Working With Small Presses

I gave a talk on this subject to a group of writers at Willowbridge Bookstore. This is the essence of what I said:

The publishing industry is changing and it's changing fast.

POD used to be a bad word—this is what’s happening right now.

Dorchester Publishing/Leisure Books is not going to publish mass market paperback anymore—only POD and e-books.

St. Martin’s just announced they are switching to POD. And I'm sure it won't be long before other big publishers will be doing the same.

Why? Economic issues mainly. It's much too expensive to print books that may end up being warehoused.

Most of the small presses have been using POD for years—and at the same time, publishing e-books.

Paper books will not disappear, but things are changing.

When looking for a small press make sure that not only do they do print books but also e-books. You want to be able to sell both.

When submitting to a small press, do exactly what the guidelines tell you. Every small press seems to have different guidelines. Some only want an e-mail query first, other might ask for the whole manuscript. Be sure to follow the formatting guidelines.

If you are submitting to more than one house, tell them. (Not in the query, but if they ask for the whole manuscript.)

Some small presses will ask for a marketing plan upfront. Be sure to have one ready. If you don’t have a website yet, start one using Blogger or one of the other free blogging sites. Get on Facebook, Twitter etc.

You will have to promote your book—if you publish with a New York press, you will have to promote your book. You’ll need to do it online and at in-person events. Not many good bookstores left like Willow Bridge but they are out there. Also look for other outlets for in-person selling. (Gift stores, craft and book fairs.)

Do not bug your publisher. It is okay to email with questions—but don’t be a pest. Never say nasty things to a publisher. If they reject your work, move on to the next. They all know each other and pass the word about troublesome authors.

You need to have a presence on line. Subscribe to yahoo lists, belong to groups. Keep up with what’s going on in the publishing world. You want people to recognize your name.

That, folks, is what I had on my handout. I spoke for an hour and a half, so I said plenty more and answered lots of questions. Anyone have questions for me here, I'll be glad to answer them.



Clarissa Draper said…
I think you're right. Times are changing. I've been thinking a lot about my publishing situation. Not sure what I've decided.

I've done all the usual. Over the years I've had 5 agents, learned from each of them, but none ever sold a book for me. Started looking for publishers on my own.

Sunny Frazier said…
There's also the issue of expectations. I had a potential author ask me today if he could get a movie deal out of publishing with our house. PLEASE! Another agent lost deals for three of her authors by making a list of demands, such as sending her examples of the publishing house's work.

With hundreds of query letters to choose from, it doesn't take much aggrevation to lose a potential contract!

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