Publishing with a Small Press–Part 1, Definitions

Posted Mar 1 2009, 5:40 am in , , , , , , , ,

Hi, there, a few months ago I started a series on publishing with small presses. Well, book deadlines and life in general interrupted my good intentions. I’m reposting the first installment for those of you that missed it. Please post your comments, additions, corrections. This is a collaborative post.

Next week, I’ll post Part Two.
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This is the first post in a series on Publishing with a Small Press. I welcome any comments or corrections, as I strive to make this information as accurate as possible.

First, I want to start with some definitions:

New York Publisher (large press): These publishers typically have offices in New York City. They do large print runs for their author’s books, which are distributed to book stores. They pay royalties (a percentage of the book’s cover price, usually about 6-8 percent). The author gets paid an advance before the book hits the shelf.

Vanity Publisher (Self-Published): These presses typically publish anyone if you have the money to pay them. You will be expected to pay for things such as cover design, editing (if there is any), may have limited distribution, if any. They are good choices if you’re publishing something for a targeted group of people, such as a family history.

Small Press (epub or Epublisher):

These presses operate like NY presses. They do not charge any fees to the author. They provide editing, cover art, and distribution. The distribution varies between publishers.

I find that there are two primary types of small presses:

Electronic or ePubs: Their books are primarily available electronically. They usually do not pay an advance unless it’s quite small. The author earns royalties (usually about 30-40 percent) from the cover price of the book sold in the small press’s bookstore and royalties from the distributor (usually a percentage of what the publisher receives). Many of these presses also offer their books in print via print on demand (see definition below) and through distributors such as Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Traditional Small Presses: These presses do small print runs. Their books may or may not be available via other distributors. They may pay a small advance. I’ll admit that I don’t know much about this type of press. So if someone can fill us in, that’d be great.

Print Run: NY pubs do a print run of each book published. The books are then distributed to bookstores. Unsold books can be returned to the publisher for a refund. Returns of fifty percent or more are not uncommon.

Print on Demand (POD): This is a green alternative to print books. Over half of the books printed by NY pubs are not sold and are destroyed. Print-on-Demand books are printed when the buyer places an order. They are usually more expensive to buy as the process is more expensive than a print run. POD books are rarely available in bookstores because they are not returnable.

My next post will include the pros and cons of small presses.

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