Troy Cook, here, filling in for Simon one last time. He should be back next week.
Last week I mentioned how the sexy, sexy Indy Press could work for a lot of authors. That they can be a dynamic place to launch new authors with unique voices. Because I spoke out in favor of it, I feel it’s necessary to talk about both the good and the bad side of small presses. I don’t want to mislead you—it’s not an easy road. But I still think it’s worthwhile.
I was fortunate enough to have multiple offers for publication from small presses. I got offers from a POD (print on demand) press, from one that paid very small royalties, and from one that did a regular offset print run (which means that they print thousands of copies right from the start). None of them paid a large advance so chuck that notion right out the window.
All of them seemed like they could work, but with different pitfalls for each one. A real danger of dealing with small presses is that they often have very little capital to work with, which often leads to them going out of business. In fact, one of the presses that offered me publication went under around the time my book would have been released by them. Wow, would that have sucked!
The POD press had been in business for a few years and published lots of books. But the reason I didn’t go POD is because it’s very difficult to get your books into stores. It’s hard enough for any small press, but it’s extra hard for POD. This is because they print them one at a time so they usually have to charge more for each book and they’re often not returnable, which is a standard in the industry. I’m not saying it’s impossible to launch a career with POD, but you need to know that it’s going to be a much tougher slog. BTW, the POD is the one that went out of business, in case you were wondering.
The next press paid very small royalties, but would use regular offset print runs. That meant they had a better chance of getting it into stores. Because of both my film and business background, I had already decided to spend a chunk of change on promotion. You know the axiom: You’ve got to spend money to make money. Because the royalty at this press was so small, it would be nearly impossible to make money and I would be more likely to lose a lot of money because of my promotional efforts. A little backward, by my way of thinking. Still, if that’s what it took to launch a career, I would consider it.
But the last press paid larger royalties and also used offset print runs. The scary part about them was that they were new, without a good track record to judge them. But the part about them that I liked was that they had a national distributor. When I was directing films, one of the key elements to success was having good distribution for your movie. I believe it is the same process here. If you go with a small press, try to choose one that has a good distributor with a national sales force. This means that your book will likely be carried in quite a few more stores than without the sales force. So any promotional efforts you do have a better chance of working, and of bringing an eventual profit.
And for me it paid off, my book sold out its first print run in a matter of months and brought even more attention than I had thought possible.
So there are definitely pitfalls to avoid, but I think it can still work out with a sexy, sexy Indy Press.
But this is just one man’s story. What do you think?
Award-winning author of
47 Rules of Highly Effective Bank Robbers
A “Killer Pick” by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Assn.
“A literary jewel. Don’t miss it.” – Library Journal