Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Virtues of a Small Publisher: Some Negatives

There you are on a beautiful August day with your hubby to help you, selling books in upstate New York.  What the picture doesn't show is how cold it was in the morning when we set up.  And how hot it got by midafternoon.

Then there was my first beer festival at Hunter Mountain.  In May.  I forgot how cold it can be in upstate NewYork in the spring.  I was dressed for it, but my feet still were frozen by the end of the day.

So there's one of the downsides of selling your own books, a must regardless of what publisher you have.  The weather is rarely your friend.  When it is, you find people are doing something other than buying books!

I promised we would continue our discussion of small publishers.  Not everyone finds advantages in going with a small press.  Hand selling in venues such as beer festivals for me or book events allows writers to meet the reading public, but weather is a consideration and so are the long hours of work with sometimes little return.

What are some of the difficulites you've encountered with a small publisher and how have you handled these?  Some writers find another publisher, others seek out an agent to get them into the larger houses, and there is always the choice of self publishing and/or epublishing.  What has worked for you?

As for me, I dress in layers (wool socks are my friend), I am published with several small publishers, I epublished one of my books, published with an epublisher, and now have an agent.  This girl does not put her eggs in one basket.

Let us know your strategy.  Sharing what you've discovered may help other writers as they try to aovid the potholes in this bumpy road to publishing.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Virtues of a Small Publisher II: Why did you choose a small publisher?

Virtues of a Small Publisher Sleuthfest Panel Members: Back row from left: Lesley Diehl, Cindy Cromer, Mike Dennis; Front row from left: Lynnette Hallberg, Marty Ambrose

We are continuing our discussion of small publishers this week.  I think there are many good reasons for using a small publishing house.  During the Editors and Agents Panel at Sleuthfest, several panel members pointed out that advances with large publishers are getting smaller, publicity support is shrinking, less editing occurs, and midlist authors fear their contracts may be terminated.  Given this picture, many small publishers with their emphasis on more intimate and supportive relationships between author and press court talented writers and offer them a home where personal contact and input into the process is part of getting into print.

Myths about small publishers abound.  You pay them.  Not true.  That's a vanity press. They have no way of distributing your books once they are in print.  That depends upon the publisher, but most use Ingram and Baker and Taylor, as do the larger houses.  Your local bookstore cannot return the books.  Also not true in most cases.  There is no vetting process nor editing with a small publisher.   Again that varies from house to house.

I'm certain there are other myths.  I'd like to take this blog to clear up misconceptions about small publishers as well as be honest about what a small publisher can and cannot do for you.  This week I'd like your input on why you decided to go with a small publisher.  It's your decision whether you want to name your publisher or not, but I'd like to hear about the paths you took to publication and how they are working for you.

In the next few weeks we'll be talking about other aspects of going with a small publisher,so stay tuned here.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Inspiration in Orlando and the Issue of Small Publishers versus Epublishing

Early Spring in Mickey's Home 

Mickey Inspires and I Respond

Okay, so now all of you who have read my blog know how I adore cows, but I want to confess another love.  I’m crazy about Mickey Mouse.  My husband has bought me two watches in the fifteen plus years we’ve been together.  One was a Mickey watch, the other Minnie.  As many years as we’ve been wintering in Florida, it was only five years ago I finally got to go to Disney for my birthday.  We were in the Magic Kingdom for the afternoon parade, and I think I was as thrilled by the characters as the kids there were.

That was then and this is now.  We just returned from the Mystery Writers of America Conference sponsored by MWA FL Chapter.  It was held in Orlando at the Royal Plaza.  There is no place one can go in Orlando without being exposed to the Disney brand.  It’s kitschy, I know, but I love it.

There’s no way hubby will repeat our visit to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot or to any of the parks (too bad Harry Potter), but we did go to downtown Disney several nights while at the conference, and I got my Disney fix.  It didn’t hurt that the weather was perfect all the days we were there with the exception of Sunday when a cold front blew in.  I could have walked around the Marketplace and Pleasure Island for hours.  I’m usually crowd-avoidant, but the throngs of people only added to my excitement.

Along with the ideal weather and fun setting, the conference continues through the six years we have attended to be a source of information and inspiration.  Theirs is nothing as inspiring as being around other writers, some still struggling, some highly successful.  I moderated a panel on the virtues of a small publisher.  Throughout the three days preceding my panel, I heard about traditional publishing, the big six, editors and agents.  At the other end of the evolution of the publishing process were numerous discussions on panels and in the bar about self-publishing, the e-book market.

I expected the attendance at my panel to be small, and coming as it did at the very last slot of the slot of the panels late Saturday afternoon, it was.  If I thought the attendees would be sleepy, they weren’t.  A discussion ensued about small publishers and e-publishing.  It was a heated encounter, one I decided to let spin itself out with advocates on both sides of the controversy over why publish with a small publisher when a writer can take everything by self-publishing.  Maybe I’m stretching a point, but I think our panel became a hot topic, one I hope the conference can address directly next year. 

Pair my childish pleasure at the fun venue with my favorite writing conference and the time in Orlando was near perfect, perfect enough that I recommitted myself to writing the really quirky, not the merely funny.  What would that be?  The answer is waiting for me on my computer, and I can’t wait to get to it.  I’ll keep you posted.