Wednesday, July 15, 2020


Most everyone assumes that signing with a publishing company is like having a marriage made in heaven.  This is not always the case.

Three years ago, I was published by a small press.  This company helped me reach a goal:  to have a manuscript illustrated and published for children.  But there can be drawbacks working with a small press.  And you have to decide if the pros outweigh than the cons.

Cons, you say?  How can writers even think about cons when they have the chance to have a book published?

I get your starry-eyed enthusiasm.  It can take years to land a publisher or an agent.  Nothing is going to squash your dreams.

Still...if you submit to an indie press and they offer you a book contract, proceed with caution.

I researched my publisher and didn't find any negative comments about them.  A year later after signing the contract, I had to deal with issues that could not have been foreseen.

Before you sign a contract, google the small press to find out more about them.  See if there have been any complaints.  Contact some of the published authors and ask them about their experience with the press, both the good and the bad stuff.

Even after learning as much as you can and feeling safe with the publisher, you may find as I did, that concerns may flare up months afterward.  That said, be aware that certain matters are beyond your control and cannot be predicted.

Below are some facts to consider.

With a small press you may: 
  • publish a book in less than a year after signing a contract
  • have an opportunity to choose an illustrator if you write picture books
  • be able to take part in the revision process 
  • be able to make suggestions for the illustrations
  • have your book promoted on the small press website and sold by Amazon
But you may:
  • find your name and title of the book missing from the spine 
  • find the paper weight lighter than desired 
  • receive no help with marketing 
  • get little compensation for the money you invested in marketing 
  • find libraries will not purchase your book 
  • find your book dropped from the small press website after the contract has expired
  • discover the publisher expects you to buy back returned books (check your contract)
  • realize your publisher is not interested in your career    

I was excited to have my first book published by a small press.  But the relationship with this publishing company was lopsided.  I was putting in way more effort and receiving little in return.

So, after much soul-searching, I decided to part ways with this publisher after the contract expired.  It was the right move for me.  I have no regrets.  Working with the small press was a good learning lesson for me.  But now, I have higher expectations.  I want a better match.  Because a publishing partnership should be more than two people working toward a goal.  It should be like a great marriage—one that is built on commitment, teamwork, mutual respect, and decency.

✌ and 

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