Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Small Press Pros and Cons

Last time, I posted about some of the pros and cons of self-publishing. This time, I'd like to take a look at some of the pros and cons of publishing with small presses instead of the "big six." Small presses are royalty-paying publishers that are pretty much what it says on the tin: small. Sometimes as small as a single person working from his or her kitchen table.

Publishing with a small press can be a good start to a career as a published author, but it doesn't always work out that way. As with any route to publication, it's important to do your research into the company you're considering, and to carefully weigh the pros and cons.

Some pros of small presses:
1. It can be easier to get answers from your editor and the owner of the company (if they aren't the same person) because they aren't dealing with as many other authors as personnel at a larger company.

2. The turn-around time from signing the contract to the book being available can be shorter.

3. It can be easier (and faster) to be accepted by a small press.

4. You may receive more individual attention from your editor and the owner of the company.

Some cons:
1. Small presses in general are more likely to go out of business for financial reasons. (One bit of advice that's often given is to wait until the company's been in operation for at least two years before submitting; that tends to be the mark at which you can trust the company will continue operating, though it doesn't always hold true.)

2. Small presses generally have less of a promotion/marketing budget, if they have any at all, so the bulk of promoting will be on you, the author.

3. Some small presses don't have as good quality control as larger publishers, and some don't have trained editors. (Check out other books from that publisher; if there seems to be a tendency toward typos and content issues, there may be quality control problems.)

I'm published with small presses myself, and my experiences have been varied. As always, do your homework before you sign any contract.


  1. I took a chance on Entangled Publishing. I was one of their very, very early books, and in fact signed with them while they were still getting their launch titles in order. I chose to even submit because their covers were top notch, they offered a publicist who helps each author promo their book, and their website had a super professional layout that was-gasp!-actually geared toward readers. (If you see a small press that's geared more toward getting submissions, I would turn the other way.)

    And, boy, it was a smart decision. ;) They've absolutely boomed and in a VERY short period of time. Gaining employees from some of the Big 6 publishers, distribution, etc.

    Their story is one of the rare ones though, I know. And these are all REALLY good points--especially about marketing and quality control.

  2. It can be kind of scary to try a new publisher, but Entangled is definitely, to me, an example of one that's done it right. And I second what you say about small presses that are geared toward getting submissions instead of readers.

    I'm glad you've had such a good experience with Entangled. I just re-read Hushed last week; amazing book.

  3. I like my small press. They don't have much of a budget for anything though like ARC's and anything really to do with paper.

    And it's Big Five now, not Big Six. Penguin and Random House merged.

  4. Thanks for the sound advice. I have been musing about this subject today in the face of trying to get an agent. You know you're getting desperate when a somewhat-cordial automated reply for a submission gives you the warm fuzzies...

  5. I did A LOT of research before signing with Red Adept, even more than I did when looking for an agent.