Sunday, August 31, 2008

What to Look for in a Small Press/E-Publisher

A recent discussion about e-publishing on a writer's listserv I subscribe to prompted me to write the following post. After pushing send and sending to the loop, I thought that this might also work for this morning's blog.

The question asked was, "What do I look for in a quality e-publisher?

Here is my response.
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Anytime an author seeks out a publisher for his/her work, some investigation and research of the house must be done. NY pubs are a known entity so we have a knowledge base about them. Many e-publishers and small presses (and there are a lot of them out there) are not as known. Do your homework and find out what you can about the house before signing the contract. Whether an author chooses a large house, small, or e-pub all depends the author, and the author’s goals for their writing career. There are as many reasons for going with a small press/e-pub as not. Thank goodness we have choices.

Some things I would look for in an e-pub or small press:

  • How many authors do they have? Do they have a stable of hundreds or a small, manageable number. What’s the ratio of authors to editors? A large author base (with a low editor pool) might mean the author doesn’t get much individual attention. Could also mean that the editorial process is not as stringent.
  • What is their editorial process? Talk to authors who work with that house. How many rounds of edits should you expect? Do they employ a copyeditor? If too many authors report their edits are light, well…
  • How big is their staff? Is it listed on their web page? What are their qualifications? Do you recognize any of the names?
  • What about the owners of the house? What do you know or can find out about their experience in publishing?
  • Are the owners/publishers also authors? To some this could be a conflict of interest. Others, maybe not.
  • What will the small press/e-pub do to market/promote your book? Yes, there are a few quality houses out there that do have marketing plans and put money into the authors.
  • What is the policy of e-book to print? Be clear and understand how this works for the publisher you are considering working with—if this is important to you.
  • What are the contract terms? Look them over carefully just like any other contract offer. Know what you are looking for and ask for changes. Don’t get excited about the offer just because it’s an offer and you’re dying to get one. It’s a business. Look at it that way
  • What are the royalties and how often will you get paid? The ‘how often’ part can be real important. What do their authors say about the publisher’s payment track record?
  • Do they sell their e-books from only the publisher website? Or, do they work to place your books on sites like Fictionwise and Mobipocket.
  • Do they have a print program? If so, how do they handle it? Are the books available through Ingrams? Baker&Taylor? Does that matter to you? What about Amazon?
  • What kinds of terms does the publisher offer booksellers (print books)? Are the books returnable? Standard discounts apply? How quickly can you get your books into a store for a booksigning?

Just some very early in the morning thoughts, which amaze me because I’ve not yet had coffee….

maddie

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