Publishing with a Small Press–Part 2, Pros and Cons

Posted Mar 8 2009, 2:30 pm in , , , ,

First of all, you need to understand some terminology, such as small press, large press, vanity press, and print on demand. In the interests of saving space, I posted this terminology in my Part 1 post at this blog.

We’d all love to sell to a large publisher with a huge advance and be on Good Morning America and Oprah. The chances of that happening are slim to none. So you wrote a book and now you want find a home for it. Let’s assume you’re not interested in self-publishing. Let’s also assume you’ve tried the large publisher route, you’re writing something that big publishers won’t take a chance on, don’t have the patience to wait on a big publisher, or you believe ebooks are the wave of the future.

Should you consider a small press or e-publisher and why? Here are some of the pros and cons of small presses to help you make your decision. In this case, I’m referring to small presses that are primarily epubs, as opposed to small presses that do print runs.

Pros (What working with a small press can do for you):

  • Provide a viable option for books that don’t fit into a New York niche. (Small pubs can afford to take risks). Equestrian fiction definitely fits into this.
  • Gain valuable experience (which can look good to a large publisher).
  • Learn to promote your book and yourself.
  • Gain experience working with editors and publishers on professional duties such as cover art and edits.
  • Prove you can meet deadlines.
  • Provide encouragement to finish the book and write more books.
  • Build name recognition the publishing business.
  • Improve writing and editing skills by working with other authors and your editor.
  • Reduce the number of discarded and destroyed paperbacks. GO GREEN!
  • Make valuable contacts with other authors and the book publishing industry.
  • Build confidence in your writing.
  • Enjoy less pressure.
  • Enjoy more creative freedom.
  • May receive more personal attention from publisher and staff.
  • Easier to find your books, longer “shelf” life, don’t go out of print.
  • Have a quicker turnaround from submitting to publication.
  • Write shorter works so you can write more books. You’re not expected to write a novel-length book every time.
  • Provide another publication outlet for category novels.
  • Build a reader base.

Cons (Disadvantages of a small press):

  • Low pay and royalties, in most cases, considering the time investment by the author.
  • Risky if the small press isn’t stable and established. Yet, in this economy, NY is risky as editors move around and lines close all the time. They may tie up your book for a few years and never publish it.
  • Time-consuming, as you often perform the tasks that large publishers would do for you, such as promotion, blurbs, cover art suggestions, etc.
  • Lower quality of editing in some cases.
  • Limited chance for book to be in bookstore because they’re usually print on demand and not all small presses send their books to print.
  • Requires extensive research of different companies. (Not all small presses are created equal in royalties, editing, and business practices. Talk to authors, do a background check, search the Internet)
  • Limited possibilities for booksignings.
  • A smaller market of people to buy your book. Even though the Internet should be a large market, it’s very hard to target your promotion to the right readers.
  • Limited distribution for your book.
  • Lack of respect in many circles, including professional writing organizations. You may not be taken seriously by fellow authors and considered more of a hobbiest than a professional author.
  • Limited reviews—may be harder to get reviews
  • Exclusion from many contests, includng RWA’s Ritas.
  • Print-on-demand books costs 2 to 3 times more than regular pocket novels.
  • Expectation that you will write more books than you would with a larger press.

Next week, I’ll discuss how to pick a small press.



4 responses to “Publishing with a Small Press–Part 2, Pros and Cons”

  1. LDee says:

    Thank you for a very well written post. I’ll pass the word around it’s out there.


  2. Ladyauthor2b says:

    Great information here that I’m sure many will appreciate. Thank you for putting it down and sharing.

  3. Thanks, I’m hoping it’s of use to a lot of people debating on which way to go.

  4. carly says:


    This is a nice summary. I started with epub, haven’t tried NY but it’s been good for me to gain experience, gain confidence in my writing and have a writing credit (even if RWA disparages it). I feel my epublisher has been very professional and I’ve been surprised how much the story has been reviewed. The pay, as you say, is small.