Why I Chose a Small Independent Publisher(s) and More

The "and more" refers to why I've chosen to remain with my small publishers and not jump off and go the self-publishing route as so many others have.

First, I was thrilled when Mundania Press agreed to pick up my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series after I lost the first two publishers. I'd met the publisher at several writing conferences and he had the know how and business sense I was looking for.

Raging Water, the latest in Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series

I met the publisher for Oak Tree Press also at a writing conference. In fact I met her several times before I approached her about publishing the next one up in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series. I parted ways with the first publisher, the second one published two books and then decided to retire. Approaching Oak Tree Press seemed the next logical stop.

Latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Dangerous Impulses.

Why did I make that choice and stick with it?

Number one, I don't want to learn how to do something new. Frankly, I don't have the time for it. I want to have time to write my books. I don't want to design my covers and format the pages of my book. I don't want to deal with all those business things.

What do I expect from my small press publishers?

That once my book is accepted, that the book will be edited. Before I ever send it off, my critique group has heard it and critiqued it chapter by chapter. Next, I've had a beta reader or two. Then I go over it once more carefully. That doesn't mean there won't be mistakes--goodness, there always seems to be mistakes. But between me and the editor, hopefully we'll catch most of them.

And then the galley proofs--I will again go over the book looking for mistakes, typos, flaws.

I expect my publisher to come up with a great cover. If I have an idea what might work, I'll give my input. If there's something I don't like about the cover, I'll say so. Sometimes changes are made, sometimes not. I've loved most of my covers.

I'm the one who has to write a short blurb for the back of the book. I'm also the one who has to find authors to write something about the book--though one of my publishers makes great suggestions.

I expect my publisher to get the book up in all the places it might sell such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

I'm the one who has to get a buzz going about the book and I try to get this started long before the book is to come out. I'm the one who will be doing most of the promotion. I am the one with the marketing plans. What venue will I be attending where I can talk about and/or sell my book? What online promo will I be doing? What blogs brought in the most visitors on my last blog tour? Should I plan another blog tour and who should I ask to be a part of it? What other social media should I use again, or try anew?

What I won't do? I won't bug my publisher or ask for things I know won't happen with a small press. A good way to lose a publisher is to be a pest. Another is to not understand the publishing business and ask for the impossible--and keep asking. For one thing, I'm way to busy for that.

Maybe I don't know everything that I ought to know, goodness, I certainly haven't made a fortune writing. I certainly haven't made the dollars some of my fellow authors are reporting. What I do know is that I have some loyal fans, I love hearing from them and when I am fortunate to, I love meeting them. And one more thing, I have a good relationship with both my publishers.

I'm sure there's a lot more. Chime in and tell me why you are doing what you are doing.

Marilyn aka F.M. Meredith


Anonymous said…
One thing I am doing is following your informative blogs because I am learning from them. As you know, this is my first book and it's also by Oak Tree Press, so I'm doing pretty much the same that you are. I have learned a great deal about the publishing business and marketing along the way. I'm still not entirely sure what I'm doing on my blog all of the time, but am trudging along, learning as I go. Keep writing these great blogs because they are educational for many of us, I'm sure. They are for me!
Hi, Marilyn,

I read your blog with great interest since right now I'm wondering whether to approach an agent or look to a small publisher myself with my new work. Like you, I don't want to self-publish.
Heather Haven said…
Marilyn, after three years I chose to start my own small pub co with a writing buddy/friend, Baird Nuckolls. We are still in the beginning stages, but I have to say that what I like is to have total input on everything. While I liked both my publishers very much, this control give me the total freedom to do what I want. Plus - and for me this is important - I now know the why and wherefore of what it takes for a book to appear somewhere, either on a real or virtual shelf. It is a lot of work, I'll admit, but so far I'm loving the process. The name of our small publishing house is The Wives of Bath Press, Women of a certain age journeying through life - and with attitude, I might add!
I agree with you on this. I like working with small presses. I've self-published three books--one, because I wasn't happy with the publisher who had published the first in the series, and two children's books that had been traditionally published and went out-of-print. Though I've done it, I don't much care for having to see to a book's production. The hardest for me was putting up my books on Create Space. Also, I like having an editor.
Madison Johns said…
Great job Marilyn. I self publish and it's hard work and I wish I could find a publisher for my series, but so far no go.

You are one busy writer.
Thank you, Jackie Z. That makes keeping my blog up worthwhile!

I've had agents, but ended up finding my own publishers.

All the best with your venture, Heather. If I were younger, I might take that route--but when I was it wasn't as easy as it is now.

I have self-published about three books, and it was okay, but being with a small press is much easier.

Madison, you've done a great job with your books.
marja said…
Right now I have one foot in each world. I love Oak Tree Press and I'm so happy they're releasing the Bogey Man books. I couldn't ask for a better publisher.

The other foot? My Sandi Webster series was published by a different publisher. I was disillusioned and after five books I cancelled the contracts. I'm rereleasing this series using the KDP program. Stay tuned to see if I make it or it breaks me.
Sunny Frazier said…
I'm glad you stressed the importance of understanding the industry and working with the publisher. Independent presses don't have large staffing and hope that authors understand their limitations. Being cooperative goes a long way. On the other hand, larger publishing outfits don't build the kind of relationships with their authors that a small press does. We keep it a "people" business.
Billie Johnson said…
Great comments! And, say, Madison, whatcha got?

Billie Johnson,
Publisher, Oak Tree Press
Madison Johns said…
Billie, I write mysteries with senior aged sleuths.
Cora said…
Marilyn, you are an example to all of us that have watched you struggle through agents and publishers through the years, so your golden wisdom is valued and appreciated.
Cora, the lesson here is never give up.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
I agree, Marilyn, with all you said. I, too, have many friends who have been very successful going the indie route. But I don't want to learn all you need to know to do it right. There's a bunch of crapola out there by people who don't do it right. I am happy to edit, promote, market, and write, write, write while working with wonderful professionals who seem to enjoy the pieces I don't.
Thanks, Sharon. I have far too much to do to get into the self-pub business.
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