Friday Speak Out!: Choosing a Publication Path (Part One)

Friday, February 13, 2015
by Denise Jaden

While reading an article on the WOW Blog about the varied options in publishing today, I considered my own position of experience. I hope my thoughts will help to shed some light on the options, and each of their benefits and challenges. These are generalizations based only on my personal experiences.

Traditional Publishing – Large Press:

1. The publishers we refer to as The Big Five include Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, Random House (including Penguin), and Simon & Schuster. These large publishers release a huge number of books each year. My first two young adult novels, Losing Faith and Never Enough were published by Simon & Schuster's teen imprint, Simon Pulse.

Benefits: One of the most obvious benefits of working with a big traditional publisher is the prestige that comes with it. Most acquaintances will recognize the name of your publisher and respect your work for having their name attached. Your book contract is likely to come with a larger advance royalty payment than if you publish with a small or digital publisher. These large publishers have skilled editors, publicists, and salespeople on staff.

Challenges: If your book is not considered a “Big Book,” you may find it hard to get noticed within the sea of authors your large publisher represents. Sales of a current book will likely influence your ability to contract future books and royalty rates are often on the low side. Often authors have little control over sales and marketing strategies concerning their books. Just like it takes a lot more time and effort to redirect a large ocean liner than it does to turn a rowboat, it may take longer for big publishers to change their strategies to meet a changing market.

Small Press:

2. When I talk about small presses, I’m talking about the many publishers and University Presses that produce print copies of books in bulk at no cost to the author. My second nonfiction book for writers, Fast Fiction, was published by New World Library.

Benefits: Authors will still likely receive some advance royalty payment from a small press, and royalty rates may be slightly higher than with a large publishing house. With a small press, you will likely have an ongoing communicative relationship with your editor. You may also have great communication with a publicist, salespeople, and possibly even the top dogs at the publisher. Publicity and marketing ventures are often more fluid, and they may approach more unusual marketing avenues than the ones the bigger publishers have on their regular roster.

Challenges: While you may enjoy working with your small publisher, it’s possible that your mom and best friend and writing group have never heard of them. Editing efforts may be lighter than those with a large publisher, and you don’t often see books with small presses advertised in national T.V. or magazines.

Join me for Part Two of this article next time, when I’ll discuss the benefits and challenges of Digital Imprints and Self-Publishing.

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Denise Jaden's novels have been shortlisted or received awards through the Romance Writers of America, Inspy, and SCBWI. The first draft of her debut novel, Losing Faith (Simon & Schuster 2010), was written in 21 days during NaNoWriMo. Her other fiction includes Never Enough (Simon & Schuster 2012) and Foreign Exchange (an Editor’s Pick with Evernight Teen). Her first non-fiction book for writers, Writing with a Heavy Heart, includes clear guidance and practical exercises to help writers get to the heart of their stories. Her second non-fiction book, Fast Fiction includes tips on constructing a story plan, as well as daily inspiration to keep writers writing, regardless of when the mood strikes. Denise spends most of her time home-schooling her young son (who is also a fast-drafter of fiction) and dancing with a professional Polynesian dance troupe.

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Angela Mackintosh said...

Thanks for the advice, Denise! You mentioned one of the benefits of going with a small press is their unique marketing avenues. Did your small press pay for all of your book marketing or only partial? And can you give us an idea of what they did for you? I'm intrigued. :)

Margo Dill said...

These are great insights and I think you are spot on. I love Angela's question above and am also interested!

Denise Jaden said...

Thanks Angela and Margo! I suspect it varies with each small press on where and how they market, but with New World Library, I was shocked at the amount of radio interviews they set up for me. These were all pre-arranged by the publisher, and the publisher provided the radio stations with my book. All I had to do was be available to call in on a landline for the hour. I found it a great way to reach a new audience.

They also paid for and set up booth space at a major book conference I was speaking at and arranged a signing for my book at their booth. (My large publisher was also represented at the conference, but I was not able to do a signing with them or any of the other book conferences I attended on my own dime - so that was a big difference as well).

Thanks so much for chiming in!

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