As the publishing model has changed, in large part to eBook sales and digital publishing, many of the larger houses have scrambled to learn a new way of doing business. Debut authors have found it harder to break into print. A plethora of small presses have popped up and authors often request their agents to try them when the larger houses have responded with a rejection.
Some of these forays have been successful, with debut authors getting their books into print that otherwise would have sat in a desk drawer and the author giving up on their writing dreams. Other times, sales have been dismal despite hard work by the author and the efforts of a multitasking publisher attempting to do it all.
But we have all learned along the way.
What exactly are realistic expectations when working with a start-up small press?
- Your print books will more than likely never see the inside of a bookstore. Bookstores require a deep discount and an unrealistic return policy small presses cannot afford.But some authors have been successful in getting their local bookstores to order their books, highlighting them in the 'local author' spot.
- Your book cover might not be of the highest quality. Especially if the company is a start-up. Some authors choose to design their own covers.The small presses I work with have vastly improved their covers since the time they started.
- The editing of your book might be nothing more than a run through spell check. I suggest my clients pay an editor to edit their book before the submission of their manuscript. Even larger houses are requiring this. Most publishers want 'camera ready' material only.
- Some small presses are eBook only. Print copies most often are POD (print on demand) and cost a higher price to produce, resulting in "pricing themselves out of the market". Some small presses require a certain number of eBook sales before they will offer the book in print.
- Not all small presses will offer "free eBook sales". Many traditional houses will not either. They feel that book sales have dropped because readers wait until the book is FREE. In publishing- there are often opposing opinions.
- Small presses often can not afford to provide print copies for Beta Readers. But most will provide you a limited number of PDF final copies for promotional purposes and garnering of Amazon Reviews. Amazon reviews are Gold for an author. If you have read and enjoyed a book, please take a moment and write a positive review of it.
- The marketing budget of small presses is very small. Your book's sales will largely be dependent on you, the author. This is the same with traditional larger publishers as well. The small presses we work with are go getters in the social media world and think ahead. But there are attempts and failures. Social media is a constantly shifting game. What I recommended my authors do six months ago might not be what I need them to do today. SEO (search engine optimization) is now being spoken of as old and out of date. Facebook hides our posts and plays with our averages and all we can do is keep at it, keep reading everything we can and be willing to try something new.