and for my second and future books, hope they'll utilize this tool.

But for the personable factor--and on Piers Anthony's assessment (the man's been in this game almost fifty years; I think he holds a shred of credibility in this case :-) )--I decided to query JERSEY DOGS here, then forgot about it, having the MS make more indie house rounds.

The day I got the Acq Editor's email and story analysis on my submission packet, I honestly thought it was junk mail, BS, a scam, a con, you name it. So I called the house on the number listed on the website, left a voice mail, and again, forgot about it. But I did feel pretty fantastic and excited the novel was moving--after eleven long years working on it!

The next day, walking home form work, the publisher returns my phone call. Now I'm starting to get a touch stoked; this WAS legit! I asked all the right questions, really put the screws to her in advances (you're right about that, and she explained why they don't offer one), royalties, rights go back to me after the book's had its run, a nd if mutually agreed to, I'll renew my contract.

But what convinced me to stay with this house--I was planning to leave over formatting (I wanted to keep my Small Caps and Roman numerals rather than spell out Chapter One, Chapter Two, etc.)--I worked my tail off getting it there, and how would that look if I went back and said no thank you? Pretty silly. Think Lightning McQueen looking to leave his first sponsor for Dinoco, and **--spoiler alert!--** decided not to jump ship after all. And with older books not having done that Chapter One spellout, those aren't grandfathered into the rules the way today's books are formatted. And I'm not proven yet; they're chancing on me as I am them, but I have less at stake than they do.

IOW, be grown about this. There's enough writer divas around, and I promised myself I wouldn't be one of those.

Thanks for the piece. If you'd like to see my book cover, visit or follow me @MKClarkeWrites. I'd love your thoughts about it. Incidentally, it looks like a guy wrote the book based on the cover alone, but with a woman's name on the cover. That, I'm super-proud of.

~ Missye

Michele Barrow-Belisle said...

Hi Missye, thank you so much for sharing your journey! It sounds pretty exciting, as any foray into the publishing world ought to be. I wish you the very best of success with your book!