A small press is a publishing house that goes against mass market media, focusing more on amplifying marginalized voices and addressing people in communities that are under-represented. Presses that make less than $50 million annually usually fall into the category of small presses, putting out a relatively small amount of books every year compared to the Big Five Publishers, who make a whopping $3.3 billion dollars annually.
But the benefits of publishing via a small press are many, especially if you’re looking for more creative freedom and more interaction with the people involved in publishing your book. Small presses are more willing to take risks with authors who are just starting out, paying more attention to the literary aspect of the book rather than the monetary aspect of it.
But, out of the hundreds of small presses available in today’s increasingly competitive world, how do you find the right one to publish your book? First, Google the small presses located around you for your convenience, and make a list. Next, follow the given steps in order to figure out which small presses suit your needs from this list.
1. Find out about their goals
The primary concern of any author looking to publish via the most suitable small press for their book should be about the goals of the publisher. Some small presses do it for the passion, the need to see more marginalized authors and upcoming authors within the industry, rather than seeing it dominated by the big names. Some others do it to support local authors, or to see their company in print on bookshelves, or simply to make a profit. Going through their goals can help you decide what kind of service suits best for your book — make sure your interests align!
2. Find out what type of books the small press publishes
After you filter out the small presses that match your goals and ideas, you need to find out which ones are best suited for your book’s genre. Some small presses are genre-specific, publishing only fantasy or historical novels or memoirs and biographies, or poetry. This may seem obvious, but most people waste too much time on gathering other information like payments and pricing and submission requirements before they realize their book doesn’t match the genre they’re looking for.
3. Find out about their submissions policy
Traditional publishers often only accept manuscripts submitted through agents. While some small presses use this same policy, some others accept unagented submissions as well. If you’re looking to pitch your manuscript by yourself without a middle-person, the latter should be your choice. Furthermore, go through their submission guidelines thoroughly to find out if they want your whole book upfront or just a few chapters, and if they require a CV and a cover letter as well.
4. Find out about their payment methods
There are several payment methods that a small press might get paid by. A majority of them function in the conventional way, keeping a profit margin and selling the book at a higher price than it cost them to publish it. Another portion of small presses receive funds from societies dedicated to the arts. But there are also some small presses that are actually a part of large organizations, and are more reliable but less flexible when it comes to the author’s preferences.
These payment methods are important information you need to know since they will help you get an idea of how your book will be priced at the end of it all.
Sharika Hafeez is a nerd, and she’s proud of it. Growing up, she fell in love with books and writing, and is currently following her undergraduate degree (for some mysterious reasons) in Physics. She likes procrastinating by watching the stars with a steaming cup of tea, composing poetry in her head.
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