Picking a Decent Publisher--Part Two

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This is a writing blog called Guerrilla Warfare For Writers

Submitted: April 29, 2015

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Submitted: April 29, 2015



Below is a comment from a concerned writer about publisher picks:

My longer fiction is reserved for genre publishers my agent and I trust, after seeing their longterm performance.

My comments and experience:
Yes, mine too. She definitely storms the doors of the large, well known commercial publishers and independents. However, my agent (when it comes time) must diligently work a small press contract with much more scrutiny than the larger pub houses. It's because there is so much variation in small press contracts. I've seen 7.5% net on paperbacks and 20% net on e-books, with others offering slightly higher royalties. Heh, this is an outright holdup.

Some e-book publishers actually insist that the author do ALL the formatting of the book, e-book and paper, for retail placement. And they claim that an author is responsible for supplying the blurbs--front and back matter. Some small press owners are the sole editors of the book because they cannot afford outside professionals.

Some will not make an expenditure for copyright, leaving that to the author.

Others SPs want World Rights for the life of the book or for unusually long contract durations, like six, eight or 10 years

I actually think that my small press credit history, which is very sizable, hurts my chances for larger deals because after reviewing my stats for any given book they show lackluster or even close to non-existent sales. In the eyes of NYC publishers I've tanked with every one of my books and their risk of publishing me are much higher. And if you don't believe that a large house won't do a deep probe on your publishing history, you have another thing coming.

A small press publisher might make some money if their author stable comprises 30 to 50 (I've seen triple digit) individuals who sell in low but consistent numbers. It adds up because the emphasis is on quantity. This is where you approach or end up in an author mill. Mundania is a prime example of a publisher who has an excess of authors, while they do not invest in any significant marketing or promotion. With the profits Mundania has made over the years there has been no attempt at legitimate distribution outside of the Internet. I know dozens and dozens of these small publisher types.

Distribution is critically important for the success of a book, along with submissions to important and well known review sources that have large and influential readership bases.

I am relatively stuck in the small chasm for a few titles. They've come to the end of their agent sub trail. For 16 contract offers over a year for both books, 14 of them have been kicked to the curb. The highest advances won out. This might tell you something about the quality and fairness of their contracts.

Advances say something about a publisher--they are equally, if not more invested in the sales of your book. Royalty only publishers claim that they pay no advances because they offer the highest royalty rates, which is habitually untrue because these percentages are all over the map and most of them are on Net proceeds which can vary in the extremes and conditions.

Small press publishers might give wings (so to speak) to a breakout book while they leave the majority of birds languishing in the nest.

Small press has a terrible time managing their money and paying their editors and cover artists a decent wage for work performed. Many of them are late on royalty payments when the retail numbers have been turned in. Lots of small presses flat-out fold within a year or two. Some can go for several years and then have a catastrophic meltdown, filing for chapter 13 and tying up copyright by failing to provide reversion.

Is there any wonder why self-publishing has skyrocketed in the past five-six-seven years or so?

In short, small press must shine and have, at least, nearly all their ducks in a row. Then comes some notoriety. An expanded readership base results--and this translates to sales. It IS all about money, to keep a publisher afloat and their stable of authors happy.

© Copyright 2019 Chris Stevenson. All rights reserved.

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