I see post after post on various Facebook pages discussing traditional publishing versus self-publishing, but no one talks about the independent publishers. No, not the vanity presses (see Part 1 of this series), but true independent publishers.
The smaller presses may not be as well-known as the Big-Five traditional publishers and all of their off-shoots, but securing a contract through one can be just as satisfying and rewarding. In fact, there are quite a few established authors who prefer smaller publishing houses where they're assured more personal attention.
As I pointed out in Part 2 of this series, books have been around since 868 A.D., and through all this time, the book industry has remained and still is today a massive influence in the global consumer market. So is it any wonder a number of smaller presses would open their doors and compete with those few traditional publishers we have left?
If you read the previous article where I focused on traditional publishing, you’ll recall that submitting to one of those big publishing houses directly is practically impossible. Very few (and I do mean very few) of their imprints will accept unsolicited submittals, meaning submittals that do not come directly through a literary agent. So if securing a contract with one of the traditional publishing houses is your ultimate goal, unless you can first secure a literary agent to represent you, your chances of doing so are slim to none. This is not the case with independent publishers, however, as contrary to those big publishers, the majority of smaller presses will accept submittals directly from authors.
I will add that if you submit to these indie publishers directly and they agree to purchase your book, many times, these smaller presses will still encourage you to get an agent to represent you. And of course, securing an agent when you already have a book deal is much easier.
So, why would you need an agent after the book deal is already yours? Well, you don’t plan on writing only one book, do you? And to repeat just a small part of the information previously provided, I’ll remind you that for their fifteen (15%) percent commission of your gross income, besides negotiating the best deal possible for you, a literary agent is your doorway to all those publishing houses that won’t deal with you directly, and this does include some of the smaller presses as well. That means you may want to take the time to do your research in regard to the many reputable agents out there, even if you’ve chosen the route of indie publishing.
Now, when doing your research into which of the smaller publishing houses out there are true independent publishers, remember this. If they ask you for money, they are not legit. Period. Again, refer back to my rant on the definition of a vanity press in Part 1 of this series and heed my warning!
Remember, too that even these smaller presses are selective; they aren’t just taking anyone. And they each have specific requirements and rules to follow when submitting to them. So, please, do yourself a favor and do your homework. Start by following the formula with regard to your work and make sure you’re putting your best foot forward for a great first impression when submitting to any publisher.
What’s the formula?
1. Write an outstanding book;
2. Write an awesome query letter; and
3. Write a fabulous synopsis (both a short and full one so you’ll be prepared).
In Part 2 of this series, where I focused on traditional publishing, I not only gave you a little information about the Big-Five traditional publishers, but I also listed fifteen others that may not be part of those publishing houses, although they are still considered part of the traditional set. As a little additional help in your research efforts, you'll find below a list some of the smaller presses, the independent publishers that may be more for you, and not because you’re settling, but because indie publishing is the right path for you.
The indie publishers may not offer as big of an advance, but then even the traditional publishers have cut back there. Likewise, the indie publisher may not offer quite as much in the way of marketing as the traditional publishers, but they can still offer you a lot and do much for your book, your brand, and your future writing career. So don’t count them out.
Now, as a disclaimer, I don’t have any personal experience with any of the publishing houses listed below, so please, do your homework! Research and check out any company you consider working with and don’t sign any contract without reading every line, the small print included. And if you can have an attorney look over that contract beforehand, I strongly recommend it. Be sure you understand what you’re getting in return for what you’re giving up.
And as always, I wish you the best of luck!
AUTUMN HOUSE PRESS is specifically interested in new and lesser-known voices in the literary world. They publish poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and anthologies, and typically only accept unsolicited manuscripts through their annual prizes. If you’re interested in submitting to their prizes or their online literary magazine, Coal Hill Review, you can find more information on their website. In addition, in the fall of every year, Autumn House accepts manuscripts for all genres.