Independent Publishing: Off the Beaten Path

From Women Writers, Women’s Books:

Independent publishing, as opposed to commercial pushing (think Random House), is a terrific option for authors whose books don’t fit a literary agent’s idea of “saleable.” Authors of short story or essay collections, flash fiction, poetry, hybrid work and off-the-beaten-path novels very often seek out independent presses for possible publication, and they are right to do so: the world of independent publishing is an exciting one, full of terrific presses and excellent books.

I have written three collections of stories, two published and one forthcoming, all with independent presses, and I cannot overstate how supported I have felt, and how preciously my books have been treated.

My first press was very small—a “micro” press—that publishes only two books a year, so you can imagine the attention that was paid to every aspect of my book. I was treated as an artist and my book a work of art, and it was marvelous. Though my editor there wasn’t interested in publishing my second collection, I am indebted to her, and we are still good friends.

At the other end of the spectrum, my second publisher was quite large; my book was one of many and so did not receive the same attention, yet that press works with a larger distributor than a smaller press can, which means my book could end up on bookshop shelves—a big plus, as brick-and-mortar stores rarely stock small press books.

My third publisher lands between the first two in terms of how many titles they publish in a year. So far, my editor there is attentive and sensitive, and I foresee a good experience.

How do you find the right publisher for your book? 

. . . .

By now you’ve doubtless gathered that if you want your book displayed in the front windows of Barnes and Noble or to be an Oprah pick, independent publishing is not for you. There are downsides to publishing independently, and lack of exposure is one of them. Amazon will carry your book, of course, and bookstores will special order it on demand, but it will likely not be available to browsers and that will affect sales.

Link to the rest at Women Writers, Women’s Books

PG has an alternate answer to the question in the OP, “How do you find the right publisher for your book?”

4 thoughts on “Independent Publishing: Off the Beaten Path”

  1. I meet/consult with newbie authors who assume that legacy publishing is the only path so articles like these are welcome. Yes, I totally agree KDP is another answer, but I also wish these articles addressed vanity publishing. Legit independent publishers are drowned out in marketing by the vanity types.

    Many of those newbies will say, “Have you heard of _______ Press?”

    “Yes, I have. Unsubscribe.”

    Then I show them the KDP route vs. independent vs. hybrid vs. legacy.

  2. Hard to believe a company which carefully publishes two books a year is economically viable. How can they possibly compete with traditional big publishers?

    And it doesn’t matter how well a literary novel is written, when there are only so many slots, total, for publication and promotion, and many of those are already promised to bigger names.

    At least self-publishing gives you a chance. The book is out there, available for sale indefinitely, instead of the last few cartons’ worth being in a warehouse somewhere. I am constantly amused when mine is available from resellers right there on the same Amazon page. Sometimes at collector’s prices.

    • They don’t.
      Few are profitable enough to survive long.
      Most micropresses aren’t long term profitable at two titles a year; they either grow to more sustainable sizes and niches or they go under.

      The same is true of most startups in every industry.
      You start small, usually operating at a loss until getting traction, hoping to grow into profitability. In the techworld, if the startup owns IP of value, Plan B (often a disguised Plan A) is to get bought out by a bigger player.
      How long they survive under red ink depends on initial funding and/or bringing in investors that literally buy into the company vision.

    • These companies sound a lot more like hobbies than businesses.

      There’s nothing wrong with hobbies. Many hobbyists are incredibly skilled.

Comments are closed.