Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Small is not always beautiful

Very useful post here from Writer Beware about the pros and cons of being published by a small publisher.

Do read the whole post, as it contains wonderful advice, but can I draw your attention especially to these points?
  • "Reputable publishers do not advertise for authors on Craigslist or in writers’ forums, or buy ads online or in print, or mass-mail authors out of the blue with invitations to submit."
  • "...reputable publisher’s website will be book-focused - it will publicize its authors, and try to attract readers. A questionable publisher’s website will be service-focused - it will promote itself, and try to attract writers."
  • "Be wary of any small press whose website contains large amounts of verbiage about how closed-minded the traditional publishing industry is, or tells scary stories ... It may be an author mill trolling for clients, or an amateur endeavor staffed by frustrated authors."
Those points are warnings about disreputable small presses but many other small presses, as the article says, are hugely well-meaning but under-staffed or resourced - though working terrifically hard to overcome that. Be prepared to do much more publicity work yourself if you're with a small press. On the other hand, this means greater control for you. It's tiring but satisfying. And nowadays, believe me, almost all writers have to do masses of publicity anyway.

Anyway, food for thought. The article expresses it all better than I could so please read it!


Dan Holloway said...

What a thorough, balanced article that is. I think it's probably fair to say that some very good small presses *do* contact authors directly - I'm thinking of poetry presses who may contact an author after reading a piece in Magma, say, or someone contacting an author after reading a story in a well-respected online zine like 3:am. But that's very different from what I think this post is talking about. And easily remedied by the advice about using google - and Writer Beware of course!

Derek said...

I think it all comes down to asking the right questions at the outset. I approached Musa Publishing with an ebook proposal (The Silent Hills) earlier this year and they requested the MS, critted it, held a call, agreed a contract, assigned a cover artist and requested many edits before publication. The only money that's changed hands is from them to me, which is as it should be.

The bottom line is that writers have to think and act professionally and not get swayed by praise or attention.

Katalin Havasi said...

What an eye-opener! Thanks for leading us to this excellent in-depth article on the mushrooming publishing ventures which are not at all easy to navigate (Writer Beware blog).

Sometimes I encounter the term 'author solutions services.' What does that mean, I wonder. A self-publishing company? A vanity press? Or something else?

Sally Zigmond said...

Katalin: It can often indeed mean a vanity publisher. That's why it's advisable to do all the checks the Writers Beware post suggests.

As Derek said, money should flow to the writer, not the other way round.

Elaine AM Smith said...

Hi Nicola

I'm bad, I'll get that out of the way, and up-front, right now.


I was just doing a little historical trip down through your blog (How To Write A Query: it's nearly that time) and found the part where you asked me to send you my e-mail address.

*oops* (That's such a red word, it needs to be used on Mondays.)

I'm feeling slightly smaller than these letters here, if you want me to consign my email to subscript to the power of "stop-babbling" I'll happily do that too.

Hey, I won a prize in October! Go me!

Me: "Wordsmithing"

Thanks ;)

Scooter Carlyle said...

Just after reading the article, I had a nightmare in which I had signed my rights to my novel over to a small press that soon went under. It was so realistic that I was upset all morning, thinking I had done something truly stupid. Then I realized it was just a dream. Thank God!