Considering a small press? Be cautious

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I met a writer a few years ago and he was proud to announce that he’d been published by a small press. He was surprised at the fact that I’d chosen to self publish and I told him that it gave me control over most aspects of my novel. At the time, I was giving him a ride to a small authors’ show where we were to sit in a local mall and sell our books. We got to talking about how much profit we were making off of our respective books and what he told me next left me slightly disgusted and dumbfounded.

You see, while I could purchase my print copies through CreateSpace at a wholesale rate (~$5 for a $12.99 novel), his publisher was, essentially, forcing him to purchase copies at a slightly discounted retail rate. In order to get paperbacks, they would discount the book on Amazon for a short period so he could purchase them for $12.99 a copy instead of their normal $14.99 a copy. Being flat broke, he could only afford 5 or 6 copies, but “buying them on Amazon will boost your sales rankings,” they told him. I couldn’t mask my incredulity about it. His response, “Well, they gave me an advance.” He sold 3 books that day for $15 each and had to give the bookstore owner $1 per sale, cutting his take in half. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for his situation.

Now, obviously, this is an extreme example and I’d like to think that most small presses wouldn’t do this. But, in my opinion, you can do for yourself what any small press can do. Sure, you won’t get an advance, but what kind of advance can you expect from a small press anyway? $1k tops, I imagine. Not worth giving up a ton of rights and royalties for.

I’m not here to bash small publishers. I know folks who have done well and are still doing well with small publishers. I’m just sharing an anecdotal story and passing along a great article to read if you’re considering going that way: Salome Jones talks about 8 things to assess when considering a small press over at thebookdesigner.com.

Have experience with a small press? Let us know about it in the comments and thanks for stopping by!

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