1. Prophetsnake
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    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    Small publishing houses.

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Prophetsnake, Oct 22, 2012.

    I have a small publisher interested in my novel. It's a reputable place that does e-books and POD paperbacks. They've been on the go for a couple of years now and their catalogue is pretty small.

    Leaving aside the royalty figures, etc, what are the practical implications of getting the book out there?
    They have a modest publicity department, so I am not expecting big things there. I am expecting to have to push it myself to some extent at least, which doesn't worry me. What I don't want is to sell fifty copies and watch it die. The contract is for two years. I have no other specifics at this time, but I'm presuming for the moment they are more or less standard.

    I have no agent. If he makes an offer should I start querying agents again, telling them I have an offer?

    If this relatively new house goes under, would my book necessarily die with it? I suppose I could stipulate in the contract that all rights revert to me in that instance. Is that a done thing?

    But the main question is, how likely is it I will be able to get the word out there about the book? ( assuming the book isn't a complete POS) How well can a book do with this sort of house? I'm not talking about the one in a million that makes the NYT best-seller list, but on the average.

    TIA!
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what's the name of the publisher?

    e-books and POD don't sound like a paying publisher to me... more like one of the vast array of self-publishing companies or vanity press outfits... is that really the way you want to go?...
     
  3. Prophetsnake
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    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    No, it is not a vanity press. And I think it would be a bad idea to be posting the name while it is under discussion.
     
  4. JamesOliv
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    JamesOliv Senior Member

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    There are a lot of indie publishers out there who are not vanity presses. Some are good and some are not.

    To the OP's point, the implications are:

    1. You will sell fewer copies than if you go through a traditional publisher.
    2. They may be reputable now, but they may discover they make more if they sell their souls and go the vanity press route in the future. If they do, they drag your book's reputation down into the abyss with them.
    3. You are going to have to help promote your book if you go small press. The operative word is "help." Some small press publishers tell you that you have to do ALL of the promotion. That should be a red flag.

    Benefits include:

    1. Many POD/ebook publishers do not have the same word max as traditional houses. So it is possible to sell them a novella.
    2. Some small press publishers have pretty decent sales. So you will sell fewer than if you go the "traditional" route and more than if you self-publish.

    But, if your book goes through an editor to be published (and the publisher doesn't publish the majority of what passes in front of them), it is still a publication you can be proud of.
     
  5. Prophetsnake
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    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    Hopefully!

    Some very interesting points there, especially the idea that the company could change their approach and ruin the book's rep.
    If I could go the traditional route, I would. but I have not been able to get an agent as of yet, anyhow.
    I'm not going to self publish. I don't really see the point in spite of what people say about it. I know someone who did it, and now he has a garage full of a badly edited white elephants that he has only been able to arm-bend his friends into buying and he will never make his money back. If I want to share it with my friends, I'll just email it to them and save a lot of money and a couple of trees!

    Many thanks for the brain food.
     
  6. JamesOliv
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    JamesOliv Senior Member

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    My wife reads a series (religiously) which is published by a small press. She loves it. She recommends it to others. She picked it up during a promotion where she got to download the book for free. So it is possible to develop a following if the publisher runs their business well.

    I would rather have ten books published through a small press than zero through a larger publishing house. And I wouldn't self-publish a full length book.

    Good luck with your book!
     
  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well if you've tried the traditional route, which it seems you have since you mention not being able to snag an agent, then I don't see why you shouldn't go for the smaller houses - it's still a chance, and it's still getting published, and it's still better than being self-published. They may have only a small budget for marketing and not many outlets for your book, but they'll still have more than you have personally, which makes them valuable nonetheless.

    I'd check out the contract terms and well, go for it. Even if the publisher turns vanity, it doesn't necessarily "drag your reputation in the mire" because frankly, so many of us self-publish nowadays and ebook is gaining popularity that amongst writers, people no longer necessarily look down on you for being a self-pub and amongst readers, they don't really care either way as long as they enjoy your book. So the key really is just get the book into their hands. (besides, if your readers like your book, who would care that your publisher has turned vanity? Even agents and publishers won't if you garner a following)

    All in all, check the terms of the contract and if you're happy, I'd say go for it :) Congrats on the interest they have and good luck!
     
  8. JamesOliv
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    JamesOliv Senior Member

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    I wasn't referring to reputation among readers. I was referring to how the publication would be viewed by a larger publisher if you used the book as a pub credit. But I do tend to agree with you in that it shouldn't be a primary concern. If a publisher has a good editorial staff it seems they have made a commitment to producing quality work then and in the future.

    Just to echo this sentiment, some small publishing houses have whacky contracts. I heard of one in particular that didnt pay an advance and didnt pay you royalties on your first 500 books. This, they would say, was an industry standard practice to allow them to recoup their losses.

    Despite the outward appearance, I wouldn't trust a publisher with that sort of nonstandard provision, particularly if they try to pass it off as something "all the big publishers do." So just be careful, have your contract reviewed by a professional and good luck!
     
  9. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yup I understand. I guess my main point is getting yourself readers - if you have a fan following, it doesn't actually matter if you're self-published, because a publisher will see that people read your stuff and you have an existing market. In other words, as long as you have a good following, even a self-pubbed work can be good pub credit :) I also hear that nowadays going self-published is actually good to begin with, and only later move on to traditional publishing, because then you have a proven track record of people reading/wanting/buying your work.
     
  10. JamesOliv
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    JamesOliv Senior Member

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    It's cool. I just wanted to clarify my position as I realized my statement was somewhat ambiguous.
     
