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