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Publishing A Book With An Indie Publisher Versus A Big Publisher

Open Book Indie Publisher

In a publishing climate where there are two options to publish (self publishing and traditional publishing), not a lot of people think about indie publishers (small presses) to prepare and release their works to the public.

In fact, many authors and publishing professionals actively discourage aspiring authors from signing with indie publishers, due to the fact that many of them think it’s, well, not worth it.

You Could Pick Traditional or Self Publishing, But….

An author with a finished book spends time polishing, re-reading and then polishing it once more before thinking about publishing. At this point, an author might be thinking about giving a traditional publisher a shot. Or they might want to head to Amazon and self publish the book and see what happens. Interestingly enough, both options lack some of the resources that an author would want for their book from the start.

Giving traditional publishing a shot starts with a query letter, which the author has to write and customize for each literary agent they’ll contact. Then they have to send the manuscript, sometimes printed out, to the agents if they request a partial or full manuscript of their book. Sometimes, this doesn’t happen at all—most people experience this step. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll move to the next step, which is getting signed by your agent and moving on to preparing the book for sale—which sometimes involves an extensive rewrite.

When you’re shooting for traditional publishing, keep this in mind: you’re writing a book to sell. It’s very rare for an agent to take on a manuscript that’s not as marketable as what you’d normally see on the bestseller lists.

Self publishing, on the other hand, skips all the aforementioned steps and allows authors to put their book on the market as soon as it’s all ready. Savvier people get works out on the Amazon marketplace in just a day. Self publishing, however, does take a lot of effort. Not only do you have to produce the work, you have to edit as you can, market and make your product look professional. And yes, you can hire other people to do the work, but that takes more money and time.

Going with a small publishing press, however, can change all of that. Indie publishing companies arguably combine some of the best elements of both traditional publishing and self publishing, producing an experience that allows authors to publish without, well, the hassles of publishing.

The Case with Indie Publishing

Small presses, also known as indie publishing companies, typically take on a smaller number of clients – in this case, authors. They’re responsible for handing the publishing of their signed author’s work, in addition to offering them in-house services like editing and marketing. Reputable small publishers don’t ask authors to pay an upfront fee for submissions or any other service they provide—and those that do immediately get called out as a scam service.

Between scams and small scale operations, another reason why some people don’t sign with an indie publishing company is copyright or, rather, the rights to their written works. Nowadays, many career authors are waiting for rights from their small press books to revert back to them, so they can self publish their books. Others outright pull their books from small presses, preferring to self publish in order to maintain control over their works.

The points that we covered are pretty much the main arguments against indie publishing. A lot of what indie publishing accomplishes, according to some, isn’t worth the effort if you’re not going through traditional big publisher. Others also argue that a small press doesn’t give authors the control that self publishing offers.

Publishing with an indie publishing company, however, can provide benefits that traditional and self publishing don’t offer. So, let’s review some of those benefits.

The Benefits of Publishing with a Small Press

So, you’re probably wondering what are the benefits of publishing with an indie press? Let’s not waste any more time:

Small presses don’t require authors to have an agent.

Indie publishing companies notably accept submissions from all eligible authors—as long as your book meets the submission requirements, you can send it in. Of course, you’ll have to wait until the small press opens their submissions for the public.

Some small presses are always open to submissions from unsolicited and agented writers. If your manuscript doesn’t get accepted, you’re likely to get a letter explaining what to do to improve your work before resubmitting again in the future.

Small presses provide editing, marketing and other author services.

Both traditional and self publishing require a significant degree of author intervention—yes, traditional publishing also requires a significant amount of author support nowadays.

If you’re working with a small press, however, you’ll likely not need to do much marketing or even editing, because your publisher will handle that work for you. Indie publishing companies typically employ professionals who handle editing, marketing and other book-related services to ensure that the books that get published each year are up to their established standards.

Small presses allow authors to publish books in a small niche to a wider audience.

Self publishing allows authors to publish books in countless small niches, but there’s a problem. Without marketing, many self published authors are unable to get eyes on their books. Small presses often accept book submissions in smaller niches, which helps put authors’ books in front of the eyes of readers.

Many indie publishing companies specialize in different niches, too. So, if you have a book that fits their niche, you probably should try and see if your submission will get accepted. It’s worth a shot!

Picture: Flickr/Alex Proimos

4 thoughts on “Publishing A Book With An Indie Publisher Versus A Big Publisher”

  1. I’ve been sitting on my written account of being in Iraq in 2003 with 99.630 words. I have many errors and need corrections in grammar. I have quotes from Amazon & Proof Readers for editing my future book – $1800 up to $4,000. I don’t have any money to spend because I live off of my disability (VA) and nothings left after everything. I purchased your book and have read it twice and it reminds me of what I had gone through. To make a long story short…Who would you recommend for someone like me? Thank you.

