Small Presses ~ Pros and Cons

Tangled Up in Words, a blog of seven writers (one published author) is featuring a Small Press 411 for the month of February. Agents, authors and publishers discuss the pros and cons of working with a small, independent publisher. Luminis Books will be featured on Friday, February 15th.

We encourage you to visit Tangled Up in Words to see what others have to say about small presses and getting published in general. And don’t forget to visit the Luminis Submission page for submission guidelines!

Here’s what we have to say.

  1. Why does your press exist? Luminis Books was launched because we saw a growing gap in what the big publishers provide to new authors. It’s an underserved segment of the market. Larger publishers focus on the blockbuster model which doesn’t serve the ‘emerging voice’ of the new author. Also, we simply love books and publish what we love – literary fiction and YA and middle grade fiction.
  2. What’s your process of deciding to take on a project? First it has to fit into our publishing model – Meaningful Books That Entertain. Then we determine if we like the concept and story. If it meets those criteria, we evaluate the writing.
  3. What do you think is the biggest misconception surrounding small presses? Often authors think that getting a contract with a small publisher means they won’t get the same kind of exposure as with a big house when in fact, at Luminis Books, we consider our authors part of our ‘family’ and work that much harder to get exposure. Luminis Books is our business, not just our employer, and it is important to us to continue to support our backlist titles and new releases.
  4. What are the benefits of publishing with a small press? What are the disadvantages? Authors get more personalized attention with small presses and the life-span of their book is much longer. At Luminis Books we continually look for opportunities to showcase our backlist. A disadvantage could be name recognition of the publisher at reviewers and trade shows or with librarians, but this improves the longer the imprint has been in business.
  5. What’s the biggest obstacle a small press author has to face? The biggest obstacle for any author is finding the audience for your book and getting the attention of readers and librarians and independent bookstores.
  6. What role does the small press fill other than being a stepping-stone to the “big 6/5/4”? Small presses take risks on new authors and types of books that larger houses may not take. We are more nimble and able to adapt to market and get books to press much faster. Just as many independent bookstores are thriving while the big box stores fail, independent publishers are also thriving.
  7. What’s the biggest advantage between signing with (your small press) and self-publishing? What about signing with your press and a big/medium sized house? Self-publishing is ‘pay-to-play.’ Legitimate independent publishers pay the author royalties and pay all up-front costs of public relations, marketing, reviews, trade shows, book printing, etc. Self-published authors are published, but do their books sell or get noticed?
  8. Do you think there will still be sales in print books? Or are sales more prominent in e-book? Just as on-line shopping didn’t spell the demise of the mall and shopping in person, there will always be people who want a printed book. Some avid readers have the same book in print, audio and eReader!
  9. How much marketing do small presses do for their authors? We submit  our books to all the major reviewers, print reviewers, bloggers, radio, etc. We arrange book tours and attend trade shows. We contact key librarians, independent bookstores and school libraries. In many ways we do far more for our books than the big houses because each book is more important to us.
  10. Is there much editing at a small press? Yes, but the amount of editing is dependent on the book!
  11. What is your ratio of print books to eBooks? Every book we publish is both print and eBook.
  12. Do you want your authors to do their own marketing? Anything and everything that the author can do to promote the book will help with sales. We consider it a partnership and work together with the author and publicist on the marketing campaign.
  13. How do your authors get noticed? Reviews, speaking engagements, blog tours, book tours, on-line presence in social media, marketing to libraries and bookstores and direct to consumers.
  14. What sort of marketing and publicity initiatives does your press generally offer? See previous answers.
  15. Does signing with a small press inhibit you signing with a bigger press later? What about an agent? We work with both agented  and un-agented authors. I would think it would help in both cases, but might not be in the author’s best interest to switch to a big house!
  16. In your view, does signing with a small press inhibit someone from signing with a bigger house later? See previous answer
  17. Anything else you would like to add? We hear from many agents that working with larger houses is so much more difficult than working with Luminis Books. Larger houses do not devote marketing or publicity budgets to less important books and your title is just one of many. Authors often have the misguided notion that they need to be on the shelves of a big box store and with a big publishing name, but they don’t realize that being on the shelves of a bookstore doesn’t mean that your book will sell. It is far better to be on the shelves of a bookseller who will hand sell your book or at a library who will not return the book. Librarians and independent booksellers also network and talk about great new books and support small, independent publishers. We see our authors as partners in our business. When their book does really well, we all win.


Filed under News and Information for Writers

4 responses to “Small Presses ~ Pros and Cons

  1. My experience as an author has been as described above, and although my novel is just newly launched I have full confidence in the indie publishing scene. I had a chance to publish as an e-book only with a huge company (being one postage-sized book cover on a website with 150 other books), or go with a prominent old-line company (tiny advance, no publicity, and about six weeks to sink or swim before being remaindered). Not for a moment have I regretted my choice.

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