Today’s guest blog post is brought to you by Jim Webster.
Dealing with a Small Publisher
And what better that a Small Publisher! Like Terry Pratchett’s Count Casanunda, they try harder.
As always there are pitfalls as well as advantages.
Let’s look at the pitfalls first. The person might just be a rogue. Publish the book, take the money, go bust. Repeat under new name. Frankly the amount of money to be made probably doesn’t encourage this as a policy, but you could still sign with someone who decides that they’re not going to bother paying you anyway and if you don’t like it, ‘Sue them’.
Given they’re based on a different continent, and they probably don’t owe you more than a few hundred pounds, it’s unlikely that you could justify the legal costs.
But it can be heartbreaking to see somebody loose their big break because someone else got greedy, pocketed the money and closed the business.
So be careful out there.
The next pitfall is that small publishers tend to be what Americans call ‘Mom and Pop operations’. There’ll be one or two people running it, and they’re probably married or whatever. This is both a strength and a weakness. The weakness is that if they divorce then the business is probably doomed. This isn’t going to help your sales.
So check your contract, make sure that stuff reverts to you and that you cannot be ‘sold on’ without your permission.
The third thing to remember is that publishing is expensive. That box of books you ordered that you’re having set against your sales could have cost your publisher £200. If they’ve got 20 authors on their books, that’s £4000 they’ve got out. A small publisher is going to be constantly strapped for cash, constantly cutting corners to pay their way. They’ve probably still got to do their day job to ensure their family eats.
On a serious note here, if you find a small publisher where they have given up the day job and expect to be paid out of the business, be very careful. Unless they’ve been established a long time and have excellent author sales figures, they’re going to go bust.
So let’s not be negative, what are the positives? Let’s assume they’re competent, hardworking and switched on.
Firstly they’ll have contacts and probably know more than you do. So they should be able to generate more sales and get you more exposure. They’ll certainly do some of the work with regards producing the book, deal with Lightening Source, that sort of thing.
They could be ideally placed to give you good advice.
Most of all they’ll give you credibility. You can write fabulous books but if they’re just books you published yourself on Amazon, your local paper and local radio station probably won’t want to know. On the other hand, if you have a publisher behind you, it gives you respectability. You have far more chance of getting local media exposure. The media treat publishers as ‘gate keepers’ and assume that if one is involved, the book will meet certain quality standards. This might not sound all that important, but I’ve always found that local coverage produced local sales and this went to increase the number of ‘word of mouth’ sales.
But if you really want to get the best out of your partnership with a small publisher you’ll have to remember it is a partnership. You’ve got to pull your weight. Do the blog tours, chat to local media or anybody else who’s interested. Go to book signings, turn up and help staff a stall at a book fair. The more you do, the more you and your publisher can achieve together.
Thank you, Jim. We talked about marketing at Crime & Publishment last weekend and regardless of the publisher an author is with they have to do a lot of marketing.
Jim Webster is a fifty-something who has been married for thirty years. He has his wife have three daughters who’ve all ‘sort of’ left home. Jim lives in South Cumbria between the sea and the English Lake District, where he farms, originally with dairy cows, but now mainly sheep. For the last forty or so years, he has combined this with freelance journalism and writing. For relaxation, Jim walks a lot, reads (mainly ancient history) and has been a wargamer and roleplayer for as long as he can remember.
You can find out more about Jim and his writing from:
War 2.2 (The Tsarina Chronicles)
Haldar Drom is starting to worry. The long running insurgency in the Zala Delta suddenly starts to spiral further out of control. Who is arming the insurgents? How and why? Then a leading local politician who is using his influence to try and keep things calm is threatened with assassination. It’s obvious that things are moving to a climax.
All Haldar has immediately available is a third year university student who gets given a dissertation project she’ll never forget; young journalist who he convinces to investigate the situation of the ground; and a retired marine librarian whose job is to keep the politician alive. As the investigation proceeds, from the mud of the Delta to the luxurious surroundings of the Drake Islands, Haldar comes to realise that he may be facing Wayland Strang’s counter-attack. Faced with a coup d’état spearheaded by off-world mercenaries Haldar has to react quickly to stop a major war.
A short taster from the book:
There’s a constant round of social engagements during the evenings, and the days are a nightmare of committees, working parties, task forces and official drinking-and-leering-at-secretaries clubs.”
“Official drinking-and-leering-at-secretaries clubs?” It was Tara’s turn to be shocked.
“I lied,” Alari admitted, “But given the age of some of the Elders, you’re a chit of a girl who’s potentially no better than she ought to be.”
Tara glanced down at the high-buttoned blouse and calf length skirt. “So you recommend something less frivolous then?”
Alari grinned at her, “Perhaps just carry a few pictures of the grandchildren. That’s probably enough.”
- and from this blog, my guests who have written on the topic of publishing are… (traditional): anonymous, CS Lakin, Daniel Grubb, Gila Green, Joseph V Sultana, Sandra Miller, Sophie Essen, and Yvonne Cassidy and (self): Andrew Crofts, Annie Ireson, Bill Munro, David Coles, Ethan Jones, Jane Davis, Jean Henry Mead, Marianne Curtis, Sandra Miller, Sarahjane Funnell, Sheron McCartha, Tad Wojnicki, TJ Perkins, and Tracey Sinclair.
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