    1. Hey Clinton,

      First off, congratulations on finishing your memoir; it’s no easy task to complete a book, especially something as daunting as a personal memoir.

      I’m not sure how far along you are with editing your book, or what Amazon or proofreaders have told you, nor do I know how strong of a writer you are. However…

      The first thing I would suggest, which is free, is to get a bunch of friends and/or family to give your book a read.

      Here’s a suggestion.

      Find 2 or 3 friends or family members whom you respect and ask them to give the book a read and look for errors and grammar issues.

      Then while they’re reading and making edits for you (will probably take a couple of weeks, on average, based on my experience) use that time to take a break from your work. Maybe read an entertaining book, or maybe a book on the craft of writing (can easily get either on amazon for just a few bucks).

      Then once you have feed back from your first series of editors (and I’m sure they will have corrected several of the mistakes that you’ve missed–we all miss things in our drafts). Then you take their edits and suggestions, and if you agree with them, you make the changes and edits to your manuscript.

      Their suggestions might say get rid of this, add that, change this, and they may be basic grammar edits as well, depending on who you chose as your readers. But again remember, that it’s your story and you only have to make the changes that you feel comfortable and agree with.

      Next, after you’ve done another round of edits, you ask a few other people to give it a read. This time, please be sure to choose a different group of 2 or 3 people; as it will become a bit of a nuisance to keep asking the same people–and they won’t be willing to give it as much as a detailed read (and plus, we break it up too, in case we have to come back to them later on for a final draft read).

      So now you’ve got a new group of people giving your stuff a read and they’ll be able to fix a lot of the mistakes and errors that you missed and that your other friends and families have missed.

      Take the edits that they’ve made/suggested and that you agree with, and make the appropriate changes.

      Now you should have a pretty good draft and it should look totally different than the draft you have now.

      Okay. So you need a minimum of 4 people that you feel comfortable and trust and respect to read your memoir and give you honest feedback. That’s 2 the first time and 2 the second time.

      When you give them your draft, make sure to give them notes too, of what to look for and what you’re trying to accomplish with your memoir, etc.

      Add on: You might now be saying “But Mike, I don’t know where to find FOUR people to give my manuscript a read. My wife has already read all my drafts and won’t read it anymore. My brother’s an idiot, and I have no friends.”

      But don’t fret. Go to and find a writing group near you. You’ll easily find a group of dedicated writers/readings willing to give your stuff a read.

      Another good option is to go to your local library and ask if there are any writing groups.

      Last, but not least, if there are no writing groups near you, then start your own. Hang fliers up at any local coffee shops, colleges, book stores, and libraries. Etc.

      You get the drift. Hope this helps! And again, thank you for your service, and congratulations on finishing your memoir!

      I’ll shoot this over in an email to you too, with the email that you signed in on.

      1. Mike, it’s just over a month now and you were right. “ I don’t know where to find FOUR people to give my manuscript a read. My Ex-wife has already read all my drafts and won’t read it anymore. My brother’s an idiot, and I have no friends.” You must know me well!

        Amazon Kindle has been calling me about doing one edit and helping with a discount (Vet). They had mentioned their Amazon Visa card through Chase bank. I’m seriously thinking about going that route with my good credit history. I am anxious to get it all fixed up and ready to get it out. I know it will take a while so I’m concentrating on my second memoir. I don’t think anyone has the same name as I picked for this one. So far it’s called,”The War didn’t end by coming home.” One soldier’s account of losing everything he gained before the war. Pride, dignity, self respect, self worth, honesty, job, family, and home.

        I was bummed out about someone else having the same name as my memoir. A Vietnam vet named Tom Smith had it first so I won’t complain. His book is also a memoir and it’s called, Easy Target. So on with the struggle with figuring out what I should call my book.

        Congratulations on a second book coming. I see that it’s called Civilianized and should be out late 2016. That’s incredible to have a second one coming out! I look forward to reading it when it’s available.

        Thank you for the advise that you sent, it was very helpful. I believe with your little push helped me along with getting things done.

        1. Clinton, glad to hear. And let me know when it’s published on Amazon.

          One person you might want to look up is Piers Platt, I believe his memoir: Combat and Other Shenanigans was self-published on Amazon. It’s a good/funny story of war and if you write to him I’m sure he might have some good tips as well.

          As for paying amazon to edit your stuff. If they’re willing to give you a discount it could be worth it, but I’m not too familiar with their stuff so I don’t know the quality of their editors, but I’m sure amazon has high standards.

          Good luck!

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