Blogger: Mary Keeley
As the competition for publishing contracts at the large traditional publishers becomes increasingly stiff, small independent presses can be an attractive alternative for new writers as a quicker means to get published. There are pluses and minuses with no blanket right choice. Before you decide on the direction you want to pursue, weigh these advantages for both the large publisher and for the small publisher.
Advantages of a large traditional publisher over a smaller press:
- The advance. The size of advances generally are higher with a larger house, and the same is true for royalty rates. Smaller presses may not offer any advance.
- Distribution. This is of paramount importance because broad distribution channels impact sales potential, and great sales of your current book are your best chance of getting the next contract. As publishers are being acquired by larger publishers, the distribution reach becomes even stronger.
- Quality of cover design. Large publishers pour money into their design budgets because, as we all know, covers sell books. Smaller presses run on proportionately leaner budgets.
- Marketing and promotion. Marketing budgets are concentrated on the top revenue-producing authors regardless of the size of the publisher because that is the surest return on an investment. And it’s true that most of the marketing and promotion of a book is the author’s responsibility. Still, larger publishers have experienced, savvy marketing and promotions personnel who know how to best invest the dollars they have to spend on your book. Smaller presses have little to no money to spend and are generally less equipped to market your book.
- The large publisher’s logo on your book. This gives you and your book clout because you have made it to the major leagues in the industry. It can also positively affect sales of your book.
Advantages of a smaller press over a larger publisher:
- Don’t need an agent. Smaller presses welcome submissions directly from first-time writers. While they recognize that projects submitted through agents are well developed, their editors generally are willing to work with a writer by offering suggestions for improvement of the project and giving writers the opportunity to resubmit after changes are implemented.
- Free editing. Because the smaller presses publish only 10-30 books per year, editors have time to help writers polish their manuscripts, and they are willing to mentor writers in their craft through the process. Increasingly, larger publishers look for manuscripts that close to publication-ready. In these turbulent years in the industry, editorial staffing has become lean in these larger houses even as they continue to publish approximately 100-150 books per year.
- Potential steppingstone to a larger publisher. Smaller presses recognize you might be publishing with them only once as a means to garner interest from a larger publisher for your next book. Most are willing to accept that is a publishing reality. However, a word of caution. As with self-publishing, you will have to work extra hard to promote your book to achieve the sales that will entice a larger publisher.
- Opportunity for small-niche books. Smaller presses can publish your niche book that a larger publisher wouldn’t find sufficiently profitable. Some of these presses consider this part of their mission and purpose.
Have your thoughts about the advantages and disadvantages of large vs. small publishers changed as you’ve sought being published?
Large publishers and small presses. There are advantages to both. Click to Tweet.
Analyze differences between small presses and large publishers. Click to Tweet.
Small press or large publisher. Which is right for you and your book? Click to Tweet.