What exactly is a small press? The term is used to describe publishers who have annual sales below a certain limit, or who publish a limited number of titles each year. Small presses make up half the market share of the book publishing industry, and present an opportunity for new writers to break into publishing. They should not be confused with vanity publishers or subsidy presses who require their authors to pay for the privilege of having their book published. Small presses make their profits by selling their books to consumers and not to their authors.
What are the advantages of being published by a small press?
1. Small presses have more freedom. They are not restricted by the same economic values and constraints as the large publishing houses.
2. They can take advantage of modern technology and publish a comparatively smaller run of copies, a practice deemed too costly for the large houses, who must sell large numbers of books in order to earn back their advances.
3. They can specialize in specific genres, such as historical non-fiction, poetry, romance, and erotica.
4. One of the major advantages of working with a small press is that an author can expect to be fully involved in the publishing process, from advertising the book, to deciding on a cover.
5. Small presses respond more quickly and often accept unsolicited manuscripts, whereas larger publishing houses will often only consider manuscripts recommended by an agent.
6. Sometimes it is easier to have a manuscript accepted by a small press than it is a larger publishing house, and for a new writer, that has to be good news.
Can small presses compete with the big houses?
Admittedly, it can be more difficult for a small independent publisher to obtain shelf space in bookstores, partly due to the fact that the larger houses often pay for prominent displays for their top of the list authors. But that’s not to say that it’s impossible.
There are many distribution networks willing to fill the needs of the small press, such as Baker and Taylor’s Distribution Solutions Group, Small Press Distribution and the Publishers Marketing Association. There is nothing to prevent small presses signing up with Neilson Book Data or Gardners Books here in the UK. The Internet is also an effective marketing and sales too.
So come along and help celebrate small press book by visiting your local bookstore, or better yet, take a look at Vanilla Heart’s website.
You might be pleasantly surprised at the range and number of titles available.