Friends, today a super star is visiting my blog! Seriously.
The Alex J. Cavanaugh is here to chat about small publishers. Alex, creator of the massively popular Insecure Writer's Support Group, is one of the most supportive, nicest guys ever.
Curious about small publishers? Me too. Take it away, Alex!
In the Middle – the Small Publisher Debate
You ever notice how things can get lost in the middle? Think there can be no middle ground? After all, the two sides sound so appealing:
The self-published author – keeps all the profits and doesn’t have to share. Gets to make all the choices and has total control. Can write outside the genre box and is free from deadlines.
The author with an agent and a book deal – work is validated. There’s no book costs and gets a royalty advance. Bookstore placement and marketing. Big reviews and often better sales.
Both sound great, right? So, what’s in the middle?
Signing directly with a (small) publisher.
You’ve probably heard a lot of good and bad things about that route. Let me list a few points for you, some based on experience and some on the experiences of other authors.
- Small publishers don’t have huge marketing budgets. Some don’t have any.
- Your book sitting in a book store probably won’t happen. A lot are eBooks only.
- They are more likely to experience financial troubles.
- Often there’s no advance royalty. Overall royalties aren’t much.
- Sometimes covers are simple or involve stock images.
- Small publishers are more willing to take a chance on a new author or genre.
- Acceptance gets your foot in the door and garners some respect.
- You’re not a number – you’re a real person and sometimes family.
- You have some input in the process, including cover design.
- Often there is support past the initial release.
The middle was my choice. Overall I’ve been very fortunate with my publisher. They took a chance on a complete unknown and continued to support my books months after their release. They kept me in the loop and the covers they’ve produced have been stunning. And while there was no advance for the first two books, I did get one on the third book, and overall royalties have far exceeded my expectations.
Is it the right choice for you? Only you can answer that question. There will be pros and cons either way. Everything in life has pros and cons though. Which ones matter most to you?
Thank you Julie for the opportunity!
Alex, thank you! Not only for this great post, but for all you do for writers. You're a bright light in this community, and we're so thankful for you.
I've heard many authors speak about the family atmosphere with small publishers. Friends, do you have any experience with small publishers? Have you queried them? Published with them? Please share! Any questions for Alex? Ask away!
(No fair, Alex! A shadowy photo??)
Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of Amazon bestsellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.
I like the idea of being with a small publishing company since I'd like some control. I would also like help and advice on a personal level. I suppose it's a matter of finding who's best for me.ReplyDelete
Alex is wonderful sharing his experience. It does help.
Fanny, I've heard it's like a partnership—with both sides striving for the same thing. Thanks for stopping by!Delete
Thank you, Julie! And just a dude with some books and a blog.ReplyDelete
Fanny, small publishers are very helpful. And patient!
Great post, Alex. This year I'll be querying small publishers. I like still knowing I'll have some control, but I'll have some help with things. Yet I will still be self-publishing. I think we'll be seeing a lot more hybrid authors who do both.ReplyDelete
The writing/publishing world is a lot like trying on shoes. Though the big stars may have the fanciest, they might not fit my feet. I went self pub/indie press with my first book. Queried a couple of small presses, but inexperience was a big factor in not getting picked up.ReplyDelete
Being involved in the creative process has been amazing, and just like the big boys and girls, there has been a few minor delays and changes, but overall I think I found the pair of writing boots that I can keep walking in. Thanks Alex (and Julie) for this wonderful post.
Good job laying out the pros and cons of working with a small publisher, Alex! It can be the best of both worlds.ReplyDelete
After a querying nightmare, I also took the middle route. I signed with a small press and Alex is right-on. They are like one big family. (It's that dang self-promotion I don't like)In the interim I did get an agent, but still have books being published with my small press.ReplyDelete
Very helpful, Alex. Thanks, Julie, for hosting him. This will become very important to me in the next few months as I close in on finishing my first novel.ReplyDelete
Very helpful, Alex. Seems like an ideal compromise between "traditional" and indie. If I *ever* finish my book, maybe this is the way to go.ReplyDelete
Tina @ Life is Good
A to Z Team @ Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014
There is pros and cons indeed. I just hate waiting, I want it done and up ad on to the next one hahaReplyDelete
Small publishers, with a good editing and design contracts are good and there is a family feel to it all. I worked with one small publisher handling their marketing and publicity. There was a nice feel of one for all and all for one.ReplyDelete
I think one of the pros for choosing a small publisher is they can see your potential and give an author time to build some writing chops. I've known several best selling authors who got their start with a small publisher. It gave them the confidence to query the bigger ones offering more money while still publishing some stories with their small one. It also give confidence to self-pub because you learn a lot working with a publisher's editors.
