Monday, December 10, 2012

Small Presses are a Writer's Best Friend

I read an interesting article in the Dec 10 issue of Time magazine about self-publishing. The article describes a new trend: the recent self-publishing blockbusters that have made lots of money for the writers involved. It goes on to describe how many other writers are trying to emulate that but the article admits many self-published writers are not likely to see that sort of fame.

Several points other were made too that I think are worth noting:

  • Amazon owns the majority of the self-publishing space. If your work in not in Amazon and available for the Kindle, it does not exist.
  • That in order to sell self-published work the price needs to be as low as possible. Making your work free may help you get an audience if that's your initial goal.
  • The audience for your work is small -- smaller than you think -- because there is so much content and so many people are writing and self-publishing now. The readers only have so much bandwidth; so you are a very small voice and a very, very large chorus.
But while the article confirmed several points I had long suspected, it was not a balanced piece. It only discussed two options for writers looking to publish and attract an audience: either traditional publishing with one of the six main publishers or self-publishing.

Obviously, no traditional publisher will look at a new writer (although Harper-Collins did run an event recently in which new writers could submit their work). And self-publishing is a hard road because you have do everything yourself or hire people to edit, create cover art, lay out the book, help with the promotion, and so on. You can end up working long hours with little or no reward to start.

But there's another road, one not discussed in the Time magazine article. You can find a small press to publish your work. A small press is like a traditional publisher but isn't, so you won't get a great deal initially for your work -- you are an untried commodity after all. But they will help with many things so you don't have to do them, like the cover art, and developing a promotion campaign, and so on. They will work with you to help make your book a success. You will still have to go out and sell the book. But you'd have to do that anyway if you self-published. 

And frankly, after having a taste of the self-publishing world, I think I prefer using a small press for novels. My short pieces I can give away for now as a sort of advertising of my work. But my novels will not be given away. I've worked too long and hard on them. So if you are not having success with self-publishing, you might try to find a small press and see if you have better luck there.

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