Friday, May 20, 2016

Self-Publishing Vs. Small Press: Which Is Right For You?

               You've finished writing your novel and you're ready to dive into the world of publishing. Instead of going the traditional route you've decided you want to go Indie. But when presented with the choice of Small Press vs. Self-Publishing, which is right for you? 
             I've done it both ways so here's a rundown of  some of the pros and cons of each:

Small Press:
What is a small press publisher?
  A small press is a publisher independent of the "big 5". Some small presses publish ten or fewer novels a year, others publish more. 

My Experience with a Small Press Publisher:
Before I ever got into self-publishing and after getting a couple rejections from the "big 5" I submitted my first novel, The Haunting Love, to a small press. We all obviously know that it was contracted by them. There are both pros and cons to my experience working with the small press I worked with. Remember, though, each small press operates differently, this is just my experience.

- The publisher pays for:
* Editors
* Cover Art
- The publisher takes care of:
* setting a timeline
* getting layout and formatting together
* obtaining ISBNs
* getting the book onto Amazon & every other book platform
- Having the publisher listed as the publisher of record for those snobby readers that don't want to read a book published by the author. 

- Little-to-sometimes-no control over cover art
- Some small presses only publish ebooks (no print books)
- Lower Royalty Rate (most small presses offer 25-35% royalties to authors. This means for every $3.99 ebook you sell if your rate is 25% you get 99 cents and the publisher gets $3.00 before distributor fees)

Things you should definitely research or ask when looking into a small press:
- Does the publisher publish print books as well as ebooks? If so, will that print book be available for sale on the same release date as the ebook? Is there a delay? Will you receive any authors copies for giveaways, reviewers, or personal use?

- What is the royalty rate? Is the rate negotiable? 

- How much marketing will the publisher do for you? (Some publishers do a lot, while others do little-to-none, leaving you to do all the work.)

- What do some of their authors think of them as a publisher? If you are able t0, try to reach out to an author you know has published through the small press you're interested in and ask questions about their experience with the publisher. What do they like about working with the small press? Have they had any issues with them? Another good way to do research is to look them up on google. What do message boards, forums, or publishing blogs think of them? Are there any major complaints?

- Does the publisher charge anything to publish your book? If so, run far, far away! 

My experience with the small press I published through was not a very positive one. Some days I curse them, but at least it opened me up to the world of publishing. It got my foot in the door so I could broaden my horizons and learn more about other types of publishing. 

What is Self-Publishing?
Publishing your work without going through a traditional or small press publisher. 

My Experience With Self-Publishing:
I've self-published two novels and each time I learn a little bit more about the industry and things I can improve on in the future, different marketing and publishing strategies, and such. I love self-publishing. For me it's easy and I can set my own pace. Sure, I've made mistakes but you take those mistakes and make sure you learn from them. 

- Complete control over cover art
-Ability to publish in any format you want: 
* eBook
* Paperback
* Hardcover
* Audiobook
- Higher Royalty Rate (KDP - Kindle Direct Publishing - offers a royalty rate of 70% for any ebook priced at $2.99 or higher. Smashwords offers 85% Royalties for books sold through their store and 60% for books sold through distributed channels such as Barnes and Noble and iBooks)
- Ability to make available (or not available) on any platform you want. (Want to have your book just enrolled in Kindle Unlimited? With Self-Publishing, you'll have the freedom to sell your book wherever you want, have sales on holidays if you want, or reduce the price/have free days anytime.)
- You can set your own timeline. (I worked at a much faster pace than my small press publisher, and I HATE delays, but that's just me.)

-Costs covered by small presses and publishers such as: cover art costs (whether you do your own cover or hire someone to make one for you) editors, formatters, costs to obtain an ISBN, etc. have to come out of your pocket. The loophole? Some of these things you can do for yourself or get for free. If you're handy with Photoshop or know someone that is you can make your own covers and your only expense is the stock image costs. I use a combination of friends and family to edit my novels, as well as Grammarly for some minor editing, and beta readers. Just make sure whoever you're using as an editor can spell and knows something about grammar. A former English teacher turned friend maybe? Formatting your book for ebook and paperback formats is pretty easy. Amazin has a handbook you can download to help you meet their guidelines, as does Smashwords. Lulu and Createspace give you the option of obtaining a Free ISBN through them for your print books, and ebooks don't require an ISBN, although Smashwords will assign one to your ebook if you use them. 
Regardless of costs, as my Grandmother would say, sometimes you have to spend money to make money.

- You're on your own with marketing. (Although you can brainstorm some creative ideas to get the word out about your book.)

So there you go... These are just some of the pros and cons of small press vs. self-publishing. Before you make your choice do your research, ask other authors about their experiences with the path they've chosen, and in the end follow your heart. Everyone's publishing story is different. What works for one person may not work for another. Go with whatever feels right to you. Remember.. you can always do things differently with your next book. Nobody says that every single one of your books has to be published in the same way. Go small press with your first book, self-pub your second, use a different small press with a third. The possibilities are endless as the world of Indie Publishing grows every day.  

Have fun, and let me know when your book goes on sale, I'd love to check it out!

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