Sia McKye Over Coffee
Thanks for sharing Alex! I think each writer has to look at their long term goals before deciding. There is no right or wrong way. Obviously, this was a great choice for Alex!ReplyDelete
This was a great look at the middle ground, Alex. Thanks, Julie for having him. The publication world is rapidly changing and what used to be the only path is now becoming one of many good ones. Thanks to both of you!ReplyDelete
M.L. Swift, Writer
Great post. I was hoping for that same experience signing with a small publisher. I'm afraid I got some of the cons. But, we carry on. Onward and upward!ReplyDelete
I have to say I feel like the two extremes are probably better for authors.ReplyDelete
I'd love to use a small publisher, though I haven't found any that are taking on the type of historicals I write, or just historicals in general. From what I've read, small presses do seem more personal and willing to take chances.ReplyDelete
I couldn't agree more, Julie, about Alex. And this is a fantastic post. We hear so much about self-publishing vs. big publishers, and far too little about small presses. I love that there's so many choices out there for us writers now. :)ReplyDelete
Thanks for the info on small publishers, Alex, I was thinking of researching a few in the coming month.ReplyDelete
Thanks Julie, for hosting our Ninja Capt'n.
Ninja do use the shadows, don't they? I love my small publishers. Except for one cover, they've always done a great job with them.ReplyDelete
Dean, it's all in finding what works for you.ReplyDelete
Cathrina, double score for you.
Sia, they do see the potential and give you time to grow. Lucky me!
Heather, next time will be better.
Beth, I know for me, it was the best choice and I've had a lot of success.
Carrie-Anne, don't give up.
Hi, Julie & Alex,ReplyDelete
I'm grateful to small publishers since they took a chance on me initially. One of those experiences didn't work out as I didn't get any royalty. Still, I'm grateful to that publisher for recognizing my talent.
Thanks for this insightful post into small press publishing. I'm thinking of sending one of my novels to a few of the small presses, to see if there's any interest. I like self-pubbing, but I think that diversifying is a good idea too.ReplyDelete
My first two books are with a small publisher and my third is currently being shopped with the big 6. My gut feeling is that if you can create a name for yourself, then self-publishing might be the best way to go.ReplyDelete
Interesting to hear more about the small publisher route, thanks Alex and thanks Julie.ReplyDelete
So much heart and soul goes into creating good stories and characters. It takes courage to follow your dreams.ReplyDelete
I may go with a small publisher for my next book. I have a couple smaller novels on tap and may test the small publisher waters. Thanks for the thoughts.ReplyDelete
I've thought of going hybrid... not quite yet, though. I've seen horror stories with trad publishers and small publishers through authors I know.ReplyDelete
With small publishers, you have to be careful. Anyone can put up a website and claim to be a publisher. I had a novelette published with a small pub and I never got anything from it, but I have the rights back now. It sounds like Alex's publisher is good.ReplyDelete
Joy, I'm sorry!ReplyDelete
Tyrean, you should.
Johanna, that's how it's done!
Stephen, it's worth trying.
Mary, there is always a chance something will go wrong.
Cindy, just have to do your research.
Thanks everyone for stopping by! I totally agree with Alex about research. Whether you're shopping for agents, small publishers, freelancers, etc., it's crucial to do research. Check with current clients/authors, check out their track record, etc.ReplyDelete
Great post on the pros and cons of smaller presses. And I totally agree that it's critical to research the presses you're querying. So glad Alex has had such a great experience with his publisher.ReplyDelete
A writer should go with the best fit for them. I don't believe one size fits all in publishing anymore.ReplyDelete
And continued success to Alex.
I'm really glad they took that chance on you, Alex. I think you know how I feel about the small, medium, and large of publishing. I just noticed what Donna H. wrote directly above my comment. I will totally second her!ReplyDelete
Really great points, Alex. There were some pros and cons I haven't thought about. :)ReplyDelete
I'm happy you have had a positive experience Alex and wish you all the best in future endeavours. Publishing a book can be challenging but with proper support you have the chance to put your best foot forward.ReplyDelete
Donna, no it doesn't.ReplyDelete
Sheri, it all depends on the writer!
Alex, thanks for sharing inside experience with a small press. Right now I'm keeping all my options open, which means I might be following your example.ReplyDelete
I think small publishers can be fabulous--in fact for some of my stuff they might be perfect. I really should do a little looking into them for my YA stuff. I do think there is a bit of 'buyer beware' as there are people/groups POSING as small publishers who are really just trying to steal a chunk of indie profits. But in fact my bout with Indie stuff has left me feeling unprepared to be entirely indie--I NEED an editor and WANT help with all the formatting, distribution stuff--I'd love it if someone else would take those things off my plate.ReplyDelete
he has to keep his secret identity!ReplyDelete
i agree with all of the above. I gave big pubs a shot with agents, and vowed to go self if i had to. luckily i found my small pub and was accepted. i'm very happy with curiosity quills - have a lot of say, great cover artists, help with anything i need and usually pretty quick about it. they've had some kinks, but they are working hard to fix them. we'll see how it goes!
thanks, alex & julie!