  11. Julia Ann Fiedler
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    Julia Ann Fiedler New Member

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    Self-publishing through crowd-funding?

    Excuse me if this is a whole other can of worms... If you are faced with doing the marketing yourself, maybe self-publishing through crowd-funding? Just an idea, but it seems like you could take care of marketing while also avoiding the cost of self-publishing. What you have with this smaller publisher may be better, but there are definitely many shifts in the industry to consider. For instance, The Economist recently had an article discussing the impact of the digital trend/self-publishing and how readers are questioning the relevancy of large publishers who basically tell readers what they should read. Of course, they still pay the most for right now, but it seems building your own following would be important no matter what size publisher you choose. All this coming from the new girl who hasn't published anything. ;)
     
  12. Prophetsnake
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    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    Julia:
    I'd never heard of this before. What a great idea! I can't see myself using but what a brilliant resource for those worthy!
    From what I can see, there are numerous ways of promoting a book that an author can use which cost nothing or next to nothing, mostly involving the net, of course. I used a few to promote a couple of short stories I'd published and they definitely worked (though of course the short stories were for free) so I have some idea how to go about it. I need more ideas though, and i will definitely be keeping that kick-starter idea handy just in case.

    Mckk:

    Yeah, I understood everything you said and I appreciate it. I've no problem with putting it on an e-book, for instance. When I said I wouldn't self publish I only meant the vanity presses. I know of some terrific successes that way, but of course, no editing and no marketing whatsoever. I would really like both ( though of course my manuscript is perfect the way it is ;) )


    James:

    Yes, I have come across at least one of those. There is one house whose T&C were positively draconian. They made me an offer but when I checked them out I found them to be very dodgy indeed. Not only were their contracts poor, when I checked them out I discovered they had been ripping off some of their authors on sales figures. I discovered through this experience that it is vital to check with the other authors published by a house before you sign up. This particular one had a satisfactaion rating near zero. I also discovered the Editors and Predators site through that experience. These people are out there, I know!
    The really strange thing about this particular crowd was that I couldn't fathom how they made any money at all. Their sales were rubbish - most authors told me their books sold in the dozens - and they expected the authors to do all of the promotion with little or no guidance on how to get the word out there. The other authors told me that promotion consisted of going to a house sponsored site where the authors basically went on and swopped ideas. Their contract was for five years, as well, which effectively killed their books. They're one of these places that will sell you author copies and charges through the nose for shipping. so much so that one woman who was with them ordered her own book through a local B&N because it was much much cheaper to pay full price there than get them from. After she bought them there was nothing on her next statement from the publisher! Thieving buggers.

    But I suppose my real question is: how do you get your book into the public eye if you're not self publishing and you're on;y with a small house? Obviously you work with them, but any old way of getting yourself noticed has to be a good thing. So, leaving aside Twitter and FB, how do you get people to your blog or whatever platform it is you use?
     
  13. JamesOliv
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    JamesOliv Senior Member

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    I have driven traffic to my site using reddit. But, I also share my URL at every socially acceptable opportunity.
     
  14. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    A couple months ago, a local writer's group I just joined had a speaker for the group. He was a writer who's written several books and had some success. He's with a very small publisher which is not far away from where we all live. A couple of things really struck me from his talk.

    The first was just how much marketing and outright selling he did himself. He found it most profitable to buy the books from the publisher and sell them himself when he was giving talks to various groups. (He had some for sale at the talk he did for us.) Most of his books were nonfiction - one involved the story of a murder and he gave a bunch of talks in the town and area where the crime had occurred. He was always on the lookout for groups he could talk to or for locations where he could think of a 'hook' to get people to come listen to him speak.

    The second was the issue of how different it is to be with a small publisher rather than a large one. For one of his books, he had a publication date, and he had an elaborate event set up, where he was going to talk about his book and hopefully sell a bunch at the event. He spoke with the publishing rep, and they had some bad news -- something had happened with another book and the publisher did not have the money to pay the printer for the books, and therefore the books would not be ready on the previously established publishing date or before his event. He ended up lending the money to the publisher to get his books printed so he would have them for the event. He did make back the money, so it all worked out for him, but still -- this was a pretty jarring idea to me. I think it goes without saying that this author did not receive advances.

    In the end, this author seems happy with his situation. He really likes his publisher, and since they are smaller and have a good relationship, they're willing to take chances with him, as far as agreeing to publish a book that's outside their typical genre. They give him personalized service and help him as much as they can, but they're limited by their size, and ultimately, it's really up to the author to market and sell his book. This is true to an extent of all authors, even at large publishers, but it is especially true for smaller houses.

    So it can work -- it's just that it's not the same as being with Penguin or Random House. But if it doesn't look like that's going to happen, you could be very happy with a smaller publisher.
     
  15. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Published is better than not published. If you're going to write more than one book in your life, then starting with a small publisher won't do you much harm.
     
  16. Prophetsnake
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    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    All good stuff, and thanks to everyone who posted. a lot of this stuff already swirled around the inside of my own head, but it can be hard to tell if it's savvy or delusion sometimes.
    the fellow who lent money to his publisher. Jaysus! Dunno if I would have done that, but if he was already time invested and knew the guys, well...
    I do have a second novel complete, though it is for a completely different market, and a third is about half done, so one thought is that if I get the first published anywhere, I will be in a better position with the next books.
    One thing is for sure, the publishing landscape is changing and changing fast and I will have to be willing to dance a bit to keep up with it.
     

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