Monday, March 30, 2009


Ever since I sold my first book last year, I've completed six books, edited several, and promoted the published ones. It's been a whirlwind year. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

I've also put on twenty pounds, my house is a mess, my friends don't remember my name, and my horse doesn't have clue who I am.

My life needs balance. Lately, I've been staying off the Internet (the biggest time vacuum around) and doing things other than writing. I'm paying attention to my house, planning an addition onto it, spending more time with family and friends, and reconsidering my decision not to show my horse.

I'm still going to write, but I need to find a middle ground. So I'm writing one hour in the evening and trying to keep my Internet time to a minimum.

I spent this past weekend at a Conrad Schumacher dressage symposium. This man is the master of all masters, in my opinion. It was incredible and inspired me to ride my horse, an inspiration I haven't felt in a long time.

So, I'm working on balance. I suspect my books will be better for it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Publishing with a Small Press--Part 3--Choosing a Publisher

Choosing a Small Publisher (ePub)

There are a mind-boggling amount of small presses in cyberspace. Each day brings several new ones. At the same time, several existing presses close down and leave authors without a home for their books.

I’m going to assume you have a preliminary list of publishers you’re considering.

How does a person go about choosing the small presses that they wish to submit their works to?

First of all and foremost: RESEARCH. RESEARCH. RESEARCH.

I can’t stress this enough. Here are some great ways to find out about a small press that nterests you:

  • Google them. Do a web search on this publisher. Read
    everything you can find.
  • Check out their website and contact authors published with them. Include authors not just at the top of their bestseller lists, but at the middle and bottom. Most authors will give you the straight scoop if you ask the right questions. If one author expresses displeasure with a publisher, but the majority love that publisher, don’t put much weight on one disgruntled author. If you find several unhappy authors, I’d approach with caution.
  • Run a business background check. Several Internet companies will do this for you for about $25-40. You’ll need to be able to find the publisher’s name and a physical address in order to do a background check. Checkout now just the company but the owner.

If they pass your initial background check, consider what you want from a publisher. Some questions to consider:

  • What kind of distribution do they offer?
    • Are their books available from major distributors, such as Fictionwise, MobiPocket, Amazon, Baker and Taylor, Ingram Book Group.
    • Do they offer print books? If so, are they available through major distributors such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble?
  • What do they offer financially to an author?
    • Do they pay an advance? This is very rare in ebooks and not a necessity.
    • What percentage of sales does the author get for each book? What do their books sell for?
    • How often do they pay royalties? Can you find out if they
      pay on time?
  • Do they offer any type of promotion?
    • Do they have a marketing department? A few small presses
      do have a marketing person available to assist authors?
    • Do they offer any free promotion, such as advertising?
  • What do you think of their website?
    • Is the website attractive, easy to navigate, quick to
    • Go through the process of buying a book. Is it
      straight-forward? Or is it confusing and awkward?
  • What about their publishing process?
    • How many months/years out are they scheduling slots? How
      long do you want to wait to see your book in print?
    • What do you think of the quality of their editing? Buy a
      few of their books and see for yourself.
      • What is their editing process? Do you get to work with
        the same editor all the time or do you get a different editor for each
        book? There are pros and cons to each. It depends on your preference.
    • Can you get a copy of their contract?
      • How many years is your book under contract? Five to
        seven seems to be the average.
    • How do they handle reviews?
      • Who’s responsible for soliciting reviews? Do you need to
        send your own book out for reviews? Do they send to a group of reviewer
        for you?
    • Are you provided with free copies for contests and to
      submit for reviews?
      • How many and what kind?

When I was doing my research, I made a spreadsheet of which items were important to me. Then I checked off which small presses offered what I wanted.

From there I read their submission instructions and submitted to the ones that interested me.

I hope this series has been useful to you. Please let me know if I’m missing anything or if you’d like me to cover other topics in the future.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Publishing with a Small Press--Part 2, Pros and Cons

First of all, you need to understand some terminology, such as small press, large press, vanity press, and print on demand. In the interests of saving space, I posted this terminology in my Part 1 post at this blog.

We'd all love to sell to a large publisher with a huge advance and be on Good Morning America and Oprah. The chances of that happening are slim to none. So you wrote a book and now you want find a home for it. Let's assume you're not interested in self-publishing. Let's also assume you've tried the large publisher route, you're writing something that big publishers won't take a chance on, don't have the patience to wait on a big publisher, or you believe ebooks are the wave of the future.

Should you consider a small press or e-publisher and why? Here are some of the pros and cons of small presses to help you make your decision. In this case, I'm referring to small presses that are primarily epubs, as opposed to small presses that do print runs.

Pros (What working with a small press can do for you):

  • Provide a viable option for books that don’t fit into a New York niche. (Small pubs can afford to take risks). Equestrian fiction definitely fits into this.
  • Gain valuable experience (which can look good to a large publisher).
  • Learn to promote your book and yourself.
  • Gain experience working with editors and publishers on professional duties such as cover art and edits.
  • Prove you can meet deadlines.
  • Provide encouragement to finish the book and write more books.
  • Build name recognition the publishing business.
  • Improve writing and editing skills by working with other authors and your editor.
  • Reduce the number of discarded and destroyed paperbacks. GO GREEN!
  • Make valuable contacts with other authors and the book publishing industry.
  • Build confidence in your writing.
  • Enjoy less pressure.
  • Enjoy more creative freedom.
  • May receive more personal attention from publisher and staff.
  • Easier to find your books, longer “shelf” life, don’t go out of print.
  • Have a quicker turnaround from submitting to publication.
  • Write shorter works so you can write more books. You're not expected to write a novel-length book every time.
  • Provide another publication outlet for category novels.
  • Build a reader base.

Cons (Disadvantages of a small press):

  • Low pay and royalties, in most cases, considering the time investment by the author.
  • Risky if the small press isn’t stable and established. Yet, in this economy, NY is risky as editors move around and lines close all the time. They may tie up your book for a few years and never publish it.
  • Time-consuming, as you often perform the tasks that large publishers would do for you, such as promotion, blurbs, cover art suggestions, etc.
  • Lower quality of editing in some cases.
  • Limited chance for book to be in bookstore because they're usually print on demand and not all small presses send their books to print.
  • Requires extensive research of different companies. (Not all small presses are created equal in royalties, editing, and business practices. Talk to authors, do a background check, search the Internet)
  • Limited possibilities for booksignings.
  • A smaller market of people to buy your book. Even though the Internet should be a large market, it's very hard to target your promotion to the right readers.
  • Limited distribution for your book.
  • Lack of respect in many circles, including professional writing organizations. You may not be taken seriously by fellow authors and considered more of a hobbiest than a professional author.
  • Limited reviews—may be harder to get reviews
  • Exclusion from many contests, includng RWA's Ritas.
  • Print-on-demand books costs 2 to 3 times more than regular pocket novels.
  • Expectation that you will write more books than you would with a larger press.

Next week, I'll discuss how to pick a small press.