I find it's hard getting a foot in the door even with small publishers (I write children's books), but I agree, that it's nice to feel more like "family" and have the opportunity to get into the traditional publishing world. It does give you a sense of validation as an author.ReplyDelete
Hart, that's why I like being with my publisher - I don't have to worry about those things.ReplyDelete
Tara, you signed on with a good publisher.
Sherry, don't give up.
I've had both good and bad experiences with my small press, but overall I think it's a great way to get your foot in the door.ReplyDelete
I have two books with two different small press - one is much better than the other. I'd love to land an agent so that I could really work on editing, although the small press did good editing in general. But neither encourage your career or help with advertising and I really suck at advertising!!!! Nice to see you both and good luck with your books :-)ReplyDelete
Thanks Alex! (and Julie!)ReplyDelete
Very informative. I've been aptly learning all I can on the industry for some time now and small publishers represents a gap in my knowledge. Thanks for sharing!
Laurisa, it is.ReplyDelete
Susan I've been lucky my publisher continues to advertise my books.
David, now you know!
Nice info Alex. There really are so many choices out there.ReplyDelete
Coming from a small publisher myself, I'd agree with that pro or con list . . . I bet you helped someone in the middle make a decision today :-) Thanks for all your support, Alex!ReplyDelete
Well said, Captain! :) I used to be with a small publisher, but it's not something I'd do again.ReplyDelete
These comments are so interesting. I would imagine the experience relies totally on which publisher we're talking about. Thanks for sharing with us!ReplyDelete
I think many small publishers are great options - but I'd echo the suggestions to do some digging before signing! :)ReplyDelete
Jamie, I hope so!ReplyDelete
Carrie, that was sad what happened with your publisher.
I'm not sorry that I chose to self-publish my first novel, but I may look into some of the smaller presses with the next one. Maybe. Depends on how darned old I am by the time it's ready for prime time.ReplyDelete
Great info. Thanks!
My publisher is considered mid-size now. I'm seeing a lot of folks who are self-publishing and having good success. That looks like a much better way to go than in the past when self-publishing was really frowned upon.ReplyDelete
Thanks for a great post, Alex. Thanks for having him as your guest, Julie.
Mary Montague Sikes
Susan, that made me chuckle!ReplyDelete
Seems a small publisher offers the best of both worlds. But it doesn't seem to me a matter of what I choose. I would love to have any publisher, big or small, offer me a contract - to get my book in the most hands as possible. However, I'm great going the self-publish route too. Thank you, Julie and Alex.ReplyDelete
Alex has a great way of getting right down to the essentials. I agree that it's up to the individual what's best for them. I feel quite comfortable in the small pub arena.ReplyDelete
That's what's so great about today's publishing climate…authors have so many choices! Big 5, small pub, indie. It's a great time for us.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the inside scoop on the small publisher road, Alex. Nice to hear such a positive spin on that option. I had a great experience with a small publisher in a short story anthology, I agree it's so nice to feel a personal connection. Love your blog! I'm a reader, but a crummy commenter. I admire from afar.ReplyDelete
Thank you Alex and Julie-I am always intrigued to learn more. I think small can lead to big~ReplyDelete
I think there are lots of wonderful small and medium publishers. There are lots of options for writers and that is a good thing. Great post!ReplyDelete
Thanks for this info. I've been wondering about working with small publishers. Like everyone said, there's a lot of options to consider.ReplyDelete
Oh, yes, small can definitely lead to big! I've heard several stories of authors starting with a small publisher, then signing with an agent and getting a big contract.ReplyDelete
Other authors love the small pub route and wouldn't have it any other way.
Winners either way!
Find what fits - no matter what, writing is the easy part it's the marketing that's hard, but with the right support - all doable!ReplyDelete
I've had a wonderful experience working with a small publisher. It really is like being part of a family, and I definitely think it's a case of the best of both worlds - no upfront costs, input into cover designs, quality editing, and higher royalties than traditional publishers. I couldn't be happier! But as with everything, I'd recommend researching first.ReplyDelete
Robyn, whatever works, right?ReplyDelete
Leslie, that's all right. Although feel free to comment anytime.
Liz, yes it is!
Emma, best of both worlds - I like that.
What I think is great about this post is that it shows just how many choices authors have now. That is truly freeing and very exciting. Thanks, Alex and thanks, Julie for hosting him.ReplyDelete
p.s. I've left a little something for you, Julie. It's over at The Write Game.
I think Alex is beyond cool. (And you too, Julie!) So this post is a win/win!ReplyDelete
I love all forms of publishing. I think what matters is that we find where we fit in best. I know I'm definitely open to whatever will be right for me. Such a wonderful/insightful post. <3
Lee and Morgan, I think that's key—to be open to different forms and different paths. We never know where they'll lead!ReplyDelete
You nailed it, Alex. My experience with the middle has been good, frustrating, disappointing, charming, good, frustrating. In the end I had to remind myself that I was one of a very special group: published author. Eventually, all new things become like old and the excitement does wear off. Great post, Alex! Hi Julie!ReplyDelete