WORKING WITH SMALL PUBLISHERS

The first publisher of books that I worked with was a small
publisher. At a conference many years ago, the owner/publisher
announced that he was looking for good non-fiction manuscripts
about the Ozarks for his new publication. I went straight home,
put together a proposal and sent it off.
Not too difficult for me, since I’d been writing about folks who
live in the Ozarks for several years. He bought it immediately
and I had my first book. Didn’t make much money, but I was
published and I had some terrific reviews from prestigious
people, including professors and respected newspaper and magazine
editors.
I found I enjoyed working with these people. The publisher would
do things like set up a booksigning for all his authors, then
appear with us at the bookstore and make sure everything was set
up for our comfort. Working with them was a fine experience, but
I had no idea what was yet to come.
For while I was editing this book, I sold a manuscript to a New
York editor, again at a conference, and I was thrown into the
hectic business of dealing with one of the largest publishers in
the world, Penguin, under its imprint, Topaz.
Of course working with a New York publisher was exciting, mind
bending and wonderful. At the same time the hassles were ongoing.
Books were sent to the wrong address, covers didn’t arrive in
time for promo, they instructed their rep to promote me in
Arizona instead of Arkansas.
Naturally I dealt with it. The good news was Topaz was a new
imprint and the publisher was doing some good promotion. The bad
news? The imprint didn’t survive, and after four books in four
years, not enough to build a following, Topaz folded and all
authors were dropped except best sellers.
But you’re here to learn about the joy of working with small
publishers.
Let me tell you what Arcadia Publishing does for its authors, and
I think any of you who are already published with small presses
will tell the same stories.
First and foremost, they are writer friendly. Their editors work
well with their writers and there is a lot of one on one contact.
The contract is simple and fair. While there is no advance, the
royalties are good and paid every six months, about two months
after the sales are tallied for that period.
Arcadia furnished me with post cards depicting my book cover, a
variety of posters which I dressed up to suit the occasion, free
author’s copies of my book and a good discount on further
purchase of author’s copies.
I did have to help with promotion in that they asked me to
complete an extensive questionnaire that included listings of
businesses in the area, as well as radio and tv stations,
newspapers and regional magazines. They wanted to know what
events they might tie sales of the book to. In our area we have a
huge arts and crafts market in the spring and fall and I sent
them listings of shops and fairs involved.
Once the book came out, I was assigned a promotional person who
began to set up book signings for me. We were in constant
telephone contact. This proved to be very lucrative for them and
me because she booked me into places that would never have bought
copies of the book, and they ordered books for the signing
through her.
Arcadia also publicized my signings and sent a promotional packet
to everyone who booked a signing. I’m sure that this alone added
greatly to sales. They mailed media packets to radio stations and
newspapers when a signing was upcoming.
As a result I had a radio interview on National Public Radio, and
several good newspaper articles. I signed at places I would never
have thought to approach, such as Hanna’s Candle Outlet, and a
framing gallery, and a county historical society event.
And, oh yes, they distributed the books to stores such as Barnes
& Noble and others, making it easy for readers to find them.
My latest experience with small publishers came when I met Mark Stepp publisher and editor at Old American Publishing. He attended the Women Writing the West Conference in San Antonio. I’d gone there to pick up my finalist award for Fly With the Mourning Dove and he was in the audience. Since I prepare a pitch for nearly every editor I can get in to see at I conference, I soon found myself sitting across from him. He accepted my book almost immediately. That book came out in April, 2010, and I couldn’t be happier to again be working with a small publisher. I call, he talks to me, I email, he replies, and if I have a problem he solves it right now.
All of that being said, I continue to submit my fiction to New York publishers because most fiction does better there than at small presses. There are, of course, exceptions. And publishers in New York are a pretty savvy group, despite what some writers say. They know the best covers and titles and story lines. I urge you to continue to knock on their doors as well as the small guys.
There are small fiction and non-fiction publishers out there, and
it’s no harder to find them than it is to find NY pubs on the
Internet. Go out and buy some of the books they publish and study
them. See if your work is suitable for them. This is a business
and like any other, you must invest money and time and learn your
craft if you are to succeed.
Next week: information on writing queries to editors and agents.
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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
This entry was posted in New York publishers, Velda Brotherton. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to WORKING WITH SMALL PUBLISHERS

  1. 要在憂患恥辱的環境裡,創造我們自力更生的新生活。..................................................

  2. Celeste says:

    Hi I found you on FB and thought I would look at your blog. I co-authored PRIVATE CLUBS OF SEATTLE for Arcadia and it was also my 1st book.I have a blog which is a precursor to my 2nd book on a much different subject. http://takemyhand-celeste.blogspot.com. The blog and the book deal with my journey through breast cancer. I am enjoying your blog and expect I will be back often.Best,Celeste Smith

  3. Jess says:

    Hi there! I hope this is okay, but I read a past post of yours on writing with the five senses (and really liked it), and will be providing a link to it in my blog tomorrow (fallingleaflets.blogspot.com) Feel free to comment and ask me to remove the link if you're uncomfortable about it (still not sure about blogger etiquette here 🙂

  4. 佳瑩佳瑩 says:

    耐心是一株很苦的植物,但果實卻很甜美。..................................................

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