Big Publisher or Small Press?
The big publisher, like the small indy press, purchases rights to produce and sell your title. You don’t pay anything up front; they assume all costs. Some of the services they may provide include developmental editing, copy editing, fact-checking, design, layout, cover production, promotion, marketing, and distribution. For that reason, they are highly selective and usually demand agent-only submissions. Authors usually receive an advance against royalties.
• They’re well-known, which means a larger audience and more opportunities.
• You’ll work with a team that will handle everything and provide guidance.
• You may receive a larger royalty percentage. *More about that below.
• It’s possible they will hire famous professionals for interior and cover design.
• More funds are available for promoting and advertising your book.
• They have larger print runs, resulting in availability and great distribution.
• Their social media following is hefty, and they’ll take you along with them.
• Small percentage of authors accepted.
• They have thousands of authors, so less hand-holding.
• You’ll have no creative input or control.
• Their rigid genre requirements may mean changes on your part.
• They may base decisions solely on sales numbers, often meaning your book could go out of print quickly.
• You’ll have little or no flexibility regarding contractual issues.
• They’re less forgiving of low sales, which means they may not acquire your future books.
• They’re large and entrenched, and are thus slow to adapt and change.
• You may have to make extensive changes to fit their lines.
• Their royalty statements may be difficult to understand.
• They are slow to pay.
SMALL, INDEPENDENT PRESSES
• It’s easier to get in the door.
• They rarely require agent-only submissions.
• They have less name recognition, which may mean a smaller potential audience.
• You’ll receive more attention because they publish fewer manuscripts.
• You may have more creative say.
• They may offer more contractual flexibility.
• Your books might stay in print longer.
• They’re often willing to give your subsequent books a chance, despite sales of first.
• You’ll receive less money overall. Yes.
• *Royalties may be on net, not list, price, Your royalties will be smaller.
• Advances, if any, are lower.
• They have smaller print runs, so less market penetration.
• They may provide less promotion and advertising aid.
• Slim profit margins make it difficult for small presses to change with the market.
• They may still require extensive changes to your manuscript.
• They’re more open to cross-genre titles.
In the end, it’s up to you, the author. There are tradeoffs and pitfalls for either. If you want to go the traditional publishing route, despite the size of the house, I recommend you acquire an agent to help you navigate the often-murky waters. Remember, though, that agents take 15 percent of your small slice of the pie. And, it’s as difficult to get a good agent. More on that.
Check out the Big Five Publishers. Other methods of getting your book published include subsidy (vanity) presses, self-publishing, becoming a micro publisher, and hybrid publishers. More on these options later.